Georgia is a largely mountainous country in which the rural population, 47% of the total, has not benefited from the country’s economic growth. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Georgia’s agricultural productivity has declined, shifting the GDP to a largely service-based economy.
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The protesters said there was widespread frustration among those still waiting to be rehoused more than a decade after war drove them from their homes
Georgia’s Constitutional Court has suspended a moratorium on purchasing agricultural land by foreign citizens. While the court ruled the ban was unconstitutional, the suspension will only be temporary as constitutional amendments are set to kick in. Foreign citizens now have nine days left to register land they have bought or inherited.
For the people of Upper Svaneti, a remote sliver of land nestled high in the gorges of Georgia, the last words uttered by the dying are portents of the future.
And the future looks bleak.
Residents say the same ominous rattle has echoed over so many of its death beds this past year - "The Svans are in danger, be careful" - that villagers are now braced for battle.