Members of opposition parties stormed into Tbilisi City Assembly on September 29, during a hearing regarding giving over lands to a company owned by former Prime Minister and founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Bidzina Ivanishvili.
The opposition members called on the chairman of the assembly, Giorgi Alibegashvili, to postpone the hearing. The mayoral candidate of the opposition Movement for Liberty - European Georgia, Elene Khoshtaria, said the decision about the lands was “prepared in advance” and was being discussed in a hasty manner.
Tbilisi City Assembly supported the notion, passing 1,900 square meters of land around Pushkin Square in central Tbilisi to Ivanishvili’s company Old City Development, for the symbolic price of 1 Georgian Lari (GEL). The company will develop the “Panorama Tbilisi” construction project which has received huge public criticism for changing the old city landscape.
The opposition protesters including Khoshtaria, the United National Movement’s candidate for Tbilisi mayor Zaal Udumashvili, and green activist Nata Peradze, were removed by police from city assembly by the request of the Tbilisi City Assembly chairman.
One of the protesters who entered into city assembly was arrested; the Ministry of Internal Affairs is not giving information about the detained person. Certain sources say that it is a member of the United National Movement.
Tbilisi mayor Davit Narmania told journalists afterwards that the “opposition is acting very unpleasantly.”
“I understand this is the pre-election campaign period and they need votes, however I don’t think they’ll get any further votes with such actions,” mayor Narmania said.
Aleko Elisashvili, an independent candidate running for Tbilisi mayor, commented separately on the motions passed in the city assembly, that “the city shouldn’t be adapting to one person, and that one person shouldn’t consider the whole city as a cornfield.”
There was another scuffle on September 29 at the meeting of the Batumi City Assembly, on the Black Sea coast, regarding whether or not to pass 6,300 square meters lands to companies of Bidzina Ivanishvili. Batumi Sakrebulo (city assembly) also voted in favour of giving the land Ivanishvili-owned companies.