Sokhumi Sets Ultimatum as Police Arrest Abkhaz Official

Georgia Materials 8 December 2006 17:56 (UTC +04:00)

(civil.ge) - The authorities in breakaway Abkhazia said on December 8 they have suspended border crossings with Georgia and have threatened to cut power supply from Enguri hydro power plant to the Georgian region of Samegrelo.

Abkhaz leader Sergey Bagapsh said the move is a response to the arrest of Pridon Chakaberia, chief of the administration of a Kvemo Bargebi village in the Gali district of breakaway Abkhazia, reports Trend.

Chakaberia was arrested by Georgian police in the western Georgian city of Zugdidi, near the administrative border with breakaway Abkhazia, for alleged drug trafficking. The Abkhaz side claims that Chakaberia was in Zugdidi to purchase medical equipment. We have already closed the checkpoints on the border with Georgia. We will probably suspend power supplies to the western regions of Georgia, Abkhaz leader Sergey Bagapsh said in an interview posted on his official web-site.

He also stressed that Chakaberia's arrest was politically-motivated, aiming at intimidating the local population of the predominantly Georgian-populated Gali district.

Bagapsh alleged that the Georgian authorities want to intimidate all Georgians who live in the Gali district and who cooperate with the Abkhaz authorities.

All Georgians who live and work in Abkhazia are considered to be enemies in Georgia. So Tbilisi tries to punish those residents of the Gali district who have real aspirations for a peaceful life, Bagapsh said.

Georgia has once again proved its aggressive intentions... The goal of this move is to prevent the strengthening of the [Gali] district's integration into Abkhazian space, Bagapsh said.

The Foreign Ministry of breakaway Abkhazia has also condemned the arrest of Pridon Chakaberia and demanded his immediate release.

We call on all the participants of the negotiating process to make efforts in order to prevent similar actions, which may lead to response actions and an escalation of tensions, a statement issued by the Abkhaz Foreign Ministry on December 8, as quoted by Apsnipress news agency, reads.