DRI: The annexation of Abkhazia will be further strengthened by the obligation to enforce the rulings of the courts of the Russian Federation
Abkhazia's de facto minister of justice Anri Bartsits signed an agreement on mutual recognition of court rulings on arbitration cases between Abkhazia and Russia. In case of ratification of the document by the de facto parliament of Abkhazia, the enforcement of the rulings of the courts of the Russian Federation on arbitration cases will become mandatory for Abkhazia. The agreement has already been ratified by the Russian State Duma. Vladimir Putin has also signed it. The document is now forwarded to the de facto parliament of Abkhazia for ratification, although it is strongly criticized by the opposition and experts.

In addition, the Abkhazian opposition fears that based on the said agreement they will have to return property to the Georgian refugees living in Russia, who have Russian citizenship. Accordingly, according to the Abkhazian opposition, Abkhazia has only one option - not to ratify the agreement.

According to the Democracy Research Institute, the fear that the agreement will protect the interests of ethnic Georgians is irrational and does not correspond to reality. In fact, the agreement serves not to protect the property rights of Georgian refugees, but to strengthen the annexation of Abkhazia. Russia will use the above-mentioned agreement only in one direction: to protect its own interests and to ensure that the real estate located in Abkhazia moves to Russian jurisdiction; Russian investments in Bichvinta are a classic example of the above.

According to the de facto minister of justice, the text of the document sent from Russia to Abkhazia was changed and brought into compliance with the interests of Abkhazia. The document originally provided for the enforcement of the court rulings made only in Russia. Later, at the request of the Abkhazian side, the obligation to enforce the court decisions of Abkhazia in the Russian Federation was added to the agreement. According to the updated text of the agreement, the area of application of the document is limited and it only applies to the rulings of arbitration courts relating to economic cases, while the original version covered many areas of civil relations.

The optimism of the minister of justice is not shared by the opposition or experts. Given Russian’s refusal to enforce the decisions of international organizations, it is doubtful it will enforce the court decisions and arbitration rulings delivered in Abkhazia, especially considering that according to the agreement, in case of the need to protect the "public interests" of the Russian Federation, Russia is exempted from the obligation to enforce the decisions of the courts of other countries. Accordingly, the opposition believes that if Russia refuses to enforce the decision of the Abkhazian courts, Abkhazia will not have any mechanism to change the above, whereas Russia has a number of mechanisms to influence Abkhazia and, accordingly, to ensure the enforcement of Russian court rulings.
From July 2022, in the wake of the war in Ukraine, the Russian Federation has been the owner of the famous Bichvinta country house, which had been owned by the state earlier, and 186 hectares of land around it. The object of protection of the said agreement will be the former hotel Abkhazia, as well as Moscow Resort, which, according to the information provided to the Democracy Research Institute, belongs to Putin's daughter.

Taking into account the developments in Abkhazia, the Democracy Research Institute calls on the Georgian Government to:

  • express its clear position on the agreement between Abkhazia and Russia on the mutual recognition of the court rulings on arbitration cases and to raise the issue in international formats.