Lasha Sakania, the aide of the Moscow-backed Abkhaz leader Aslan Bzhania, resigned on August 26 following the outrage over his involvement in organizing Abkhazia visit of members of the nativist Kremlin-friendly Alliance of Patriots party of Georgia.
Abkhaz media outlets reported Sakania’s resignation based on an alleged post on his Facebook profile. The former aide claimed in the post that he made the decision independently to avoid a public uproar.
Sakania confirmed on August 24 that he helped Georgian politicians visit Abkhazia for piety following reports by Georgian media on a “secret meeting” and subsequent outcry among Abkhaz opposition groups.
Sakania denied any political negotiation with Georgian politicians, highlighting that the visit was arranged through his Russian friends upon request by David Tarkhan-Mouravi, one of the Alliance leaders, with the aim to donate the Virgin Mary icon to the Ilori church.
MP Irma Inashvili, Vice Speaker of the Georgian Parliament and the Alliance leader published Abkhazia piety photos on her Facebook page later the same day, confirming that together with MP Giorgi Lomia she visited the Russian-occupied region on August 18.
The confessions by Sakania and Inashvili led Abkhaz opposition groups, including influential Aruaa group of Abkhazia war veterans, to intensify calls for punishing those involved in organizing the visit. Aruaa members claimed that by allowing Georgian politicians’ visit Abkhaz authorities breached the local laws that require Georgians to hold visas in order to enter the region.
Abkhaz media reported yesterday on August 25 that irked war veterans, calling for Sakania’s dismissal, held a three-hour-long meeting with ‘president’ Aslan Bzhania. The latter reportedly has confirmed that he was aware of his aide’s actions and promised to take action. According to the same report, Bzhania is expected to discuss the controversial visit with Abkhaz lawmakers on August 27.