Constitution Commission tries to lock in majority, Lavrov in Abkhazia, Bibilov in place, Orban protests, Iranians re corridor, Estonians in town, Sultan Erdogan, Abkhaz parliament, Georgian Abkhaz IDs, Israel fights asylum cheats, security min report, ECHR vacancy, Beruch gets award, Georgians rob Burma cash, Russian SO abduction, Order of St Nick to charity cab driver, Chiatura cable cars, exports up, passengers up, more tea, churkhchela export, Pepela Dusseldorf restaurant, Nana wins Euro Chess, Ninidze film up for top in Cannes, Vazha reading space, reserve Army plan, EU Energy Community, coffee

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  1. The MEME this week pokes fun at Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze and his unkempt hairstyle. Above a picture of Kobakhidze the caption reads: if you ever feel useless just think about this guy’s barber.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2oOfgUe


    For EurasiaNet, Giorgi Lomsadze write about two new films, The Promise and The Ottoman Lieutenant. Critics agree that neither film is very good, but they’re important because they present vastly different narratives about the Armenian genocide. The Promise is a big-budget Hollywood film funded by the late Armenian-American businessman Kirk Kerkorian and highlights the destruction of the Armenian people. The Ottoman Lieutenant is a smaller film is a Turkish-American joint production that glosses over the atrocities. War is bad and people get killed. The consensus? The Promise is bad, but The Ottoman Lieutenant is downright putrid.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2pkHnJo

    Steven Cook of Foreign Policy comments on the referendum result in Turkey. In his view, it’s a lot more than a referendum on Erdogan, or presidentialism, it’s a referendum on whether to reject Turkey’s Republican past and try to restore some of the principles of the Ottoman era. The predecessor to Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party was historically critical of Republicanism and the secularism that came with it, and preferred for Turkey to turn away from Europe and toward the Islamic world. The referendum will make Erdogan much more powerful, but he doesn’t simply want power for power’s sake, he wants to fundamentally transform Turkey by making it more Islamist, more conservative, and more of a regional power in the Middle East.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2oZ48od

    Anna Nemtsova for the Daily Beast covers Russian foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Abkhazia. She interprets it as a slap in the face not only to Georgia but to the United States, as it chips away at the credibility of a country that is supposed to be both a strong ally of Georgia and the primarily defender of territorial integrity around the world. It’s yet another reminder that the US, NATO, and the EU are powerless to stop Russia from violating Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2oOsEbb

    Eto Buziashvili of Civil.ge interviews Brian Whitmore of Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty. He’s optimistic that the West can turn the tide in the information war against Russia; North America and Europe are currently in a period of self-doubt, but that’s a natural process from which liberal societies usually emerge stronger. He also said that journalists should ditch the idea that they have to present all sides of a story as if they have equal validity. In some cases, there’s only one side worth presenting, for example, the side that says Russian-backed separatists shot down the MH17 flight over Ukraine, full stop. He also says the EU and NATO should be more honest with the Georgian public about membership in the institutions. Disillusionment in Georgia could prepare the ground for Russian propaganda, and to a degree it already has.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2pjjJQz

    Caucasus Analytical Digest devotes an edition to the influence of political Islam in the South Caucasus. There are three articles: Jean-François Ratelle investigates the causes behind the downfall of the North Caucasus insurgency focusing on the counter-insurgency and the massive outflow of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq. He argues that the potential return of foreign fighters and ongoing discriminatory policies against Muslims in Russia could trigger a new upsurge of violence. Michael Hikari Cecire looks at the growth of non-Chechen Islamist extremism in Georgia, focusing on ethnic Georgian Muslims in Adjara. Lastly, Arzu Geybulla explores the presence of religious groups in Azerbaijan, finding that economic, political, and social grievances drive popular dissent in Azerbaijan.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2oOqWX5

    The Media Development Foundation publishes its annual Anti-Western Propaganda report, which is based on the monitoring of Georgian media outlets throughout 2016. They looked for anti-Western messages and disinformation spread by media outlets and other sources such as politicians, clergy members, and civil society representatives. As for media, they looked at the following: eight broadcasters–the Georgian Public Broadcaster, Rustavi 2, Imedi, Maestro, Tabula, GDS, Obieqtivi TV, and Kavkasia TV; seven online outlets: Sakinformi, Netgazeti, Marshalpress, Interpressnews, Georgia & World, PIA, Kviris Palitra; and four newspapers: Rezonansi, Prime Time, Asaval-Dasavali, and Alia. The most anti-Western sources were Obieqtivi TV, the Asaval-Dasavali newspaper, the online news outlets Georgia & World and Sakinformi, and the newspapers Alia and Kviris Qronika. Not surprisingly, the most anti-Western political parties were the alliance of Patriots and the Burjanadze Democrats. About one-third of anti-Western messages focused on issues of identity, human rights, and values, and about 20 percent focused on NATO.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2o7Bm5G

    Sean’s Russia Blog interviews Erik Scott, the author of Familiar Strangers: The Georgian Diaspora and the Evolution of the Soviet Empire. Scott focuses on the outsized significance that ethnic Georgians had during the Soviet period, especially during the Stalin years. The influence that Georgians held was a project of the unique Soviet approach to nationality and it shows that the Soviet Union was not a typical empire with a metropole and periphery.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2oYVu9i

    The Calvert Journal lists 10 works of fiction from the Caucasus that are worth trying out. Two Georgian works made the list: Dagny by Zurab Karumidze; and A Man Was Going Down the Road by Otar Chiladze.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2oOM6lG

    Virtuoso pianist Khatia Buniatishvili is interviewed by France 24. She talks about her nickname: the pop star pianist; discusses what it was like to collaborate with Coldplay, and discusses her most recent album, where she performs works by Rachmaninoff.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2pkUjPA

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