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The Daily Beat:19 September

National Bank of Georgia (NBG) made a U-turn decision on implementing US sanctions, setting exceptions for Georgian citizens, thus shielding US-sanctioned former Prosecutor General Otar Partskhaladze. Following the ruling party chairman Irakli Kobakhidze’s critical remarks on NBG’s decision, the acting president of the NBG, Natia Turnava, published a new amending regulation, unfreezing Partskhaladze’s assets and restoring his access to transactions. According to Turnava’s new regulation, the international sanctions regime applies to citizens of Georgia only if a Georgian court has rendered a legally binding conviction based on the imposed sanctions. Yesterday, The National Bank of Georgia (NBG) froze Otar Partskhaladze’s assets and restricted his financial transactions in Georgia.

Representatives of the opposition, media, and civic society decried the NBG’s reversal from its decision on US-sanctioned Partskhaladze, describing it as a vivid example of state capture and endangering the credibility of Georgia’s banking system. In the meantime, the Georgian Dream chair, Irakli Kobakhidze, emphasized that Otar Partskhaladze is indeed a Georgian citizen, and the imposed sanctions cannot be enforced against him in the same manner as they are typically applied to non-citizens. He also admitted that acquiring foreign citizenship may result in the termination of Georgian citizenship, adding that the Justice Ministry is looking into Partskhaladze’s alleged Russian citizenship case.

The Prosecutor’s Office denied the “groundless and slanderous accusations by certain political groups” that Otar Partskhaladze, a US-Sanctioned former Prosecutor-General of Georgia, maintains links with the Office. “The specific political power, whose representatives have been litigated for years in several criminal cases, is trying to spread disinformation against the Prosecutor’s Office, its leadership and employees. We are well aware that the purpose of the disinformation propaganda is to obstruct the operations of the Office so no one is held accountable for the crimes committed over the years, and they can evade responsibility. They, of course, will not succeed,” the statement reads.

A group of civil society organizations (CSOs) issued a joint statement, stressing that the Georgian special services are not working properly to neutralize Russian influence in Georgia. CSOs criticized the State Security Service for being unable to expose Otar Partskhaladze’s links to Russian Special Services (FSB)“ and expressed concerns over the attempted “cover-up” of the story by the government.  It is hard to believe that the relevant services responsible for ensuring the state security had no information about [Partskhaladze’s connections],” noted CSOs in a joint statement.

The ruling party chairman, Irakli Kobakhidze, announced last-minute measures to meet the EC recommendations raised during the recent EU High Representative Josep Borrell’s visit in Tbilisi. At a briefing, Irakli Kobakhidze reported the finalization of the drafting process for the Action Plan on de-Oligarchization, the draft law on common courts, amendments to the electoral code, and the laws on the Anti-Corruption Bureau and the Special Investigation Service, pledging to submit these documents to the Venice Commission in coming days. The authorities are “doing everything not to leave even a minimal pretext to deny Georgia’s candidate status” – claimed Kobakhidze.    

While unfolding scandals tear the country apart, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili continues his trip to New York, attending the UNGA. He participated at the Sustainable Development Goals Summit opening, delivering a speech on the government’s measures to implement the 2030 Agenda and strengthening public services to address current challenges. During the visit, the Prime Minister met with the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.

The foreign ministry confirmed the death of another Georgian fighter, Zakaria Shubitidze, in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, bringing the unofficial death toll of Georgian citizens killed while fighting in Ukraine to 39.  Zakaria Shubitidze was a member of the Georgian Legion, which has been fighting in Ukraine since 2014 and consists of around 700 to 1000 fighters, mostly Georgians and other foreign volunteers.


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