Russian homeowners who claim they were booted out from their homes in breakaway Abkhazia have now taken on the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A group of Russians is suing the ministry for its alleged failure to defend the property rights of Russian citizens in property ownership disputes in Moscow’s Caucasus protectorate. After a Moscow district court ruled in favor of the ministry, the group appealed the decision and threatened to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights.
Scores of Russians have been allegedly stripped of their property in the disputed region, a onetime popular holiday resort for Soviet Russians. The Russian plaintiffs say the Abkhaz are taking over their property while local courts as well as the Russian authorities are doing little to stop it.
The dispute puts Moscow in a delicate position. The Kremlin, which positions itself as breakaway Abkhazia's champion, is wary of ethnic tensions in the region that Russia recognizes as an independent state.
Separatist officials agreed today to set up a joint Abkhazian-Russian commission to help resolve the issue. Another claimant to Abkhazian houses, Georgia, warned that any decision on property in the breakaway region must be agreed with Tbilisi. The Georgian side says that some of the disputed property originally belonged to ethnic Georgians, who fled the region during Tbilisi's war with separatists in the early 1990s.