Irakli Bebua to be released from illegal imprisonment in 2029
One year ago, on September 30, 2020, Georgian citizen Irakli Bebua was arrested for burning an Abkhazian flag in Gali. The maximum sentence for the act shall be one year in prison, although the charge against Bebua was artificially aggravated, alleging that he had a hand grenade and an automatic firearm at home. As a result, he was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Irakli Bebua is a church servant and is characterized as a positive person in the Gali district. In a publicly spread video allegedly showing his questioning, he confirms the burning of the flag and explains that he is not against Abkhazians. On the contrary, he believes that the date of the division of ethnic Georgians and Abkhazians should not be marked and he still supports friendly relations.[1]
Irakli Bebua's imprisonment and severe punishment are still lobbied by local radical groups. According to the information available to the Democracy Research Institute (DRI), it was said at the meeting held at the Gali House of Culture on June 7, 2021 that Bebua should have been publicly shot by a firing squad in the square. Former de-facto Minister of Internal Affairs Aslan Kobakhia said in his speech: "I would shot him on the spot, the residents of Gali should lynch him ...".
An Abkhazian flag was damaged in Abkhazia in 2017 as well. An ethnic Armenian young person living in Gagra insulted the Abkhazian flag then and posted the relevant video on social media. This was followed by a stir in the society. The young man and his father publicly apologized for burning the flag, which turned out to be a sufficient punishment.[2]
According to the family members of Irakli Bebua, the illegal prisoner has health problems, does not have access to medical services and his life and health are in danger.[3]
The Democracy Research Institute calls on the Georgian authorities and the international community to use all available political and legal mechanisms to ensure the immediate release of Irakli Bebua from the unlawful imprisonment.

[1] Radio Liberty, 2020, "Reports say a man was arrested in Gali for burning an Abkhazian flag",
[2] Voice of the Caucasus, 2017, "Desecration of the flag: what’s behind the scandal",
[3] Formula News, 2021, "According to the family, Irakli Bebua's life is in danger",