The Dispatch

The Dispatch – December 30

BETTER 2021 As we are – finally – bidding farewell to 2020 and hope that 2021 will be at least somewhat better. Truly, the coming year looks promising in some areas and less joyful in others. Georgia expects to start vaccinating its citizens in the first months of 2021, it is another question, however, how effectively Georgian authorities and civil society will be countering anti-vaxxers’ opposition so that the restrictions could yield way to at least a degree of normalcy. And would not it be a bit too hard to say “no” to those emergency rights?

BREAD… The year 2020 confirmed something we’d already known in our chaotic country: it is wrong to set any expectations. One thing, however, is clear for the year to come: it is going to take miracles to bring about the fast recovery of the wrecked economy, particularly in a country that grew dependent on tourism over the past years, and where certain restrictions are expected to stay in place for a while longer. The rise of utility prices is one of the latest bad news, and it is hard to predict what is to come, should the government one day run out of money for subsidies.

…AND CIRCUS while the daily bread might be in shortage, Georgians have had quite enough of the political circus this year. With no end in sight for the post-election political crisis, the ruling party whip Irakli Kobakhidze looks cheerful, pledging to force at least some opposition MPs into the parliament. The fact that this hope hinges on what Kaladze claims are personal, confidential talks must give us pause – how creaky must a democracy become, so that the opposition must be sneaked into the legislative chambers through the back door? Aleko Elisashvili, whose Citizens party quite successfully secured two MP mandates, said he might ditch the boycott in exchange for election reforms even if other parties do not follow the suit.

COMMON PEOPLE No secret that 2020 also gave the essential workers their long-deserved attention and, along with stressing their role in society, brought the grave state of their labor rights into the spotlight. Days ago, Georgians were shocked by the sudden death of a COVID-19 survivor, a 23-year-old doctor, whose heavy workload has reportedly contributed to the tragedy. On the positive side, the Human Right Education and Monitoring Center (EMC), Georgian CSO, said it helped permanently reinstate a social worker who was unfairly laid off – only after the long legal battle. Noting that similar success stories have been becoming more common lately, perhaps the coming year may bring tangible. positive shifts at least on the social rights side.

UNDERLOVED Moscow does very few things politely and gently. One of these is how it keeps “friendzoning” South Ossetian authorities who keep asking for joining Russia, without making it look like the final rejection. Alternatively, it may be Tskhinvali’s never-give-up spirit that withstands countless unsuccessful advances towards Russia in the vain hope to make things official. In today’s press conference, Kremlin-backed leader Anatoly Bibilov reiterated his commitment to incorporate Tskhinvali into Russia someday, not letting past “missed opportunities” bring him down.

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

*As we take a break from the crazy 2020 and retreat to some privacy for the New Year’s celebrations, The Dispatch will be coming back by January 6 next year. Happy New Year!

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