Pence will visit, R2 says less Geo in Afghan then DefMin says BS, drama on Turkish persecution via extradition, Surkov wants Russian owning Abkhaz land, Russia moves Osset Border half a KM EUMM quiet, Karabakh heats up, Kaladze will run Aleko closer, Manganese crooks get gift from Kutaisi courts, 25 years of relations with various, Eliava fire, Rustaveli Theater and Film school judge illegally on looks, US embassy commissary theft, not serious traffic violation point system, Rustavi rail link to Samgori possibility. GeoStat says GDP growth high, Kuwait Kutaisi flights, star photos, junior wrestlers gold, The Christian Evangelical Protestant Biblical Freedom Church of Georgia, TI on Osneba’s delay of parliamentary change, Swiss study of real trade, prejudice at border against Indians

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  1. The MEME this week is comes from Georgian photographer Asha Shaheen. It’s a photo of graffiti spotted on Melikishvili Avenue in Tbilisi. The graffiti reads Is there life on Mars? followed by a dollar sign. It’s next to an elderly man sweeping. Street art is relatively new to Tbilisi, but has gained a moderate international reputation due to artists like Dc.Love, Gagosh, and Tamoonz and for the last two years, the Fabrika has held an Urban Paint Festival.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2uxwNkj


    The Economist published a political analysis of contemporary Georgia, which was apparently written in response to last week’s decision by Otsneba to delay full implementation of the electoral reforms until 2024. The article is a cohesive recap of the major events that define the power struggle between Bidzina and Misha and their respective parties, and it also highlights some of the biggest headlines of the past year, including the kidnapping of Azeri journalist Afghan Mukhtarli, the assault of state auditor Lasha Tordia, and the upcoming Tbilisi mayoral election. While the article probably doesn’t contain any information you haven’t seen before, it provides a solid overview and may be useful for those looking for a quick and balanced introduction.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2tTdFzA

    Transparency International Georgia has a report calling Otsneba’s decision to delay implementation of the new proportional election system until the 2024 parliamentary elections unacceptable and unreasonable. The report argues that since the switch to a proportional system was supported by the Venice Commission, the unilateral decision of the ruling party to delay the new system is an unjustified political move to increase their chances of victory in 2020–because the current majoritarian system heavily favors incumbent candidates. The report criticises Otsneba of perpetually moving back the goal posts, as in 2012, reform was promised but not delivered for the 2016 elections.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2tThAfV

    For an in-depth look at Georgian labour laws and the Chiatura mining operation related to the ongoing Georgian Manganese lawsuit, look at the 2015 piece from Open Democracy Russia. Reporter Mari Nikuradze interviews miners, examines the working conditions and the environmental situation and reviews the history of mining in Georgia since Soviet times, including the many failed efforts of the trade unionists to receive better conditions.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2sTl79O

    The Center for Security Studies at the Swiss think-tank ETH Zurich releases a report detailing economic activity between China and the Caucasus since the Soviet period. The report compiles data collected in interviews, surveys, and observations of traders at Tbilisi’s Lilo Bazaar and other large marketplaces, and focusing on grassroots, face-to-face transactions as opposed to large corporate activities. Compared to the wild capitalism of the 90s, the report concludes that these days trade as largely amicable and professional.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2sN3xcs

    An open letter posted in the Daily O concerning Georgian immigration went viral this week. A young Indian woman who travelled to Georgia as a tourist was turned away at the border when officials claimed that her passport was damaged and potentially duplicated. Not trusting the explanation they gave, the woman researched her case and published her experience and findings in the letter. She argues that what happened to her is actually very common, and that the reason for large-scale denial of tourists is due to prejudices about the recent increase in Indian agricultural workers coming to Georgia. The Interior Ministry posted a response, claiming that an increase in refusals is natural given the increase of visitors. According to their numbers, about 6,500 Indians entered Georgia this June, and in the first quarter of this year, 240 have been denied entrance, the most from any country.
    Link to the open letter: http://bit.ly/1Dn7aF0
    Link to the Government response in Georgian: http://bit.ly/2tThTY7

    The Caucasus Research Resource Centers has an infographic on transparency in municipal governments. They requested data from each region using a freedom of information request. After two rounds of requests, they scored each region based on the quality of information received. All but two regions, Tsalka and Gardabani, provided some data and 8 regions scored full marks by providing all the requested information.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2twR6hM

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