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New residence for a new president

By Messenger Staff
Friday, July 26
The name of Georgia’s new president will become known on October 27th; however the new presidential residence is already known. It will be on Atoneli Street in the building that used to house the U.S. Embassy.

Since Georgia regained independence in 1991, it has been a sort of tradition that every new president has had a new place of residence. Georgia’s first elected president, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, resided in the Parliament Building. He stayed at the building until he was ousted from power after a coup d'etat organized by his Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.

The next president, Eduard Shevardnadze, resided at the Krtsanisi government building and worked on the 11th floor of the State Chancellery. This building was built when Shevardnadze was the head of the Georgian Communist Party during the Soviet period.

After Mikheil Saakashvili forced Shevardnadze to resign during the Rose Revolution he refused to reside at Krtsanisi. Instead he spent public money to build a presidential palace in Avlabari which officially cost $80 million but some estimate was closer to $800 million. Besides this major building Saakashvili had six different residences throughout the country.

According to a press release by Georgian Public Broadcaster on July 19th, whoever is elected as Georgia’s new president will reside at Atoneli 25.

Georgian officials, including Prime Minister Bidizna Ivanishvili, think that the Atoneli residence is quite comfortable and an acceptable building for the president. It is currently under renovation and when completed will have around 1500 square meters of space.

According to the constitutional amendments that will come into effect after the presidential election, the president will no longer be the head of state-the prime minister will be the undisputed leader. According to Davit Narmania, Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure, 16 million GEL has been spent on the reconstruction of the building at Atoneli Street. According to Narmania, the future president will not live in this building but rather just work there.

There are controversies about the current presidential palace in Avlabari where Saakashvili currently lives. There are proposals to turn it into a museum or a hotel. Officials claim that maintaining the presidential palace is very costly. Saakashvili thinks that after the presidential elections a new prime minister could occupy his former residence.

A final decision about the current presidential palace has not yet been made.