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The Dispatch

The Dispatch – January 15

Opposition Ponders Schemes – Government Got the Letter about Vaccines – Halting Public Transport is Discriminating – U.S. Bringeth 5G

ROUND AND ROUND Just as the New Years’ celebration in Georgia seems never-ending, so does the saga of the elections of the year past – they have ended, but they are not over. After all, while one may disagree about who is guilty about it (and, indeed, many do), it is hard to argue that the sitting Parliament has much to do with the votes cast. So the carousel goes round and round – the more established opposition parties want snap elections now, the new groups that got their foot in, find it hard to give it up, yet feel bad about giving in to the ruling party. The ruling party wants everyone to admit that the elections were fraud-free. And – God forbid – anyone compromises. Elisashvili’s Citizens and Girchi factions’ faction joined forces to push forward a new deal, which stipulates that if in 2021, the Georgian Dream gets fewer votes than the entire opposition, snap parliamentary elections should be held in 2022. The United National Movement and the European Georgia brushed this aside. Lelo and Strategy Agmashenebeli promise want to hear them out. So round and round it goes.

QUESTIONS = ANSWERS? The lock-down grows on even the toughest conspiracy theorists in Georgia, to the extent that they would be happy to get their jab in the nearest future. The problem is, hardly anybody knows when this “nearest future” is to arrive. COVAX, the international platform set to ensure vaccine’s global accessibility, has been sending out questionnaires about the country’s preferences and readiness – the Georgian authorities seem to equal those questionnaires to a confirmation that the truckloads of vaccines are on their way. Being a small country in a big world, Georgia could benefit from some international solidarity – at least the EU is trying its best for its neighbors, health officials assured today.

LET MY PEOPLE GO The virus does not discriminate – so we’ve heard them say. Yet, it is better to cough in a limousine than on the bus. This is the apparent logic Georgian authorities have been following over the past weeks – public transport has been grounded.  Seven civil society groups, most of them working on urban and city traffic issues, released a letter today begging the government to put the public transport back into the streets. This was initially planned for mid-January but has now been pushed back at least to February 1. The CSOs point out that the decision discriminates low-income citizens (i.e. those not owning a car) and strips them of any transportation amidst the crisis. Funny that the New Years’ slogan announced by the Tbilisi mayor is “The City Full of Solidarity” – apparently this applies to car-owners only.

UNCLE SAM BEARING 5G – yes, the conspiracy guys just got the boost. The U.S. and Georgian governments have adopted a memorandum of understanding on January 14, declaring their desires to strengthen cooperation on fifth-generation wireless communications networks (5G) – noting it will be vital to both future prosperity and national security. “5G will enable a vast array of new applications, including the provision of critical services to the public, which will benefit our citizens and our economies,” the MoU reads. We can only hope that, again, at least the innovation and progress brought about by the 5G ecosystem will be inclusive of those not owning cars…

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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