Police have taken down today a metal fence in Gumati village barring access to the road leading to the Rioni Valley, the site of the Namakhvani Hydropower Plant project that locals and activists have protested for nearly eight months.
The development follows the first round of mediation by a European Energy Community Secretariat representative between the civil society and activists and the Georgian Government, which has resulted in authorities pledging to deconstruct barriers and allow access to the Valley, restricted from April 2021.
Varlam Goletiani of the Save Rioni Valley movement noted the government delivered on its commitment made during the meeting. But, the 28-year-old movement leader recalled that authorities also pledged to follow up about the activists detained during earlier protests.
“The prosecution should make a statement on [those] detained, and police that have been mobilized in the valley as of late should leave,” said Goletiani.
However, the Interior Ministry said today that law enforcement officers are to remain both in Gumati village and the Rioni valley to “maintain public order.”
A June 15 statement by Deputy Director of the Energy Community Secretariat, Dirk Buschle highlighted that the protesters have on their part committed not to block access to the HPP construction site. Buschle said the mediation process can continue provided both sides respect their commitments, apply the “necessary restraint” and communicate with each other.
Follow our Namakhvani tag for earlier developments and background on the controversial project.
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