Ongoing Protests in Abkhazia Over Pitsunda State Dacha Agreement

The protesters, calling for widespread support, emphasise the peaceful nature of their action.

The protesters, calling for widespread support, emphasise the peaceful nature of their action.

SUKHUM / AQW'A ― An indefinite protest has gripped the area outside the Abkhazian Parliament in Sukhum, as citizens come together in a steadfast demonstration against the ratification of a controversial property agreement involving the Pitsunda state dacha.

Alkhas Dzhindzholia, a former deputy and member of the 'Aamta' foundation, has confirmed the persistent and fervent nature of the protests. This demonstration marks a significant moment of civic engagement and opposition in the region, reflecting deep-seated concerns over national sovereignty and governance.

Representatives of various sectors of society, including civil society, intelligentsia, and political and public organisations, have convened at the Abkhazian Parliament to oppose the Pitsunda state dacha agreement, which they believe contradicts the Constitution of Abkhazia. The protesters, calling for widespread support, emphasise the peaceful nature of their action.

"The youth movement 'ҲараҲПицунда' ('Our Pitsunda') has echoed these sentiments, highlighting the critical nature of the protests and voicing strong criticism against the authorities for deploying military equipment in response. In their statement, the movement underscored the situation's urgency. 'Today, people are already gathering at the parliament. In response, the authorities are deploying military equipment, and barricades have become a symbol of the government's disregard for public opinion. We do not call for anyone to join us today, but should you deem it significant, we will be here. Tomorrow, all concerned citizens are urged to express their civic stance. This is crucial. December 27, at 9:00, 10:00, 11:00. Be there. Be in Pitsunda, be in Abkhazia, be present,' the statement implored.

“We won’t leave until the matter is resolved in the people’s favour,” 
― Hero of Abkhazia, Levan Mikaа.

In a recent development, the senior council of the 'Aiaaira' public organisation in Sukhum voiced strong criticism of President Aslan Bzhania's handling of the Pitsunda state dacha issue. War veterans and community members attending the meeting unanimously condemned the president's policies. In a show of escalating opposition, they called for a rally on December 28th. However, in response to increasing demands from various civil organisations and the opposition, the parliamentary discussion of this contentious issue has been unexpectedly brought forward to December 27th.

Hero of Abkhazia, Aslan Kobakhia, has articulated a poignant critique of Russia's policies towards Abkhazia, emphasising a shift in the traditional relationship between the two nations. 'Russia engages in oil trade with the entire world, including those deemed unfriendly, as long as they are financially capable. Yet, the situation with Abkhazia presents a novel challenge. Our companies have been specifically targeted by sanctions from the Russian government,' he stated.

Kobakhia questioned the emergence of a monopolistic control over the import of oil products, suggesting an encroaching influence of Russian oligarchs in Abkhazian affairs. 'We once prided ourselves on having over 100 agreements with Russia, designed to foster our peaceful development. However, these seem to have been mere facades, as we find ourselves increasingly under direct dictation, particularly when our actions displease certain oligarchs.'

"Everyone should come, speak out, and express their protest!"
― Public figure Akhra Bzhania.

Reflecting on the words of the late Vladislav Ardzinba, a revered figure in Abkhazian history, Kobakhia reiterated the importance of maintaining a balanced relationship with Russia. 'Vladislav wisely advised neither to be rude to Russia nor to be overly affectionate. Our countries have become too intertwined, leading to a loss of our standing. This issue goes beyond the Pitsunda state dacha; it raises concerns about future demands and our sovereignty.'

Kobakhia concluded with a powerful call to action, invoking the sacrifices made by Abkhazians in the past. 'The lives and health sacrificed by our finest sons and daughters were not for a country that bends to external pressures. Abkhazia will not be swallowed up, unless we Abkhaz ourselves capitulate. 

The debate over the Pitsunda state dacha agreement, scheduled for ratification on December 27th, has drawn widespread criticism. Abkhazia's General Prosecutor, Adgur Agrba, has appealed to citizens to avoid participating in unauthorised protests.

Under the agreement signed in January 2022, Russia would gain control of both movable and immovable property in Pitsunda, excluding land plots and a section of the sea. The agreement also stipulates that the property will be used for state events involving protected individuals and for their recreational use. The agreement is set to last for 49 years, with an automatic renewal for subsequent 15-year periods unless terminated with a six-month notice.

Opposition members, civil society representatives, and youth organisations have demanded the parliament not ratify the document and called on the Abkhazian leader to withdraw the agreement.

At a press conference at the Abkhazian Ministry of Foreign Affairs media centre, Foreign Minister Inal Ardzinba and Russian Ambassador to Abkhazia Mikhail Shurgalin discussed the joint work in 2023, focusing on the transfer of the Pitsunda state dacha to Russia and the activities of international NGOs in Abkhazia. Ardzinba highlighted the technical corrections made to the agreement, conforming to international legal norms and the Vienna Convention on International Treaties.

Ambassador Shurgalin addressed criticisms of the agreement, clarifying that the land on which the object is located is leased for 49 years, with only the buildings being transferred to Russian ownership. He mentioned that inaccuracies in the list of control points defining the boundaries of the sea area and the object's site were corrected through diplomatic notes.

In conclusion, Ardzinba noted the majority of international projects by NGOs in Abkhazia are directly funded by the USA and aimed at manipulating society. The situation in Abkhazia remains tense as citizens and political figures await further developments regarding the Pitsunda state dacha agreement.




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