Georgian cities of Batumi and Zugdidi approve annual budgets amid protests

26 November 2021
Protest outside of Batumi city council meeting. Photo via Interpress news.

The city councils of Batumi and Zugdidi approved their respective 2022 budgets as protesters clashed with police outside. Opposition parties protested the approval process on the grounds that the current city council terms are nearing their end.

On Friday, the Batumi city council approved a ₾252 million ($80 million) annual budget for 2022. The motion was supported by 14 out of 25 deputies of the council, while opposition representatives opted to  boycott the meeting, claiming that the council ‘has no right to approve the budget’ as they were voted into power in 2017, and would soon be replaced, 

Georgia’s ruling Georgian Dream party lost its majority in the Batumi city council in the 2021 municipal elections.

The Central Election Commission announced on Thursday that the first sessions of newly elected municipal councils throughout Georgia will begin on 3 December.

Prior to the approval of the budget, Mirdat Kamadadze, a city council member from the opposition United National Movement party (UNM), poured out a chemical solution during the sitting of the city council in an attempt to disrupt the session.

‘It is a harmless solution used by veterinarians,’ Kamadadze said. ‘ This city council’s session should be disrupted today [...] the budget should not be approved by the expired City Council.’

The session was disrupted only briefly and resumed after the spill was cleaned up. 

According to Ministry of Internal Affairs, four people were detained during a rally outside of the Supreme Court of Adjara, where the city council session was being held.

Tensions were brewing in Zugdidi as well, with rallies held outside of the Zugdidi Regional Administration building as opposition city council members echoed claims made by their peers in Batumi. 

The Zugdidi Council passed their annual budget at ₾47 million ($15 million).

According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, two people were detained following confrontations between law enforcement and protesters.

Member of Zugdidi City Council and chair of its UNM faction Ana Tsitlidze claims she was injured while she was attempting to write a slogan in front of the building.

‘I was trying to write “slaves” and so they broke my finger’, she told reporters.

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