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Tbilisi City Council has transferred two plots of land in Tbilisi to the Georgian Orthodox Church. A decision to give away more than 44 additional hectares is pending.
The Church was given 19 square metres of land near Betlemi Dead End in Sololaki District and 249 square metres on Gori Street in Didube District in a 7 November council sitting.
In a separate move, the council’s Property Management Commission has discussed proposals to award the Church an additional 44.2 hectares of land in Tbilisi. A final decision over the proposal will go to the City Council.
The 7 November sitting was the last of the current council, before members elected in recent local elections take their seats. Four political parties gained seats in the council in the 21 October election, with 82% going to the ruling Georgian Dream.
[Read on OC Media: Kaladze elected Tbilisi Mayor as Georgian Dream wins landslide nationwide]
According to the opposition Republican Party, the state has handed over more than 1 million hectares of land and over ₾200 million ($76 million) to the the Church since the early 2000s.
In 2002, a constitutional agreement between the Georgian state and the Church was signed obliging the state to recompense damage suffered under Soviet rule. An exact figure for damages has never been calculated.
Privatisation of land in Tbilisi
According to an October 2017 report from the Anti-corruption group Transparency International — Georgia (TI), Tbilisi authorities alone have privatised government assets via a ‘direct sale’ method several times since 2014. Property is sold to a specific buyer for a symbolic sum in return for commitments by the purchaser to invest in the purchased property.
According to the report, the City Assembly granted City Hall consent to privatise state property 58 times over the last three years, with the Georgian Orthodox Church receiving property for just ₾1 in 28 of these cases.