Petition by Abkhaz NGOs against Russian law on foreign agents –

More than 350 Abkhaz activists and ordinary citizens have filed a petition against the upcoming Foreign Agents Law, pushed by Moscow as part of its 2020 deal with Sokhimi on a joint socio-economic agenda.

The plain-language petition, addressed to Kremlin-backed Abkhazian leader Aslan Bzhania, ‘Prime Minister’ Alexander Ankvab and President Valery Kvarchia, said ‘the Russian-style category of ‘foreign agent’ is a false cliché of propaganda and if passed, the ‘Foreign Agents Act’ will become a tool of repression”.

The signatories claimed that its adoption would revive the “ideological schemes of the totalitarian past of the Soviet era, in which the principle of collective guilt was used against the undesirables, while, for formal reasons, entire social groups were classified as unreliable”.

In their petition, the Abkhaz activists pointed out that passing the law, even in a milder version, would “inevitably lead to the liquidation of the non-governmental sector, since the employees of civil organizations… will not live one day with the slanderous “stranger”. agent label.”

Noting that regulating the work of civil society organizations is an internal Abkhazian affair that goes beyond the framework of “interstate” relations between Moscow and Sukhumi, the signatories said that the bill would cause irreparable damage to Abkhazian CSOs, as well as to democratic organizations. functioning of Abkhazia.

“Considering that the idea of ​​adopting a ‘foreign NGO agents law’ is being promoted despite the recognized important role of the civil sector, it should be concluded that this agenda is largely caused by a misapprehension of the role of NGOs in with the geopolitical situation,” the petition points out.

Highlighting the importance of their work with international organizations, including UN agencies, the signatories said the criterion for determining the acceptability and usefulness of their work “should not be international sources of funding ( which are always transparent), but the extent to which the activities of NGOs serve the true interests of society, meet its needs, promote the fundamental principles and values ​​enshrined in our constitution.

The signatories further affirmed that relations between authorities and CSOs in Abkhazia should continue to be based on traditions, the national mentality of the Abkhaz people, internal dialogue and consensus, not defined by the agreements with Moscow.

Abkhazian activists also noted that the move would reinforce “the false Georgian thesis of ‘occupation’, which is constantly and not without success fought by representatives of Abkhazian NGOs, using influential international platforms.”

The signatories of the letter also recalled that NGOs remain “one of the few channels of communication with the international community, which should not be cut off, given that Abkhazia seeks wider international recognition”.

The petition came as the Russian Minister of Justice and his counterpart from occupied Abkhazia signed a memorandum of cooperation in the field of harmonizing the legal regulation of non-profit organizations and foreign agents, in accordance with the common socio-economic program adopted at the end of 2020. .

Among the signatories are Natella Akaba, a political scientist who was appointed in 2020 to head the Abkhaz Constitutional Reform Commission, Arda Inal-Ipa of the Center for Humanitarian Programs, Alkhas Tkhagushev of Inva-Assistance, Batal Kobakhia, a former legislator and Abkhazian- Georgian war veteran and Vakhtang Ubiria (Georgian ethnicity) generation in action.

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ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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