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NO MERCY “I will not pardon this person. The Georgian society knows about him better than I do, and thus they know why I won’t issue the pardon,” thus spoke President Salome Zurabishvili of Giorgi Rurua, a shareholder of Mtavari Arkhi TV that was sent behind bars for four years yesterday, on charges of illegal purchase, storing and carrying of a firearm. What Mrs. President refers to is that Mr. Rurua was a member of the notorious Mkhedrioni paramilitary in his youth (which formed the praetorian guard of the elder-day government, by the way). The government-friendly media led Georgians to believe while Mr. Rurua was in preliminary detention awaiting a trial, that in those days Mr. Rurua was responsible for a brutal double-murder. He was not charged for this alleged crime, nor he was tried. Yet, now “everybody knows” he is a criminal, according to Mrs. Zurabishvili. U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair James Risch, prominent EU MPs Andrius Kubilius and Anna Fotyga previously urged Zurabishvili to use her discretionary power of pardon, since this would open the way to honoring a political compromise with the opposition.
STANDARD BEARER Not all was gloom in Georgia’s presidential palace, as Mrs. President found time to approve the new and jolly Presidential Standard. Important matters of state must always come first and what is more important than symbols?!
CROOKED COPS A prominent Georgian legal watchdog, GYLA, welcomed that charges were brought against three policemen who allegedly tortured a misidentified citizen trying to extort confession. The alleged crime occurred three years ago, and GYLA filed a lawsuit at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on behalf of the plaintiff. GYLA is indignant that it took this long the prosecution to bring official charges, and even more concerned that they try to lighten the charge from torture to “exceeding authority”.
GENDER BENDER The political party Girchi (Pine-cone), which is known for its ultra-liberal economic stance and its often amusing pranks, announced its top-10 list for parliamentary polls. In a welcome innovation, the party selected its leading candidates via online primaries, catering to its urban and wired parish. On the downside, the list is all-male, despite the new legal requirement that every third candidate must be of a different gender. Quipped the party leader Zurab Japaridze – when the time comes we will satisfy the legal requirement by assigning different gender to these candidates. Funny? You judge. We choose to demur.
CAPITAL (TRANSPORT) SINS Those of you who reside in Tbilisi would have felt it – the city’s poshest residents hold their breath in dreaded anticipation, as the central Chavchavadze Ave. of Vake district is heading into the unknown. The newly refurbished transportation scheme would have cars sacked from the sidewalks, bicycle lanes installed, the number of pedestrian crossings multiplied, and – o, horror – central dedicated bus lanes stealing two lanes of car traffic. What’s worse, the buses in question will go against the car traffic and the passengers will wait on dedicated stops in the middle of the road. Doomsayers foresee a cataclysm of biblical proportions. Optimists rejoice that at least one main thoroughfare favors pedestrians and public transport. The municipality promises more such innovations to come. Honestly, we have no love lost with Tbilisi’s gas-guzzlers, but a sight of a bus plowing against the traffic does instill a holy dread in our heart. A lot is riding on the success of this experiment. We keep our fingers crossed.
That’s full lid for this week, we will come back to you on Monday with fresh developments in Georgia’s politics!