Russia may stop investing in Abkhazia and close military base if not given Pitsunda estate
Russia may stop investing in Abkhazia
Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Abkhazia Mikhail Shurgalin stated that if the parliament of the republic does not ratify the agreement on transferring the Pitsunda estate to Russia, the Russian military may leave Abkhazia and abandon investment programs to do with revival of the airport and repair of the railway, among other projects.
This was said at meeting on August 30 between Shurgalin and several Abkhaz activists and journalists, at the latter’s request.
They declared the purpose of the meeting to be to inform the ambassador of the Russian Federation that most Abkhazians are against the transfer of the Pitsunda estate and surrounding acreage.
The participants told the ambassador that the agreement posed the risk of alienating the populace, which could lead to anti-Russian sentiment emerging in Abkhazia.
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One participant of the meeting, the editor of Nuzhnaya Gazeta, Izida Chania, said the meeting made clear that the transfer of the estate had been approved by the leadership of Russia.
“Putin needs Pitsunda. The President of Russia intends to hold talks at the estate, and this territory should belong to Russia,” Shurgalin said.
Abkhazian news and social media is rife with speculation that the transfer of Pitsunda is a test case for Russia – if successful, they will expect legalization of the sale of real estate to Russians generally.
Current law prohibits foreigners from owning real estate in Abkhazia, and Moscow has long been trying to force the local government to make an exception for Russian citizens.
Although mutual understanding was not reached at the meeting, another participant, a member of the opposition Aspny party, Naira Amalia, believes it wasn’t for nought.
“The ambassador now knows for sure that the population of Abkhazia is against transferring land. He knows that the Abkhazian leadership violated the laws and the constitution. And this is important. I’m that the ambassador will convey our position to the top leadership of Russia,” Amalia says.
Earlier, Ambassador Mikhail Shurgalin, in an interview with Sputnik-Abkhazia, identified opponents of the agreement with “those who are behind the Ingur [meaning Georgia – JAMnews] and exaggerate this story in their own interests.”
These words provoked sharp criticism from Abkhaz politicians.
“You dared to call the majority of the population of Abkhazia ‘opponents of the sovereignty of the Republic of Abkhazia and the strengthening of Russian-Abkhazian allied relations’? You identify the people of Abkhazia with ‘those who are behind the Ingur and exaggerate this story in their own interests’? You are evidently not even aware of the latest history of the Republic of Abkhazia, for the sovereignty of which thousands of sons and daughters of our people laid down their lives,” Vianor Ashba, Chairman of the Public Union of Veterans and Citizens of Abkhazia “Aiaaira”, said.
Politician and blogger Tengiz Dzhopua
“We don’t have a problem with ambassadors. Our problem is not even with the Russian agenda. We have a catastrophic problem with people misrepresenting our interests in the country’s power system.
“They are weak-willed, they are dependent on personal and group interests, they are not sufficiently educated and intelligent. In the end, these people do not have even a superficial idea of building a state, nor the slightest desire to connect the future of this country with their own.
“This is our problem and the root cause of it is in us.
“When you accept handouts, you give away part of your dignity in return. At some point your dignity is reduced so much that you find yourself humbly sprawled on the ground at someone’s feet.
“Now we either reconcile ourselves or rebel. The point of no return has been reached, the hour of decision has come.”
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Russia may stop investing in Abkhazia