Kaladze’s Weekly Priorities: Setting the Record Straight on Protests & New Year’s Decorations

Each week, the municipal government of Tbilisi holds a meeting at City Hall. Preceding this week’s meetings, Mayor Kakha Kaladze remarked on several topics of interest.

"I want to address the population,” the Mayor opened, “we are ready to serve you. Have faith in us. We will do our best to make tomorrow’s Tbilisi better: more convenient and well-managed infrastructure, many green spaces, and ecologically clean, organized public transport. Every one of us will give their maximum effort, together with the inhabitants of our city, to this end.”

Kaladze then addressed the ongoing protests by Zaza Saralidze and Malkhaz Machalikashvili in front of the old parliament on Rustaveli Avenue. The protests escalated earlier this week when City Hall wrote a letter to the protesters asking them to vacate the area by December 15 so the city could set up the annual Christmas tree. Kaladze insisted that Tbilisi City Hall is not prohibiting the protesters from setting up tents, and that City Hall’s actions were in line with the law and noted that they subsequently publicized all the documents to ensure society was properly informed.

He called out the “slanderous propaganda” against him, saying that claims that he and his staff were restricting expressions of protest on Rustaveli Avenue were “a very big lie.” He explained that he first received a letter from Saralidze in early November informing City Hall that they planned to continue the protest until December 31, and City Hall answered three days later with the December 15 deadline. He continued into an angry speech, blaming opposition media for stirring the pot before the runoff elections later this month.

"For me, personally, and for our team, human dignity, human rights and freedom of expression, are the most important values, the protection of which will always be a priority [for us] among Georgian society,” Kaladze finished.

Moving on, Kaladze drew attention to a meeting held earlier in the week with commercial banks on the topic of green initiatives. “I am very pleased that during the meeting, representatives from banks expressed their readiness to participate in the implementation of projects planned within the Green Tbilisi initiative in various forms. In the near future, the banks plan a complete replacement of their vehicle fleets with electric and hybrid cars,” Kaladze said.

He also reminded the population of City Hall’s promise to completely replace city buses with new, cleaner buses by the end of 2019.

Next, Kaladze addressed issues concerning the City Hall hotline and tasked Vice-Mayor Irakli Khmaladze with solving the hotline problems.

"There are some problems with the work of the hotline: citizens’ calls are coming and they cannot respond properly. On the one hand, more hotline staff should be added, and on the other hand, we should strengthen the resources of city services.” Kaladze also noted that hotline operators receive information from city departments and there needs to be better information flow. “A citizen who comes to City Hall should not be standing in a queue or waiting months for a response. This is categorically unacceptable,” Kaladze urged.

Finally, the Mayor drew attention to the city’s preparations for New Year. "We had specific places, parks, squares that were decorated by various companies [last year]. We want this tradition to continue this year. The business community is already active: they want to have different places for the New Year and we are ready for this,” said Kaladze. The Mayor appealed to all businesses at street level in the city, asking them to decorate their facades for New Year to spread holiday cheer throughout the city. New Year lights have already been installed in some parts of Tbilisi.

By Samantha Guthrie

Image source: Tbilisi City Hall

15 November 2018 16:58