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The Daily Beat: 30 November

One would think that Minister Lavrov had forgotten all about Georgia. After all, that was almost two international invasions ago. But no, Russia’s top diplomat has a top-notch memory (for his age). In his speech at the OSCE ministerial in Skopje, Russia’s foreign minister accused NATO of luring Tbilisi and Kyiv with its membership perspective, setting them against Russia. Minister Lavrov further claimed that the United States and NATO Bucharest Summit decision provoked Saakashvili to shell Tskhinvali in 2008. “The US prepared this provocation by launching its “Train and Equip” program in Georgia, and Saakashvili “obediently” did what Washington “taught” him,” stated Lavrov with his aged baritone voice.  

Foreign Minister Ilia Darchiashvili, unlike his Baltic, Polish, and Ukrainian colleagues, participated in the OSCE ministerial meeting in Skopje. He delivered a “standard speech” at the OSCE ministerial, condemning Russia’s continued occupation of Georgian territories and emphasizing the hardships of the occupation, including the recent killing of Tamaz Ginturi. Minister Darchiashvili also expressed solidarity with Ukraine and its people, reiterating full support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression. While in Skopje, Georgia’s top diplomat also held a number of bilateral meetings with European colleagues and the OSCE officials.

President Salome Zurabishvili claimed that the Tbilisi State University (TSU) Rector did not allow students to collect signatures as part of the “Our Voice for Europe” campaign. On his part, the University Rector, Jaba Samushia, responded to the President’s allegations, saying that the university has not received any “official paper” from the president’s office about collecting signatures, pointing to possible provocation from her side. The chair of the ruling party, Irakli Kobakhidze, backed up the rector’s “chilly welcome of the president” slamming Zurabishvili’s European campaigning, describing it as part of the political campaign of the United National Movement.

In a statement published on November 28, the International Affairs Committee of the Russian State Duma praised the Georgian authorities for “focusing on national interests” and “not succumbing to “anti-Russian hysteria.” The State Duma said that “with these priorities,” Georgia’s economy is growing rapidly, showing double-digit growth for two years in a row,” further adding that Russian tourists bring good income to the country. The State Duma’s statement followed the ruling party’s rejection to consider a parliamentary resolution on Georgia’s Defense Act aimed at curbing Russia’s malign influence in Georgia.

In an online conversation with the former head of Abkhazia’s Government-in-exile, Vakhtang Kolbaia, the de facto secretary of occupied Abkhazia’s “security council,” Sergei Shamba, emphasized the importance of communication in the pursuit of building trust between Georgians and Abkhazians. “I have spoken on this subject many times, and many in Abkhazian society do not like my position . . . but I have always said that if there is a problem, first of all, it is necessary to talk,” Shamba said, responding to the moderator’s question about the importance of public diplomacy between Abkhazians and Georgians.

The anti-occupation movement Power is in Unity claims that the new “occupation plan” is being prepared by the Russian troops, aiming further land-grabbing of Georgian territories. According to the maps published by the leader of the anti-occupation movement, Davit Katsarava, the new “occupation plan” envisages the occupation of an additional 208 square kilometers that include Georgian territories of Zemo [Upper] Racha, Zemo [Upper] Imereti, Shida Kartli, and Mtskheta-Mtianeti. The movement regularly patrols the occupation line and reports on the on-the-ground situation.

Georgian singer Kakha Abuashvili (Kabu), arrested on charges of violence against women, as well as for purchase and possession of drugs, is released on bail of GEL10,000 by the decision of the Tbilisi City Court. Civic activists and human rights defenders claim that such a decision is sending a wrong signal, forcing other women victims of violence to remain silent. Others also believe the court decision was politically motivated as Kakha Abulashvili openly supports the ruling Georgian Dream party.   


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