DISPATCH: Politics in Tbilisi

NOV. 2 – For some Georgians, street politics are more important than national elections

TBILISI – From her elegant wooden balcony Khatuna looked out over the shabby charm of Solomon Zaldastanishvili Street. It’s a distinctive street, cobbled with round river stones.

“This street is on the first modern map of the city from 1826,” Khatuna said. “That’s why I thought it was such a shame when I heard about the project.”

The project was part of a rehabilitation scheme. Asphalt was to be plastered over the cobbles.

A few weeks before a parliamentary election on Oct. 1, Khatuna presented a petition signed by people opposed to the scheme to the local candidate of President Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement party (UNM). The candidate, like the UNM nationwide, was expected to win.

Workers soon arrived to re-lay the cobble stones. Work progressed until election day when the UNM, and its local candidate for Khatuna’s neighbourhood, bucked expectations and lost.

Across Georgia, people wondered what would happen after victory for the opposition coalition lead by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili.

On Solomon Zaldastanishvili Street worked stopped and Khatuna worried that it might remain unfinished. “But then, a few days after the election, they came back and finished it,” Khatuna said, smiling.

Copyright ©The Conway Bulletin 2012

This story was first published in issue 7 of the monthly Correspondent’s Notebook. To subscribe and for more information click here

« Back to newsdesk