The Dispatch

The Dispatch – December 9

TV Director in a Meltdown – Commission Goes After Indecency – Hurdles for Sexual Violence Survivors – New Guy from OSCE PA

ANATHEMA! Times, they are a-changing. Last night’s rant by Nika Gvaramia, the iconic head of the pro-opposition Mtavari Arkhi TV – known to be close to the UNM –  quickly degenerated into an anti-Western-Ambassadors meltdown. Gvaramia, previously of Rustavi 2 TV, has been setting himself and his channel as a pro-western bulwark against what he sees as Bidzina Ivanishvili’s pro-Kremlin government, so all the more surprising that his rhetoric came so close to what one expects to hear from the pro-Russian and nativist outlets.

Gvaramia was hosting a talk show after the 4th round meeting facilitated by the Western Ambassadors, who try to bridge the gap between the opposition – which refuses to enter the Parliament claiming vote fraud – and the ruling party. Gvaramia stole the spotlight from his guests as he went after the U.S. Ambassador Kelly Degnan and EU Ambassador Carl Hartzell for appeasing Ivanishvili. The U.S., Gvaramia said, swallowed the blatant blocking of ambassadorial appointment by the “hillbilly” oligarch (Georgia’s ‘woke’ laws allow for snobbism against villains like Ivanishvili), and argued that the U.S. continued to turn the blind eye to abuses after the arrival of Amb. Degnan early in 2020.

Calling himself quintessence of persecution, the TV host went on to eulogize the good old times when former U.S. Ambassador Ian Kelly would go an extra mile to protect Rustavi 2 TV, managed by Gvaramia at the time.

The key opposition figures, left speechless, watched Gvaramia’s rage with forlorn confusion.

ENOUGH OF INDECENCY! In it’s December 7 statement, Georgia’s Communication Commission (ComCom. Yes, we find it funny too.) “called upon” Georgian broadcasters to stop flooding the audience with indecency, and tut-tutted them with consequences. The ComCom dug up the 2009 Constitutional Court ruling which secured the right to legal remedy to “programs that contain indecency violating human’s dignity and fundamental rights.” By the trial of logic that we find confusing, the ComCom seems to believe that this ruling also gave them the authority (and “an obligation”) to administer justice.

Not so, argues the Media Advocacy Coalition, a group of watchdogs united to protect media freedom. The watchdogs drew attention to censorship risks, telling the Commission to stick to the law.

REFORMS PENDING FOR WOMEN Speaking about justice, the Council of Europe (CoE) and Public Defender presented the findings of a new study about “Administration of Justice on Sexual Violence Crimes against Women in Georgia,” analyzing the situation after the ratification of the Istanbul Convention and its entry into force in 2017 in Georgia.

Despite some positive developments, the report pointed at low reporting rates of sexual violence, administration of justice in only a small number of cases, and failure to recognize sexual violence as a form of discrimination against women. The study also showed that the “only yes means yes” principle has not yet reached Georgia, as “legislative definitions of sexual violence are not based on the lack of free or voluntary consent of the victim.” Survivors face additional, traumatizing hurdles throughout criminal proceedings, the study finds, stressing even more barriers for disadvantaged groups.

NEWS FROM OSCE PA OSCE Parliamentary Assembly designated Ditmir Bushati, Head of the OSCE PA’s Albanian Delegation and former Foreign Minister of Albania, as a Special Representative on the South Caucasus on December 9. His mandate, expiring in July 2021, will stretch from following the overall political situation in the region to working with the OSCE structures that engage with regional conflicts and the Geneva International Discussions. Let’s see what he has to offer, considering ongoing heated processes and the recent major shift in the region.

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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