Akhra Avidzba, former Donbas militant and ex-aide to Abkhaz leader Aslan Bzhania, was detained late on March 4 in Sokhumi, RFE/RL’s Russian-language Ekho Kavkaza reported.
Abkhaz police has yet to comment on the detention, while Avidzba’s supporters and relatives, reportedly linked the arrest to the allegations that former Donbas militant was accompanied in Abkhazia by illegally armed persons from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. The security forces detained these persons as well, Avidzba’s supporters said.
As the search was underway in Avidzba’s flat in Sokhumi, Amra-life, Abkhaz Telegram channel reported that law enforcement officers were looking for evidence of a possible preparation of an armed state coup.
The channel also cited some reports that “weapons and ammunition were found during the search in Avidzba’s house.”
The news comes two days after Avidzba announced the formation of a new organization that he envisaged to transform into a political party.
The 35-year-old ethnic Abkhaz Avidzba made his name after joining the ranks of local insurgents in the Eastern Ukrainian territory of Donetsk in 2014, with whom he fought against the Ukrainian forces, adopting a nom de guerre “Abkhaz.”
His name came under the spotlight of Abkhaz politics in January 2020, when he led a mob of opposition activists storming the “presidential headquarters” of former leader Raul Khajimba in Sokhumi, few days before the latter’s resignation.
Aslan Bzhania, the new leader of Abkhazia, appointed Avidzba as his aide charged with international relations in June 2020, but the former Donbas militant filed a resignation in less than six months after the appointment “in connection with the loss of faith in the common cause.”
In January, the Ukrainian Security Service put Avidzba on its wanted list for establishing and heading an illegal armed formation “Pyatnashka” in 2014.
“Akhra Avidzba was directly involved in the resistance to the anti-terrorist operation of the Ukrainian Joint Forces (JFO) in the occupied territory of the Donetsk region, as well as in the humiliation and torture of the captured Ukrainian servicemen, intimidation of the civilian population,” the Security Office stated.