On July 21, Aslan Bzhania, Moscow-backed Abkhaz leader appointed Konstantin Pilia, 49, as the acting head of ethnic-Georgian majority Gali district.
Pilia replaced Omar Bganba, who was appointed as the district head in December by Raul Khajimba, Bzhania’s predecessor.
Since 2012, Pilia served as the chairman of the Sokhumi city assembly. Earlier, in 1992-93, during the armed conflict in Abkhazia, Pilia fought against the Georgian forces.
According to Abkhaz laws, the president appoints the head of district administration, while the local population has the right to elect Sakrebulo (a local council); however, Gali residents have not participated in local elections since 2011. Sokhumi fails to hold local elections in Gali after depriving local residents of citizenship in 2014.
It is important to note that Gali district area under Russia-backed Abkhaz administration is significantly smaller than the traditional Gali municipality area, that being in place since Soviet occupation years, Georgia recognizes to this day. In the mid-1990s, Abkhaz created a new Tkvarcheli municipality at the expense of Gali as well as Ochamchire municipalities. Under Abkhaz rule, part of Gali municipality, namely Georgian-majority Achigvara village, was also ceded to Ochamchire district.