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The Daily Beat: 2 June

On Sunday evening, a rally-concert was held on Republic Square in the center of Tbilisi with the participation of famous Georgian groups and singers. The concert, in defiance of the law on foreign agents and of the campaign of intimidation and terror against citizens, is also a solidarity event aimed at collecting donations for the support of the persons detained at the rallies and those on trial, and to cover the costs of the fines imposed on them.

In recent days, an orchestrated campaign of intimidation and attempts of physical assaults against opposition politicians, media, civil society organizations, and critics of the foreign agents’ law resumed.  Opposition leaders claim that they are again targeted by regime-backed thugs and they and their family members continue to receive threatening phone calls. This time, Georgian Dream representatives don’t hide their involvement in this campaign, on the contrary, they openly announce the repressions and even share the lists of potential targets.

The walls of the offices of NGOs, critical media, and opposition parties were again covered with obscenities, writings calling the people working there “foreign agents,” and inappropriate pictures. On the night of May 31 to June 1, around 2:30 am, 30-40 “Titushky” (government-paid thugs) vandalized the central office of the United National Movement. The night guards had to shoot in the air several times to deter and scare off intruders. According to the UNM Chair Levan Khabeishvili, the “Titushky” coordinated with the police and the State Security Service.

After Georgian Dream MPs voted on May 28 to overturn the veto on the Foreign Agents Law and then voted to officially pass the law, they have been confronted by angry citizens, opposing the law. Several cases of citizens writing on the walls of GD MPs’ houses and calling them “slaves” and “traitors” in public have been observed.

As Georgia celebrated Police Day on May 31, the President was conspicuously absent from the official ceremony marking the day, which was attended by high-ranking Georgian officials, including Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze and Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri, as well as other ministers. Later Minister Gomelauri confirmed that the President was not invited to the event, saying “We decided not to invite Madam President so as not to cause any inconvenience to the policemen.”

On May 31, the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Lithuania’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in Georgia, Andrius Kalindra. According to the official press release of the MFA, the Ambassador was summoned “regarding the ongoing processes in Georgia and Lithuania’s position and actions on the Transparency Law.” Two days ago, the Lithuanian MFA summoned Georgian Ambassador Salome Shapakidze after Georgian Dream overrode the presidential veto and finally adopted the law on foreign agents.

Social Justice Center issued a statement stressing that the pro-government media is “manipulating” the data released by the National Statistical Service on the decrease in the absolute poverty rate in 2023 and is deceiving Georgians, claiming that 145,000 people escaped poverty, when in fact the decrease is most likely caused by the record number of emigrants in 2023, as well as the increase in the number of people receiving social assistance and of people living on remittances.

Communications Commission reported that pro-government media channel TV Imedi had the largest share of commercial TV advertising revenues in the first quarter of 2024. Of the remaining TV and radio stations, only opposition-leaning Mtavari TV saw a slight increase in revenues compared to the same period last year, PosTV’s revenues remained the same, and all other stations received less revenue.

The Data of the Day

Georgia’s estimated real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate amounted to 11.8% for April 2024 compared to the corresponding period of the previous year, according to the rapid estimates released by the National Statistics Office of Georgia on May 31. According to Geostat, the following activities contributed significantly to growth: manufacturing; construction; information and communication; transportation and storage; trade; and professional, scientific, and technical activities.


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