Police erect iron fences as protests against construction of Namakhvani HPP continue
Early in the morning, police erected iron barriers in the Rioni river valley near the Gumati hydroelectric power plant, in order to restrict the movement of local residents, some of whom are protesting the construction of a new large hydroelectric power station in the valley.
“We, the residents of this valley, are not allowed into our homes because the state protects the interests of a private company. I believe that the whole society should unite against this”, said Varlam Goletani, one of the organizers of the protest.
The erection of the barriers sparked outrage among the protesters, who hit the barricades with various objects and confronted the police officers.
Varlam Goletiani says that the protesters will not leave the sight of the protest and will continue to wait for the government authorities to meet their demands. Goletiani added that the protesters do not rule out the possibility of protesting in the capital.
The situation in the Rioni Valley escalated after the police dismantled the tents of the protesters in the village of Namokhvani on April 11 under the pretext of a possible river flood. Soon after, the company responsible for the construction of the Namakhvani HPP plowed the site where the tents stood.
The demonstrators have been unable to enter the village of Namokhvani for several days.
Last night, protesters moved to the office of ENKA, a company that oversees the construction of the Namakhvan hydroelectric power plant, and blocked the access road to Namokhvani, stating that they would not let the company’s employees and vehicles pass.
This was followed by a clash between the activists and the police, after which 6 people were detained. The police explained that, despite the warning, the protesters did not clear the road and were, therefore, arrested.
The protests against the construction of Namakhvan HPP by Turkey’s largest construction company, ENKA, have been going on for over four months in the Rioni River valley.
At the end of October 2020, local residents and civil activists set up tents in the village of Joneti, Tskhaltubinsk municipality. They demanded ENKA to stop the construction works immediately and to remove the equipment from the gorge.
A film directed by Elene Asatiani tells a story about the “defenders of the Rioni Valley”, and how they changed their lives in order to protest against the construction of Namakhvani HPP: