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The Daily Beat: 29 May

Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Levan Davitashvili announced that the winner in the Anaklia Deep Sea Port private partnership selection competition is the Chinese-Singaporean consortium, which will be officially announced in the coming days. Two of the companies named by Minister Davitashvili have controversial reputations: China Communication Construction Company Limited was blacklisted by the U.S. Department of Commerce, while China Road and Bridge Corporation has been sanctioned by the World Bank for fraudulent practices.

Parliament overrode the President’s veto of the controversial amendments to the country’s tax code, the so-called “offshore law,” which makes it easier to bring offshore assets into Georgia. 64 voted to override the President’s veto and 1 against. The amendments were then voted for with 83 votes in favor and 1 against. The amendments, passed by the ruling Georgian Dream party under a fast-track procedure on April 19, offer a wide range of tax benefits to companies and individuals who decide to move their assets from tax havens to Georgia.

After overriding the President’s veto, Georgian civil society organizations issued a statement announcing their disobedience to the Foreign Agents Law. In a joint statement, the organizations pledge to defend the rights of demonstrators against the Agents Law and to protect each citizen’s vote in the upcoming parliamentary elections. “This is Georgia! We will not turn into Russians! Georgian people will once again inspire the whole world with their fight for freedom. We declare disobedience – not to Russian law! yes to Europe!“- the statement reads.

The ruling Georgian Dream lawmakers praise the override of the President’s veto on the foreign agents’ law, saying it was the most sovereign decision of recent years that will convince international partners of what a proud country and people they are dealing with. In the meantime, the opposition representatives regard this move as a betrayal of national interests that undermines democracy and the country’s EU integration. Here has compiled reactions to the presidential veto override and final passage of the foreign agents’ law from across the Georgian political spectrum.

In his interview with BMG, on May 29, a day after the final adoption of the controversial Foreign Agents Law, German Ambassador to Georgia Peter Fischer stressed that the European Union will not start the accession talks with Georgia as long as the mentioned law is in effect. He also reiterated the Venice Commission’s opinion on the law that this legislation goes against the fundamental rights of Georgians and emphasized that Georgia needs to meet the EU standards to continue on its integration path.

The Kremlin-affiliated Eurasia Institute, directed by Gulbaat Rtskhiladzeheld another anti-Western conference in Tbilisi, “Reviving Georgia as a Part of the Russian Empire – Historical Truth vs. Conjectural Lies.” Participants discussed, among other things, their version of Georgia’s history under the Russian empire and the “anti-Russian hysteria” and “Russophobia” “imposed” on Georgia from outside. They also adopted a resolution calling the prospect of withdrawing the Foreign Agents Law a “complete capitulation” of Georgia.

Besarion Alavidze, the former Supreme Court judge, claims he was threatened with having “his brains smashed” if he did not rule in the Rustavi 2 case as Bidzina Ivanishvili and the Georgian Dream government wanted. The Rustavi 2 ownership dispute was one of the highly controversial cases in which the Rustavi 2 TV channel claimed that the Georgian Dream government orchestrated its former owner, Kibar Khalvashi’s lawsuit to regain the broadcaster. Rustavi 2 lost the battle in all three instances of the Georgian courts. The case was appealed to the ECHR, which ruled in 2019 that there had been no violation of a right to a fair trial.

The Data of the Day

The data published by the National Statistics Service indicates that the share of the population below the absolute poverty line in Georgia decreased by 3.8% and amounted to 11.8%. According to the National Statistics Office, the absolute poverty rate in urban areas reached 9.4%, a decrease of 2.9%, while in rural areas it reached 15.6%, a decrease of 5%. The same data also suggests that in 2023, the absolute poverty rate decreased across all age groups of the population, compared to the previous year.


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