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Suspect in attack on former Abkhazian leader shot dead in Gudauta

14 December 2017
The car by which the two men were travelling (Ekho Kavkaza)

A suspect in the attempted assassination of former Abkhazian leader Aleksandr Ankvab in 2012 has been murdered in Abkhazia.

Pavel Ardzinba, 66, was shot dead at around 17:00 on 13 December along with his driver Dmitry Khagba.

Interior Minister Garri Arshba has confirmed their deaths, according to Ekho Kavkaza.

According to Ekho Kavkaza, Ardzinba, who had been wanted for five years following the 2012 attack, surrendered to authorities on 26 September, but was released on bail.

Ardzinba had been wanted for the attempted assassination of Ankvab and the murder of two of his bodyguards killed in the attack.

This was the sixth attempt on then-President Ankvab’s life. Ankvab was elected president in 2010 as successor to veteran leader Sergey Bagapsh; he resigned in 2014 as a result of opposition protests and political turmoil.

The car which the two men were travelling in — a Mercedes Benz W221 — was attacked with automatic weapons on the main motorway west of Sukhumi (Sukhum) near the town of Gudauta, according to Arshba. The men were travelling from Sukhumi to Gudauta.

It was the same road that on 22 February 2012 Ankvab was attacked, allegedly by Ardzinba.

Ekho Kavkaza reported that Pavel Ardzinba was part of the inner circle of Vladislav Ardzinba, the first president of Abkhazia, and served as the deputy defence minister for armament and technology during the 1992–1993 war.

He fled Abkhazia in 2013 after being called to the Prosecutor’s Office for questioning regarding the attack on Ankvab.

For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.