$ 100 million business complex in Old Tbilisi will include museum devoted to Azerbaijani revolutionary

Mirze Sefi Street, high on the hill in Old Tbilisi, was once home to Azerbaijani and Georgians.  But now the street is empty and there are no residents.

 heavy machines are working in Mirze Sefi street, cleaning the rubbish left over from the destroyed buildings.

heavy machines are working in Mirze Sefi street, cleaning the rubbish left over from the destroyed buildings.

Houses on this street were in disrepair, and Tbilisi City Hall decided they should be removed. A Georgian Construction company, Apollo, bought 14 houses on the street and destroyed them in December planning to build a $100 million business complex on the property.

Now only heavy machines are working in the street, cleaning the rubbish left over from the destroyed buildings.

One of those buildings housed the museum of the Azerbaijani revolutionary, writer, publicist, politician and statesman Nariman Narimanov.

Nariman Narimanov’s museum become the property of Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan Republic in 2007, after it was privatized, said Adil Efendiyev, the first secretary of Ambassador of Azerbaijan Republic to Georgia.

Inga Kaya, the main specialist of Ministry of Culture, Monuments Protection and Sport of Georgia, says that Georgia and Azerbaijan have reached agreement on rebuilding the house-museum of Nariman Narimanov on Mirze Sefi Street. She says agreement was signed January this year between cultural ministers of Georgia and Azerbaijan, the mayor of Tbilisi City Hall, and the head of Apollo Construction Company.

“The house-museum of Nariman Narimanov was in bad condition before it was destroyed. For almost two years, the museum was not working because of its bad situation,” said Kaya.

Kaya said the agreement calls for all construction expenses of the museum to be paid by Apollo, which will build the business complex on Mirze Sefi Street. Once the museum building is completed, it will again become the property of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture of the Azerbaijani Republic.

Nino Kordzakhia, head of the Monitoring   and Supervision Department of Old Tbilisi District Council, confirmed the details of the agreement. But she said Tbilisi City Hall has not yet approved construction models for the business complex.

“The suggested construction models were against the architectural style of old Tbilisi. That’s why Tbilisi City Hall suggested that they rework construction models,” said Kordzakhia.

The new business complex on Mirze Sefi Street will cover 20,000 square meters and will cost Apollo $100 million, said Tea Sturua, the project manager of Apollo. But she said at the moment it’s difficult for them to say how much money exactly will be spent on the building museum dedicated to Nariman Narimanov.

“We are going to invite Azeri architects also to take part in the construction of museum. When we will start building the museum, then we can say how much money we will spend on it,” Sturua said.

Sturua added that they have found one old Azeri architect’s construction style in Tbilisi and they will use this style to build the museum. Apollo plans to start construction in the middle of March this year. Sturua said museum will consist of two stories and will be completed in two years.

Before the houses were destroyed, the exhibits in the museum were moved to another Azerbaijani museum, named after Mirze Feteli Axundov, on Gorsalidze Street, near Old Tbilisi. Books and other personal possessions of Nariman Narimanov are kept in the corridor of the museum. Most of the other exhibits are in closed boxes.

Narimanov was born in a poor Azerbaijani family in Tbilisi in 1870. His childhood and youth were spent in Georgia. Narimanov was the first head of state and government of The Azerbaijan Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and also held other high positions in the administration of USSR from 1920-1925.

He was one of the first activists of young Turkic literature.  He translated into Turkic Russian Gogol’s “Inspector” and wrote a large number of plays, stories and novels.

Narimanov died in Moscow at age 55, under suspicious circumstances. He was officially declared to have died of a heart attack, but his remains were cremated. His ashes were buried in Kremlin Wall Necropolis, which is a part of The Kremlin Wall in Moscow overlooking the Red Square, where the Soviet governments buried many prominent local and international Communist figures.

Leyla Aliyeva, 61, is a director of Azerbaijan Cultural Museums named after Mirze Feteli Axundov, Celil Memmedquluzade and Nariman Narimanov in Tbilisi. She says these museums were the houses of the people whose life also related to Tbilisi. They were established after the visit of Azerbaijani president Heydar Aliyev to Tbilisi in 1996.

Aliyeva, opened one of the closed boxes and took out a personal belonging of Narimanov — a wooden candlestick, and began cleaning it.

“There’s no place to exhibit [his items] in this museum,” she said.  “When destroyed museum will be rebuilt again, then we will have chances to open all these exhibits there.”