The Daily Beat

The Daily Beat: 12 December

  • PM Irakli Garibashvili pledged to build the deep-sea port of Anaklia but said the government would keep the controlling stake. Tbilisi pulled the plug on the privately funded Anaklia Consortium in 2019, only three years into its operation. The charges were brought against two business managers, Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze, who claimed the government was helping Bidzina Ivanishvili – the patron of the ruling party – grab the Anaklia project for himself. Those who agree with that view, are likely to feel vindicated by today’s announcement.
  • The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers reminded Russia of its obligation to compensate Georgians that suffered from targeted deportations in 2006 and to investigate the grave crimes committed during and in the immediate aftermath of its aggression in 2008. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in Georgia’s favor in two inter-state cases, but Russia refuses to comply.
  • The EU Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi revealed that the EU would invest EUR 2.3 billion to link Georgia to Romania through by an under-sea power cable. This would tie South Caucasus to the EU power grid. This comes as the EU tries to diversify the energy supply. Commissioner Várhelyi and his boss, EC Chair Ursula von der Leyen have been courting hydrocarbon-rich Azerbaijan.
  • Prevailing wages in Georgia are “far below” the calculated living wage of GEL 1,770 (USD 665) per month” the watchdog research found. The report also said the official minimum wage in Georgia – a “paltry” GEL 20 (USD 7.52) per month – has not been updated since 1999.
  • Two watchdogs, the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) and Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI) have published separate human rights reports for 2022 pointing to the weakened judiciary, impaired press freedoms, and continued discrimination against the LGBTQ community. The US State Department is expected to publish its human rights report shortly.

Talk of the Day

  • PM Garibashvili pledged to crack down on “despicable” and “blasphemous” religious organizations set up to help Georgians evade conscription, and promised to reform the conscription system by 2025. He said the Georgian Orthodox Church has been consulted. Georgia maintains a professional army, but human rights watchdogs have long said the conscripts – mainly used for guard duties – mainly come from poorer families that can’t afford the official payout and constitutes illegal labor. Since the clergy is exempt from conscription, some organizations have exploited the loophole and established proforma “Churches”: most prominent of them is the Biblical Freedom Church created by the party “Girchi”. Some social media commentators wondered if PM’s stab at military patriotism is linked to his recent gaffes denigrating Georgian fighters in Ukraine, which triggered a lively backlash. Others said closing down religious entities bodes ill for other minority churches, at odds with the influential Orthodox Patriarchate.


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