Former President of Georgia and leader of the United National Movement (UNM) opposition party Mikheil Saakashvili, convicted in Georgia and now in a clinic, said that after the “national forces” came to power in the country, those Russians who recently bought an apartment in Georgia, “will be encouraged to sell real estate.” He wrote about this on Facebook.
Earlier, speaking at his trial, he specified that Russians “will be offered to sell their apartment within a year.” Otherwise, their property, according to Saakashvili’s proposal, will be confiscated in favor of Georgian emigrants.
The former head of state, sentenced by a Tbilisi court to six and three years in prison for exceeding official powers and considering himself “Putin’s personal prisoner,” has repeatedly explained the motives for such an attitude towards Russian citizens. According to him, under the guise of tourists and relocators, Russian special services are sending “sabotage groups to Georgia, whose purpose is the violent seizure of power.” According to him, the country’s current policies “in every possible way contribute” to the purchase of real estate by Russians.
The ruling Georgian Dream party has already rejected all proposals of the UNM parliamentary faction to introduce a visa regime for Russians, reduce the period of their stay in the country without registration (with tourist status) from one year to three months, and ban Russian citizens from buying apartments in Georgia.
According to the government agency Geostat, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, between 60,000 and 100,000 Russian citizens moved to Georgia for permanent residence. There is no more accurate data, since a significant part of Russians, taking advantage of local legislation, prefer not to register for a year and live with the status of tourists. But they are not counted in the total number of residents.
Since March 2022, Russian citizens have bought more than 8,000 apartments in Tbilisi and Batumi and opened more than 21,000 enterprises, including in the IT field. At the same time, the number of Russians coming to Georgia for recreation is still growing: in the first nine months of this year, more than a million Russian tourists visited Georgia. According to this indicator, Russia ranks first among all states from where visitors come to the Caucasian country.
Over the past year and a half, the national currency of Georgia, the lari, has strengthened by almost a third, Georgia’s GDP has grown by 10% compared to pre-pandemic levels, GDP per capita has reached $7,000, and the country’s gold and foreign exchange reserves have exceeded $5 billion for the first time in history.