Become an OC Media Member

Support independent journalism in the Caucasus: Join today

Become a member

Street vendors protest in Tbilisi

31 March 2017
Police control the area in front of Marjanishvili Metro Station (Sulkhan Bordzikashvili/ OC Media)

Vendors recently evicted from the area in front of Marjanishvili Metro Station in the capital Tbilisi, protested the decision on 30 March.

Residents from nearby streets also came out to confront the vendors, saying that they don’t want them to return to selling in the street.

Tina Adeishvili was selling flowers for over a year in this spot. She claims she never used to litter and kept everything clean, but still she was banned with all the other vendors.

Tina Adeishvili (Sulkhan Bordzikashvili/OC Media)

‘What did I do wrong? they can go in any country abroad and see that flowers are sold everywhere. I don’t interfere with anyone. This is aesthetics, beauty. I used to have a small counter and had my flowers there’, she told OC Media.

‘If they don’t let me to put my counter back I will continue selling flowers in the street holding them in my hands’, she added.

Manana Kurasbediani, another street vendor, says that she is the only one working in her family. She is a widow. She had to stop selling in the marketplace because not enough clients came, and she had too many debts. Now she has nowhere to go and wants to be allowed to sell in the streets again.

Eter Bezhanishvili has lived on Aghmashenebeli Street for over 42 years. She believes that the protest by vendors has been staged by certain people in order to score political points, and that whoever it is does not care about the vendors.

Protest near Marjanishvili Metro Station (Sulkhan Bordzikashvili/OC Media)

‘It was a huge obstacle for us. This is the centre of the city. Tourists Foreigners come here and it was impossible to walk when they [the street vendors] used to be here. It was impossible to open the window. They shouldn’t let them come back’, she told us.

Marina Paichadze, another resident in the neighbourhood, told us that if the street vendors return, local residents will organise even bigger protests.

Tbilisi City Hall started clearing the streets of vendors on 19 March, and plans to continue the process from time to time in various locations around the city. They have proposed that street vendors sell in marketplaces in the city. But the sellers are dissatisfied because market owners usually allocate bad areas for them.

The patrol police as well as the employees of the City Hall Supervisory Service have been patrolling the area near the metro station every day to prevent the vendors from returning.

The vendors plan to continue protesting unless the government allows them to come back.