TOUGHENING ON ELECTION FRAUD? — TSKHINVALI: SHUT OFF, SIMMERING — SHADY SHENANIGANS IN ABKHAZIA
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT The ruling Georgian Dream proposed to toughen penalties for voter intimidation and violation of the secrecy of the vote, pledging to qualify these offenses as criminal, rather than simply administrative, as it is now. Opposition demurs skeptical – David Bakradze of European Georgia said the change is merely symbolic, as it carries no mechanism for better uncovering and addressing such cases and is thus aimed at repairing the ruling party’s tarnished reputation with Georgia’s western partners. Khatuna Samnidze of the Republicans added, that it won’t prevent many civil servants from declaring their support to GD and thus will have a minimal impact on the secrecy of the vote. In any case, the opposition is likely to vote for the proposal.
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME 12 years ago Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent, a cynical smokescreen to the military occupation and gradual absorption into Russia’s administrative space. Today, the highest official congratulating Tskhinvali on the momentous day was the Russian Deputy Minister of economy. Internationally, the bid to garner support to their statehood has proved a fiasco: Syria, Venezuela, Nauru, and Nicaragua are the only nations the Kremlin managed to strong-arm into following suit. And while Tkhinvali wants to get rid of the border with Russia, Sokhumi has proved much more reticent. An inquiry of the Russian journalists tells the story: Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, which is barricaded from Georgia by Russian fortifications and closed off from Russia due to the pandemic, is finding itself in dire economic penury. Yet, the official of the local “Ministry of Economy” Galina Tedeeva was quoted in 2018 saying this concerning the razed houses of ethnic Georgians: “It’s cool that [these houses] are no longer, very good. That had to be razed so that the rains could wash off this accumulated dirt, this dirty aura.”
EJECTED Lasha Sakania, an aide of the Moscow-backed Abkhaz leader Aslan Bzhania resigned on August 26 following the outrage over his apparent involvement in facilitating the visit of members of the nativist, Kremlin-friendly Alliance of Patriots party of Georgia across the ABL. Exactly what the Alliance leaders were doing there is unclear – their version of a religiously-inspired visit rings preposterous, despite the matching social media photos. It is clear, that it has torpedoed Bzhania’s persistent overtures for dialogue with Tbilisi. If the Alliance is doing the Kremlin’s bidding as the recent report seems to suggest, could Abkhazia just a safe box for depositing some untraceable sponsor money? No noise yet from Georgia’s police, special services, or prosecutors – not even a confirmation that they are looking into the case.
That’s full lid for today!