Tbilisi statues covered with face masks ‘to protest air pollution’

1 December 2017
Ilia Tchavchavadze and Akaki Tsereteli (Goga Chanadiri)

A number of statues in Tbilisi were covered with face masks overnight on 28 November, reportedly to protest air pollution in the capital. Images of masked statues emerged online on 29 November, leading to public debate over whether it was an insult to those who the statues symbolise.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs initially announced they were probing into who was behind the masking of the statues, after they say they received complaints from three people. They later issued a statement saying masking statues was not a violation of the law.

After photos went viral online, vice-mayor of Tbilisi Irakli Khmaladze described the act as an ‘insult to society’.

‘We will respond to this as it’s unacceptable for us as well as for society. Whatever sanctions the law provides, we will enforce them’, Khmaladze said.

Two days later, in an apparent u-turn for the authorities, Mayor of Tbilisi Kakha Kaladze called the act ‘very creative’.

On Khmaladze’s earlier statements, Kaladze said he had initially been misinformed that the statues had been damaged.

It is still unknown who was behind the masking campaign.

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