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Security tightened near Abkhaz parliament at place of opposition’s rally

The rally began on Monday morning near the parliament’s building in the center of Sukhum

SUKHUM, May 20. /TASS/. The police has enhanced security near the Abkhaz parliament’s building where the opposition is holding a rally, demanding that the presidential elections in the republic be delayed until the autumn, an Interior Ministry representative told TASS on Monday.

The rally began on Monday morning near the parliament’s building in the center of Sukhum. The protesters are demanding that the elections be postponed due to the illness of the main candidate for the president’s post from the opposition bloc, Aslan Bzhaniya, who was hospitalized in Moscow after his health condition had deteriorated sharply.

Opposition representatives and members of Bzhaniya’s family are claiming that he may have been poisoned. "Security measures have been enhanced involving quick reaction special-purpose police units to prevent clashes," the representative said.

The Abkhaz parliament earlier refused to postpone the date of the presidential elections. As TASS reports from the scene, several insignificant clashes occurred among those gathered after the parliament passed its decision. The participants in the rally also responded negatively to the arrival of riot police at the scene.

Abkhaz Interior Minister Garry Arshba earlier told TASS that as of the morning of May 20, over 500 police were involved in the efforts to ensure law and order in the center of Sukhum.

Abkhaz President Raul Khadzhimba has given instructions to publish data on Bzhaniya’s health. A group of the Abkhaz Prosecutor General’s Office started its work in Moscow on Monday to check information on the possible poisoning of the opposition candidate.