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The News in Brief

Tuesday, October 17
UNM mobilizes thousands against ‘oligarch’ Ivanishvili’s property takeover

Several thousand supporters of Georgia’s opposition National Movement party demonstrated Sunday outside the home of a former Prime Minister whom they call an oligarch, and accuse of taking over valuable properties.

The UNM protest began at Rustaveli metro station in the center of Tbilisi, and ended outside billionaire and ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Sololaki residence which overlooks Old Tbilisi.

They protested a recent decision by the city assembly to sell 1,900 square meters of property near Freedom Square to a company owned by Ivanishvili for a symbolic price of 1 lari. The opposition and urban activists claim the deal, which implies building an underground parking garage, is a clear case of favoritism, made possible by the informal influence Ivanishvili has over city authorities.

UNM’s Tbilisi mayoral candidate ZaalUduimashvili threatened the government with more rallies if they attempt to rig the upcoming local elections set for October 21.

“We have fulfilled the promise and held […] the rally peacefully. Now, Georgian Dream will prepare for a peaceful transfer of [power in the] local government. Otherwise, people will defend their choice in the street,” Udumashvili said in concluding remarks at the end of the demonstration.

Georgian Dream’s mayoral candidate Vice PM Kakha Kaladze accused the UNM of deliberately misleading the public and attempting to hamper the development of Tbilisi. He said that Ivanishvili’s company plans to invest a million dollar in the project to build an underground garage with 125 parking places.

63 Georgian citizens deported from European countries

Representatives of the Department of Prevention and Monitoring of the Public Defender's Office carried out monitoring of the joint return operation of Georgian citizens living in the territory of the EU countries without permission.

According to the Public Defender’s Office, the representative of the Department of Prevention and Monitoring left Tbilisi international airport for the German city of Hannover and Greek capital Athens, where they supervised the return of 63 Georgian citizens from various European countries.

The process was coordinated by the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union FRONTEX.

The process of arriving, checking and travelling of Georgian citizens was monitored non-stop. No incident took place, and no force or special means were used during the return operation.

“It should be positively noted that the German side changed the place of deportation. In particular, the return operation was carried out from the city of Hannover instead of Düsseldorf, which significantly improved the placement conditions of the returning persons. In particular, a large area was allocated at the Hannover airport, food was freely available and the returning people (accompanied by escort) had access to a special smoking area for the first time.

It should also be praised that in some cases the employees of the Migration Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia gave the citizens of Georgia a chance to make a telephone call to Georgia. However, this was not a systematic solution to the problem. The Public Defender considers it is important the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Internal Affairs Georgia to ensure communication with representatives of FRONTEX and the countries carrying out the return operation within the framework of the readmission agreement between the European Union and Georgia, in order to ensure telephone communication of the returning persons with their families before departing for Georgia”, says the statement of the Public Defender’s Office.

Vice President of Atlantic Council receives Georgian state award

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili has awarded Vice President of the Atlantic Council Damon Wilson with the Order of the Golden Fleece, which is one of the most significant state awards given to foreigners in Georgia.

Wilson was awarded "for mobilizing the international community in support of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, supporting Georgia’s integration to the NATO and his special merit in developing relations between Georgia and the United States (US)”.

“I had an opportunity to work on the issues related to Georgia during my career. I worked at the White House when Georgia had the hardest days as the Russian military planes were bombing the country”, Wilson said adding he remains committed to supporting Georgia’s integration to the NATO while working at the Atlantic Council.

Wilson said it is both an honor and a challenge for him to receive this state award because he said Georgia should become the part of the NATO as well as return its Russian occupied region of Abkhazia and Tskhivali (South Ossetia).