The Daily Beat: 13 June

President Salome Zurabishvili vetoed the controversial amendments to the rules of procedure of the Central Elections Commission (CEC), according to which if a decision of the CEC requiring the support of at least two-thirds of its full membership cannot be passed during a CEC meeting, it will be subject to a revote at the same meeting and will be considered passed if it receives a simple majority of the CEC’s full membership.

While vetoing amendments to the CEC rules of procedures, the President signed the amendments to the Anti-corruption law, however noting that “the presented changes are superficial and fragmented, they cannot meet the requirements of the European Commission, one of the 9 conditions for joining the European Union and starting negotiations, which provides for further promotion of the effectiveness of the Anti-corruption Bureau’s activities and strengthening of its institutional independence and impartiality.”

Speaker Shalva Papuashvili held a press briefing in which, among other things, he accused EU-funded organizations of orchestrating hate campaigns and threats against high-level officials in Georgia. He called on the “relevant EU structures” to investigate the issue, “state its position” and criticized the EU for its alleged lack of response to these suspected cases. He also lashed out at the opposition and its “patrons,” attacked the Georgian President, and talked about the upcoming Parliamentary elections, and China.

National Bank of Georgia sold more US dollars from May 16 to June 11 than in the whole year of 2023 to stabilize the exchange rate of GEL, which has experienced devaluation since the adoption of the Law on Foreign Agents in the third reading on May 14. NBG has already sold USD 168.7 million in just one month, while over the last year, it sold 1.2% less – USD 166.75 million.

Mamuka Mamulashvili, the commander of the “Georgian National Legion” fighting in Ukraine, was poisoned several months ago, as he confirmed to today, June 13. He is now in satisfactory health and continues to perform his duties. According to Mamulashvili, medical analysis showed that three substances: arsenic, mercury, and tin were present in his body in excessive amounts. The doctors believe that the toxins were ingested.

More than 20 local CSOs issuedjoint statement condemning all cases of “violence which authorities perpetrate against citizens”, including the battering and intimidation campaign against political opponents, civil society representatives, and activists. The CSOs stressed that the violence against citizens is orchestrated by the GD government, which, they say, “can no longer control the Georgian people through propaganda and, angry with the people, resorts to physical violence against them.”

On June 12, Grigol Liluashvili, the Head of Georgia’s State Security Servicedelivered the agency’s annual report to Parliament. Highlighting the events of 2023, Liluashvili claimed the existence of malign foreign influence aimed at destabilizing the country, without naming the countries from which it originated, and emphasized Russia’s ongoing occupation of Georgian territories as the primary threat to national security.

On June 12, the EU Spokesperson issuedstatement expressing “regret” over “the increasing number of reported acts of intimidation, threats and physical assaults on civil society representatives, political leaders, civil activists and journalists in Georgia.” The EU urged the Georgian authorities to “put an end to these negative developments” and conduct timely and thorough investigations.

The Defense Forces of Georgia have received new VURAN armored personnel carriers, built to NATO standards, as part of an agreement with Turkey, the Defense Ministry reported on June 12. The official handover ceremony was held at the 4th Infantry Brigade Training Area in Vaziani and was attended by key officials, including Georgia’s Deputy Defense Minister Sergo Janelidze and Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to Georgia Ali Kaan Orbay.

At the opening ceremony of the BRICS Games in the Russian city of Kazan on June 12, the Georgian flag appeared along with the “state flags” of the occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia. Although two Georgian Sambo athletes are officially registered as participants on the BRICS website, the Georgian Sambo Federation told RFE/RL’s Georgian Service that they did not travel to Russia and did not take part in the Russian-dominated sports competition.

Massive Attack has canceled a show in Georgia scheduled for July 28, saying the decision was made “in protest of the Georgian government’s attack on basic human rights.” The British band says that playing at the state-owned Black Sea Arena stage “could be seen as an endorsement of their violent crackdowns against peaceful protests and civil society.”

The Data of the Day

On June 13, the National Statistics Office (Geostat) published express data indicating that the external merchandise trade (excluding non-declared trade) of Georgia decreased by 2.3% in January-May 2024 compared to the corresponding period of the previous year, amounting to USD 8,419.9 million.

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