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Opposition activists detained at UNM rally

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, October 4
Six opposition activities were detained by police on October 2 at the United National Movement opposition rally in front of Tbilisi Mayor’s Office, protesting the handover of land plots in the capital to a company related to former Prime Minister and billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili.

The UNM members and their party’s mayoral candidate, Zaal Udumashvili, were demanding a meeting with Tbilisi Mayor David Narmania, as they believed the decision over the handover was illegal and the enforcement of the process must be suspended before the municipal elections scheduled for October 21.

The police stressed that the reason of the detention of six UNM activists was an “unsanctioned rally and the illegal blocking of the road, as well as an illegal attempt to break in the mayor’s office”.

The UNM claims that after the mayor refused to meet with the opposition, some of its members really tried to get into the Mayor’s Office; however, they were either the members of Tbilisi City Council or MPs who had a right to have access to any public building.

Udumashvili stated that the police “fulfilled an illegal order” when detaining the party supporters, and announced the UNM was moving to a “rally-regime” to protect Tbilisi from the illegal rule of Ivanishvili.

Deputy Tbilisi Mayor Nina Khatiskatsi stated she did not know why Narmania did not meet with the opposition as she was not in Tbilisi at that time, but she stressed that the UNM supporters destroyed the Mayor’s office adjacent area, plants and a track for people with disabilities.

Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili called the UNM and its leaders a “bankrupted party and bankrupted politicians” and accused them of acting “dishonestly”.

Kvirikashvili explained that near Pushniki Park, on one of the land plots occupied by the UNM, a company planned to arrange an underground parking lot, which was “very much needed for the capital city” and on Tabori mountain, “an area without plants where the company would make a recreation zone.”

Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili stated that investigation should clarify why the rally participants had various injures, as well as why the City Council members and MPs were not allowed to the Mayor’s Office.

“The lawmakers and the City Council members must have had a door open to the Tbilisi Mayor’s Office, based on the law,” Nanuashvili said.

With the vote on Friday, the Ivanishvili-related company will receive land plots in lucrative locations in central Tbilisi, 1,900 and 4,700 square meters in size respectively. The company plans to use the spaces to build a large car park and a recreational zone.