The Dispatch

The Dispatch – January 18

The Imitation Game – Will he Stay or will he go? – Change of Lawyers – Judas-Designate Speaks

AUGURIES AHEAD Such is the nature of the current Georgian politics, that comings and goings at the top seem much like the ballet of the Olympian gods, whose existence manifests itself in mysterious ways. Auguries and prophecies rule the day – although some cynically call them “leaks.” The media outlet – aptly named Formula – that has prophesied the return of the Grand Man (that’s Mr. Ivanishvili to you) to the Olympus and the subsequent ascension of MP Irakli Kobakhidze to the princely throne,  has the new augury. The updated reading of the flight of birds says that MP Kobakhidze will go on to consolidate his power by placing current Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze in Prime-Minister’s spot. Some more obscure Pithiae have even claimed that the Foreign Minister’s post will also get spruced up – with a young recruit, Oxonian Giorgi Khelashvili (prolific on Twitter as @gkhelash) picking the top spot, backed up by the current Ambassador to the U.S. David Bakradze as his deputy. Alas, sic transit gloria mundi!

WALKING A MILE IN MY SHOES Somewhat bizarrely, these rumors got an unexpected boost when the official photo gallery from the Georgian Dream’s congress was closely examined by the Twitterati to reveal Mr. Kobakhidze and Mr. Kaladze… wearing strikingly similar (and quite unusual, for the formal occasion) white-soled shoes. Those boots may be made for walkin’, but the bets are that one of these days they’re gonna walk all over someone. Clue? The newly tagged besties can be seen together again, and again in this photoshoot, while Prime Minister Gakharia is left strangely out of focus (much like Woody Allen’s character in Deconstructing Harry).

WE WILL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS The Georgian opposition media is abuzz with the news that the newly minted Legionnaire Ivanishvili – after parking away most of his assets – may be about to leave Georgia for his other motherland – France, where he seems to be known for his values rather than for his price. If you have watched the very final scene of the old classic Bluff movie then you know what our impressions are.

FRESH BLOOD After some delay, the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, one of the most renowned Georgian CSOs, has just elected a new chair, following the expiration of the tenure of Sulkhan Saladze, former Director. The new head, Nikoloz Simonishvili, who has previously managed a GYLA project and has gathered some experience in the Parliament of Georgia, assumes the office at a challenging time for Georgian civil society. Following the PVT controversy, that befell another veteran watchdog – ISFED – the ruling party has intensified efforts to delegitimize established CSOs. It will definitely take a cool head and a steady hand to weather the storm unleashed by GD’s new leader.

AGENCY FOUND WANTING Georgian civil society outfits see somebody else who had one job – and failed it. A letter, signed by Georgian CSOs, religious unions, and churches, calls on authorities to abolish the State Agency of Religious Issues, a body in direct subordination of the Prime Minister’s office and set a path for democratic, inclusive reforms in this area. The state agency failed to effectively respond to earlier inter-religious disputes over the years, signatories claim, adding that it even pursued a broader state policy based on controlling non-dominating religious organizations. This comes following the inter-religious tensions in the Guria region, Western Georgia, involving local Muslim and Orthodox Christian communities, which, luckily, was quickly defused, for now.

DIGGING UP DIRT Mr. Elisashvili, the designated Judas of Georgia’s opposition boycotting the parliament, took to dredging up some dirt on the opposition. He said that the authorities refused to release Giorgi Rurua (shareholder of the pro-opposition Mtavari Arkhi TV, he was put in the dock for carrying an illegal firearm. Opposition says it was planted.) because the opposition broke the so-called “March 8 Deal.” There was much bad blood spilled about this very matter, even some mediating ambassadors got involved. Elisashvili refuses to say what clause was broken – but his reputation as a strike-breaker has only solidified.

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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