The Daily Dispatch

The Daily Dispatch – August 17

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SEE NO EVIL? While Belarus is on everyone’s mind these days, official Tbilisi has kept conspicuously mum until yesterday, when a mysterious flight of the official government plane hit the radars. While officials were silent like a Soviet submarine at the capitalist shores, the media started to speculate wildly. Cool as a cucumber, the Foreign Ministry said there was no need for such fuss – it was just a good old ambassador chappie getting back to Minsk quick-ish, as hundreds of thousands of Belorussians stood to protect their vote… The new cry about the town (voiced by former deputy FM Sergi Kapanadze of European Georgia) is – not that Belarus elections came as a surprise, so how come the ambassador was chilling in Tbilisi as the country went for its momentous polls?! Don’t hold your breath in anticipation of an answer…

SHEEPISH Yet, the news of this mysterious flight on what is formerly known as “the presidential plane” jolted President Salome Zurabishvili into action of sorts. In a vaguely termed statement posted on the presidential website she expressed “hope the current process will be completed in a way that will not harm or hinder Belarus’s democratic and European future.” She added that “we distance ourselves from violence”.

BUZZING While the politicians calibrate the risks of Lukashenko’s ire (after all, he bought Tbilisi’s favor by doggedly refusing Putin’s plea to recognize Georgia’s two occupied provinces as independent states) Georgia’s twittering masses are abuzz with speculation. Will Lukashenko stay or will he go?! Would Putin interfere or won’t he? All in all, the Belorussian’s optimism is met with a generous dollop of Georgian cynicism: we’ve been there, standing starry-eyed at the squares, we’ve done it… The truth of the matter is, that Georgians, just as many Europeans don’t know much about Belarus, its politics, or people. At least this is bound to slowly change, as we see more than one mustachioed face representing the whole nation.

VIRAL As Europe grapples with an uptick in COVID-19 infection rates, so does Georgia. Determined to keep their first success intact, the government has locked down the parts of mountain resort in Svaneti province, due to a small outbreak. Most international flights are now off till end-September. In the meantime, Abkhazia that threw its boundaries open to Russian tourists is experiencing a fresh outbreak. Local hospitals, finding it hard to cope, are calling in volunteers. The UNDP office in Tbilisi sent in some fresh protection gear and supplies. You can follow the COVID-19 stories on Civil.ge’s live blog here.

REMEMBERING On August 14, Georgia marked the 28th sad anniversary of the outbreak of armed hostilities in Abkhazia. The leadership struck a measured tone, as there are some noises of detente with the new faces in Sokhimi. But this promises to be an uphill struggle – voices of criticism are already rising in Abkhazia and there is news that the Russian patrons are holding a large conference there to – in their words – combat Georgia’s information influence operations, funded lavishly by its Western allies.

That’s full lid for today!

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