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The Daily Beat: 28 February

President Salome Zurabishvili is visiting the UK, where she participated in the Chatham House event – Georgia’s European opportunity. Addressing the Chatham House event participants, President Zurabishvili spoke of Georgia’s European integration, the war in Ukraine, Georgia’s occupied territories, and the Russian threat. “Georgia’s future is in Ukraine, Europe’s future is in Ukraine, and that means in Ukraine’s victory,” said the president in her speech at Chatham House.  

While in London, President Salome Zurabishvili gave an interview to Sky News, voicing concerns about the possible Russian interference with the upcoming “very important” parliamentary elections in Georgia scheduled for October 2024. “Russia currently occupies 20% of our territory, and we are concerned because we are going to have very important elections by October,” President Zurabishvili told Sky News.

Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee heard U.S. Ambassador Robin L. Dunnigan, who reviewed the 32 years of partnership between the countries, noting that the U.S. has provided Georgia with more than USD 6 billion over those years. Speaking before the Foreign Affairs Committee, Ambassador Dunnigan pledged to continue supporting Georgia’s European integration, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the country’s unique cultural heritage. According to the U.S. Ambassador, promoting bilateral economic ties is also among the top priorities.

Russian activist Maks Ivantsov reported that he was denied entry into Georgia, claiming that it happened because of his campaigning in Tbilisi and collecting signatures in support of Putin’s opponent for the 2024 presidential elections, Boris Nadezhdin. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Putin’s critics have been repeatedly denied entry into Georgia. At the same time, activists already in Georgia have not received adequate protection and have faced threats to their lives.

International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), a local watchdog, reported on major political advertising trends on Meta products such as Facebook and Instagram, revealing that in the period of October-December 2023, 56.7% of all social and political ad spending on Facebook and Instagram came from 15 pages, the top five of which were the pages of the Office of the State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, the ruling Georgian Dream party, former Prime Minister and current GD Chairperson Irakli Garibashvili, opposition Strategy Agmashenebeli party leader Giorgi Vashadze, and the ruling party’s mouthpiece Imedi TV.

Nika Gvaramia, the co-founder of the opposition-leaning Mtavari Arkhi TV, quit as Director General and transferred his 12% stake in the media to his wife, Sopho Liluashvili. He confirmed the information shortly after the RFE/RL Georgian Service report. Gvaramia said his move precedes the official launch of his party next week since owning media shares “is incompatible with the party position.“

State Security Service reported that the Russian occupation forces illegally detained Georgian citizen near the Tskhinvali occupation line. The State Security Service assures that international partners were duly informed and all international mechanisms were immediately activated to release illegally detained Georgian citizens as soon as possible.

The Data of the Day

According to the data released by the European Union Agency for Asylum, in 2023, the number of Georgian citizens applying for asylum in EU states decreased by 12% compared to the previous year, reaching 25,209 people. Last year, Georgian citizens applied for asylum, mainly in Germany (9194), France (7210), and Italy (3105). The same data also indicates that EU countries rejected 96% of applicants after initial application, with only 2% receiving refugee status and 2% subsidiary protection in 2023.


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