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The Daily Beat: 6 February

Georgia sent equipment and rescuers to Turkey to help tackle the consequences of the two deadly earthquakes in the country’s South-East. The Foreign Ministry activated the hotline at its consular offices in Istanbul and Trabzon to assist Georgian citizens in Turkey. Georgian officials, including the President and the Prime Minister, offered their condolences over the loss of lives. Two Georgian citizens were reported dead in an earthquake, the foreign ministry said, quoting the Embassy in Ankara.

The court rebuffed Mikheil Saakashvili’s plea for release or deferral of sentence on health grounds. Since December, the Tbilisi City Court has held 15 hearings on the defense plea, hearing testimonies of medical experts testifying to the inmate’s complex medical condition and the claims by some of the treating staff arguing he was deliberately refusing care. Responding to today’s ruling, newly elected UNM leader Levan Khabeishvili promised to suspend the party’s parliamentary work and announced protest rallies.

Prime Minister Garibasvhili, lauded his government’s efforts to preserve peace, stability, double-digit economic growth, low levels of poverty, and unemployment. Speaking at the cabinet meeting, PM Garibashvili showcased some large-scale infrastructure and energy projects, outlining Tbilisi and Batumi airports, the port of Anaklia, and the Khudoni power plant. Prime Minister seems determined to launch these projects this year. He also spoke tough about businesses that allegedly inflate their margins. Lots of this talk seems to have drawn on public opinion poll findings published yesterday.

Prime Minister Gharibashvili, had a working meeting with Defense Minister Juansher Burchuladze, his deputies, and other senior officers of the Defense Forces to discuss plans for 2023. Defense officials briefed the head of the government on the purchase process of portable anti-aircraft systems, additional batches of US anti-tank weapons, and the production of UAVs. The defense budget for 2023 was increased by GEL 260 million, envisaging modernization of military infrastructure, improvement of social conditions of military personnel, and strengthening defense capabilities.

Speaker Shalva Papuashvili announced new rules for the accredited press in the Parliament, effective from March. They foresee stricter controls, new restrictions on access to the MP offices, and the demand to stop the cameras if they are asked to. Accreditation quotas will be set for media outlets, depending on the type of media – national TVs are getting the most, online scribes the least. New accreditation rules reflect best international practices, assured the Speaker. Journalists and media outlets oppose the new rules, saying they limit media coverage of Parliament.

Gig-job couriers from the delivery companies went on strike demanding a pay rise. Couriers claim the company has sufficient resources to meet their demands, at least one company, Wolt, said it is ready to meet some demands and called upon couriers to engage in constructive dialogue.

At least 36 Georgians have died in battles against the Russian army in Ukraine. But some have also died fighting for the Russian army, Radio Liberty reported, citing the Ukrainian “Center for Defense Strategies.” More than 150 servicemen with Georgian surnames were identified among the 120,000-strong list of Russian military casualties. It is difficult to establish what, if any connection these people had with Georgia, apart from their ethnic heritage.

Comings and Goings

Giorgi Khojevanishvili, a member of the “For Georgia” opposition party led by the former prime minister Giorgi Gakharia, left the parliament and simultaneously retired from politics. The former governor in central Georgia and once a staunch supporter of the ruling Georgian Dream followed Giorgi Gakharia when he quit as prime minister and moved into opposition in 2021.


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