Thirty-Five Deputies Juggling with Us, by Vitaly Sharia

Vitaly Sharia | Ekho Kavkaza ―  The already tense political situation in Abkhazia, in the lead-up to the New Year, has taken an unpredictable turn in the past couple of days, surprising the general public. Initially, on Tuesday afternoon, it was announced that the session of the Abkhazian parliament, which was due to ratify the Abkhaz-Russian agreement on the Pitsunda state dacha and pass the state budget for the upcoming year on Thursday, December 28th, had been rescheduled to Wednesday, December 27th. Shortly after, opponents of the ratification began gathering outside the parliament, declaring their protest indefinite. Braving the cold weather, hundreds of demonstrators stood outside the parliament throughout the night, facing the security forces, keeping warm with occasional speeches and applause, and awaiting the opening of the session at 11 a.m. Then, in a further twist, it emerged that parliament deputies, inside the building, had started discussing the ratification issue after five in the morning.

Around six in the morning, while it was still dark, Speaker Lasha Ashuba addressed the protesters from the parliament building steps, announcing that the agreement on the state dacha had just been ratified at an extraordinary session:

"Everyone was concerned about this situation. There was a lot of apprehension among the parliament deputies and those visiting the parliament. Today, we met with several delegations, discussing various options for adopting this agreement to safeguard the republic. The first option, regarding coordinates, was accepted by the Russian side, which we have received. The remaining issue concerned the 'third parties' option. There was a corresponding meeting between government and opposition representatives, leading to a consensus document. These include amendments to the relevant laws, namely the law on international treaties, the Civil Code, and a special constitutional law specifically addressing the transfer of the state dacha. This states that if the property is transferred to third parties, the agreement will be terminated and the property will revert to the Republic of Abkhazia. This decision was deliberated between opposition force representatives and government officials. Subsequently, these resolutions were forwarded to the parliament, and we commenced discussions with the deputies. Initially, the deputies were reluctant to vote for the agreement with just the coordinates changed, but eventually, we reached a consensus where they would vote for an agreement including both the coordinates and a clause preventing the property's transfer to third parties. At the extraordinary session, attended by 28 deputies, three laws were passed, and the agreement was ratified with 26 votes. The protesters' outcry is shameful. We passed all the documents in the first, second, and final readings."

Was this in a closed session?

- We aligned everything with the Constitution. The parliament is entitled to conduct an extraordinary session.

- In a closed session?

No, it was open.

Why were journalists not allowed? Hmm, I see. Probably because there was no Abkhaz television, right? Yes, that's what was said...

- It was the deputies' decision. Based on the regulations, we can make such decisions, Asida Georgievna. We probably understand the regulations better.

Your decision is unlawful.

- That's your opinion, Asida. Dear friends, I ask you not to escalate the situation and to disperse."

Subsequently, Asida Shakryl, former Ombudsman of Abkhazia, addressed the protesters, speaking to the authorities:

"You bear responsibility for what's happening in this country.

- What's happening? Stop provoking...

Thirty-five deputies juggling with us, a vast population... How can you? On what basis do you conduct a night session, Lasha Ashuba? Answer to your people. By violating the country's Constitution, breaking the laws and regulations of the People's Assembly... How can you?"

+ Abkhazian Parliament Ratifies Transfer of Pitsunda State Dacha to Russia
+ Ongoing Protests in Abkhazia Over Pitsunda State Dacha Agreement
+ President Bzhania Signs Law Transferring Pitsunda State Dacha to Russia

Her indignation was mirrored in numerous comments on Abkhazian social networks:

  • "Last year, two priests passed away... Today, Lydzaa-nyha (an Abkhazian sanctuary in Pitsunda) was destroyed. I congratulate our people!
  • The names of the 25 Judases will be etched in our nation's history! They are terrified."
  • "Ldzaa will catch up with them sooner or later! This is a dark day in our history."
  • "It feels like after March 16, 1993..."
  • "The most terrifying part is their indifference."
  • "Couldn't the 'republic be safeguarded' during working hours on December 28th? Was it only possible under the cover of night? We all walk under God's gaze!"

However, other perspectives were also present. Public figure Nugzar Agrba commented on Facebook:

"Dear people, there's no cause for despair. Much was achieved yesterday. Significant amendments were made to the Agreement. Your voice has been heard; the authorities have much to consider. Russia is undeniably our great neighbour, instrumental in state-building. A certain consensus has been achieved, and this is a collective success. Wishing you a Happy New Year!"

Some supported him, particularly with likes, while others contested his view.

This morning, Aslan Bzhania, President of Abkhazia, signed the law "On the Ratification of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Abkhazia and the Government of the Russian Federation on the Transfer of Property on the Territory of the Republic of Abkhazia and the Procedure for Its Use". He also endorsed the Constitutional Law on implementing this agreement. One of the law's articles stipulates that this constitutional law establishes a prohibition on transferring objects, land plots, and sea areas, as well as constructed buildings, structures, and facilities, to third parties during the Agreement's term or its denunciation. The denunciation entails the return of the specified object in the Agreement to the ownership of the Republic of Abkhazia, along with the transfer of constructed buildings, structures, and facilities in accordance with the Agreement to the Republic of Abkhazia.

This article was published by Ekho Kavkaza and is translated from Russian.




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