The Daily Beat

The Daily Beat: 26 December

A simmering discord between President Salome Zurabishvili and PM Irakli Garibashvili came to a very public spat as the President left the annual Ambassadorial gathering reportedly due to “protocolar” reasons. Apparently, PM wanted to speak first. The President, formally the highest representative in foreign relations, has been increasingly critical of the government, especially when it comes to European policy. Later in the day, Zurabishvili’s political mood worsened and she canceled all official events scheduled before the New Year.

Don’t miss a beat!

In President’s absence, PM Irakli Garibashvili took the stage at the ambassadorial, proclaiming the “Georgia first” policy in the context of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. PM lauded the government’s “sensible and consistent” stance for helping to minimize the “negative effects and threats” of the war and for spurring economic growth. PM Garibashvili downplayed Georgia not getting the EU candidacy as a “politically motivated” decision while praising the projected electricity cable linkup with the EU, through Romania.

MP Ani Tsitlidze was the last of the three UNM MPs to end her 12-day hunger strike due to deteriorating health. MP Tsitlidze was demanding that ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili is allowed to receive necessary treatment abroad. Her party colleagues said MP Tsitlidze spoke at length with President Zurabishvili later during the day.

Russian media outlets reported that the private bank accounts of tens of Russian and Belorussian immigrants were blocked by one of the biggest private banks – the Bank of Georgia. The Bank claimed its legal right not to disclose the reasons behind its decisions. Thousands of Russians left for Georgia after the Kremlin launched the new wave of aggression against Ukraine in February, including some of the prominent media and civic activists.

Social Justice Center, an activist group, found that a company with alleged Russian connections, “Goldcept Kartli”, obtained the license to prospect gold in the Kvemo Kartli region. The watchdog said the public tender was adjusted to fit the requests of this company, giving it an unfair edge. Alongside the Georgian director-general, Zurab Kutelia, Kirill Zymin, a Russian citizen, and Arye Barboy, an Israeli citizen, were identified as supervisory board members of a phantom Cyprus-registered parent company, “Goldsept Resources Limited”, which does not even have a fully functioning website. A quick Google search reveals, that in 2001 Barboy was appointed to manage the ailing Namibian Minerals Corporation (Namco). He worked then on behalf of Lev Leviev, a diamond magnate with close ties to Russia. Barboy currently has at least two other mining companies registered to his name in Cyprus. Zymin has reportedly been affiliated with at least one company with ties to Alexey Mordashov, a sanctioned Russian tycoon, the main shareholder of Severstal.

Comings and goings

Ambassador Sheraz Gasri will be representing France in Georgia and is making the rounds of official introductory meetings. Tbilisi is the French diplomat’s first Ambassadorial posting. Before this appointment, she coordinated political matters at the French Mission to the United Nations, since 2017.


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