The Dispatch

The Dispatch – April 16-17: Alternate Ending

Gov’t Talking Compromise on Namakhvani, Political Crisis – Georgians into GoT Doppelganger Memes – Half Pinecone Aims at Parliament, another – still in Awkward Joke Mode – Another Bank Heist Attempt – “Fast & Furious” Trailer Delivers Laughs 

The ending of the cult Game of Thrones series disappointed many. Georgians know that the only thing more disappointing is when the show gone bad fails to end. But we still look at the funny side – more of which later. Greetings from Tbilisi, the Dispatch and Nini, your operator, are here to update you about the political shows – in a hope of alternate endings. Subscribe and find us on Twitter: @DispatchCivil  

SMALL STEPS? After a face-saving brazen media push – a retreat of sorts. Such has been the modus operandi of the Georgian Dream, yet it still manages to surprise some. Having tried almost all the tricks to sow divisions and discredit the Rioni Valley activists, and having borrowed some much-needed political capital from the Church, the government reportedly was more conciliatory at April 15 meeting with activists. They apparently did allow for the possibility of scrapping the HPP project altogether. Varlam Goletiani, one of the leaders of the protest, even hopes things could be “moving to the regime of constructive dialogue.”

OFFER THEY CAN REFUSE Irakli Kobakhidze has been touring the U.S. and apparently sending back messages. The Georgian Dream abruptly agreed to sign the compromise document that EU Envoy Mr. Danielsson has left on the negotiating table on March 31. The ruling party apparently tries to dampen the criticism and switch the burden to the opposition – with some success. The MEPs Marina Kaljurand here and Viola von Cramon here did say they expect the opposition to follow suit. But while the European friends might be helping GD to back out of the corner, the opposition smells a rat. Their demands for snap elections and for freeing Mr. Melia and Mr. Rurua were not heard. Or were they?! Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze said GD will consider the snap elections if it fails to garner more than 40% during the local elections, in October 2021. So far, the opposition refuses to ink their quills.

SONG OF ICE AND FIRE Rioni Movement leader Varlam Goletiani’s striking resemblance with Kit Harrington’s heroic – if tragic – character of John Snow has been apparent to the GoT fans for a while now. Not only he sports that trademark beard and troubled look, but he is often seen with his Caucasian shepherd dog, too. This has triggered the doppelganger game on social media, which took the Georgian corner of Facebook by storm. Humor and satire are a good outlet for pent-up frustration of political crisis and the lockdown, so the iconic pen master George R. R. Martin himself ended up smiling side-by-side with the late Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, no mean player at the game of thrones himself… For those familiar with Georgian public faces, we would clearly recommend these “Spot the Difference” memes, prepared by social media users and collected by TV Pirveli. Click to see: Part 1 & Part 2.

HOLD THE DOOR Leaders of opposition Political Center – Girchi [a.k.a split-off Pinecone] party, who have lately alienated everyone in the opposition for their anti-boycott remarks, now officially stated they’ll be joining the Parliament, starting Monday. Girchi, before they split, got 4 mandates in the controversial 2020 elections. Their leader, Zurab Japaridze, was hung out to dry by his party pals some months ago but kept the Pinecone brand to himself. Now, the Pinecone is an ultra-liberal outfit, and as with every cult, too much zeal leads to bizarreness. Japaridze and his colleagues split up after the latter implied – grosso modo – that child pornography was ok. Now Japaridze has likened the government banning smoking in taxis in the presence of minors to the same government banning masturbation (to protect the kids). We understand the intent was to show the ridiculousness of regulation. But the joke did not carry well.

I STARTED A CRIME Reports about a man storming the Bank of Georgia office in Tbilisi and taking hostages on April 16 made everyone in Georgia think of Badri Esebua, a notorious Zugdidi bank robber who got away with GEL 500,000 [USD 150,000] ransom months ago. Esebua is still at large with a professional heist on his record. Today’s assailant  Nikoloz Tsurtsumia was not so lucky – he was quickly captured by the police, with no casualties. Media cited neighbors saying that Tsurtsumia suffered mental health issues. Commentators point at Esebua’s case triggering copycat crimes – mostly out of economic desperation. Last November, a young man broke into a microfinance company in Tbilisi, taking hostages to demand a gambling ban (he was apparently a gambler), to lower the interest rates for loans, and to make medications less expensive.

FAST AND FURIOUS A new trailer of the Fast and Furious franchise, partly shot in Georgia, is out, and there was this one fragment Georgians found particularly funny. A woman is seen calmly hanging up the laundry, while things explode and trucks fly outside. Nothing could look and feel more Georgian: things are collapsing outside, but people just seized to care.

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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