Tbilisi condemns Russian Duma Chair visit to occupied Abkhazia as “gross violation” of int’l law

The Georgian Foreign Ministry on Friday said Russia continued to violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia. Photo: Foreign Ministry press office

Agenda.ge, 02 Dec 2022 - 18:40, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Georgian Foreign Ministry on Friday condemned the recent visit of Vyacheslav Volodin, the Speaker of the Russian Duma, to Georgia’s Russian-occupied Abkhazia region, saying the move was “yet another violation of fundamental principles and international law” by Moscow. 

The body said with the development the Kremlin continued to violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, as well as the 2008 ceasefire agreement that requires Russia to withdraw its troops from Georgian territory.

After signing a new document of cooperation with the de facto parliament of Georgia’s north-western region on Thursday, the Russian official pledged to “further intensify bilateral ties”, and announced a new meeting with de facto senior legislators “in a few months”. 

Local media outlets said the meetings in Sokhumi, the regional capital, were “very likely” to also discuss Moscow's efforts to see 186 hectares of territory in the Bichvinta resort town in the region handed to Russia on a 49-year lease.

The illegal agreement on the transfer was signed in Moscow on January 19 but only became known on July 11, when the de facto parliament of Abkhazia began discussions over the deal, sparking both internal tension and strong reactions from Tbilisi. 

The Russian Duma speaker arrived in occupied Abkhazia on Thursday. video grab. 

If approved, the deal would see all infrastructure on the territory of Bichvinta - a resort town in Abkhazia’s Gagra district that was a popular holiday destination during the Soviet years - become the property of the Russian Federal Protection Service, while the surrounding lands - with an area the size of about 300 football fields - would be transferred to Russia on a 49-year lease.

Russia recognised the independence of the occupied Abkhazia and central Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) regions of Georgia in August 2008, following the Russia-Georgia war that month. Only four other countries – Venezuela, Nicaragua, Nauru and Syria – have since shared Russia’s position regarding the status of the regions, with the rest of the international community maintaining the regions are parts of Georgia under Russian occupation.

Russia and Georgia have had diplomatic relations suspended since the conflict, while trade and economic relations were restored in 2013.