The Daily Beat: 22 February
According to a report by local watchdog Transparency International Georgia, Georgia’s economic dependence on Russia grew further in 2022. The report shows that both imports and exports with Russia increased considerably, bringing about an increase in Russia’s share in trade from 11,4% to 13,1% – the highest share in the past 16 years. 63,8% of the Georgian wine goes to the Russian market, indicating a marked dependency. Some of the report’s main findings also outline a fivefold increase in remittances, a doubling of visitor numbers and spending, an increased oil dependency, and the registration of 15,000 new Russian companies in Georgia.
Euronest Parliamentary Assembly adopted a resolution supporting EU membership of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia. The resolution calls on the European Commission and EU member states to grant Georgia the EU candidate status and to open accession negotiations with all three countries. The need for continued commitment to reforms, especially in areas such as the independence of the judiciary, the fight against corruption, good governance, and the rule of law, are also highlighted by the Euronest resolution. The Euronest Parliamentary Assembly is a parliamentary forum to promote integration between the European Union and the EU’s Eastern European partners.
The ruling party chair Irakli Kobakhidze lashed out at the EU once again, saying it funds “radical” civic groups while formally calling for depolarization. Kobakhidze argued the “foreign agents law” would shed light on this behavior and bring about more transparency both for the public and the EU. As an example of the “radical” group, Kobakhidze named Shame Movement, which he says was “an extremist youth wing of the United National Movement.” Shame Movement reports that it is funded by the European Endowment for Democracy, among other donors. Meanwhile, the ruling party and some members of the executive government pushed ahead with promoting the “foreign agents” law. Various narratives aimed at confusing and dismaying the listeners are being used apparently to prevent the mobilization of domestic and international actors against the draft.
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Mikheil Saakashvili‘s health condition is worsening. He suffers from severe limb pain, unbalanced nutrition, general weakness, and massive and progressing weight loss, his treating doctors announced at a special briefing at Vivamedi hospital. They confirmed that Saakashvili is mostly bedridden.
The ruling Georgian Dream party put forward candidates for April by-elections to fill vacant seats in parliament and some mayoral posts. Giorgi Khakubia will run for the ruling party in the majoritarian districts of Poti, Senaki, and Khobi, seeking to replace his late father, Irakli Khakhubia, the ruling party chair said.