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The Daily Beat: 5 February

The State Security Service reported the intercepting a shipment of explosives from Ukraine to Russia via Georgia, saying that the activation of these devices could cause significant damage to infrastructure and large-scale casualties. According to the Security Agency, the explosives were to be transferred to the Russian city of Voronezh via the Dariali border crossing point (Georgia-Russia border crossing), probably intending to fuel allegations about Georgia’s possible involvement in preparing and committing terrorist acts both on Georgian territory and outside its borders.

The group of doctors under the ombudsman issued a conclusion on the state of health of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, saying that Saakashvili’s health shows positive dynamics somatically, but cognitive impairment is still a problem. According to the conclusion, Saakashvili has gained some weight, and his orthostatic tests are negative, describing it as an improvement. However, the patient still suffers from muscle hypotrophy, neuropathy, anxiety, and depression. The doctors also indicate the need for the patient’s close medical supervision and psychological intervention. Saakashvili remains in custody at Viva Medi clinics in Tbilisi.

Parliamentary committees held a discussion on the new government program “For Building a European State” and two joint hearings of minister candidates, resulting in a verbal confrontation between the opposition and the ruling Georgian Dream representatives. Defense, Justice, Interior, Education, Health, and Culture minister candidates attended the parliamentary hearings. One of the opposition MPs from the “Lelo” party, Salome Samadashvili, had her microphone turned off and removed from the hall for calling the founder of Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanishvili, an oligarch.

Abkhaz politicians, public figures, and journalists claim delays and, at times, lengthy interrogations by the Russian FSB border guards when crossing into Russia at the Psou checkpoint on the Abkhaz section of the Georgia-Russia border. According to Abkhaz news outlets, at the border crossing, people are asked about anti-Russian feelings, specifically in light of the controversial agreement on transferring property in Bichvinta/Pitsunda into Russian ownership, as well as attitudes towards local NGOs and de facto president, Inal Ardzinba. Rumors suggest that Russian FSB border guards were provided with “black lists” of persons subject to such treatment.

The Georgian-Western Balkans Inter-Parliamentary Conference on EU integration was held in Tbilisi, bringing together the representatives of the parliamentary committees on EU integration from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Northern Macedonia. Judicial reforms, the rule of law, economic integration, and gender equality were among the main topics discussed at the inter-parliamentary conference. Speaker Shalva Papuashvili, who participated in the conference, noted that the discussion aims to share experiences on the EU integration path.

The State Agency for Religious Issues announced an increase of state funding for four religious groups in Georgia by GEL 1 million. Muslims, Jews, Roman Catholics, and the Armenian Apostolic Church will receive GEL 6.5 million in 2024 compared to GEL 5.5 million in 2023, the State Agency for Religious Issues reported, citing the intention to at least partially compensate for the material and moral damage inflicted by the Soviet totalitarian regime.

The Tbilisi City Court released two sentenced individuals in eviction standoff case, Giorgi Khasaia and Akaki Chikobava on bail of GEL 3000 (around USD 1125) each. Both individuals were sentenced to pre-trial detention for damaging a car of the National Enforcement Bureau amid the tense eviction standoff in central Tbilisi. Later, the Court of Appeals remanded both Khasaia and Chikobava in custody. However, the prosecutor’s office petitioned the first instance court to change their detention to bail since the convicts partially confessed and agreed to compensate for the damage.

The Data of the Day

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) statistics indicate that the court received 156 new applications against Georgia, marking an increase from previous years – 150 applications filed in 2023 and 120 in 2021. In terms of population size, the rate of new applications per 10,000 inhabitants reached 0.42, close to the European average of 0.41.  


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