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Police detain 8 opposition activists at Tbilisi City Council rally

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, October 12
Police detained eight demonstrators at the rally in front of Tbilisi City Council (Sakrebulo), held by the opposition parties United National Movement (UNM) and the European Georgia (EG) on Tuesday.

The Interior Ministry reported that the activists were detained for disobeying and resisting police officers.

“We would like to underline that the police are acting in accordance with the law and under the principle of political neutrality,” the ministry stated.

The opposition members were protesting against the City Council’s decision over transferring two land plots to the company, allegedly owned by Bidzina Ivanishvili, the founder of Georgian Dream (GD) ruling party and former Prime Minister of Georgia.

The decision, made at Sakrebulo’s closed session on Tuesday, allow the company privatization of two land plots, one for a symbolic price – 1 Gel.

The company has undertaken responsibility to build a large car park and a recreational complex there.

The opposition parties say the decision of majority members of Sakrebulo was unfair, adding it aims at giving more power and lands to Ivanishvili.

There was a physical confrontation between law enforcers and UNM members at the City Assembly building. The opposition members wanted to attend Sakrebulio session, but were blocked by police to enter the building.

City Council Chairman Giorgi Alibegashvili only allowed for assembly members and the media to attend.

The opposition says that the closure of the session was also unlawful, claiming the law allows council members to attend Sakrebulo sessions and enter every public building.

UNM member, Roman Gotsiridze, says the closure of the City Council and blocking the people from entering was a violation against both society and voters.

“This is a shame for the ruling party. This is the result of both an informal and criminal-oligarchic regime,” he stressed.

Mamuka Akhvlediani, chairman of the Faction European Georgia, has suggested the other opposition parties to jointly appeal the decision of Sakrebulo at court.

“The decision made at the meeting was absolutely illegitimate and unlawful, as the hearing was conducted in violation of the rules. The deputies of the City Council were not let in the building and this was a violation of the law,” he stressed.

City Council (Sakrebulo) Chair Giorgi Alibegashvili said he closed the session in order to avoid any provocative actions from the opposition parties.

“The opposition claims that the lands will be transferred for 1 Gel but they do not say that it is 1,5 million USD investment project,” he said, adding the opposition can appeal the decision.

Georgian Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili also commented on the issue, saying the law enforcers acted under the law and did not allow the instigators to cancel the Sakrebulo session.

“I am sure we have the strength to maintain stability…We can overcome all difficulties and build a better state,” he noted.

The opposition UNM has already scheduled another large-scale rally for Saturday.