Real estate only for Abkhaz
The Parliament of Abkhazia has decided to maintain the ban on selling real estate to foreigners and has passed a special resolution. It will apparently be in effect for quite a long time, since lifting the ban requires the adoption of a number of legislative acts that will probably take years.
The list of these necessary laws that need to be enacted are broad in scope, and some of them have not even been elaborated. In particular, the housing, urban planning and building codes need to be passed in order to eventually revisit this issue, which seems to be very critical to the Abkhaz society.
In addition, the Abkhaz government should complete spatial planning activities, speed up the registry procedure of land and completely inventorize the housing stock.
The conditions are so unaffordable that users of social media, where this topic has been so actively discussed, have even calculated that it will take the parliament two convocations and dozens of changes to the composition of government to adopt the whole package of necessary laws.
The motherland is not for sale
It’s the “Aynar party that can celebrate victory. It has successfully assumed the role of Cerberus, keeping guard over Abkhazia’s national interests. Although its demands to pass as a separate law the moratorium on the sale of real estate to foreigners did not get the required number of MPs’ votes, a substantial part of their rejected bill has provided the basis for a separate parliamentary resoultion.
Such a legislative somersault has an explanation. In fact, by making such a decision the Parliament has actually redirected a blow away from President Raul Khajimba. In the case that the moratorium had been adopted as a separate law, under the legislation in effect, it would have been up to him to make the final decision. Furhermore, the President could have ended up in a stalemate.
Once he signs the document, an exited crowd will gather at the square outside the presidential palace under the slogan ‘The motherland has been sold!, aiming to sweep away “a corrupt government.
If he vetoes the document, there will be an angry reaction from Moscow: The responsible politicians will blame Abkhazians for taking an unfriendly stride towards Russia, and there will be reprimands for Abkhazians’ ingratitude by the irresponsible ones. And, as a result, there will once again be an irate crowd (not due to their excessive love for the country, but rather their enragement over empty fridges) outside the presidential palace.
A hot-button issue
The very process of deliberating the sale of real estate to foreigners in the Parliament and the debates surrounding it showed how politicized and explosive this issue is. It all started with Sergey Shamba, MP and one of the leaders of the ‘United Abkhazia’ party.
Shamba is the author of the legislative initiative allowing foreigners (first of all, Russians) to buy residential property. His motivation was quite simple and understandable. The real estate transactions with ‘behind the scenes’ schemes take place regardless and the republic is unable to deal with it. Therefore, it is better to legalize them and provide the Treasury with detailed description of the income from these transactions. At the same time, these additional proceeds will allow them to settle low-income families’ housing problems.
Shamba, himself, probably expected that the initiative would not be passed unnoticed and would cause a backlash. However, he could hardly have imagined its scope. Perhaps his confidence that the idea of lifting the embargo, that had been so long debated in the Abkhaz society, would finally be perceived by the majority of people as an obvious inevitability, failed him. President Raul Khajimba also nibbled at such a possibility. Moreover, the opposition leader, Aslan Bzhania, openly supported lifting the embargo, and the centrists, including Shamba himself, said in unison: it is necessary.
However, when it came down to it, it turned out that it was far from being the consensus, but it was quite close to possible opposition.
The “Aynar party led an ‘anti-sell’ front. Its representative in the Parliament, Almas Dzhapua, submitted a moratorium bill to the National Assembly for consideration and, in parallel, launched an awareness-raising attack through social media, the general essence of which boiled down to one idea: ‘We’re going to selfless and will not let the homeland be sold!’
Aynar’s appeals fell on fertile ground: the Abkhazians’ enrooted anxieties related to their small number, as well as public confidence in the non-competitiveness of the nation at the opening of ‘gateways’-when all the real estate will be bought by foreigners, and the corrupt government will be unable to resist that.
Tempers further flared, when amidst consideration of the issue in the Parliament, Dzhapua’s official car was blown up by unknown culprits.
The MP, himself, was not injured, but the ‘Aynar’ called the incident a terrorist attack and explained it off by Almas Dzhapua’s intransigent position on the real estate sales issue.
The protesters and sympathizers didn’t take long and immediately gathered outside the parliament building. In light of the tense situation, Sergey Shamba withdrew his bill in order to calm things down, and a resolution was passed that pleased the “Aynar supporters and aggrieved the free real estate market enthusiants.
The opinions, expressed in this article convey the author’s views and terminology do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the editorial staff.
Published on: 04.05. 2016