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.
MEDIA FREEDOM ON THE LINE Georgian media bosses must have broken out in a cold sweat today. The Parliament rushed through a much-contested bill allowing a state-backed regulatory authority to take over the reins of telecoms firms, including a number of broadcasters, who are at the same time registered as telecommunications providers, as a last resort to enforce penalties. GNCC, a regulating body, recently – and controversially – took a habit of lambasting the media it regulates, through its Mediacritic website. Watchdogs say that giving a truncheon to the regulator that takes dim view of opposition is a bad idea, and turns GNCC into a weapon to cow the critical voices. Still, the power-hungry agency had to give the ground a bit – broadcasters will be able to seek an injunction from the court to fend off an unwelcome intruder.
TEST OF FAITH The Tbilisi City Court has ruled in favor of two Adventist Christian school-leavers who did not sit an exam held on Saturday on religious grounds. NAEC, a state-run body administering college-entrance exams, is required to let the pious students take the test on a day other than Saturday, showing regard for their beliefs. Amen to that.
FANNING ETHNIC FLAMES A posse of far-right activists – egged on by the men of the cloth – have gathered in Marneuli, a majority-Azeri town south of Tbilisi, demanding to dismantle a statue to a controversial Bolshevik figure whom many locals hold dear. Meanwhile, scores of Georgians of Azeri origins rallied near the state border, siding with their kin in response to newly reignited Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The State Security Service is in charge of an ongoing probe into alleged incitement of ethnic strife. CSOs say it’s better to walk on eggshells and defuse tensions. With guns firing between Armenia and Azerbaijan these days, they do have a point.
We’ll keep an eye on Georgia’s progress. In the meantime, that’s full lid for today!