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The Daily Beat: 16 January

President Salome Zurabishvili  condemned Russia’s missile strike on the residential apartment in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro on Jan.14, calling it “an unacceptable show of violence against peaceful civilians, breaching all norms of international law.” Zurabishvili expressed solidarity with the loved ones of the victims. Prime Minister, as well as the Foreign Ministry, remained silent on the incident.

The Prime Minister’s office and the Foreign Ministry are performing the worst when it comes to the proactive disclosure of government data, IDFI, a watchdog found.

The ruling “Georgian Dream” reacted angrily to the article in the New York Times on Jan. 13, with a self-explanatory title How Western Goods Reach Russia: A Long Line of Trucks Through Georgia. The communication department of the Georgian Dream alleged – with no evidence presented – that the article was “paid for” and said it was a falsehood, a part of a “coordinated disinformation campaign” to discredit the country. The party also attacked the author, Ivan Nechepurenko, saying he is “known to publish paid falsehoods” and said he violated Georgia’s law by traveling to occupied Abkhazia in 2016.

Conservative Movement/Alt-Info, an extremist, pro-Russian outlet, prevented an acclaimed scholar, Levan Berdzenishvili from delivering a public lecture in Kvareli, Kakheti region. Alt Info spokesperson said, “from now on, we would decide what rights the foreign agents on the Western payroll have.” The same group was also for the July 5 homophobic pogroms when far-right groups came out en-masse against a planned LGBTQ+ pride parade and injured over 47 journalists. Berdzenishvili was supposed to speak to high school students about the European aspirations in 19th-century Georgian literature. He said the police stood by and took no measures to remove the blockage.

Tbilisi Court of Appeals reduced prison terms for six persons responsible for July 5 homophobic pogroms, from five to four years. One of the first instance court charges – for participation in group violence on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity – was overruled on appeal. Charges of violent assault were upheld. CSOs and journalists are disappointed by this court decision, and the prosecutor’s office said it would appeal the Supreme Court.

Ukraine slapped sanctions on Shota Apkhaidze, founder of the pro-Russian “Caucasian Center for Islamic Studies”. Apkaidze, who is listed as a Russian citizen, served a prison term in Georgia for bursting into a TV station in 2010. He was considered a “political prisoner” when the “Georgian Dream” came to power and was amnestied in 2012. He later worked for several pro-Kremlin media, including the Russian Defense Ministry’s “Zvezda TV.” In Georgia, he wrote for The Georgian Times, and allegedly established a pro-Russian “News Front Georgia” channel on Facebook.


Iconic Georgian artist and singer, Vakhtang (Buba) Kikabidze died in a hospital in Tbilisi, aged 84. Having gained immense popularity for acting in hit comedies, Kikabidze was loved beyond the country’s borders. Presidents of Ukraine, Armenia, and Azerbaijan were among those who sent condolences. Even though decorated in Soviet times and popular in Russia, Kikabidze refused Russian awards after Georgia was invaded in 2008 and moved back from Moscow to Tbilisi. He also vocally supported Ukraine.


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