Illegally Seized Property in Anaklia, Grigoleti and Gonio
In recent years, cases involving the violation of property rights have grown exponentially, and a number of reports have been published on this topic. For example problems related to the property rights were mentioned in the reports of the European Union and US State Department. In these reports, there was a direct indication of the dire situation of property rights in Georgia. Beginning last year, Transparency International Georgia began to talk actively about problems related to property rights. In May of this year, TI Georgia once again visited several west Georgian settlements (Anaklia, Grigoleti and Gonio) where we met with affected local population.
During the Anaklia visit, we discovered that, because of Zugdidi-Anaklia road construction, about 30 local residents’ property had been taken away.
Construction work began without the permission of the owners. Moreover, there was initially no compensation offered to the local population. Relevant compensation (20 GEL per 1 sq.m) was made only after the seized territory had been covered with newly built infrastructure. Road construction still continues in the region.
Confiscation of property has also occurred in another part of Anaklia; however, unfortunately, unlike the above mentioned case, the local government has not even considered the issue of compensation.
Without permission, the state registered a territory to itself (Cadastral code 43.30.46.075), which had belonged to the brothers Zurab and Elguja Sordias. Currently, construction continues though it is still unknown what exactly is being built. There is no information board posted at the construction site, and the builders are strongly against video recording. Despite verbal prohibitions, it was still possible to record a talk where one worker states that he represents Tbilaviamsheni. But at the end of the recording, the supervisor of the construction states that the workers are building a milk factory. It is unclear why the employees of Tbilaviamsheni are involved in the construction of a milk factory.
The second visit of TI Georgia was to Grigoleti where, due to the construction of the Supsa Terminal building, about 35 local residents’ property has been taken away. At first, the state arbitrarily registered the local residents’ land to itself, and then, it gave the land away to a company named Black Sea Products. On the 46 hectares purchased from the state, “Black Sea Product” promised to invest $750 million in 2012 to finish the construction of the port and to employ 2500 local residents. None of the above mentioned obligations were fulfilled by the company. Only half of the lake has been drained for the port construction. At this time, the construction of the port is suspended.
Transparency International Georgia also visited the village of Gonio. In 2007, Khelvachauri Municipality’s Sakrebulo’s Property Rights Declaration Commission registered Gonio-Apsaros castle’s nearby territory to the locals. The citizens who held ownership certificates issued by the committee registered themselves as the owners of the land in the public registry. But on November 9, 2010 on the basis of the #36 Decisions, the same commission abolished the ownership certificates and returned the seized land to the state.
The reason of the revocation of the property, according to the local authorities, was the special status of the village Gonio. According to their official statements, the confiscated property should have been transferred to the investors for constructing different touristic facilities. Despite the statements of local authorities, the confiscated land is still state owned and local inhabitants continue to cultivate it.
Transparency International Georgia welcomes the Government's initiatives related to infrastructure development and attraction of investors; however, we strongly believe that, for such initiatives to function properly, the property rights of citizens must not be sacrificed. TI Georgia is actively involved in the protection of the property rights of owners, and, to eliminate these violations of property rights, we believe that there is a need of the state’s desire to respect the property rights of their people. In the absence of this desire, the proper usage and protection of constitutionally guaranteed property is practically impossible.
TI Georgia calls upon the Georgian government to pay special attention to the protection of property rights in the country, to examine the current situation, and to take effective measures to secure property rights and protect the interests of victims.