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Abkhazia rejects Kremlin's property proposals

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, August 25
Abkhazia refuses to approve the draft law proposed by the Kremlin concerning legalising property to Russian citizens in Abkhazia without preconditions. However Sokhumi does not rule out discussing the issue of property rights itself – the statement by the so called Prime Minister of Abkhazia, Sergey Shamba, on August 23.

“If we approve the draft law on legalising property to Russian citizens in Abkhazia, we will face serious problems, because Georgian refugees, who have been living in Russia since they fled Abkhazia and who have Russian citizenship, will return to Abkhazia. It is impossible to resolve the case immediately,” Shamba explained and mentioned, “Our law enforcement agencies, prosecutor's office and the Supreme Court are studying all the documentation regarding the issue. When they complete this work, a Russian-Abkhaz joint commission will be set up, which will address cases of violation of property rights.”

Russian politicians have criticised Shamba for his refusal and accused him of opposing the Kremlin. However the same day the de facto leader abstained from answering direct questions on the issue by a journalist from Radio Echo Moskvy.

Georgian officials have also commented on the issue, stating this is an attempt by Abkhazia to prevent the Russians assimilation of the region. “There is no longer any doubt that Russia is planning the complete assimilation of the region, as the puppet regime representatives can guess. They can deduce that Abkhazia’s independence is the myth and nothing more. It is also obvious that Russia will not pay attention to such statements made by de facto leaders,” MP Giorgi Kandelaki stated.

The issue regarding property is not the only recent subject for debate between Russians and Abkhazians. Abkhaz veterans are urging the leader of Abkhazia's de facto regime, Sergey Bagapsh to demand the arrest and extradition of Tengiz Kitovani, a retired Georgian military commander for “Abkhazian justice”. Kitovani fled Georgia and now lives in Russia. The veterans have sent a corresponding request to Baghapsh - newspaper Nuzhnaia Gazeta reported on August 24.

“We believe the Abkhazian government should ask the Russian government to hand over all the military criminals led by Tengiz Kitovani, who resides in Russia, to Abkhazian justice,” states the request of Aruaa – the Abkhaz Veterans organisation to Sergey Baghapsh. However, so far neither the so called Abkhazian leadership nor the Russian side has commented on the issue.

Analyst Nika Chitadze told the Messenger, “The reason that has been given by Shamba – that after adopting the draft, the demographic situation in Abkhazia might change positively for Georgians, is far from the real reason. Abkhazians can see clearly that Russia is trying to assimilate the Abkhazians and they are trying somehow to avoid this process. Assimilation is already being conducted very openly in the region. Putin has stated that those people who lost their homes as a result of the fires in Russia will be settled in Abkhazia. In addition families of soldiers and Russian Federal Security Service employees will be relocated to this region to live, after which local Abkhazians will be in minority and step-by-step assimilated.” Chitadze went on “I do not anticipate that the Abkhazians will disturb the draft adoption process; nearly 99% of Abkhazia’s and so called South Ossetia’s budgets are made up of funds allocated by Russia. If Russia abandons them, they will be dead from starvation, thus, Abkhazia has no option but to obey Russia's orders.”

According to analyst Mamuka Areshidze, “Following its recognition of the state, Russia has started to get involved in Abkhazia’s internal issues. Abkhazia has more claim of being independent compared with so called South Ossetia and is not happy about what is going on in the region at the present moment. The open interference in the region’s affairs is unaccepted for Abkhaz officials. They are trying to distance themselves from Russia and this is why they are intending to make contact with the West; however Europe will only discuss helping them as part of Georgia. For now Abkhazians have no power to change the situation,” Areshidze said.