Adgur Ardzinba, one of the opposition leaders in occupied Abkhazia, today fired back at Russian MP Oleg Kolesnikov after he dubbed December 21 opposition rally and ensuing unrest in Sokhumi a coup attempt.
Kolesnikov, the ruling United Russia lawmaker, also argued, speaking with an Abkhaz TV network, that that the tumultuous developments in Sokhumi were “wrong” and “undemocratic.”
Meanwhile, he hailed the “right [and] consistent” reaction of the Kremlin-backed leadership of Aslan Bzhania to the unrest and welcomed that “everything, in the end, ended peacefully.”
The Russian MP underscored that political developments in Abkhazia can have an impact on Moscow’s relations with Sokhumi, as well as the decision of Russian tourists whether or not to visit the region. The lawmaker added that the economic development of Abkhazia “depends on strong authorities.”
Ardzinba, one of the leaders of the opposition People’s Patriotic Union of Abkhazia grouping, including his own Abkhaz People’s Movement, stated that it was not for MP Kolesnikov to assess the events of December 21.
“We have law enforcement agencies for that,” said Ardzinba.
The opposition leader noted he plans to address Russia’s State Duma, Abkhaz ‘foreign ministry’ and Russian diplomats in Sokhumi to assess the lawmaker’s comments.
“We cannot allow the interference of unrelated people in our internal affairs,” Ardzinba went on, also pointing an accusatory finger at the Abkhaz authorities, suggesting they might have misled Kolesnikov and used him for their own interests.
In this context, Ardzinba pointed out that the Russian lawmaker, on a trip to Sokhumi, made his remarks to the media from the Abkhaz “presidential administration.”
The Abkhaz opposition leader insisted that if MP Kolesnikov was visiting Sokhumi for personal or business reasons, he should abstain from inserting himself in the region’s “domestic affairs.”
Noteworthy that Ardzinba, during his address at the December 21 rally, slammed current Abkhaz leadership for not understanding “the very concept of sovereignty” and having “no idea how to run an independent state.”
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova maintained in a briefing on December 24 that Moscow is committed to “principles of equality, mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs.”
But she stressed that the Russian government is “carefully following” the developments in Abkhazia.
This article was amended for clarity at 19:50, December 25.