Protestas contra estación rural de esquí

Campaigners object to rural ski resort

Campaigners in Georgia have spoken out against a multi-million dollar ski resort which they say threatens the tranquillity of one of the country's most remote areas. The government says fifty million dollars will be spent on revamping the Svaneti region.

Reporter: Tom Esslemont

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Over the last 12 months, President Saakashvili has overseen some stark changes to the appearance of Georgian towns and cities. In Tbilisi, he presides over a new presidential palace with a large glass dome. In the seaside resort of Batumi, he has ensured that glitzy casinos line the coast. To those who admire them, they are shimmering symbols of gradual economic growth.

And now, the wave of construction, has even reached one of the more isolated regions in the Caucasus mountains. In the pine-brushed valleys of Svaneti, President Saakashvili recently announced that he wants a ski-resort built there. Builders are already hard at work, under orders to get it ready in time for the winter season.

It is one of the poorest regions in the country and many locals anticipate positive economic change. But to its opponents, this is sacrilege. Three separate families told the BBC that their land is being used without their permission to build the resort. The authorities deny seizing land and blame ancient, unwritten ownership laws. There is no way of knowing who owns what, they say.

The huge project may continue to split the community, but the president appears hell-bent on attracting investment to the region - no matter how controversial - as he seeks to repair his reputation, so tainted by his country's war with Russia two years ago.

Tom Esslemont, BBC News

Listen to the words

stark importantes

glitzy ostentosos / extravagantes

shimmering symbols impresionantes indicadores

wave of construction oleada de construcción

pine brushed llenos / cubiertos de pinos

anticipate anticipan /esperan

sacrilege sacrilegio

split the community dividir (la opinión de) la comunidad / población

hell-bent empeñado (en forma imprudente)

tainted manchada