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Analysis, book reviews and photography from Abkhazia and the wider Caucasus — updates when time permits

Abkhazian Army Purge?

On the 29th of April, Abkhazian Minister of Defence Mirab Kishmaria announced during a press conference that a number of very high ranking officers of the Abkhazian army had been dismissed from active service into the reserve forces. The list includes Col. Gen. Anatoli Zaitsev, who is Chief of the General Staff and Deputy Defence Minister, Maj. Gen. Garri Kupalba, who is also a Deputy Defence Minister, Maj. Gen. Zakan Nanba, Maj. Gen. Slava Ankvab, Maj. Gen. Aleksandr Melnik and the Colonels Dmitri Sokolov, Aleksandr Antipov, Anatoli Gorbunov, Zaur Adleiba, Ruslan Chokua and Nodar Kakubava

Even though Kishmaria claimed that these dismissals were due to old age and in line with army regulations, it is rather curious that old age should strike so many high army officers at the same time. No wonder then that some Georgian analysts instead see a purge.

Giorgi Tsiklauri of expertclub.ge claims that a chain of events was set off when President Sergei Bagapsh fired Anatoli Zaitsev, allegedly because his driver and members of his security team had robbed a gas station – but Tsiklauri does not believe this. Instead, he thinks that Bagapsh wanted to get rid of Zaitsev because the latter was perceived as a minder from the Russian army. In retaliation then, Russia forced Bagapsh to dismiss the other officers, and to replace them by Russians in the near future.

But on the 4th of April, EurasiaNet’s weblog The Bug Pit cited the Georgian newspaper 24 Saati with a different theory: that Zaitsev and the other involved officers had been dismissed by Kishmaria because they were all informers for Russia. 24 Saati sees confirmation for this in the fact that Kishmaria himself has not lost his position.

Due to a lack of further information it is unclear which explanation is correct. But in principle, it should not be too hard to establish, provided certain question can be answered. Did Zaitsev’s men really rob a gas station? Were the other officers Zaitsev’s men or not? – unless I am mistaken, at least Ankvab, Kupalba, Nanba, Adleiba and Chokua are all Abkhaz names. And perhaps most tellingly, whom will they be replaced by?

Filed under: Abkhazia, Russia, , , , , , , , , ,

One Response

  1. […] than 5 Abkhazian Deputy Ministers of Defence, including Chief of the General Staff Anatoli Zaitsev, sparked speculation that this was in fact a purge-in-process. The question was, if so, then what kind of purge? If […]

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