- President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed to the Georgian government to show mercy to Mikheil Saakashvili. In his daily address, he decried the “cruelty” towards Georgia’s ex-president, who is also a Ukrainian citizen. Zelensky asked for his transfer abroad for treatment. The majority party chair, Irakli Kobakhidze retorted that the Ukrainians were driven by their “guilt” caused by “responsibility” for Saakashvili’s covert and illegal transfer to Georgia in October 2021.
Don’t miss a beat!
- The Parliament approved the 2023 budget. Civil servants, pensioners, policemen, and the military will get higher salaries. The revenues are set at GEL 21.91 billion (USD 8.25 billion), up by GEL 2.1 billion, and total expenditures at GEL 21.88 billion (USD 8.24 billion). The government expects a 5% economic growth next year. It is highly likely that the budget boost is a result of the consumption boom caused by massive Russian immigration in 2022.
- Offering free lunches to all school pupils would cost Georgia GEL 198 million (USD 74 million), a social movement “Khma” (Voice) calculated. Research has shown that many pupils go hungry, while over 70% of public schools don’t have cafeterias. Offering free lunches was high on the agenda at the start of the local election campaign in October 2021 but was swallowed up by the high drama of Saakashvili’s clandestine return and imprisonment.
- Special Investigation Service promptly arrested a man who threw eggs, insulted, and struck Giorgi Kirtadze, head of the United National Movement opposition party in the region of Adjara. Kirtadze was giving a live interview at the time. Four opposition parties rallied around Kirtadze, who believes the attack was politically instigated and says he has no confidence in the investigation.
- Austria’s Ambassador in Tbilisi, Thomas Mühlmann warned Georgian MPs against excessive optimism when it comes to Georgia’s EU bid. He recalled years of painstaking preparations it took Austria to join the club. Ambassador Mühlmann was addressing the parliamentary committee hearing on bilateral relations.