Rumors of Inal Ardzinba, Sokhumi’s Top Diplomat, Returning to Moscow

Sokhumi’s top diplomat, Inal Ardzinba, is returning to Moscow to take up a role in the Kremlin’s information offensive, according to rumors circulating on Telegram channels. At least one Abkhaz news agency, quoting unnamed “sources”, said Ardzinba already told his staff about his imminent departure.

Graduate of the prestigious High School of Economy in Moscow in 2012, Ardzinba has served under the Kremlin’s ideological mastermind, Vladislav Surkov, since 2014. Since 2015, he has overseen relations with the territories of Ukraine occupied by Russia, and his name featured prominently in the leaked e-mails of Surkov, in this role.

On November 17, 2021, 31-year-old Ardzinba replaced long-serving Daur Kove as Sokhumi’s top diplomat.

Following the Kremlin rulebook, Ardzinba actively worked to restrict the activities of international programs and civil society groups. In the context of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and subsequent Western sanctions, Sokhumi grew increasingly anxious about the regional security context, while the rumblings about Russia’s encroachment on Abkhaz property – such as Bichvinta resort also targeted Ardzinba, seen as one of the key proponents of stronger Russian presence, especially since the dual citizenship deal was signed with Russia through his active involvement.

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