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Attempt to Conclude Agreement with Russian Guard Allegedly Dropped in Abkhazia

At the end of the last week the Abkhaz telegram channels circulated the draft agreement on cooperation between the Russian Federal Service of National Guard Troops (Russian Guard or RosGvardia) and the so-called interior ministry of Abkhazia, which sparked concerns about the “interference in internal politics” and “loss of sovereignty” among the local population in Abkhazia. The draft document named “ensuring public order and public security”, “fighting terrorism and extremism”, “state control over the turnover of armaments”; “protection of property of individuals and legal entities”, “enforcement of actions aimed at countering crime”, etc. among the main directions of cooperation between the signatory agencies.

Pundits expressed concerns that the real reason behind the agreement may be the necessity to disperse protest rallies by force, as well as protection of investment projects by the Russian side.   

The Abkhaz opposition called on the so-called minister of interior, Robert Kiut, to “refuse to sign the agreement with the Russian Guard”. The appeal was signed by the parties “Forum of People’s Unity” and “Apsny,” non-governmental organizations “Abkhaz People’s Movement,” “Aruaa,” and “Our Capital.”

Robert Kiut initially brushed away the concerns about the agreement, saying on February 10 that “the physical presence of RosGvardia employees on the territory of Abkhazia, or their interference in our domestic political activity, is not provided for in any way” and that “our main goal is to exchange experience and gain knowledge.”

His statement did not appear to have calmed the opponents and the next day the leadership of the de-facto interior ministry of the occupied republic held a meeting with several non-governmental organizations. “We would like to note that the leaders of the security structures expressed full solidarity with regard to the risks arising from the document. And they expressed the opinion that it should not be signed,” reported the “Abkhaz People’s Movement” following the meeting.

On February 11, the so-called interior minister made a second statement stating that the inter-agency agreement would not be concluded by the leadership of Abkhazia’s “interior ministry”.

Meanwhile, the opposition reportedly appealed to the members of the de-facto legislature to adopt the amendments to the so-called law “On international treaties of the Republic of Abkhazia,” providing for the preliminary agreement with the so-called parliament of Abkhazia of all draft “agreements”, including the inter-agency ones.

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