TBILISI, DFWatch–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 case of favoritism made possible by the informal influence Ivanishvili has over city authorities.
UNM’s Tbilisi mayoral candidate Zaal Uduimashvili 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.