Corruption in Gali – How much does freedom of movement and business cost?
Expired residence certificates

In 2017-2018, the residents of Gali, who refused Abkhaz and Russian passports, were given residence certificates, which were also considered a temporary movement document. The residents of Gali were able to travel to the Tbilisi-controlled territory with those certificates. However, since the validity period of the residence certificate was 5 years, the majority of the residents of Gali were left without a document necessary for movement at the beginning of 2023.

The amendments made to the law on the rights situation of citizens of a foreign country („О правовом положении иностранных граждан“) in January 2023 complicated the procedure for obtaining a residence permit. The Democracy Research Institute has already reported that the residents of Gali were required to prove their permanent presence in the territory of Abkhazia for the past 5 years in order to get the movement document. This requirement proved to be particularly problematic for students and locals employed in the Tbilisi-controlled territory. To solve the problem, the Gali population was offered a corrupt solution. It costs one hundred thousand rubles (about GEL 3,110) to falsify a document proving continuous residence in Gali.

From December 2022 to the end of March 2023, a large part of the population of Gali had been actually unable to enjoy the freedom of movement due to the lack of documents. Currently, until the full resolution of the problem and for the neutralization of the locals’ protest, the validity period of form #9 has been extended from the end of March to December 31, 2023, although the population will probably still have to pay a bribe to receive a document certifying their continuous residence in Abkhazia.

Charges imposed on minibuses on the Enguri Bridge

According to the Democracy Research Institute, in April 2023, minibus drivers taking passengers between Gali and the Enguri bridge were summoned to the de facto militia and were demanded to pay a bribe in order to be able to continue to work. Drivers pay 300 rubles (approximately GEL 9.5) per day, of which, as they say, 100-100 rubles is intended for the on-duty militiamen, and 100 rubles goes to Zurab Jinjolia, the head of the local de facto state automobile inspection ("GAI").  

Additional "charges" for investment

According to the Democracy Research Institute, in April 2023, an investor, originally from Gali, who decided to open a citrus plant in the region, was demanded to pay 1 million rubles (approximately GEL 31,100) as a bribe by the representatives of the local de facto government. In case of successful operation of the enterprise, the businessman was additionally informed that he would have to distribute the profit between: the de facto ministry of agriculture, local militia and representatives of the so-called criminal underworld. As a result, the investor refused to invest in Gali.