Thursday, July 26, 2007

Buying property in Georgia?

Here's a cautionary tale about the country which is so westernised and into free market. Sometimes the free market is denied (when they think of banning the competition to the municipal buses), and other times it goes crazy.

There's an apartment building somewhere in Tbilisi, built in 1998/99. It seems that now an investor wants the space to build something more profitable (for him, and perhaps/probably for people in the authorities).

What happens? The municipality attempts to take the homes off the people (with talk of [not unreasonable, despite what the owners say] compensation to be fair, but so far it's talk, and even written promises are probably not worth much). The explanation is that the building was built illegally and is not earthquake-proof (to be fair, the building may well have been built illegally; at that time a bribe would have got you anything). The residents go to court. Someone loses, and the case goes on to appeal.

The appeal is still continuing. The people were put out of their homes a week ago and demolition started immediately.

Under these circumstances anyone with privatised property (ie all property) has good reasons for fear.

Glad that I then returned to Vilnius. To open the paper and find an article about the Head of Public Order in Vilnius who has been taking bribes, even whilst on paternity leave. The Mayor is stated to have said 'never liked him since the first time I clapped eyes on him'. A good, constructive mayoral comment, that.

Saw a photo of the Mayor, with an open necked shirt, not taken in a casual environment. Now, Vilnius is not having a heatwave, and I am sure that the municipality has air conditioning. Don't really think that that's the style of apparel suitable to the mayor of a European Capital. Mr Zuokas, who alas is having to replace his wardrobe as he expands, would never allow himself to be photographed thus. Maybe I'm just picky...