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The Daily Beat: 28 March

The Nordic drama unfolds further as the Georgian foreign ministry summoned Norwegian Ambassador Helene Sand Andersen over the Norwegian Conservative Party’s decision to award imprisoned ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili a human rights prize. The foreign ministry demarche followed an apparently ruling-party-inspired picketing at the Norwegian embassy, where the participants demanded the Ambassador to deny her government’s involvement. The Foreign Ministry called the decision to honor Saakashvili “an insult to those who suffered human rights violations and abuses of power during Saakashvili’s time in office.” The Ambassador reiterated her yesterday’s statement that “the Lindebräcke Prize is awarded annually by Norway’s Conservative Party-Høire and does not reflect the views of the Norwegian government.”

A delegation from the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) is currently on an ad hoc visit to Georgia to investigate the penitentiary healthcare issues in the “Vivamedi” clinic where ailing ex-president Saakashvili is serving his prison term. It is understood that the primary purpose of the CPT’s unplanned visit is to examine the health condition of the imprisoned Mikheil Saakashvili. According to Radio Liberty, the committee members have already met with Saakashvili. Usually, the CPT business and its reports are kept confidential until the government consents to publish them.

The Georgian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF GNP) is ready to participate in legitimate parliamentary formats to implement the twelve EU conditions necessary for the country’s EU candidate status. In its statement, the GNP expressed concern over the recent escalation of political polarization fueled by the prime minister. It also warned that such aggressive rhetoric could lead to civil confrontation and hinder Georgia’s European integration, reiterating its readiness to facilitate the implementation of the twelve EU conditions through cooperation and engagement.

Following the withdrawal of the Russian-style bill on “foreign agents” under pressure from the streets, the ruling Georgian Dream party is holding field conferences across the country, to consolidate its base. The first such party gathering attended by the chairman and other high-ranking party officials took place in Batumi, coinciding with a football match between Georgia and Norway played at the Batumi Arena. Speaking to reporters after the conference, party leader Irakli Kobakhidze described the meetings as “purely party business,” dealing with the election of the leaders and members of various party organizations at the local level. Party secretary-general Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze, said the party conferences are in preparation for the 2024 parliamentary elections.

Appointment of the Day

The new education minister, Giorgi Amilakhvari, appointed Gela Geladze as his deputy, replacing Valerian Gobronidze. In his new capacity, Geladze will oversee the vocational education development, financial, legal, and administrative departments, and the LEPL Office of Resource Officers of Educational Institutions, LEPL Educational and Scientific Infrastructure Development Agency, and LEPL Education Management Information System. Even though he has served under the Ministry of Education since 2018, the new deputy minister previously held high positions in the criminal police department and probation agency. The media commentators see the omens of the ruling party seeking a “firm hand.” The party leaders took to labeling students as “anarchists” and even “Satanists” after they played a notable role in recent protests against the “foreign agent” bill.


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