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Hand Grenade Attack on Abkhaz CEC Chair's House

August 21, 2014
Civil Georgia

A hand grenade exploded after it was thrown into a yard of house of chairman of Central Election Commission (CEC) of breakaway Abkhazia, Batal Tabagua, in Sokhumi, Abkhaz news agency Apsnipress reported.

No one was injured in an explosion that occurred at about 4:05am local time on August 20.

According to prosecutor’s office in Sokhumi, the incident is being investigated under the clause of the criminal code dealing with hooliganism with use of ammunition, but investigators are also pursuing other lines of inquiry related to professional activities of Tabagua in his capacity of CEC chairman.

The incident comes four days before the snap presidential election on August 24, which has been called after ex-leader of the breakaway region Alexander Ankvab had to resign amid opposition’s protests in late May.

Four candidates are running in the race: leader of Forum of the National Unity of Abkhazia MP Raul Khajimba, who was one of the key figures behind the protests against Ankvab; Aslan Bzhania, a former chief of breakaway region’s security service, who is backed by Amtsakhara, political party which was supporting Ankvab; ex-defense minister Merab Kishmaria and Leonid Dzapshba, who served as the interior minister for slightly over a year before quitting in October, 2011; the latter was in the opposition movement, which ousted Ankvab, but opted to bid for president, instead of backing Khajimba’s candidacy.

The Central Election Commission has called on the law enforcement agencies to thoroughly investigate, as the CEC put it, “terrorist act.”

“CEC expresses its unanimous support to Batal Tabagua and reaffirms that CEC will not yield to any provocations and will continue to administer presidential elections in full compliance with the law of our country,” the Abkhaz CEC said in a statement.

One of the presidential candidates, Aslan Bzhania, has also called on the law enforcement agencies to thoroughly investigate the incident and praised the CEC as “one of the most efficient state institutions.”

“But not all the political forces within and outside Abkhazia share this opinion. The incident cannot be qualified otherwise than an attempt to thwart upcoming presidential election,” Bzhania said in the statement on August 20.

In mid-June CEC chairman, Batal Tabagua, was criticized by the group of political parties and movements, which ousted Ankvab, and demanded his resignation, but Tabagua was backed by the members of CEC.

Campaign headquarters of presidential candidate, Raul Khajimba, condemned the incident and said in a statement that “such methods, which may lead to destabilization in the republic, are unacceptable.”

Presidential candidate Leonid Dzapshba said in a statement that “only those could have committed this provocation ahead of complicated presidential election, who aspire to undermine our sovereignty and democracy.”

“I am confident that country’s leadership will spare no effort to find and punish perpetrators… I call on all the presidential candidates to spare no effort to help defuse tensions in the country,” Dzapshba said.

Campaign headquarters of presidential candidate Merab Kishmaria condemned the incident as “provocation aimed at intimidation of CEC chairman.”

“We know that there are forces both within and outside the country, which are interested in creating chaos and lawlessness in Abkhazia to use it for achieving their narrow political goals,” Kishmaria’s campaign headquarters said in a statement. “We condemn any actions directed towards further complicating of already uneasy political situation.”