Abkhaz leader Aslan Bzhania has appointed former Kremlin official, Inal Ardzinba as his new “foreign minister,” replacing long-serving top diplomat Daur Kove.
Ardzinba currently holds the position of the chairperson of the Inter-Religious Public Council for Youth Affairs working under the Russian Patriarch. Starting 2014, he previously pursued a controversial career in the Kremlin: serving as the Assistant of Vladislav Surkov, then Russian President Vladimir Putin’s top aide overseeing relations with CIS states, Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region. In this capacity, Ardzinba was specifically charged with overseeing affairs with Ukraine, including Moscow-backed self-proclaimed entities of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Ukraine’s Top Enemy
In 2015, Ukrainian prosecutors suspected that Ardzinba led efforts to undermine territorial integrity of the country, namely of attempts to create breakaway region of “Bessarabia” on the territory of Odessa region.
The Security Service of Ukraine in 2015 alleged the involvement of both Surkov and Ardzinba in committing terrorism-related crimes on the Ukrainian territory, including by preparations of contract killings.
In October 2015, Kyiv issued the international arrest warrant against Ardzinba. In 2015, Ardzinba made it to the expert-collated list of top enemies of Ukraine, falling behind only Surkov and Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
Ardzinba was born and raised in Sokhumi, and there he graduated the high school. He moved to Russia in 2007 for continuing his studies in the High School of Economics in Moscow, one of the top-ranking Russian universities.
He is a nephew of Aka Ardzinba, founder of Amtsakhara party, that is backing current leader Aslan Bzhania. He is also related to Vladislav Ardzinba, the first Abkhaz “president” who led the charge for secession from Georgia in the 1990s.
Batu Ardzinba, his father, fought against the central Georgian government forces during 1992-1993 armed conflict in Abkhazia.
31-year-old Ardzinba is the youngest person to assume the top diplomatic position in the occupied region. According to media reports, Ardzinba is nicknamed ‘Doberman’ for his tough style.