Georgia’s main opposition movement, Bidzina Ivanishvili’s “Georgian Dream” coalition, took its campaign to the country’s second city Kutaisi, on Sunday, 10 June. Ivanishvili addressed a large crowd of thousands from behind a bullet proof screen, as concerns regarding the billionaire’s safety increased as his popularity increases. People from all over the Central Georgian province of Imereti congregated in Kutaisi’s David the Builder Square to hear Ivanishvili introduce the candidates who will run for the single seat majoritarian constituencies in the province on the Georgian Dream ticket next October.
Earlier the local government had refused permission for the rally to be held in the city’s main square.
The event in Imereti was an important test for Ivanishivili’s popularity outside the capital where it was thought that his support was weaker. Imereti is likely to be one of the most hotly contested areas during the autumn’s parliamentary elections in Georgia and unlike other regions outside the capital Tbilisi it has a record of voting against the incumbent government.
Kutaisi was always considered as the second most important city in the country and this has been re-enforced by the decision of the Georgian government to move the parliament there from the capital. The new parliament building was used last month for a special session of the Parliament addressed by President Saakashvili. Some MPs had expressed concern that the building was not safe and should not be used yet. On Friday a local worker was killed when scaffolding collapsed on him. This was the third death connected with the parliament building, a mother and child died on the site of the building during the demolition of a former a war monument to make way for the new legislature. The government has been criticised that in its haste to finish the building it is flaunting safety regulations .
The new parliament building was the subject of a story filed from Kutaisi on 10 June by the BBC’s Damien McGuiness for the BBC web site.
“Looking like some sort of 1960s sci-fi spaceship, a 40 metre-high domed eye, with a huge concrete eyelid, stares out blankly. This is Georgia’s new parliament building.”
Read his story on line