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You won’t stop him from living like a president2009-02-19 09:47
The opposition is again accusing Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili of enjoying an extravagant lifestyle. Yesterday one of the leaders of the Conservative Party Giga Bukiya said that more than half a billion lari (more than $200 million) had been spent on the construction of the president's residence. At the same time everyone else in Georgia is having to "tighten their belts".
A week ago, the country's new Prime Minister Nika Gilauri, on his very first day in office, called on the government to work more economically and to cut officials' administrative expenses. The president himself served as an example of just how people needed to tighten their belts.
During his early dispatch to parliament "On the situation in the country", Saakashvili declared that he had decided to put his two residences in Batumi and Zugdidi up for sale, and to turn another one, in the small resort town of Tserovani, into a kindergarten and housing for refugees. The cost of the two residences, according to the head of the presidential administration Eka Sharashidze, comes to 10 million lari (about $6 million). She told journalists this at a briefing. However, the government is making no comment regarding today's declaration from the Conservatives about the colossal amount of money being spent on the construction of a new residence.
Saakashvili has set up the new residence in Tbilisi, in the heart of the old Avlabar district. It was previously made famous by Tovstonogov in his legendary musical show "Hanuma". At one time the unique colouring of this small multi-ethnic corner of the capital attracted tourists from all corners of the once great and powerful Union. But an entire era has now passed since those times. The cheerful traders are no longer to be seen on the streets of Tbilisi, and the small picturesque houses of the Avlabar residents have disappeared, replaced by presidential apartments.
The new residence was an object of pride for the young Georgian president. Out of principle he refused to move into the governmental residence occupied by Shevardnadze and his predecessors at Krtsanisi, instead putting it up for auction. He decided to build a new one for himself meeting European standards and the requirements of the international elite.