Police evicted on August 11 several hundred internally displaced persons from a building in Tbilisi, which housed headquarters of Group of Russian Forces in the Transcaucasus (GRVZ) before its withdrawal in 2006.
According to the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees, displaced families were notified a month earlier that they should have vacated the building and instead they were offered either financial compensation of USD 10,000 or alternative accommodation. IDPs say that they were offered accommodation in the rural areas, which was not acceptable for them because of lack of employment opportunities there.
On August 12, a group of IDPs gathered outside the presidential palace in Tbilisi to protest against thier eviction. The rally was also joined by a group of street vendors, who were protesting against ban of street vending.
There are many internally displaced persons among street vendors, earning a living through petty trade outside market places. Such vendors pay no taxes and oppose the Tbilisi municipality's calls for them to move into indoor markets, where they will have to pay fixed tariffs for vending. Street vending was banned in Tbilisi few of years ago, although local authorities initially tried to enforce the decision, later the plan was dropped allowing street traders to continue the practice.
The August 12 rally, like the several others held in recent days, are organized by opposition Conservative Party activist Lasha Chkhartishvili, who said that the rallies would be held outside the presidential palace every Thursday.
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