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'Presidential candidate' of occupied Abkhazia urges postponing elections

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Friday, March 6
Leonid Dziafshba, presidential candidate for the breakaway region of Abkhazia proposed to postpone the presidential elections for a month. He names Aslan Bzhania’s state of health as the reason for the postponement. Bzhania is also a so-called presidential candidate.

Dziafshba refused to use the timeframe of the occupied Abkhazian television that was allocated to him, as a 'presidential candidate' and he directly addressed the people, the so-called Central Election Commission and the so-called Parliament with his initiative.

Besides his suggestion regarding the postponement of elections for one month, he said that the 'lawmakers' should pass a law that will specify exactly how citizens will vote in the second round.

The health of Aslan Bzhania, presidential candidate for breakaway Abkhazia, worsened on March 2. He was taken to the Krasnodar clinic in Sochi.

On March 3, RIA Novosti quoted medics saying that Bzhania was poisoned by an unknown substance. According to unspecified information, he was poisoned together with security guards. The so-called Ministry of Health of Abkhazia says the candidate has been diagnosed with 'bilateral polysegmental pneumonia.'

In 2019, Bzhania suffered from a serious illness, the causes of which are still unknown.

March 22 elections are to be held in the de facto Republic of Abkhazia. Opposition leader Aslan Bzhania, Vice Prime Minister of the breakaway republic Adgur Ardzinba and former minister of internal affairs Leonid Dziafshba are the candidates.

Due to Aslan Bzhania's illness, Adgur Ardzinba and Leonid Dziafshba also suspended their meetings with voters.

Bzhania’s supporters, residents of his village, held a protest rally in Sokhumi on March 3. They gathered outside the de facto government administration building, rushed to the acting 'president' Valery Bganba’s office to demand his resignation and the postponing of the March 22 elections.