Namakhvani Protest Leader Talks Plans

Namakhvani protest leader Varlam Goletiani announced today that the activists plan to hold a final rally in the capital Tbilisi tomorrow, after which they will return to the Rioni Valley to continue resisting the preparatory works for the Hydropower Plant construction. In the meantime, protesters are marching today towards Tbilisi Philharmonic Hall, where they plan to disrupt the major traffic route.

Citing a freshly-leaked Justice Ministry report from March 2019 on the HPP deal, the 28-year-old protest leader asserted that the authorities have signed an “anti-state” contract with the investor. He said the document revealed that the government conceded state interests to the company.

“The Rioni Valley is transferred to private ownership perpetually … an entire valley must not be owned by any private entity, either foreign or Georgian. This was of course an anti-state action,” Goletiani said.

The protest leader also slammed the government for not taking into account the protesters’ demands despite the massive rallies held in the capital since May 23. Meanwhile, Goletiani said, the company continues to “destroy the valley round the clock.” “We do not plan to conform to this process,” he added.

The young activist said they will show the government that its actions are “unlawful” once again in their final rally in the capital tomorrow, and then return back to Rioni Valley, where they will “obstruct the company’s works.”

Citing again the leaked Justice Ministry report, Goletiani said there are no other ways left. “We have the moral authority and obligation to stand together in the Rioni Valley and not let the company destroy our valley,” he said, adding that the “frontline is now drawn” on the construction site where the investor is undertaking preparatory works for the project.

Addressing the rally, Goletiani accused both the ruling Georgian Dream and the opposition parties of attempting to discredit the Save Rioni Valley movement through voicing allegations about its funding, and claiming the process is directed by Russia. “Practically the whole opposition spectrum and the government are aligned on one side, while we, the people, found ourselves on the other side,” he said.

Referring to the reported incidents against LGBT activists during the May 23 and May 24 rallies by far-right individuals, Goletiani said “we will defend the right [to protest] of every person that comes here.” He condemned violence, and called for tolerance and respect between the widely diverse groups of supporters present at the protests. “If we want to unite, we must be able to stand together, and focus on the issues … and fight together,” Goletiani asserted.

He also rebuffed allegations that the activists plan to disrupt May 26 Independence Day celebrations planned to be held at the Freedom Square, only 1.5 km away from the Republic Square where the Namakhvani rally is to be held tomorrow.

Follow our Namakhvani tag for earlier developments about the controversial project.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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