The Dispatch

The Dispatch – December 7


PINEFUL FALLOUT Right-libertarian Girchi (“Pinecone”) party is in a hot soup after the December 4 surprise announcement of party leader Zurab Japaridze that he’d be parting ways with Girchi’s three other cone figures. The libertarians to the hilt seem to have floundered on a testy matter – is it ok to watch child pornography? Iago Khvichia, #2 on the parliamentary list, seemed to have argued in favor and thus crossed all the – few, remaining – red lines in a small party. Appropriately and Shakespearesquely named Iago is nonetheless surprised to have been cast a villain in this story. After all, the party did earn its above-average publicity and a minor rock-star-like following among the twittering masses precisely because of such stunts. But the time has come to pay the karmic debts for the superficial and – may we carefully suggest, somewhat reckless – take on many social problems.

Bossy Japaridze promised to “continue making Girchi” on his own. Whatever that means. Torn between his social media persona of a thick-skinned hipster in his beloved grey hoodie and his other media incarnation – of a peaky-blinders-style classy boss, Japaridze seems to have chosen the latter. He apparently told his colleagues to talk normally to people and quit smoking pot before opening their mouths – terms allegedly included in his pre-breakup ultimatum to the trio. Funny, for a party that made legalizing pot its original workhorse.

…sticking to it The mutinous trio around Iago promises to stand their ground and maintain positions in whatever is left of the party. Japaridze lays claim to the brand name “Girchi” and the ardently followed Facebook page to himself. He is ready to cede the party infrastructure and “Biblical Freedom” – another quirky if more charitable, initiative: by exploiting the loophole of the Georgian law which excuses the clergy from the conscription duty, “Girchi” legally established its own “church” and has been saving scores of youths from conscription by ordaining them as priests. If you see the irony in how the irony in a movement having its own church tearing itself apart because of the pedophilia scandal, then you are one of us. Stick around.

COURT GOES PROGRESSIVE Meanwhile, things are looking good on the left as December 2 landmark ruling at Tbilisi City Court is set to promote labor rights: a retail worker was fired illegally after being caught by the bosses spy-cam browsing her social media page the ruling said. The Court reportedly shared arguments of the appeal filed by the lawyer of Solidarity Network – Georgian CSO advocating for workers’ rights. Turns out, using security camera recordings for surveillance and intimidation of the staff – other than for their original purpose of identifying burglars – is in breach of the Georgian data protection laws. The ruling comes as labor rights are gradually gaining media visibility in the country. The recently amended labor code seen as the key accomplishment of its advocates (and of Georgia’s European allies) is only as good as the courts’ willingness to enforce them. Or alternatively, if you believe the liberal gurus, this labor code is the thin edge of the wedge ushering us into a Gulag. Our guess is, in the year 2020 you get to pick your own dystopia.

FROM THE HORSES’ MOUTHS Amid recently intensified talks about the Moscow-Sokhumi union and a mysterious new “common space” (we hope, properly socially distanced) programs signed in this spirit, the leaders have (apparently) set the stage for the equids to enhance the ties. News broke yesterday in occupied Abkhazia, that Abkhaz-born thoroughbreds uncorked (or whatever it is you do with them) their haystacks and celebrated new career opportunities – from now on, they can take part in horse races in Krasnodar Krai, Russia. Cheers to that.

That’s the full lid for today. Celebrate the bizarre and the curious in Georgia’s politics with us every Monday, Wednesday and Friday!


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