Ekho Kavkaza ― Yesterday, representatives of opposition parties and movements in Abkhazia demanded the resignation of the government at a briefing, giving President Aslan Bzhania two weeks to comply with this requirement. Otherwise, they intend to hold a rally in Sukhum. The leader of the Abkhaz People's Movement, Adgur Ardzinba, discussed why they decided to organise a mass protest and how they plan to implement this idea.
- Adgur, the opposition has called for the government's resignation before, but there was no response. What were you hoping for this time?
- In the past, we proposed various initiatives, not just demands. But this time, we all agreed that the entire scope for dialogue with the authorities has been exhausted. The authorities completely ignore all rational proposals and initiatives, closing themselves off from the people, public, and political organisations. There is no dialogue, no access to state information resources. We have repeatedly highlighted the ineffectiveness, incompetence, and anti-people agenda of the authorities. It is clearly visible that over the past three years, with the fourth year already in progress, the current team in power, led by the president, has one agenda – promoting the interests of large foreign capital, oligarchs, and creating joint business projects involving close relatives. For them, the people of Abkhazia and issues of demography, health, education, culture, language, defence capabilities, and everything else that makes up the state, come second or third. The current government's agenda is anti-people, and everyone is now convinced of this. Due to the inefficiency, incompetence, and unprofessionalism of the current government team, we are experiencing one crisis after another. That's why we decided to hold a large-scale rally in the city of Sukhum. The date has not yet been determined, but it will be approximately in mid-May. Before announcing the date, we consulted among ourselves and gave the president two weeks to decide on the resignation of the cabinet of ministers. And this will mean on his part that he is ready to interact with society and people not only in words but also through real actions. If this does not happen, the rally will take place.
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- Adgur, how do you envision the preparation for the rally and what efforts are you making for this?
- In fact, we harbour no illusions, and there is very little chance that the head of state will hear us, so we have already begun preparations for the large-scale rally in Sukhum. Leaders of the regional divisions have been determined, and each has been assigned tasks – for the city of Ochamchira and the Ochamchira region, for the city of Gudauta and the Gudauta region, for Gagra, for Tquarchal, for Gulripsh, and for the city of Sukhum. Yesterday, after the briefing, when the press had already left, we discussed organisational issues, and work in this direction is already underway. The rally will take place approximately in mid-May, the exact date has not yet been determined, and we will announce it closer to that time. The rally is necessary so that everyone who considers the current government to be anti-people, and all those who disagree with the policy pursued by this government, can participate.
- Lately you have held a series of meetings in different regions of Abkhazia. What is the mood of the people there, and are they ready to take part in this rally?
Indeed, we held a series of meetings in the regions of the republic, and people welcomed us with packed halls. The main question people asked on the street was: "What will we do next? The authorities do not hear us, they do not hear either you, political figures, or us, ordinary people." People themselves talked about the need to gather in Sukhum, to bring together everyone from all over the country who disagrees with the policy of the current government, and to make themselves heard. This initiative to hold a rally comes from ordinary people who are tired of sitting in the winter without electricity, without prospects, watching as officials and their relatives get richer, and as the country slips away from them and is bought up piece by piece by various oligarchs. People are tired, they no longer believe in this government, and they want to act. And we will provide them with such an opportunity. The budget campaign is starting, and if we do not change this government team, I mean the cabinet of ministers, now, it will be completed, and the budget for 2024 will be similar: without considering development factors, without the interests of the people, and again with an inflated state apparatus, financing of various items related to the maintenance of the head of state, the prime minister, and so on. Naturally, there is no program, no plan for reforms, so this cabinet of ministers must be dismissed.
- Will you inform the authorities about the rally and get permission?
- Yes, of course, we will notify the Sukhum city administration about the date and location of this protest action in accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Abkhazia.
- Adgur, what about the court proceedings against the participants of the opposition rally who allegedly rocked the bus? And why is there nothing about this in the list of your demands?
- As for the court proceedings against our associates who allegedly rocked the bus, the authorities should have long ago stopped this ridiculous court trial, which all of society perceives as a farce. This issue doesn't even need to be raised; it should be self-evident to both the authorities and everyone else involved. Of course, the process should be stopped immediately.
This interview was published by Ekho Kavkaza and is translated from Russian.