Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili said on July 26 that she “strongly condemns” the deal between occupied Abkhazia and Russia for the former to transfer 186 hectares of land in the Soviet-era town of Bichvinta to the latter.
“What we’re seeing in Bichvinta is a form of annexation of Georgian territory by Russia,” she underscored. “We see a strong popular reaction to the developments. This is the result of continued occupation.”
President Zurabishvili called on the international community to “strongly react to this.”
The President’s statement comes a day after the Social Justice Center (SJC), a local watchdog, criticized authorities for their failure to react to the deal and urged them to take “timely steps to curb Russia’s annexation policy in Abkhazia and strengthen efforts in the direction of peace policy.”
It was first decided in 1995 that Bichvinta would be transferred to Russia through a long-term lease though no practical steps have been taken since. Russia stepped up efforts to finalize the deal recently with the text of a new agreement that seeks to transfer the land for 49 years emerging on January 19, 2022. The issue has been a hot topic of discussion in Abkhazia since, with both the public and officials divided on the matter.