Южнокавказская сеть правозащитников

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Flats sold based on inner persuasion
The construction of the residential blocks # 204 and 205 started in Zgvisubani micro district II close to Tbilisi Sea in 1990s. From 2003 homeless people started to occupy spaces in the semi-constructed blocks. The inhabitants claim they renovated the spaces with their own resources before 2007 and created there a minimum of living conditions. In 2006 the buildings were registered as a state property and assigned to the Tbilisi City Hall in 2008; the latter assigned the building to Metromsheni. Nevertheless, the dispute about the flats in the blocks is still going on. Since 2007 there have been several attempts of eviction of the homeless people from the blocks. Last notification about planned eviction was sent to the inhabitants on October 14, 2014. 67 families will not leave the flats. They renovated the flats with their own resources and plan to struggle to keep them.

Monday, 03 November 2014

The nearest bus stop is 1 kilometer away from the blocks. The inhabitants have to walk about 1 kilometer to reach the nearest shop. They cannot dream about public school close to their building – it is a luxury for them. The territory turns into a desert in the summer, into windy-field in the autumn and snowy in the winter. So if the family does not have a car they can get lost.

The blocks, where about 60 families live now, have not been exploited by any governments until now. This means that living in those buildings were not allowed. Nevertheless, homeless people inhabited the buildings which can be used for living if you do not pay attention to its unfinished entrance, empty pit of lift, stairs and balconies without handrails. Several incidents have happened in the building the past 11 years, such as inhabitants that have fallen off balconies or stairs; the majority of these incidents have ended lethally.

The mobile group of human rights defenders from the Human Rights House Tbilisi visited the new, but remote district of Tbilisi after the inhabitants of the 204th and 205th blocks in Zgvisubani micro district II faced the threat of eviction. In the narrow, slightly renovated flat on the fourth floor of the nine-storey block a little boy was sleeping on the sofa. He had a high fever. The grandmother said – he does not have a virus, but yesterday, when they came here to evict us, I climbed up on the roof and wanted to jump. He was scared and got a fever because of this.

Inga Buadze is chairman of the communal union of the inhabitants of the building. She represents the neighbors in different institutions. A mother of three children, like all other inhabitants, has had a hard life. “A year ago we got a document from the Civil Registration Agency, which states that the inhabitants of this block do not have alternative accommodation elsewhere in Georgia,” Inga Buadze said –“socially indigent population lives here. I also had that status. When my children were students we lived very poorly. Polyethylene was stretched on our windows. We did not have electricity supply for 7 years. Now my daughters work in Turkey and we renovated the flat with the money they sent me. I want them to continue living in this renovated flat after they return to Georgia. One daughter is married, the two others are not. I want them to live well here. Just imagine when they return and will not find their home. I will not handle it! I will blow up the whole building – I will release gas for half an hour and then blow it up if I don´t have a chance to keep the home for my daughters.”

Homeless families settled in the Blocks # 204 and 205 in 2003. They lost their houses at different times for various reasons. Some of them were victimized by earthquake, others during the Tbilisi civil war of 1990s; only five families are displaced from conflict zones.

Everything started in 1990s, when Metromsheni, a huge building company from the soviet industry decided to build two residential blocks for its employees. The construction was funded from Moscow. Later two more blocks were added, but the Soviet Union collapsed before the construction finished. The money transferred from Moscow was wasted, a civil conflict started in the country and the construction stopped. Four unfinished nine-storey blocks remained; the surrounding territory has been used as a rubbish dump for 15 years. Nowadays, only 204th and 205th blocks are in such a shape that it´s worth living there, though partly. In 2003 homeless people occupied spaces in the semi-finished buildings. The locals claim they renovated the flats with their own resources before 2007 and created elementary living conditions there.

Initially 108 families inhabited the two blocks, but now only 67 of them live there. After inhabitants were evicted the first time in 2007, they had to spend nights in the tents set up nearby. Most of them returned to the building, but about 30 families did not dare to go back. Now their accommodations are left without attention. The building was first registered as a state property in 2006. Two years later the state assigned the property to the Tbilisi City Hall. The agreement does not mention any third party of the deal, which means that nobody else has ownership of the buildings.

Archil Gudushauri, attorney of the inhabitants of the block: “Since 2003, based on the TV-statements of the late president Shevardnadze and ex-president Saakashvili, homeless population of Tbilisi could occupy abandoned spaces in Tbilisi and renovate them with their own resources. My clients entered the buildings in 2003 and have lived there since then.”

According to the attorney the property was divided based on state ownership in 2012. The inhabitants petitioned to the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development to allow them to renovate the living spaces with their own resources. Based on the permission issued by the Ministry and Georgian National Energy and Water Supply Regulatory Commission the buildings were supplied with gas and electricity; as a result the inhabitants became lawful users and not owners of the flats.

The attorney states that two governors of Nadzaladevi district Balavadze and Demetrashvili made illegal decisions based on which the property was sold by unauthorized person and it caused legal collision. Nevertheless, Archil Gudushauri is optimistic about the case. “Lately, a governmental commission was established in the City Hall with deputy mayor Aluda Goglichidze as the head of the commission. Our district governor Zaza Gabunia, district deputy Davit Chelidze, city hall lawyer and representatives of other service units are members of the commission. We managed to come to a conclusion to resolve the issue in accordance to the law.”

Regardless of the aforementioned conclusion, de-jure owners, for whom Metromsheni started construction of the buildings 25 years ago, systematically bother de-facto inhabitants. The inhabitants claim they are usually “attacked” during nights. “Attack” is the right term, because de-jure owners tried several times to break the doors with hammers or other heavy tools. The inhabitants claim they concrete police officers demonstrated particular interests in their eviction; they were aggressive towards the inhabitants and tried to evict them without any official warrant. The situation is getting worse every day. The inhabitants live in a stressful environment and are threatening with jumping from the roof or blowing up the building.

The governor of Nadzaladevi district, Zaza Gabunia, commented the issue to correspondent of Human Rights Center Natia Gogilashvili. “I have been working on this case for a long time. It is a dispute between the citizens and not between the City Hall and the citizens or district administration and the citizens. So we cannot resolve the problem because it is a legal dispute between the citizens – owners and voluntary users of the living spaces. I, as a district governor, tried to help the conflicting parties to come to a compromise. We established a commission – auditoria, where they could meet. The commission worked for two months. Four ministries participated. It was unprecedented attention from the governmental institutions towards the concrete problem. Never during the previous governments had so many state institutions worked on the resolution of a concrete problem. This is all a city hall could do– give tribune to the conflicting parties to present their positions. Otherwise, it is a legal dispute and the district administration cannot play a role in it.”

Factual inhabitants claim Zaza Gabunia promised to help them before 2014 local self-governmental elections. Human Rights House Tbilisi tried to contact the flat owners, which are trying to make the inhabitants leave the flats through threats, quarrel and door-breaking, or to request that they pay between 15 000 and 27 000 USD for the occupied spaces. The correspondent couldn´t reach the owners because they were unavailable.

“In 2013, based on fake documents, representatives of United National Movement Demetrashvili and Balavadze headed local self-governmental bodies, sold the spaces in the building to the former workers of the Ltd Metromsheni. The reason for the decision was a meeting protocol from 1993, though its original version cannot be found. We have archive materials which prove that those documents do not exist and that the opposing side could not provide original documents. The former lawyer of the City Hall administration Mamuka Jashiashvili said he distributed the property based on his inner persuasion,” said the attorney of the inhabitants Archil Gudushauri.

The case of distribution of properties based on “inner persuasion” must be properly studied and law enforcement bodies should if necessarily be engaged in this case. The situation is extremely complicated, and unless state institutions, civil society and the public in general consolidate to resolve the problem, this can turn in to a disaster. The result is that nobody will care about Zgvisubani second micro-district and 204th and 205th blocks there.
Giorgi Janelidze



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