The Dispatch

The Dispatch – April 30/May 1: Working Class Heroes

SSG Head Talks Dialogue with Abkhaz & Ossetian “Brothers” – Attacks on LGBTQ Intensify – Foot-Washing and its Contrasts – Attacking Attacked Journalist – Happy May 1!

Georgians switch into a feasting mode for Orthodox Easter celebrations, which are going to be particularly long this year: a period stretching from April 30 to May 12 has been declared public holidays – the solution authorities found to tame the surge of  COVID-19 infections, while also avoiding the spat with the church that proved costly last Chrismas. Still, many, particularly essential workers, won’t be able to rest, come, while others, often more privileged, are restless for other reasons.

OF BROTHERS AND… BROTHERS Presenting the annual report of the State Security Service of Georgia, the agency chief Grigol Liluashvili talked long-advocated dialogue with Moscow-backed authorities in Tskhinvali and Sokhumi, Georgia’s occupied territories. “We need to talk to our Abkhaz and Ossetian brethren, though very carefully so that we are not left face-to-face with each other and Russia does not evade its responsibility,” he warned, echoing the main fear of dialogue-skeptics. If opening up with “brothers” does look like a dangerous thing to do – so maybe it’s safer to talk to Abkhaz and Ossetian sisters instead? Just a thought.

NO PLACE FOR HATE Attacks on LGBTQ persons have been becoming concerning lately: first, it was a report about a drunk neighbor physically and verbally assaulting a lesbian couple in a child’s presence. Soon another worrying news followed about a landlord beating another lesbian couple, reportedly knocking one of the victims unconscious. The latest story from April 30 is about an underage trans girl who was allegedly attacked and beaten in Tbilisi on the basis of her gender identity.

UNORTHODOX Malkhaz Songulashvili, the Metropolitan Bishop of Evangelical-Baptist Church of Georgia, performed a foot-washing ceremony on a trans woman. The biblical rite that shall demonstrate humility somehow came to symbolize sexism in Georgia over the past years: some in the Orthodox church suggest it is a woman’s duty to bathe the feet of her husband.

WRONG WARS Remember Gia Gachechiladze, a musician with the stage name Utsnobi (Unknown), who not so long ago assembled thousands in Tbilisi to declare war on UNM’s specter and the media allegedly for serving the opposition’s wrong cause? Now he decided that the assailants detained over attacking prominent journalist Vakho Sanaia, allegedly on the basis of his professional activities, were unfairly treated and suggested he and a few of his comrades bail them out. He did not succeed – the court reportedly remanded suspects in custody. And while unlikely heroes make much noise, it’s the real ones who demand their voices to be heard.

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WORKERS’ DAY! As the world celebrates International Workers’ Day on May 1, the struggle for fair labor conditions continues in Georgia: “Azot” chemical factory in Rustavi city halted working on April 28 as all 2,000 workers went on strike to demand a pay rise. In the meantime, activists championing other causes, such as those protesting the construction of the Namakhvani HPP in western Georgia, expressed solidarity to workers in Rustavi and Chiatura – after all the concern that business interests are getting a more favorable ear of the government than the labor does is the key matter that unites them.

Despite all the miserable and sometimes humiliating conditions, thousands of workers get up every morning to do their jobs and get us through another hard, crisis-laden day. We would like to conclude today’s Dispatch by honoring their hard work, thanking them for their efforts, and wish them to see their labor duly appreciated.

And Happy Easter to our readers who celebrate! We will take a day of break and be back on Tuesday with our digest of the bizarre and the curious in Georgia’s politics.

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