The Daily Dispatch

The Daily Dispatch – July 6

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TESTING TIMES Under the beating summer sun, thousands of test-takers have flocked to the makeshift examination centers today. High schoolers are expected to bite the bullet and sit the college entrance exams in strict compliance with carefully crafted health and safety rules. Two pupils running a temperature were refused entry to the virus-proofed centers. Another group of students, residing in occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region, was unable to take the test due to months-long closure of crossing points restricting them to enter Georgia proper. The government said they will still secure places at Georgian universities, without passing the exam, and get full scholarships, too. Well-deserved relief for the hampered student hopefuls.

SEE YOU IN COURT A Georgian notary has sued the Justice Ministry in the Constitutional Court after he was suspended from work for an alleged code-of-conduct violation. Mr. Shengelia was brought to book for publishing a number of opposition-minded Facebook posts, which the Ministry claims are irreconcilable with his nonpartisan job. GYLA, a prominent watchdog that represents the plaintiff in the Court, argues that Ministry’s lid on free speech is unconstitutional, as only the law – adopted by the Parliament – can impose such a restriction. The defendant enjoys its right to silence while ignoring the first instance court’s ruling to reinstate Shengelia.

OPEN THE HEAVENS After the EU flagged Georgia as a virus-safe country, several European countries have signaled readiness to resume flights with the South Caucasus nation. Still, prospects of international travel reverting to normal seem like pie in the sky. The Government is reluctant to let in swarms of foreign visitors, some of whom may be traveling with fresh strains of infections. Scores of tourism workers clobbered hardest by the pandemic, staged a protest demanding a swift reopening of borders, which might remain sealed until October – some have claimed. Hungary’s chief diplomat, who’s on a trip in Tbilisi, sought to allay fears that Wizz Air, a low-cost airline of Magyar extraction, is turning its back to Georgian heavens. As months pass by, isolation from the world is no longer an option for a country with a nosediving economy.

MARK OF THE CENSOR? Georgia’s twittering masses went into an uproar as it emerged that the government tabled a draft law that would allow the National Communications Commission (GNCC) – a licensing body – to appoint a temporary manager in offending companies, with the remit to change all of its leadership, board and revoke all decisions taken during the past year. The media suspects the provision is an underhand way to bring the broadcasters to the heel. Some lawyers argue, that the changes only apply to telecommunication companies. But to paraphrase Woody Allen’s famous dictum, the fact that the media are paranoid does not mean the government is not out there to get them: the same GNCC has recently started to whip independent media through its Media Critic website. Georgia’s electronic media mainstays, respected Netgazeti and Batumelebi have been the latest to appear in Media Critic’s crosshairs, on a highly spurious basis. What’s worse, the attack was unleashed in synch with the ruling party mud-slinging against the same outlets, worries the Coalition for Media Advocacy.

That’s full lid for today!


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