Newly appointed Prime Minister of breakaway Abkhazia Alexander Ankvab survived in an assassination attempt, when a group of unknown gunmen opened fire to the Prime Minister’s convoy outside the capital Sokhumi late on February 28, Russian and Abkhaz news agencies reported.
The local Abkhaz television reported that in the moment of the attack Prime Minister Ankvab survived because he was riding in the car of Vice-Premier Leonid Lakerbaia and not in his own. Reports also say, citing Abkhaz Interior Ministry officials, that the PM’s car was hit by 17 bullets.
President of breakaway Abkhazia Sergey Bagapsh said “criminal elements” are behind the assassination attempt of the Prime Minister.
“It seems these [attackers] were criminal elements… who do not want to live in accordance to law,” Bagapsh told RIA Novosti, adding that certain forces are against those reforms, which the new leadership of Abkhazia intends to carry out.
“An emergency meeting of the leadership of law enforcement agencies is underway,” Bagapsh added.
Alexander Ankvab, an influential political figure, was appointed as the Prime Minister of the unrecognized republic on February 14. He is a close ally of President Bagapsh and the leader of the influential political party Aitaira.
His assassination attempt comes amid cabinet row, which has sparked between President Bagapsh and Abkhaz Vice-President Raul Khajimba, which whom he shares powers.
Vice President Khajimba claimed that appointments to the cabinet of ministers made by Bagapsh on February 24-25 violated the law on mandate of the Vice-President and the power-sharing agreement, which brought the two politicians to power, with Russian mediation, last December.
According to the Vice President, Bagapsh did not take into account Khajimba's suggestions over the positions of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Interior and the head of customs. According to the power-sharing agreement the Vice-President is in charge of defense, security and foreign policy.
But President Bagapsh said in an interview with the Regnum news agency on February 28 that he is following all the commitments undertaken by the power-sharing agreement. “We should put an end to the split in society, which has persisted since the [last October] presidential elections [between the supporters of Bagapsh and Khajimba],” Sergey Bagapsh said.
He also said that the new cabinet “is almost formed;” adding that only several positions remain vacant.