The Daily Dispatch is our editorial take on the past day’s news. You can subscribe here to get it in your mailbox. Click to write to us! We’d love to hear your ideas and opinions. Giorgi Tskhakaia has been scanning the news for you.
LEFT IN THE LURCH You do recall Abkhaz leader Bzhania railing at “produce worth billions of roubles” being smuggled each year to Georgia proper. Well, there’s no smoke without fire. As it turns out, Sokhumi can no longer count on its longtime benefactor’s munificence. Starting January, Russia has withheld large chunks of assistance that – in normal times – are funneled into Abkhazia’s coffers. Short of financial lifeline, Sokhumi is scrambling to pay for basic expenses, such as salaries, pensions, and healthcare costs. Meanwhile, tourism and agriculture, two mainstays of local economy, are left high and dry due to the pandemic. No wonder then, why Bzhania has become eager to tap new sources of income.
FOREVER LOCKED DOWN All of Georgia’s schools and colleges have been shuttered since March, awaiting reopening after the first wave of the outbreak ebbs away. But one school in Rustavi (SE of Tbilisi) will never open its doors again. Shota Rustaveli School-Lyceum had its authorization revoked by the National Center for Education Quality Enhancement, a state-backed regulatory agency, due to failure to meet some “academic requirements” – related with curriculum and infrastructure. Some suspect a hidden agenda behind the Agency’s oddly timed move – the school is run by Chaglar Educational Institutions, allegedly linked with Fethullah Gulen, an influential Muslim cleric and President Erdogan’s nemesis. Earlier, when other Chaglar-administered schools were shut down or harassed (in Batumi, Tbilisi and again, university in Tbilisi) on similar grounds, civil society watchdogs suspected Georgian authorities did so at Turkey’s behest. The Government has brushed off allegations, but closures continue.
FUNDRAISING MARATHON FOR GEORGIA The U.S. Government has earmarked extra USD 1 million to shore up Georgia’s response to Covid-19 pandemic, raising the total of already allocated funds to USD 2.7 million. American aid mainly comes in form of much sought-after protective gear, and importantly, know how for Georgian health professionals on how to hunt down the virus. However, healthcare needs in Georgia are dwarfed by those of pecuniary nature. A government-compiled report reveals that Georgia has already attracted USD 1.5 billion in budgetary assistance, including USD 200 mln from IMF and USD 250 mln from the World Bank – two moneylending mammoths. Still miles left to cover – to close the gap in the budget.
DO-UNTO-OTHERS as you would have them do unto you. In line with the biblical dictum, a Georgian netizen started a petition urging the Government to lend a helping hand to Armenia, which has lately been overwhelmed by the soaring rate of new Covid-19 cases. “Authorities should offer Armenia treating some of its patients in Georgia,” says Sandro Chumashvili in his rallying cry to succor battered South Caucasian nation. His appeal, backed up by 400-strong signatories, has not fallen on deaf ears, it appears. Georgia’s chief diplomat Davit Zalkaliani voiced message of support, expressing “readiness to offer any help” at Armenia’s request.
That’s full lid for today!