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The News in Brief

Tuesday, July 25
Independent candidate for mayor vows to halt Tbilisi building spree

The independent candidate for Tbilisi mayor, Aleko Elisashvili, vows to suspend all construction projects in Tbilisi until comprehensive studies into all the schemes to see whether they are compatible with the urban fabric of the Georgian capital have been carried out.

“I’ll break your hearts – permits to build 6.5 million square meters have already been issued but not yet built. Do you know how much it is? This is about the same as building another Tbilisi. [For example] in Moscow, which is 10 times bigger, up to three million square meters have been sold per year,” Alexander (Aleko) Elisashvili said during a video conference published on Facebook on Friday.

He pledged to issue a moratorium on construction projects as soon as he is elected Tbilisi mayor, and scrutinize each project to see if it conforms with the interests of the city. If it does not, the permit will be revoked.

Tbilisi is currently experiencing a construction boom particularly, in its uptown and central parts, including the Old City. The building spree has sparked outrage among many Tbilisians, as the vast majority of new buildings are hurting the capital’s aesthetic look and its infrastructure. Many Tbilisians suspect that there is corruption involved in many of the construction schemes.

Aleko Elisashvili (39) is currently an independent member of Tbilisi Sakrebulo (City Council) and is famous for his vehement struggle to preserve the city’s historical sights. He enjoys great popularity among Tbilisi residents, but his lack of backing by any of the major political parties may be a significant hindrance in the elections, slated for the end of October.
(DF watch)

PM: Secularism in its classical sense has no place in Georgia

“Despite the fact that the state and the church are independent today, secularism in its classical sense has no place in Georgia,” the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, said at the opening of a hotel in Sno.

According to the Prime Minister, religion does not just have religious significance. "Today the Patriarch invited us to his home. The opening of the hotel is symbolic for all of us, as it happens in the Patriarch's homeland, where a very valuable man has grown up and spent his time. We are also witnessing the issue of a very important booklet that describes the life and work of our Catholicos-Patriarch, a very valuable human being,” said the PM.

According to him, Georgia has a model that is unique in the world.

“Despite the fact that the state and church are independent today, secularism in its classical understanding has no place in Georgia. We think that there is a model in our country that is unique in the world. I want to express my gratitude to our Patriarch, whose words have great power for the whole nation. One of the most exemplary expressions of the strength of patriarch's world is this hotel, which we see today. First of all, I would like to thank the Patriarch and all those who took part in this important project," said Giorgi Kvirikashvili.

“We have not talked about the extradition of Mikheil Saakashvili” - Poroshenko

“We have not talked about the extradition of Mikheil Saakashvili,” Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko said in an interview with Kviris Palitra.

Poroshenko responded to a journalist's question about how he imagined the extradition of Mikheil Saakashvili to Georgian law enforcers will play out.

"The Ukrainian government has one principle – be it Saakashvili or someone else, the most important thing is to have evidence and arguments. We are absolutely ready for legal cooperation if there really is a criminal case," Poroshenko said.