21 May 2020
EU cash to handle Covid-19 fallout — Boundary closures cost lives — Tskhinvali targets EUMM in a bio-sample hoax — President Speaks Out — MPs battle out the post-emergency bill — Who’s cool and who’s not?
EU GIVES 150MLN: On May 20, the Council of the European Union adopted a decision to provide up to EUR 3 billion of macro-financial assistance to ten enlargement and neighborhood partners, including EUR 150 Million to Georgia, to help them cope with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. A welcome news as Georgians look uneasily towards an economic slump. Revenue service has been telling businesses to file data about employees who lost income, so that they can be eligible for compensation.
OCCUPATION IS MEASURED IN HUMAN LIVES: the Georgian State Minister Ketevan Tsikhelashvili said since September 2019, 14 patients have died only in Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, because Tskhinvali’s crossing-point closure prevented them from seeking adequate medical help in Georgia proper.
EUMM SMEARED BY TSKHINVALI in a bizarre Covid-19 hoax, as several local propaganda outlets claimed EUMM was collecting bio-samples from locals along the boundary line to use them in a “Lugar Lab “. The research center of National Center for Disease Control (NDCD), built with US support, but managed by Georgians, has long been the Kremlin’s preferred scarecrow, feeding into the scaremongering stories of “Russian encirclement with hostile US bio-labs”. This latest outbreak of this viral hoax was apparently triggered by the presence of the ambulance car in EUMM convoy. That car has always been there on patrols, “as a standard precautionary measure,” said EUMM.
PRESIDENT SPEAKS OUT – Mme Zurabishvili spoke to Rustavi 2 in a wide ranging interview. She claimed taking the decision to pardon Mr. Okruashvili and Mr. Ugulava independently, to resolve the political crisis and to pave the way to electoral reform. President also said she consulted the ruling party leadership on the matter, which the “Georgian Dream” Executive Secretary Irakli Kobakhidze (more of him later) denies. President also found some of the Georgian Orthodox Church actions reckless in the recent Covid-19 crisis and injected a healthy dose of laïcité into the discourse.
MPs BATTLED OUT POST-EMERGENCY POWERS today as the opposition rallied against the amendments to the Law on Public Health, that would allow the government to pass rights restrictions for health emergency reasons without having to request emergency powers. Non-governmental watchdogs chimed in saying these powers should necessarily be time-bound and are otherwise unconstitutional. The ruling party voted for the amendments in the first hearing, but MP Irakli Kobakhidze seemed to finally conced that the restrictions should be time bound, promising to make the relevant changes.
…and the gave us a daily dose of political ridicule:
MP IRAKLI KOBAKHIDZE IS REALLY COOL – or so he seemed to suggest when saying he’s never seen the “opposition spectrum so uncool as it is now”. In somewhat of a circular logic, he justified his observation by saying they dress like bumpkins and look like rednecks.
Those of you who are literary minded, will be inspired by knowledge that once-dethroned Parliament Speaker encapsulated all of those “uncool” words in a single Hebrew “goyym” – which apparently meant “[other, non Jewish] peoples” in the Bible, but has somehow come to signify “redneck” in Tbilisi jargon. Giga Bokeria, leader of the European Georgia, whom Kobakhidze called out as “Nr. 1 Goyym” retorted by saying he always strives to be the Nr. 1 and wishes Mr. Kobakhidze the same. Mic-Drop.