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Government demolishes houses on short notice, leaves people in the streets

By Nika Gamtsemlidze
Thursday, December 24
Yesterday morning, the Tbilisi City Hall Municipal Inspection demolished seven buildings on Tvalchrelidze Street in Samgori district, which, according to the City Hall, were illegal.

“I was asleep, it was 7 am. They kicked us out and demolished our house, I don't even know what to say. We took everything we could, everything else was destroyed with the house,” said one of the people living in the Samgori district.

Vakhtang Pipia, a resident of Tvalchrelidze Street, whose son's house was demolished by the City Hall yesterday, says that illegal construction in the area has a 13-year history and they have not received a warning so far. Pipia said the statement was posted on a window on December 17 and warned that if they did not submit proof of ownership within two days, the house would be demolished.

He also said that the City Hall's representatives started demolishing the houses in the area yesterday morning, between 6 and 7 am. As Pipia says, the house has been under construction since 2010. According to him, step by step, they built the house, and have not received any type of warning until December 17. Another person said that a house where 7 people, including children, lived was also demolished.

At a briefing before the government session, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze spoke about the situation and said that “we can't justify law-breaking by the fact that people are poor.”

According to Kakha Kaladze, some of the people behind the illegal constructions in this area have the status of IDPs and own houses and land in Tbilisi and other parts of the country as well.

According to Kaladze, illegal seizure of property and placement of buildings on it is unacceptable.

The Tbilisi City Hall Municipal Service said on December 18 that it would give the owners four days to dismantle seven illegal buildings near Tvalchrelidze Street, otherwise, the City Hall would start doing so itself.

On December 15, Tbilisi City Hall demolished more than 10 illegal buildings in the Africa Settlement of Samgori district which has sparked protests.