Veterans' Group 'Aruaa' Issues Strong Rebuke to President Bzhania Following TV Interview

Aslan Bzhania, The President of the Republic of Abkhazia.

Aslan Bzhania, The President of the Republic of Abkhazia.

SUKHUM / AQW'A ― In a recent interview with Apsua TV, the state-owned television channel, Abkhazian President Aslan Bzhania discussed various national issues, which has prompted a critical response from the veterans' organisation "Aruaa," representing veterans of the Patriotic War of the People of Abkhazia [Georgian-Abkhazian War ―ed.] 1992-1993. The group accuses the president of using the platform to kickstart his re-election campaign while neglecting pressing national concerns and past promises. The full statement from "Aruaa" is presented below, detailing their grievances and calling for accountability and reform.

Statement from the NGO "Aruaa," Veterans of the Patriotic War of the People of Abkhazia 1992-1993.

Having listened to President Aslan Bzhania's interview on Abkhazian TV, we are compelled to state that it marks the beginning of his re-election campaign. We have long been aware of the President's stance towards the opposition, but we are outraged by Mr. Bzhania's attitude towards our people, who, judging by his actions, are expected to forget all the pre-election promises he made in both 2020 and 2014.

We remind the President that neither the opposition nor individual members of the public have ever opposed the opening of the V.G. Ardzinba International Airport. Moreover, the issue of opening the airport was discussed by President Raul Khadjimba as early as 2016, and representatives of the current authorities ridiculed this initiative. Regarding the armaments, budget, and size of the enemy Georgian army, which Mr. Bzhania mentioned, we are well aware of these facts, and have consistently called for an increase in our military budget, not for the maintenance of officials' lavish needs but rather using millions of rubles in budget funds each year. We have faced the Georgian Army in 1992, 1998, 2001, and 2008, and do not need to be schooled on what war entails. As for the country's budget, which Aslan Bzhania claims to have increased by 100 percent or more, despite the government inheriting massive debts, this is not even the main issue—Mr. Bzhania did not mention a word about reforms, the promised redistribution of powers among the branches of government, reductions in administrative overhead, and much else. It would have been logical for Mr. Bzhania, as the nation's president, to speak in the interview about actual actions and achievements over the past four years of his leadership, for the good of the people and the state, not for the benefit of relatives and friends among the oligarchs.

The President's performance suggests that Mr. Bzhania is content with autocratic powers, permissiveness, and has no intention of making any changes. We once again hear about his alleged successes and intentions to combat crime, with figures that bear no relation to reality. Therefore, we would like to ask, what country is Aslan Bzhania talking about?

Perhaps the head of state is unaware that his decision to legalise mining farms led to the collapse of the energy system? Perhaps he is also ignorant of the fact that a new type of crime has emerged in the country, the robbery of crypto farms and theft of mining equipment? The majority of these crimes go unregistered, thus creating an illusion of an improving situation.

The President's claims about reducing the number of traffic accidents also cannot withstand criticism. Four years ago, he solemnly promised, hand on heart, to resign if he failed, yet he never mentioned an increase in vehicles in the country, he promised to do everything to prevent our citizens from dying on the roads. Nobody promised to switch to carts to reduce the number of vehicles. And regarding the illegal behaviour of law enforcement towards citizens, not a single question was raised, nor were any measures taken.

As for the opposition, in the current complex international situation, a responsible head of state should exert all efforts to establish dialogue with the opposition and fulfil his promises. Instead, Aslan Bzhania calls for societal confrontation in his interview and escalates the political conflict.

Therefore, our only hope is not in President Aslan Bzhania, but in the wisdom of our people, who see everything, understand everything, and will give an appropriate response to the current authorities.

Adopted by the Supreme Council of the NGO "Aruaa" on 27 April 2024.




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