|President of Abkhazia|
|Assumed office |
23 April 2020
|Prime Minister||Alexander Ankvab|
|Vice President||Badr Gunba|
|Preceded by||Valeri Bganba|
|Head of the State Security Service|
23 February 2010 – 29 September 2014
|Preceded by||Iuri Ashuba|
|Succeeded by||Zurab Margania|
|Born||6 April 1963|
Tamishi, Abkhazian ASSR, Georgian SSR, Soviet Union
(now Abkhazia, Georgia)
Aslan Georgievich Bzhania (Abkhaz: Аслан Гьаргь-иԥа Бжьаниа, romanized: Aslan G'arg'-ipa Bž'ania, Georgian: ასლან გიორგის-ძე ბჟანია, romanized: aslan giorgis-dze bzhania, Russian: Аслан Георгиевич Бжания; born 6 April 1963) is an Abkhaz politician that has served as the President of Abkhazia[note 1] since 23 April 2020. He was the Head of the State Security Service from 2010 to 2014, and one of the leaders of the opposition in Abkhazia from 2016. He ran in the 2019 presidential election, but was forced to withdraw due to poisoning. He won the subsequent 2020 presidential election.
Between 1991 and 1993, Bzhania worked for the State Security Service of Abkhazia. In 1994, he became a businessman in Moscow. In 1998, he graduated from the Academy of National Economy under the President of the Russian Federation. Between 1 January 2009 and 24 February 2010, Bzhania served as advisor to the Abkhazian Embassy in Moscow.
State Security Service Head (2010–2014)
On 23 February 2010, following the re-election of Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh, he appointed Bzhania has head of the State Security Service, replacing Iuri Ashuba. Following Bagapsh's death in 2011, Bzhania was re-appointed by his successor Alexander Ankvab.
2014 revolution and presidential election
In 2014, after the May revolution against Ankvab, Bzhania became the candidate of the outgoing government in the subsequent Presidential election, running with Astan Agrba as vice presidential candidate. The pair was nominated by an initiative group on 2 July and received the support of the political party Amtsakhara, former Vice President Mikhail Logua and part of the campaign staff of nominee Beslan Eshba, who had been barred from running.
On 21 July, a group of citizens petitioned the Supreme Court to declare Bzhania's registration invalid, as it claimed he had not satisfied the five-year residency requirement, having lived in Moscow until February 2010. The case was dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired.
On 3 December 2016, Bzhania was detained by Russian border guards before crossing the border into Abkhazia. The event triggered protests by the Abkhazian opposition, who alleged Bzhania had been arrested on behest of the Abkhazian authorities. On 4 December, President Khajimba asked the Russian Ambassador in Abkhazia to facilitate Bzhania's release. In the evening, Bzhania was released and allowed to cross the border. In a press conference on 6 December, Bzhania stated that he had no direct evidence of involvement by the Abkhazian government, but claimed that while detained, he was approached by a man in civilian clothes who said he was instructed to inform him that he constituted a threat to both the Russian and the Abkhazian state. He also described how he had been subjected to multiple alcohol and drugs tests, and how his personal weapon, munition and license were subjected to close scrutiny.
In 2019 Bzhania entered the 2019 Abkhazian presidential election and was considered a favorite candidate. However he was admitted to a hospital in Moscow in a severe condition in April 2019, with the presence of a large dose of mercury and aluminum in his blood, leading to allegations of poisoning on political grounds. He remained in the clinic through May, his respiratory system and speech impaired. As a result, he withdrew from the election on 15 July.
Raul Khajimba went on to win the election, but this prompted protests and in January 2020 the Abkhazian Supreme Court annulled the results. Khajimba resigned the presidency on 12 January, and new elections were called for 22 March. Bzhania entered these elections and won with 59% of the vote.
- "Бжания Аслан Георгиевич". Caucasian Knot. 23 October 2015. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
- Bagapsh, Sergei (23 February 2010). "Указ Президента Республики Абхазия №32 от 23.02.2010" (in Russian). Администрация Президента Республики Абхазия. Archived from the original on 2012-06-08. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
- "ЦИК зарегистрировал инициативную группу по выдвижению Аслана Бжания кандидатом в президенты". Apsnypress. 2 July 2014. Archived from the original on 30 July 2014. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
- ""Амцахара" поддержала кандидатуру Аслана Бжания на предстоящих выборах Президента". Apsnypress. 18 July 2014. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
- "Пресс-конференция М. Логуа". Apsnypress. 18 August 2014. Archived from the original on 17 September 2014. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
- "Представители бывшего предвыборного штаба кандидата в Президенты Беслана Эшба намерены консолидироваться с предвыборным штабом кандидата в Президенты Аслана Бжания". Apsnypress. 23 August 2014. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
- "Центризбирком подвел окончательные итоги по выборам президента РА". Apsnypress. 26 August 2014. Archived from the original on 27 August 2014. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
- "ПАРТИЯ "АМЦАХАРА" СЧИТАЕТ, ЧТО ЗАДЕРЖАНИЕ АСЛАНА БЖАНИЯ В СОЧИ ПРОИЗОШЛО С ПОДАЧИ АБХАЗСКИХ ВЛАСТЕЙ". Abkhazia Inform. 4 December 2016. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
- "РАУЛЬ ХАДЖИМБА ПОПРОСИЛ ПОСЛА РОССИИ В АБХАЗИИ ПРЕДОСТАВИТЬ ОБЪЯСНЕНИЕ ПРИЧИН ЗАДЕРЖАНИЯ АСЛАНА БЖАНИЯ НА РОССИЙСКО-АБХАЗСКОЙ ГРАНИЦЕ". Abkhazia Inform. 4 December 2016. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
- "СОПРЕДСЕДАТЕЛЬ БЛОКА ОППОЗИЦИОННЫХ СИЛ АСЛАН БЖАНИЯ РАССКАЗАЛ ЖУРНАЛИСТАМ О ПОДРОБНОСТЯХ НЕДАВНЕГО ЗАДЕРЖАНИЯ ПРАВООХРАНИТЕЛЬНЫМИ ОРГАНАМИ В Г. СОЧИ". Abkhazia Inform. 6 December 2016. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
- Nikoladze, Tatia (17 May 2019). "Abkhaz parliament confirms opposition leader was poisoned, presidential elections may be rescheduled". JAM News. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
- "Лидер оппозиции Бжания снялся с выборов президента Абхазии из-за болезни" [Opposition leader Bzhania withdrew from presidential elections in Abkhazia due to illness] (in Russian). kommersant.ru. 15 July 2019. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
- "Abkhazia: court confirms victory of Khajimba in presidential elections despite opposition protest", JAM News, Sep 20, 2019, retrieved Nov 2, 2019
- "Верховный суд Абхазии отменил итоги выборов президента" [Supreme Court of Abkhazia canceled the results of the presidential election] (in Russian). BBC News. 10 January 2020. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
- RFE/RL (12 January 2020). "Abkhaz Leader Resigns Amid Ongoing Election-Fraud Protests In Breakaway Region". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
- REF/RL (22 March 2020). "Abkhaz Opposition Leader Wins Repeat Presidential Vote In Breakaway Georgian Region". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
- "Unrest Ensues in Sokhumi". Civil.ge. 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2021-12-23.
- The political status of Abkhazia is disputed. Having unilaterally declared independence from Georgia in 1992, Abkhazia is formally recognised as an independent state by 5 UN member states (two other states previously recognised it but then withdrew their recognition), while the remainder of the international community recognizes it as as de jure Georgian territory. Georgia continues to claim the area as its own territory, designating it as Russian-occupied territory.