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The News in Brief

Tuesday, March 1
Petriashvili Undergoes Additional Surgery After Being Shot and Wounded

Alexi Petriashvili, one of the leaders of the Free Democrats opposition party, who suffered three gunshot wounds in an attack on February 26, has undergone additional surgery.

The additional surgery was required to address a complication from one of the gunshots ,according to his doctor.

“He is in a stable condition,” said Vladimer Papava, a doctor at the Tbilisi Republican Hospital, where Petriashvili remains for further treatment.

Petriashvili, who served as the state minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration, was beaten and then shot by two unknown men while visiting a grave of his late friend at the Saburtalo cemetery in Tbilisi on February 26.

There is still no official word from police on the identities or motives of the attackers.

Leaders of the Free Democrats (FD) party have called for a meeting with PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Interior Minister Giorgi Mgebrishvili to receive information about the ongoing investigation.

The Interior Ministry said that the investigation is ongoing under Article 117 of the Criminal Code, which concerns the intentional infliction of a serious injury.

Leaders of the FD party say that the police should treat the case as an attempted murder.

Hundreds rally against Ivanishvili’s ‘Panorama Tbilisi’ project

Activists demand the suspension of a large construction project amidst environmental, urban, social, and conflict-of-interest controversies.

Up to 400 activists gathered on Tbilisi’s Freedom Square on 27 February in order to protest against the construction of Panorama Tbilisi above the Old Tbilisi and Sololaki districts.

The protest was organised by a coalition of more than twenty organisations and social movements called Ertad (‘Together’). The activists marched from the Freedom Square to the State Chancellery holding posters saying ‘PaNOrama’, extending arms with the word ‘No’ written on their palms.

The Panorama Tbilisi project is managed by the Georgian Co-Investment Fund, which was established by businessman and former prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili in 2013. Mr Ivanishvili appears to be so far the only investor in the project, whose worth is estimated at 500 million dollars.

Activists argue that the project is not sustainable ecologically and that it will bring an end to Tbilisi’s bid to have its old district registered as a World Heritage site, while the authorities argue that the project will increase tourism.

‘We gathered today in order to protest a project that will ruin this city. This project’s scope is so large that it will affect the whole city. It doesn’t take into account urbanisation issues, social aspects, environment protection, or protection of cultural monuments. The City Council’s aim is to achieve gentrification — a phenomenon which is destructive to the non-élite segment of the society. Economically unprivileged people in the area will be forced to move to the outskirts’, Nika Tsikaridze, an activist for Green Fist, told DF Watch.

‘The Panorama project is a gross violation of the will of Tbilisi’s residents. It doesn’t only harass the old city’s cultural heritage, but it’s also a “one-man project”. We all know who’s standing behind it. We don’t want to sacrifice our city to one man’s weird phantasies’, Khatuna Gvelesiani from Iare Pekhit (‘Walk’) told DF Watch.

‘This project will significantly damage the old part of the city. It is also a project which is clearly in certain people’s business interests, not for the sake of ordinary citizens. We’re protesting not only against this one project, but also against everything that has been going on with the urban development — or “undevelopment” — in Tbilisi. We have no recreational zones, all the squares are being taken down for residential buildings, churches, restaurants. We have no green space and no space for citizens to even gather,' Natia Gvianishvili, the director of the Women’s Initiatives Support Group told DF Watch.

The main opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), has suggested that Tbilisi City Hall has recently appointed a number of officials who used to be employees at Mr Ivanishvili’s Cartu Bank, which raises questions about a possible conflict of interest regarding the implementation of infrastructure projects related to Panorama Tbilisi.

It’s unacceptable to close Tkibuli mines – MP Eliso Chapidze

As Tkibuli representative to the Parliament, MP Eliso Chapidze, says it is unacceptable to close the Tkibuli mines. According to her, she hopes the parties will hold negotiations to resolve the ongoing issues.

‘It is unacceptable to consider closing the Tkibuli mines. Many people have been engaged in the process of resolving this problem, such as the Public Defender and members of the Presidential administration. I am personally offering the parties to present a signed memorandum to the court and simultaneously resume the mines' working process,’ Eliso Chapidze said.

The miners still continue to protest in Tkibuli, in the western Imereti region.