The Dispatch

The Daily Dispatch – August 20

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MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL... Reactions keep pouring in as the latest report by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) seems to have touched the raw nerve. The ruling party blames local ill-wishers who NDI employs as experts, with Justice Minister Tsulikiani suggesting the US agency shall pick better (read – less critical) partners to do their research. The opposition, obviously, shares and amplifies the critical elements of that very report.

SMOKE AND MIRRORS Media and media watchdogs are spooked at the series of new regulations that seem timed to limit independent broadcasters (and, perhaps, even internet media) ahead of the polls. Part of these concerns rather strict enforcement of child-friendly content (we wrote about this yesterday), and yet another – the new rules targeting the election campaign specifically. As it is so often the case recently, the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) finds itself (quite willingly, one must say) in the thick of this controversy.

CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER We reported about conciliatory noises towards Tbilisi coming from Sokhumi’s new administration recently. Sergei Shamba has been at the forefront of the camp calling for renewed dialogue and he has just reiterated his commitment to this course of action. In the meantime, news broke that Irma Inashvili and Giorgi Tarkhan-Mouravi, two leaders of Georgia’s nativist “Patriots’ Union” traveled to Abkhazia’s easternmost Gali district. (It became known since the two were placed in COVID-19 quarantine upon return). The two protagonists neither confirmed nor denied the reports – which is a journalistic long-hand for confirming it. But the former head of the occupied Gali region suspects the Georgian politicians met the advisors of the current leadership. Although Mrs. Inashvili did the ruling party some services in the past, she would make a curious choice for a back-channel…

BLESSED ARE THE FAITHFUL? Media and activists sharply critical of the ruling party have noticed that the “Georgian Dream’s” latest regional rallies had featured notable clerical backing – local bishops were apparently present. Now, it is not unusual for Georgia’s quasi-establishment Church to support the powers that be. The Georgian Orthodox Church is strong enough to defy the government when it sees fit, yet to still receive funding and material handouts – most recently, in form of rights to forests adjacent to the Church property. It seems, that in upcoming polls, Church money rides strongly on the “Georgian Dream”.

That’s full lid for today!


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