Old Powerplant at Heart of New Controversy in Abkhazia

Fresh controversy is mounting in occupied Abkhazia after prosecutors found the privatization of historic Besleti hydro-power plant, now owned by opposition leader Kan Kvarchia, as illegal.

The prosecution said on December 1 the normative acts by the previous administration from March and April 2020 on allowing the privatization of first-ever HPP of Abkhazia, built in 1908, contravened Abkhaz laws on preserving cultural heritage also the one on electric energy.

The prosecution said the state-owned site which forms historic and cultural heritage was sold without the consent of the Abkhaz legislature, defying the legal requirements.

The case is now sent to “the supreme court” of the occupied region, which has two months to make the decision on the prosecutors’ appeal.

HPP Owner Responds

Kan Kvarchia, leader of opposition group Aidgilara, who acquired the power-plant in 2020, accused the prosecution of “carrying out political orders.”

“They want me to get involved in litigation and distract me from active opposition activities,” Kvarchia maintained, vowing that he will not be “silenced.”

The opposition politician said all legal procedures were observed, noting that contrary to prosecution’s claim lawmakers greenlighted the privatization on June 19, 2020. He added the bidding was made public, including through media.

Noteworthy, that normative acts the prosecution found illegal were adopted few weeks before Aslan Bzhania, current leader came to power in late April 2020, while the power-plant actually changed hands in the summer 2020, after Bzhania assumed the office.

Stressing that he paid 4 million rubles (USD 54 thousand) for the non-operational facility, Kvarchia said it would require millions of dollars to make the power-plant functional again.

Kvarchia added that while he pays taxes on land and property for owning the neglected complex, he does not intend to change its historical appearance.

“Does Mr. Bzhania want to take everything from us and give it to a foreign investor?… I advise the authorities not to open the Pandora’s Box!” Kvarchia warned.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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