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Phantom media peddles Dreams — Georgia backs U.S. on Open Skies pullout — Majoritarian district redraw leaked – Neighbors spat on Covid stats
PHANTOM MEDIA PEDDLES DREAMS, ISFED, an elections watchdog which recently does good social media snooping, reported on May 21, that its analysts struck on five pages that pose as legitimate media, but are in fact set up to disseminate messages favorable to the ruling party on Facebook. ISFED says these often copy other media reports to look like real deal, but only “boost” (or advertise, in Facebook parlance) those messages that are manipulated in favor of the Georgian Dream. Truly, Georgia gives Facebook disproportional share of work – the company already struck down fake news networks in May, and earlier – in December 2019.
NOT IN OUR SKIES! On May 23, Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani backed his U.S. counterpart in a press statement, saying Washington is right in wanting to pull out from the Open Skies Treaty. Since 2010, Russia restricts flights in a 10-kilometer corridor off the boundaries of occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia. In Tbilisi’s view, this is a breach of the Treaty. Georgia banned Russia from carrying out reconnaissance flights over its territory from 2012. While Georgia backs U.S. it apparently still consults other partners on whether it shall stay or leave – ten European states apparently want the treaty to hold and chose France as their spokesperson.
GERRYMANDER OR NOT? Journalists got hold of the plans to re-divide the single-mandate districts for the upcoming Parliamentary polls, which – Georgian Dream executive secretary Irakli Kobakhidze confirmed – “coincide with what was discussed” by the ruling party. The plan sees the reduction from 75 districts to 30, as provided by the 8 March agreement with the opposition. 12 of the new districts will be in Western Georgia and 18 in the East. Tbilisi is to get 8 majoritarian seats, Racha, Lechkhumi and Svaneti – 1, Samegrelo -3, Imereti – 4, Guria -1, Adjara – 3, Shida Kartli -2, Kvemo Kartli – 3, Samtskhe-Javakheti – 2, Mtskheta-Mtianeti 1, and Kakheti – 2. We are waiting to hear from watchdogs what this means from the point of view of proportionality of seats to votes. A word of caution – Kobakhidze told Netgazeti this was just a starting point of discussion, so nothing is set in stone.
NEVER WASTE A GOOD SPAT South Caucasus’ bickering brother duo are at it again – Tbilisi and Yerevan now crossed (s)words over Covid-19. Georgian twittering masses have erupted in uproar as the media relayed the words of the Armenian Health Minister Arsen Torosyan, who seemed to suggest Georgia’s Covid statistics are cooked. Torosyan was apparently fielding the online briefing question, trying to explain out the higher infection rates registered in Armenia. Georgian epidemiologists, who are often referred to as Musketeers by media during this pandemic sprang promptly into action to defend the honor. The Head of the Georgian NCDC Gamkrelidze shrugged , as only Dumas’ Porthos could, and said his Armenian colleague must have been misquoted, but that he was dead wrong, anyway. The Head of Tbilisi Infectious Disease Center Tsertsvadze was flammable like D’Artagnan and demanded either proof or an apology. No swords were crossed in the Bois du Boulogne through, as
M. de Tréville Foreign Minster David Zalkaliani stepped in and calmed the game, saying his Armenian colleagues assured it was a misunderstanding.
Enjoy your weekend. We will be back with our Monday dispatch!