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The Daily Beat: 22 May

Since the reports were confirmed that the daughter of Russia’s top diplomat was indeed among the Russian guests loitering in the eastern Georgian resort of Kvareli, demonstrators, led by some opposition leaders, began to gather near the resort on Saturday morning to protest her stay in Georgia. The inn hosting Lavrovs’s sanctioned daughter and her spouse appeared heavily guarded by promptly deployed special police units. Despite peaceful attempts, protestors were not allowed to approach and picket it. Seventeen politicians and activists, including Elene Khoshtaria, leader of “Droa,” were ill-treated and detained during the Kvareli rally. The situation was relatively defused when later that day, amid protests already gaining ground in Tbilisi, President Salome Zurabishvili announced that the Russian guests had left the country, citing the interior minister. Individuals detained at the Kvareli rally were released the next day.

As opposition politicians decried EU-sanctioned Russian guesting in Georgia, accusing authorities of open collaboration with Russia, President Salome Zurabishvili, at a press briefing, harshly criticized the government for “playing with their people,” giving the credit to the Georgian public for pressuring the unwelcome Russian guests to leave Kvareli and the rest of Georgia. President also slammed the extremely greedy approach of the Georgian flagship company “Airzena” for taking the Russia flights, saying she was personally boycotting flying with this airline, calling the citizens to do the same.

Senior representatives of the ruling Georgian Dream party seemed rather relaxed and reluctant in reacting to the political incident, admitting particular inconvenience but downplaying it. Nevertheless, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze said that Georgian authorities are guided by the law on occupation and not by the EU sanctions, while the chair of the ruling party Irakli Kobakhidze claimed for Georgian hospitality traditions and blamed the activists for xenophobia.  “I am a human rights specialist, I have received education in these fields in Germany, and I can tell you that sanctioning family members is against human rights standards,” Kobakhidze added in defiance.

Transparency International Georgia (TI Georgia), a local watchdog, released an analysis revealing the manipulation and anti-western rhetoric on increased interaction with Russia by prime minister Irakli Garibashvili. According to TI-Georgia’s analysis, the prime minister fielded false statements about alleged calls by the EU on Georgia to stop trade with Russia and cited inaccurate data on trade between the EU and Russia. TI Georgia also believes that political rapprochement with Russia will hinder Georgia’s EU integration as “the European Union expects the candidate countries to share its foreign policy.

The foreign ministry reported that abducted Georgian sailors in Gabonese territorial waters in early May were released from captivity through joint efforts of the maritime transport agency and the Georgian consulate in the South African republic. According to the foreign ministry, sailors are undergoing medical checks in Nigeria, and their health condition is satisfactory.

The Georgian parliamentary delegation is participating in Luxemburg’s NATO Parliamentary Assembly spring session. The chair of Parliament’s Defense and Security Committee, Irakli Beraia, who is heading the delegation, says that while in Luxemburg Georgian delegation will be focused on Russian occupation and its NATO integration process. Georgian lawmakers also held sideline meetings with Luxemburg, Germany, and Italy delegations.    


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