Ex-PM Ivanishvili Under Fire from Environmentalists

TBILISI – Georgia’s billionaire former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has come under fire for the removal of three large ancient trees in the country’s western Adjara region, close to the border with Turkey.

The trees were destined for Ivanishvili’s private garden in the Black Sea-coastal town Ureki.

Public protests by local environmentalist groups and activists from the opposition United National Movement (UNM) demanded that Ivanishvili produce the relevant legal documents pertaining to the removal of the trees.

Ivanishvili visited the Adjara region’s Tsikhisdziri on Saturday and later ordered a halt to the trees removal. He explained that the project was legal and documents prepared by Zimo - a construction company with business ties to Ivanishivili and responsible for the trees removal – had been fully endorsed by the local government.

The UNM had brought up the issue in two parliamentary sessions last week, claiming the police are fulfilling Ivanishvili’s orders to disperse party activists. The party urged the Ivanishvili to spend money on planting new trees rather than eradicating some of the country’s oldest solely for personal gain.

Ivanishvili responded to the UNM by lashing out at their local representatives, saying, “You have no right to tell me what to do.”

Zimo director Zurab Kiknadze told reporters that the works have been temporarily suspended as his company lacks a document from the landowner, a non-Georgian citizen. 



15 February 2016 15:42