There were more than 30 houses here. People lived here; we had a school. It was easier to live here back then, and now it is not… In winter, you can only travel on foot on snow and frozen lake. The lake is dangerous; ice may break and kill walkers. Nothing is interesting here; nobody pays any attention.
"Almost half of the village is owned by the bishop, who wants to build restaurants, hotels, sanatorium here".
"We usually have good weather for five months. People will come here; the sanatorium will be busy. They will also build the ropeway. The price for the house is 3-4 thousand Lari. I will not sell it; this money is not enough to buy a new house anywhere" – Hayrapet Ispiryan demands more than offered. The Bishop blames the media for that:
"I have bought a house there for 2000 GE, and this man demands 25000 USD for a similar building. That is because he already knows something, media aggravated the situation, explained to him that his house is necessary".
Nikoloz Pachuashvili has been governing the Eparchy of Akhalkalaki, Kumurdo, and Kars since October 17, 2002. 107 people lived in Aspara back then. Now the village is almost deserted. The Bishop started buying property in 2013; he is the negotiator with owners, but buyers are Deacon Aleksandre Kasrashvili, nun Lela Tchintcharauli, and Natalia Svimonishvili, who has close ties with the Bishop. Later, all three register newly acquired property to the non-entrepreneurial legal entity "Teaching center of the eparchy of Akhalkalaki and Kumurdo." However, the price they receive from the teaching center is sometimes twice more than the original value. For example, in 2013-2019, Lela Tchintharauli bought 11 land lots in Aspara, totaling 33000 GEL. From the eparchy, she received 63000 GEL for the same property. The information about this dubious scheme was first published by a local media outlet "Samkhretis Karibche".
The teaching center of the eparchy of Akhalkalaki and Kumurdo owns more than 20 land lots in Aspara, with a total area of 112242 m2.
"Of course, we cannot buy houses at first sight. We need to negotiate with them, and the process is pricy. If they sell us the house for 2000 Lari, an additional 2000 is needed to finalize the process. We try to buy houses without instilling doubt in the minds of villagers who moved from here"; - the Bishop explains the need of the middlemen.
The Bishop plans to turn Aspara into an "oasis." Christian churches date to the XI century in the village 2080 meters above sea level. Nikoloz Pachuashvili stated his desire in an interview with "Samkhretis Karibche".
"I will fence the village and build houses here. We will produce natural products and gain electricity via solar panels and wind turbines. Houses will be monitored with cameras by owners. Of course, everybody can buy a house, although they will not be cheap".
Seyran Ispiryan, a brother of the solitary villager, recalls that Aleksandre Kasrashvili tried to buy his house for 15000 GEL too.
"I refused. My brother lives in Aspara, and if I sell my house, they may throw him out of the village."
The Bishop admits he wants to buy the village.
"I am not buying houses. I want to buy the entire village. I am purchasing the homeland here and asking for help to avoid what is happening in Davit Gareja".
"The state of Georgia has not had a consistent policy for this region for 400 years now. No Georgians live here. When I first came here, the head of the region told me I would never buy a house in his life. Why? I asked. Because this is my homeland was the answer. Two years later, he called me, offering his own house. He needed to sell his homeland to help his ill father. He told me I would buy it as homeland, unlike people from neighboring villages, who would turn it into the pasture. I bought it with one condition – he should help me buy other houses in the village too", - stated the Bishop in an interview with TV Pirveli.
Nikoloz Pachuashvili is confident that after he buys the entire village, pastures currently owned by the state will become the property of the eparchy.