Anniversary of the Rose Revolution – To ban or not to ban the “Alt-Right” party – Politicians with big ideas – Georgia reflects on activation policies – Courageous judge acquits activist

Now that the government has ended its reckless chicken game and Mikheil Saakashvili has agreed to end his hunger strike, Georgia is experiencing this proverbial eye of the storm. It will be bound to be brief – and just as we hold our breath to see whose ruby ​​slippers will come out from under this house – candy-colored utopian ideas ignite the political minds of this country. Here is Nini with the usual updates from Georgia.

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BIRTHDAY Georgia marks St. George’s Day on November 23, and some will remember the 18e anniversary of the Rose Revolution, an important milestone in the recent history of the country which led to the ousting of the administration of Edward Shevardnadze in 2003. Incidentally – or not – the unpublished video interview with the late Shevardnadze in 2004 surfaced a few days ago. The former president is understood, among other things, to take pride in having created “Georgian democracy” during his ten-year term, while subtly warning the new government led by the United National Movement against less inclinations. democratic. The interview fueled some of the political discussion as many young Twitterati do not even remember the legendary “white fox” in action, and also to remind that assessing the legacy of each administration requires historic time to complete. pass… Until then, the nation will have to be content with distorted images, cardboard cutouts and the lingering temptations of current rulers to assert themselves against the portrayed sins of their rivals. Kill the dragon ?! In politics, it is often just public relations. Become a ?! You bet.

ATTACKS IN THE NORTH Some in Georgia who have followed the tense developments around Saakashvili have looked ahead to the anniversary with fear – others, with hope – wondering if history would not repeat itself like a farce on the very day of November 23. So far so quiet, with only a modest human chain planned in Tbilisi to commemorate the event. But the sparks of an entirely different revolution are shining in the embers: the leaders of the media Alt-info, known for its radical anti-liberal, anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim stance as well as for its sympathy towards Russia, inaugurated on November 20, a new political party named “Conservative Movement”. The launch of yet another Russian outfit, but also more credible fears of legitimizing this unsavory gang: after all, Alt-Info led the anti-Pride violence on July 5, before going unpunished. Suspicion plane above the head of the ruling party, because the police were few in number – and we know how they come in force whenever the ruling party is worried.

THINK TWICE So, will the Conservative Movement be refused registration? Heated discussions have emerged in liberal circles in Georgia, which so easily turn into… well… semicircles. Some have suggested that the authorities refuse to register a far-right party, on the basis of constitutional provisions banning a political party that “”aims to overthrow or to modify by force the constitutional order of Georgia, to undermine the independence or to violate the territorial integrity of the country, or which propagates war or violence or incites national, ethnic conflicts , provincial, religious or social. But opponents, including Giga Bokeria, leader of the European Georgia party, have warned that calling for a broad definition of this provision could set a dangerous precedent, which would allow the government to seek to ban unwanted parties. Should scandalous speech be protected? For once, it is useful for the liberal community to reflect on this question when the edge of the law hangs over the heads not of their friends, but of their sworn enemies.

TAKE THE PRIDE (AND DO WHAT YOU WANT WITH IT) We’re not done with July 5th yet. Have you seen the one from Saakashvili Politics letter, in which he calls on US President Joe Biden to speak out and “support our young democracy, which is in grave danger?” It is in this letter that, listing some of the biggest flaws in the democratic record of the Georgian dream (of which there are admittedly many), Saakashvili recalls the anti-LGBT protesters targeting activists and journalists on the 5th. July “forcing the cancellation of a pride march and ultimately resulting in the death of a cameraman.” While the events indeed mark one of the darkest episodes of GD’s reign, the ex-president also cannot really be proud of having conquered moral heights at the time. At the time, Saakashvili claimed that violent crowds and LGBTQ + activists were being manipulated by state security services, forcing some of his UNM party comrades to distance themselves in disgust. Oddly enough, DG officials saw the specter of UNM and Saakashvili behind the pride. Yes, being queer in Georgia is linked to more identity struggles than one can imagine …

BLURRED VISIONS The Georgians coined another term for utopia – Celestial georgia (ზეციური საქართველო) to denote the dreamlike visions of Georgian Arcadia. The social and political initiatives that rained on November 22 could mark the attempts to reach this imaginary land where graze unicorns dressed in Chokha and Khinkali. The first was For Georgia party, led by former Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, who emerged as a kingmaker in six of the seven local councils not dominated by GD (Sakrebulos). To avoid the usual GD-vs-UNM crisis, the party Free cooperate with both at the same time – a kind of polyamorous triangle with the For Georgia member as the central axis, flanked by the president and vice presidents Sakrebulo appointed by the UNM and the CEO. Honestly, to us this sounds like a safe way to end couples therapy, not a crisis resolution method. But we gladly greet For Georgia for courageously seeking a third creative path in a situation where small parties usually bend the knee or die.

ACTIVATE! The ruling party promised it wanted to talk business – and it did. Type of. Prime Minister Garibashvili unveiled a set of policies, including hardening regulation of online casinos and the sale of psychopharmaceuticals. Populist? Maybe, but overall possible. Now there was something else: something about the job, which seemed vaguely relevant, yet like any utopia, covered in a pinkish haze of good intentions. We have discerned a kind of so-called “activation policies”, involving an attempt to push unemployed welfare recipients to enter the labor market and earn that money. Yet the numbers did not add up. Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said that half of the approximately 600,000 socially vulnerable Georgians form a workforce and that they are not motivated to seek employment “because of the existing social policy”. Observers were quick to point out that the number was incomplete and that the government’s own statistics differ. And that the “existing social policy” is barely sufficient to feed themselves, so most of these so-called “compensated unemployed” hold multiple jobs (over thirty percent of non-farm work is estimated by the World Bank in the economy. underground, half of the people employed are self-employed).

Still, authorities have hinted at a range of projects – training opportunities in creating workplaces with some degree of option for eligible people. The degree of conditionality with receiving welfare remains unclear – some of the Prime Minister’s remarks seemed threatening enough to suggest that welfare recipients are simply forced to work, remarks by members of his cabinet were more calming . PM has promised a specific program in a few weeks. Parliament is due to see the draft budget by the end of November. We’ll see how these announcements translate into numbers. What is certain is that the change in social policy has apparently been discussed – assuming it has been seriously discussed – behind closed doors, without outside input or public debate.

NOT GUILTY In today’s Georgia, you can become a hero just by doing your job. Especially if you judge fairly. This is the case of Irma Togonidze, judge of the Batumi municipal court, who acquitted Tamar Kuratashvili, an activist of the Batumi-based shame movement who police arrested in mid-November while she was shooting during protests. in a building of the state security services. The footage unequivocally showed the activist doing nothing harmful, and the judge refused to close his eyes. Hooray for that …

That’s the full cover for today. Join us every Tuesday and Friday for the tongue-in-cheek coverage of Georgia’s political life.