Our Position
DRI's point of view: How can we assess the restriction of activities of civil society and international organizations in Abkhazia?
The adoption of Russian legislation on agents of foreign influence aimed at controlling civil society organizations has been on the agenda of the de facto authorities of Abkhazia from 2020, which is a subject of opposition and sharp criticism of local civil society. Efforts to control the civil sector have especially intensified after the appointment of Inal Ardzinba as the so-called minister of foreign affairs.

The fact that Inal Ardzinba, who is known in Abkhazia as the "Kremlin's Doberman", initially failed to achieve success in this direction was the result of the balance and distribution of forces within the de facto regime as a counterweight. To change that balance, Ardzinba took radical steps in early September, when he announced his resignation during the absence of the de-facto president in Abkhazia. It was a kind of blackmail - in case of Ardzinba's resignation, Bzhania would have to fend off Russia's resentment for sending off the "Moscow man" from the government. As a result, the de facto president had to make Ardzinba stay in office.

This process reflects the struggle for power in the de facto authorities. Since the appointment of Inal Ardzinba, there have been reports about his presidential ambition and the Russian source of this ambition. The fact that Ardzinba achieved some success after such a long campaign against civil society and international organizations indicates the weakening of his opponents within the regime.

On the initiative of the de facto minister of foreign affairs of Abkhazia, the de facto government made a decision by which:

  • USAID/Caucasus Mission Director John Pennell has been declared persona non grata in occupied Abkhazia.
  • Implementation of any kind of USAID-funded project has been banned in Abkhazia.
  • Projects related to establishing contacts and dialogue between Abkhazians and Georgians have been
  • If the de facto ministry of foreign affairs considers that the information provided on any project is insufficient, it will close the project.
  • Media projects aimed at covering Abkhazia's home and foreign policy have been
  • According to the new order, all international organizations operating in Abkhazia are obliged to agree any kind of financial assistance intended for the local non-governmental sector with the de facto ministry of foreign a
In addition to the fact that the mentioned decision is a serious blow to the trust-building projects between Abkhazian and Georgian societies, and that the Abkhazian civil society and, accordingly, critical opinion are at risk of being disappeared, this decision of the de-facto government of Abkhazia should be considered as a victory of Inal Ardzinba's camp in the struggle for power. This, in turn, indicates the introduction of a new and different, radical political agenda, which implies more isolation and even closer integration with Russia. Considering all this, it is interesting how prepared the Georgian political elite is for these changes.