Georgia to convert ex-parliament building into IT hub

TBILISI/DEC. 12 2022 (The Bulletin) — A futuristic glass dome building that hosted Georgia’s parliament building for a few years will be turned into an IT hub, Georgia’s government said.

The building in Kutaisi, Georgia’s second city 230km from Tbilisi, cost $130m to build but was only used as Georgia’s parliament from 2012 until 2019.

It has stood empty since then and critics of former president Mikhail Saakashvili said that it represented the hubris of his leadership.

Saakashvili’s main rival for power in Georgia, the Georgian Dream, won a parliamentary election in 2012 and within five years had ordered parliament to be moved back to Tbilisi.

Several other government buildings in Kutaisi, also constructed with the city’s emergence as a new capital, have also been left to rot. 

Like Armenia, hundreds of thousands of young and often tech-savvy Russians have fled to Georgia this year to escape mobilisation and an increasingly authoritarian Russia under Vladimir Putin. 

This has given Georgia’s IT sector a boost but strained resources. Now planners have said that the former parliament building in Kutaisi could house thousands of IT workers.

“The hub will attract and employ young people working in the field of IT. Our Georgian students, young people will be supported in their development,” PM Irakli Garibashvili was quoted by Georgian media as saying.

Meanwhile, Saakashvili who fled Georgia in 2013 shortly after his final second term as president, has spent the past 13 months in a Georgian prison protesting with on-off hunger strikes that doctors say have damaged his health. 

He was tried in absentia for abuse of power and found guilty.

Abroad he carved out a career as an anti-Russia official in Ukraine but, believing that Georgia was ready for another colour revolution, smuggled himself back into the country in November 2021. 

The revolution never happened, and Saakashvili was immediately arrested.


— This story was published in issue 531 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on Dec. 19 2022

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2022

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