On November 28, the National Environmental Agency invalidated a 49-year hunting license for 104,712 hectares of Racha forest granted to Davit Khidasheli’s company HG Capra Caucasica LLC. The agency notes that “the order of March 23, 2022 N38/s on the issuance of a special license has been declared null and void, accordingly, the special hunting license (No. 000019) issued on the basis of the said order has been revoked.”
Davit Khidasheli, known for his connections with Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and close ties to Bidzina Ivanishvili and Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, is a Georgian businessman who played a key role in the “Cartographers’ Case.” From 2007 to 2014, he served as the executive vice-president of AFK Sistema PAO, a Russian conglomerate owned by sanctioned tycoon Vladimir Yevtushenkov, who supported the annexation of Crimea.
The National Environment Agency had instructed HG Capra Caucasica LLC to submit a report on the hunting farm’s impact on the Emerald Network and the Management Plan by March 25. The company failed to comply, leading the Department of Environmental Supervision to initiate administrative offense proceedings in May. However, on July 24, the Ambrolauri court terminated the case. The Department appealed this decision to the Kutaisi Court of Appeal on July 27.
The agency’s press release states that as part of the license revocation process, the agency investigated the facts and held an oral hearing with the participation of interested parties, where the parties were given the opportunity to present their opinions and arguments regarding the fulfillment of license obligations. As a result of these discussions, the National Environmental Agency made a decision to revoke the hunting license in Racha.
The agency emphasized: “…It is very important for the state to support all development-oriented projects, however, in case of non-fulfillment of the agreed conditions, measures provided by law will be taken.”
Intense protests against the mentioned 49-year hunting license have been going on since September 27, 2023. The protesters arrived in Tbilisi in November to demand the cancellation of the 49-year forestry license granted to David Khidasheli, a Russia-based businessman. The protesters say the license was granted without the required public consultation and have been demanding a response from the Ministry of Environment since November 3.