YOU BETTER SHAPE UP! EU Commission said there are still too many Georgians – well over 21 thousand in 2019 – seeking asylum in Schengen visa-free area. This is especially concerning since only 4% of applications were accepted in the same period. EU will put a brake on visa-free movement if the asylum-seeking is not normalized, so Tbilisi is well advised to redress the course. The government is trying to step up bilateral cooperation and to ease the re-admission of those nationals who have been evicted or refused entry.
SICK IN THE LINE OF DUTY 28 Georgian servicemen were rushed back to Georgia after having tested positive for Covid-19 during their tour of duty to the NATO mission in Afghanistan. All are doing fine and recovering in a military hospital. Their comrades-in-arms are expected in Georgia in a couple of weeks, but their loved ones will have to wait – they will be heading straight into quarantine.
VIOLENT CRIME Forensic report in the case of Giorgi Shakarashvili, 19, who was found dead in a river after a party, says he had multiple injuries consistent with beating by a blunt object. These injuries were relatively light, said the report, declaring drowning as the cause of death. 17 persons are detained by the police in connection with this case and rumors have been swirling in Georgia concerning a possible cover-up from the high up. The case also led to some profound soul-searching about the culture of violence among the youth. The press and some observers bemoan the falling levels of trust towards the police and the official investigation.
TOP OF THE POPS Bidzina Ivanishvili, patron and leader of the ruling “Georgian Dream” will head the party list for the 2020 general elections, Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia confirmed today. The ruling party had a patchy year so far: it can put managing the Covid-19 outbreak to its credit, but it had to eat a humble pie and concede to opposition on election system. The party’s big man – with his big wallet – will be hard-pressed to deliver success this autumn.
That’s full lid for today!