A Brighter Future for Gldani, Prison and All, From Potential MP

Four Years ago (though for most of the Georgian population it still seems like yesterday) the word Gldani was on everyone’s lips, or, in the case of foreign audiences, on the monitors of their respective computers, as world media reported on what proved to be a widespread practice of prisoner abuse in Georgia’s penitentiary system.

On the eve of the 2012 parliamentary elections, footage showing the sickening handling of inmates by prison officials emerged, secretly shot in Gldani prison. The Gldani footage was arguably what tipped the scales in favor of the Georgian Dream coalition and its leader, billionaire and now ex-PM, Bidzina Ivanishvili, against the established political elite spearheaded by then-President Saakashvili and his United National Movement. This is how Gldani came under the spotlight – one could say for all the wrong reasons, but there is really not so much to cheer about in one of Tbilisi’s largest districts.

An unlucky absentee from the major facial re-do the former government was responsible for, Gldani stands a stumbling, monolithic block of buildings, scattered around with no regard to looks, ecology or functionality. Predominantly a middle class district, Gldani’s riches lay in its population, which is among the largest in Tbilisi. And this population is fed up – tired of waiting for a welcome change, tired of hoping for any potential for Gldani to become the industrial hub it is, bypassed as it is time and again.

However, the elections are looming and the people are keen to listen to the politicians they’ll be voting for – and while many of their MP wannabes are sticking to the traditional “we’ll do -insert whatever abstract good you fancy- formula,” an emerging candidate from Irakli Alasania’s Free Democrats has been enjoying raving support as he lays into his vision of bringing Gldani to its deserved glory.

Boasting a background in the defense ministry and later establishing his name as one of the top-ranked lawyers in the country, Free Dem’s recent addition, Prof. Amiran Giguashvili, was eager to use the opportunity to speak with GEORGIA TODAY on what he’s going to do with Gldani if elected. 

“Historically, Gldani was a place for industry, artisanship and employment, boasting solid middle class people,” Giguashvili told us. “Sadly, today this has changed for the worse and people here are really struggling. My top priority would be offering employment, but this is an old story, right? Everybody does that. What we are doing differently is that we have a concrete, drawn up project – including the creation of a free industrial zone, where predominantly the Gldani population will be employed.”

The central transit highway of the country runs through the middle of the district, with huge swathes of land completely underutilized, meaning its potential to open a free industrial zone there is high, something the government should be keen on.

“I intend to present a legislative project to Parliament which implies full utilization of every square meter of land. Local guesthouses and other infrastructure, adjusted to transit route necessities, should also be built,” Giguashvili says. “A driver coming from Central Asia, Iran or Azerbaijan will learn he can have a comfortable rest in Gldani en-route.”

The Free Democrats of Gldani are also looking into turning the infamous Gldani prison into an industrial block.

“This is understandably a very sensitive issue and we’re undergoing a testing and negotiations phase at the moment. We will see how feasible it is and, most of all, whether it will be in the interest of Gldani’s population, as well as in the interest of the inmates and their relatives, all the while enforcing effective judicial administration,” he explained, emphasizing that the general economic policy of his party, centering towards more robust financial welfare to the middle class, aims first and foremost to benefit Gldani and its population.

“We don’t do dreams – we have a very realistic economic program. Minimal salary rises to 500 GEL, pension to 300 and allowances to 250 GEL; we think it’s feasible. And I personally think that Gldani is the place that could feel the effects of such policy in a most positive way,” Giguashvili concluded, adding that he’s hoping that the voters don’t allow themselves to be manipulated by the government in their judgement.

Vazha Tavberidze

11 August 2016 19:56