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The Daily Beat: 20 October

With 79 votes, in an expedited manner, Parliament adopted the controversial amendments to the Broadcasting Law, further expanding the power of the Georgian National Communications Commission. According to parliament, amendments to the law refer to the procedure for appealing decisions of media self-regulatory bodies on disseminating programs and advertisements containing incitement to hatred and terrorism. As the dissemination of hate speech and incitement to terrorism in the media was already prohibited by the law, the watchdog groups are concerned that the government could use the changes as a weapon against critical media.

The head of State Security Service, Grigol Liluashvili, commented on US-sanctioned former General Prosecutor Otar Partskhaladze’s case, saying that security service officials questioned Partskhaladze and he left the country on the following day, likely heading to Russia.  “We have not received any evidence, although the request for legal assistance was sent through the Prosecutor’s Office and the Foreign Ministry to the US State Department, but we have not received any details,” Grigol Liluashvili told journalists.

Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili backed Grigol Liluashvili’s claims over the US-sanctioned Otar Partskhaladze, declaring his case closed as no evidence was provided to the Georgian side, adding the same was the case with the US-sanctioned Georgian judges. “The only remaining question now is what was the US motivation for this decision,” said Speaker Papuashvili, questioning the US intentions towards Georgia.  

During an interpellation session at the parliament, Foreign Minister Ilia Darchiashvili responded to the opposition MPs’ questions on the recently established strategic partnership between China and Georgia. Minister Darchiashvili asserted that the China-Georgia strategic partnership is fully in line with the country’s development strategy as well as the historical choice of the Georgian people, not implying any changes in foreign policy priorities. He also reassured the MPs that China was aware of Russian occupation and had never questioned Georgia’s territorial integrity.

Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti residents rallied against the 49-year hunting license for 104,712 hectares of Racha forest granted to Russia-linked Davit Khidesheli’s private company. Led by Varlam Goletiani, the Save Rioni Valley movement leader and a key figure in the Namakhvani protest, residents argue that the Government is leaving remote, inaccessible areas for Racha National Park, meanwhile ceding critical conservation territories to Khidesheli’s company.

The European Commission issued the sixth report under the Visa Suspension Mechanism covering the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership visa-free countries, including Georgia. According to the report, in 2022, the number of applications for international protection by Georgian nationals in EU Member States increased by 81%, with 26,450 applications lodged (compared to 14,635 in 2021), also noting the increase of the recognition rate from 5% in 2021 to 7% in 2022. The report also mentions Georgia’s close cooperation with the EU countries and active participation in readmission flights.


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