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Six protesters arrested during rally against Panorama Tbilisi are released

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, May 9
Panorama Tbilisi Project construction has become the subject of protest once again. The six persons detained during the protest rally on May 7 have been released after several hours.

Three detainees including Aleksandre Elisashvili, an independent member of Tbilisi City Assembly (Sakrebulo) were forced to pay a 250 GEL fine. The cases of two people will be discussed by Tbilisi City Court on May 10. Nata Peradze, the Head of Guerrilla Gardening, was released on a written warrant.

A total of 24 Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), members of Guerilla gardening and activists held a protest rally at a Panorama Tbilisi construction area on the Kojori road on May 7. The protesters made a human chain and confronted police officers, which resulted in the detention of several individuals.

The protesters oppose the construction of a multi-functional complex on the Sololaki hill in the old part of the capital, which is being implemented by Georgian Co-investment Fund, set up by former Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili. The activists believe the current project will destroy Tbilisi’s historic setting.

The activists also protested the selling of twenty-nine hectares of territory adjacent to Tbilisi Botanic Garden, across Krtsanisi-Shindisi road, which is under construction at the moment and was bought by the same Co-investment Fund. Fund members say they are going to construct an 80-room hotel complex and a recreational area at the spot.

The environmentalists fear that selling of the territory across the new road will change the road construction process and more trees will be cut down.

Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) released a statement after detaining six protesters.

According to MIA, the individuals were detained for disobeying police, humiliating a patrol-inspector and damaging the police car. However, all of them were released later.

After being released, Aleksandre Elisashvili stated that his detention and the fine means nothing to him and he will continue his protest.

“This territory should be returned back to Tbilisi and I will do my best to do this,” said Elisashvili.

The Mayor of Tbilisi, Davit Narmania, claims the projects are in progress within the legal frames.

Narmania spoke about the project Panorama Tbilisi in his interview with TV Imedi and explained that the project is profitable economically and socially as well, as it envisages creating hundreds of new jobs.

“Project Panorama Tbilisi needed cutting down of 180 trees. However, the investor took the responsibility to plant thousands of trees, so the project does not represent any ecological threat,” said the Mayor, and added that the project will not destroy the visual side of old Tbilisi.

He also touched upon the Botanical Garden issue and said that the Mayor’s Office gave ex-PM Ivanishvili 4 hectares of land of the Botanical Garden and received the same size better and greener territory, where various trees are planted.

“Bidzina Ivanishvili has spent more than 20 million Gel on the Botanical Gardens. He has saved 97 hectares of Botanical Garden since 2007,” noted Narmania.

The opposition demands an extraordinary sitting in Tbilisi Sakrebulo (City Assembly) and the attendance of Davit Narmania for detailed explanations. Due to the fact that Narmania refused to attend the sitting, the members of the opposition United National Movement (UNM) are going to gather the signatures of the MPs. In total, 17 signatures are needed to force the Mayor appear in Sakrebulo.