The Dispatch

The Dispatch – February 12

House of Cards Folds — Bishops Meddle — Teen Rape Victim Suicide Shakes Nation — Miners Living Hell — Georgians Feel Climate Change Heat — Georgian “Magic” Movie goes to Berlinale

HOUSE OF CARDS After lots of shuffling, many generals of the European Georgia party finally open their cards. Zurab Chiaberashvili, a major figure who held diverse high-ranking posts under the UNM rule, was first to announce his departure today, arguing he was “moving aside” to let the young take over. Party Chairman Davit Bakradze and Secretary-General Gigi Ugulava partly followed suit: both quit their posts and pledged to keep the low profile while the party goes into “renewal.”

LE PARTI, C’EST MOI The would-be new leaders won’t have all the breathing space to themselves though, as the third general (some snigger, Cardinal…) Giga Bokeria decided to stay at the helm. He was promptly shamed by the departing crew. But overall, bad karma seems to have caught up with the European Georgia – the fiercest shamer of unity-breakers when it came to the opposition boycott. Intriguingly, Ugulava also owned up to a much-rumored meeting with ex-President Saakashvili – the wizard-level apple of discord – in Kyiv. Ugulava said the two did not discuss Georgia. (Of course, they had bigger parts of the world to share).

HOLY SHOT! The Holy Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church convened on February 11 and was again forced to turn its gaze to the worldly affairs.  The pressing issues on the agenda of the 2-hours-long meeting included the Georgia-Azerbaijan border dispute and – no joke – how many sinners could dance on the head of the vaccine syringe pin. Two hours were not enough, turns out, as it took another 2 days until the Georgian public had the text of the final protocol. These laws were handed down: the Synod adjudicated the months-long political controversy over the Cartographers’ Case and held that the disputed parts of the David Gareji monasteries belong to Georgia. Further, the clerics ruled that 1938 maps drawn at a 1:200 000 scale are to be used to prove it. The Church was softer on vaccines, saying that the individuals have to mind their own demons, as no one has to be subjected to any harassment or persecution regardless of their vaccination status: vindication! If you wonder if Georgia still has the separation of Church and State, we are wondering that, too…

TRUE SINNERS… The notion of discrimination on the basis of the vaccination status came just in time – Georgia has obviously eliminated other forms of oppression. But the actors, both clerical and genteel, obscure the facts with their vanity fair: life in Georgia is often nasty, poor, brutish, and short.

A 14-year-old girl from the seaside Adjara region took her own life months after she was allegedly raped by a 23-year-old man. Lawyers and observers speak about the systemic failure, as the law enforcers only detained the alleged rapist following the tragic incident, even though they have been reportedly aware of the charge for months. The horror was further aggravated by the reports that the girl was brutalized by the male relatives after having claimed to have been raped. The girl’s mother – like many other Georgian parents – was forced by hardship to seek the menial job abroad.

…AND TRUE HELL The political circus is also not amusing for the miners in the Western-Georgian town of Tkibuli. They descend into hades every day, risking their lives in poorly ventilated mines that have been known to turn into deathtraps. To protest unfair wages, they have been refusing to come out since February 10. Reports say the local authorities finally pay attention, but the mine stories from Tkibuli do not always have happy endings.

HOT DATA Even when Georgian policymakers deal with real issues, they tend to neglect the environmental topics at the expense of more traditional – and no less legitimate – national security concerns. Turns out, they should get some updates: even in the winter cold, Georgian’s seem to be more aware of climate change and its dangers than previously thought. The latest UNDP study found that 91,35% of the respondents believe that climate change is real, and as many as 57,9% think it more pressing than international terrorism or military conflicts. Synod me that!

I DON’T WANT REALISM, I WANT MAGIC When the world is grim we look for escape, and those more cultivated turn to art. So jot down this title: What Do We See When We Look at the Sky. This is yet another Georgian movie going to the Berlinale film festival this year, alongside Salome Jashi’s documentary  “Taming the Garden”. The movie by Georgian director Alexandre Koberidze has been shot in Kutaisi, Imereti, Georgia’s second-largest city, and landed among 15 main contestants in Berlin – the first one to go this far since the 1993 success of Temur Babluani’s legendary “Sun of the Sleepless” (Udzinarta Mze). We have not yet watched the movie, but the main themes look very different from what one would expect from Georgian cinematography. The plot tells the story of two people in love, who wake up to find themselves in different bodies. Tracing their troubled quest to find the new versions of each other, the movie weighs the philosophical meaning of magic against the limits of modern technologies and communications. For Zoom-locked viewers around the globe, the plot should sound more than thrilling!

That’s all for today, we’d get back with the bizarre and the curious in Georgia’s politics on Monday!


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