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The Daily Beat: 23 May

The US State Department reiterated concern over the resumption of direct flights between Georgia and Russia, adding that “now is not the time to increase engagement with Russia.” At the press briefing, the US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller also noted that direct Russia-Georgia flights could lead to US sanctions against Georgian companies operating at Georgian airports.

Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili is visiting Qatar, where he is set to participate in the Annual Economic Forum and boost the country’s bilateral economic ties. According to the prime minister’s press office, while in Doha, Irakli Garibashvili held meetings with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, and the Prime Minister of Qatar Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani. The prime minister also met with the CEO of Bloomberg Media Group, Scott Havens, discussing the joint projects and future cooperation, the government’s press release reads. Garibashvili’s official social media page says that during the Doha trip, the PM is focused on trade and the economy.

Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili posted a congratulatory message on the Day of Abkhazia, emphasizing the importance of building trust between the Abkhaz and Georgian people. “The political team of Georgian Dream has offered a new approach, the policy of reconciliation and trust, to our Abkhazian brothers,” PM Garibashvili wrote. In his message, Garibashvili said that Georgian and Abkhaz people share a common history, culture, and commitment to a better future, hoping mutual trust and respect will help transform the country into a strong, united European state. At the end of his congratulation, he wished the whole country, including Abkhazia, peace and development.  

The US Department of State released a report on religious freedom in Georgia, highlighting several concerns raised by local watchdogs and religious denominations. Religiously motivated crimes, cases of religious discrimination, intolerant statements predominantly of anti-Muslim sentiment, exclusive tax privileges of the Georgian Orthodox Church, and worries of the Muslim community, such as an unresolved legal dispute over the mosque in Batumi and pending property cases are identified as remaining challenges for Georgia’s religious freedom and reflected in the US report. The report also covers the state of religious freedom in the occupied territories of Georgia.

TV anchor, Diana Jojua, who left Rustavi 2 TV in 2019 since the new director dismissed all hosts of political TV shows, the chief producer, and the head of the newsroom, won a legal dispute against Rustavi 2 TV. According to Transparency International Georgia, a local watchdog that was defending Jojua’s interests in court, the Tbilisi City Court has ruled in favor of Diana (Diko) Jojua, former anchor of Rustavi 2 TV and current anchor of opposition Mtavari Aharki TV, and ordered Rustavi 2 TV to compensate her for the unpaid salary for the last month.   

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