Abkhaz leader Sergey Bagapsh said on May 4 that the release of three Georgian students, who had been arrested by Abkhaz law enforcers two months ago, was “an act of goodwill.”
Bagapsh called on the Georgian side to reciprocate by releasing Abkhaz official Davit Sigua.
“We hope that Georgia will accept our gesture and release without any additional demands our citizen, Davit Sigua, just as I, as the president of Abkhazia, have released the Georgian students,” Bagapsh said in a statement posted on his website.
The Georgian Interior Ministry said on May 3 that Sigua, who has been missing since February, 2007, had not been arrested by Georgian law enforcers and they had nothing to do with his disappearance.
The Abkhaz leader also called on the Georgian side to refrain from “populism” while dealing with issues similar to the one involving the release of the three students, who were arrested by the Abkhaz militia on March 1 and charged with illegally crossing “the Abkhaz border.”
“Georgia will not have enough medals to award all those arrested for illegal crossing of the state border. So, we do not want Georgia to use people for PR purposes,” Bagapsh said.
President Saakashvili awarded the three students with medals of honor following their release late on May 3.
Lawmakers from the ruling majority claimed on May 4 that the release of the three students had been made possible through President Saakashvili's direct intervention, in the form of a conservation with the Abkhaz leader.