FULL STEAM AHEAD Georgia’s election law has cleared its second hurdle – albeit less gloriously. With 113 votes necessary to pass, it scraped by with only 115 ruling party votes. The opposition was boycotting, pending the release of Giorgi Rurua, opposition-TV shareholder they consider to be imprisoned on politically motivated charges. As expected (see yesterday’s Dispatch) some ritual post-vote mud-slinging took place. What matters for the Georgians, is that the election compromise is holding. The EU ambassador said he hopes the third, and final, hearing will see the consensus of at least 142 votes. Hope springs eternal…
…TALKING OF PRISONERS 45% of the surveyed Georgians apparently subscribe to the view that the ruling Georgian Dream party is in control of the judiciary, while 40 % think “the clan” of well-connected and crooked judges keeps a tight grip on the court system. Nearly half of Georgians say “detentions on political grounds” are widespread in the country, while 14 % say this never happens, according to the survey. That’s from Transparency International’s recent poll, fielded by CRRC’s.
CROSSING THE LINE Mtavari TV found itself in a hot water, after it aired a sensationalist report about the child pornography ring busted in Tbilisi. The company got slapped on the wrist by the Journalists Ethics Charter – a self-regulatory body – which said in a report that even thought the faces of the victims were blurred, sufficient graphic detail was shown that could identify them and may “cause irreparable damage”. Faced by outcry, Mtavari TV chief Giorgi Gvaramia was forced to apologize.
SAD TIDINGS Georgians were shocked as 19 year-old footballer, Giorgi Shakarashvili, was found dead in the river, following his disappearance after an out-of-town birthday party. Police is tight lipped about the circumstances of death, although eyewitnesses say a brawl broke up before the disappearance. Even as the cause of Mr. Shakarashvili’s death is yet unknown, the Georgian public is reminded of the culture of violence that led to a horrible “Khorava street murder” only two years ago.
IN A CONCESSION MOOD? Georgia’s Deputy Economy Minister said the country is willing to seek amicable arrangement with Frontera Resources, a US oil company. Previously, Georgia broke contract with Frontera and even won an international arbitration case. But the well-connected US company gave the government grief in the US congress. With chilled reception on the Hill gaining ground, the ruling party seems to be trying to bury the hatchet. Frontera rep said the conciliation attempt was “unexpected”.
That’s full lid for today!