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The Daily Beat: 19 June

Georgia’s foreign minister, Ilia Darchiashvili, arrived in Bern with his first official visit to the Swiss Confederation. On Monday, Darchiashvili met with Swiss Minister of Foreign Affairs Ignazio Cassis and the President of the National Council, Martin Candinas, discussing various areas of bilateral cooperation, including trade and economy. Ilia Darchiashvili thanked his Swiss counterpart for supporting reconciliatory and trust-building initiatives among the population across the occupation line and highlighted the importance of Swiss assistance. The foreign minister will also meet with the Mayor of Bern, Alec von Graffenried, as part of his visit. Since the 2008 Russo-Georgia war, Switzerland has held a protective mandate, representing Georgia’s interests in Russia and Russia’s interests in Georgia.

The Supreme Court upheld the prison sentence for Nika Gvaramia, a co-founder and director of Mtavari Arkhi TV. The court ruled that the cassation appeals filed by Nika Gvaramia’s lawyers, Kakhaber Damenia, and the prosecutor’s office were inadmissible. President Salome Zurabishvili is now expected to pardon him amid the local and international calls to use her powers and release Gvaramia. In June 2022, Nika Gvaramia was sentenced to 3.5 years of imprisonment for abuse of power over his managerial decisions while running the Rustavi 2 TV.

Striking Chiatura miners arrived in Tbilisi, holding the protest rally in front of the parliament building, where some civic activists and opposition representatives joined them.  The striking miners demand improvement in their working conditions. In response to strikes, “Georgian Manganese” has announced its plans to return to the old working conditions with a 12-hour working day, also pledging to raise salaries by 5% initially. The miners remain resolute in their protest, planning to continue their demonstration with a hunger strike until their demands are fully met.

Students were assaulted at the Tbilisi State University on Saturday during the ruling Georgian Dream party chairman Irakli Kobakhidze’s lecture. The incident occurred when unidentified individuals (reportedly up to 20) physically confronted students trying to display protest banners in response to Kobakhidze’s recent remarks on youth and their unsettled orientation. A video circulating on social media shows the physical altercation and a student being pushed down the stairs. As a result of the confrontation, one student – Luka Shvelidze, was injured and needed urgent medical care.

Another violent incident took place in Borjomi, where a youth camp titled Liberal Education Academy, held by the Institute for Individual Liberty, came under attack of a violent mob – reportedly 50-60 men, throwing stones, red paint, and shouting insults at the hotel where camp participants were staying. According to the camp organizers, it took police almost an hour to arrive at the scene. In what seems like a related incident, Zurab Japaridze, leader of the opposition Girchi-More Freedom party, who was en route to speak at the camp, was punched in the face by an unknown man earlier that day. Founder of the “Conservative movement – Georgia Above All” and closely affiliated with pro-governmental and pro-Russian propagandists, Vato Shakarashvili, claimed responsibility for the attack but denied the stone-throwing.  


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