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Abkhazia approves transfer of Pitsunda dacha to Russia

27 December 2023
Pitsunda. Image via RFE/RL.

Abkhazia’s parliament has ratified a deal transferring the Pitsunda (Bichvinta) dacha to Russia’s Federal Protective Service (FSO) for 49 years.

On Wednesday, at 05:30, members of the parliament gathered for an extraordinary session to vote on the agreement.

Parliament included a number of articles in the agreement requested by Abkhazian opposition activists, that would guarantee the termination of the deal if the FSO ‘donates, sells, or transfers the state dacha’ to a third party.

In addition, the FSO cannot construct new buildings or facilities on the leased territory without Abkhazia’s prior approval.

Parliament was expected to convene to ratify the deal at 11:00 on Wednesday, with protesters gathering around government buildings and the parliament on Tuesday to prevent police from cordoning off the parliament and barring protesters from attending the session.

However, 28 MPs arrived at parliament after midnight, with the vote taking place behind closed doors in the early hours of Wednesday. Critics of the controversial transfer have said that parliament chose to ratify the agreement in the early morning to avoid protests outside parliament. 

Only three MPs voted against the transfer of the dacha.

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The Pitsunda dacha deal dates back to 1995, when Abkhazia’s first president, Vladislav Ardzinba, agreed to rent the dacha in Pitsunda (Bichvinta) to the Russian Federal Protective Service for 49 years. It came with an adjoining 186 hectares of land on the Black Sea coast.

This agreement was extended in January 2022, in the face of criticism from legal experts and activists who organised campaigns against the transfer of the dacha.

[Read more: Abkhazia’s youth protest the Pitsunda dacha deal]

Opposition activists have announced that a protest will take place outside Abkhazia’s parliament from 11:00. 

 For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.

Read in Armenian on CivilNet.