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The Dispatch

The Daily Dispatch – July 16

Welcome back! 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 sifting through the news for you.

HOT OFF THE PRESS The latest public opinion poll, fielded by Edison Research, has found that, though long past its prime, Georgian Dream can still count on its base of support, notching up 39 % of votes if the election were held today. Its main contenders, UNM and European Georgia lag far behind with 16 % and 5 % of votes, respectively. Undecided voters, making up a fifth of the eligible population, may carry a lot of weight if tapped by ballot-hungry parties… Or are they simply nihilists? We’ll see that soon enough. The pollster also gauged public approval of politicians, ranking the PM and Tbilisi Mayor ahead of their party boss, Mr. Ivanishvili. A harbinger of their fall from grace, maybe?

HOLLOWED OUT Local governments. Lasha Komakhidze, who has served as Mayor of Batumi after being elected in 2017, has stepped down today, without clarifying the reason behind his decision. Komakhidze’s notice comes latest in a string of mayoral resignations that have decapitated a handful of self-governing towns. The word is out that coastal city’s mayor was at odds with Adjara region’s governor, another influential office-holder (both hail from the ruling Georgian Dream family). Apparently, Komakhidze willfully chose the exact timing when to vacate his post: due to legal constraints, no snap polls can be held, leaving the city in unelected mandarin’s hands until the next election in 2021. High time to dig deeper into mysterious resignations. The rumor in town is that ahead of the polls the Georgian Dream is removing the mayors that became sore eyes for the voters, and installing party faithful that can round up the usual suspect when the day comes.

LAW-ENFORCER WHITE ELEPHANT Squander Detector, a local watchdog, has laid bare Interior Ministry’s penchant for boosting its profile at the expense of public coffers. In 2018 alone, the Ministry splurged about USD 130,000 on ads, a 21-fold increase from the 2017 benchmark. The Ministry is reluctant to provide a breakdown of those expenses that could have paid years’ wages of 21 detectives. MIA’s official StratCom unit has recently been in the spotlight (with others) for going after the opposition. The tongues are wagging that this is just the tip of the MIA-backed media iceberg.

AFFAIR OF HONOR? Freshly returned from her road trip touring Georgia’s tourist attractions, President Zurabishvili weighed in on the tragic death of a 19-year-old that continues to grip the nation. Alluding to the unwritten code of Georgian chivalry, the head of state rebuked a gang of teenage hotheads who had inflicted serious injuries on the boy before he drowned in the river. Only single combat, an act of valor, fits in with the Georgian traditions, noted Zurabishvili, famed for her occasional gaffes. The Public Defender was quick to call her on the carpet for whipping up machismo spirit. Will the President walk back her statement? or throw down the gauntlet to the Ombudsman?

BATS! The French often call malicious disinformation an “intox” and they may be onto something. Tskhinvali’s security services said a Georgian man infiltrated their land to collect…yes, you guessed rightly, BATS. Those creatures of the night were apparently to be handled by the Georgian 007 to the Lugar Lab, where a swarm of Dr. Evilishvili’s is carrying out deadly experiments under the watchful eye of Uncle Sam, to prepare the ground for the next pandemic. We are having a “Black Mirror” moment here: are these people “just” peddling conspiracies or did they start to sincerely believe their own disinformation?!

We’ll keep an eye on Georgia’s progress. In the meantime, that’s full lid for today!


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