Rustavi 2 closure protest, Ilia II back and ok, gov puts gag on poison case, EU ambos endorse visa free, Norway visit, Lavrov BS, Alasania heads to DC, Ed Min becomes Dep PM, Georgian hostage in Congo, Karachay say Ossets aren’t Alans, Gali powwow, Enguri quick closer, 41 parliament millionaires, Mtkvari clean up, Biblus fires video people, Snow shuts western roads, Tbilisi bike path, IMP program, Russians want a pipeline to Iran through Georgia, GOGC spend money oddly, Rooms Batumi, Samepo Telavi, Gatwick Tbilisi flights, parliament mulls point system for drivers and smoke free public spaces, divorce and marriage, Amnesty report, Black Dog, Traktor, new Metro map

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  1. The MEME this week is a video posted by The New York Times featuring violinist Lisa Batiashvili, who has gotten rave reviews from the newspaper. Batiashvili was born in Georgia but raised mostly in Germany, and she’s now based in Munich.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2mrNGs8


    Giorgi Lomsadze for EurasiaNet covers recent allegations that the underground strip clubs and brothels located near Rose Revolution square are discriminating against Georgian men. The Prime Minister recently commented on it, but rather than being upset about the practice of illegal prostitution in Tbilisi, he seemed mostly bothered that Georgian men aren’t invited to participate. He got a lot of criticism from human rights activists, who said the focus should be on protecting women and girls from trafficking and abuse.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2lyoLVY

    Social Science in the Caucasus looks at public attitudes toward divorce in Georgia. Comparing 2011 to 2015, more people believe that divorce can be justified in certain situations, six percent to 16 percent. That shift correlated closely with the change in the number of people who say it can’t be justified, 60 percent to 48 percent. In 2015, 35 percent of people reported being neutral on the issue.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2l6qDlq

    Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty has a good explainer on Defense Ministry reforms. It covers financial reforms and the return of conscription. According to Defense Minister Izoria, conscription was brought back mostly to save money, as a wholly-professional army costs about twice as much to maintain.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2lC9CBj

    The Georgian Institute of Politics publishes its 100 Days Report assessing the performance of the new Otsneba government. They cover four areas: economic policy, social policy, foreign policy, and democracy and human rights. They focus on assessing how closely the government kept the promises that Otsneba made during the campaign period, but they analyze some specific policies as well. They find the government has mostly kept its promises regarding foreign policy, and has done fairly well on social and economic policy, but has been week on democratization and human rights. For example, the proposed constitutional amendments, if they go through, would be big setbacks for the country’s democratic development. Also, the merger of Imedi, Maestro, and GDS is bad for the state of media pluralism in Georgia. Check out the full report, it covers a lot.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2mjxGcu

    Tatuli Chubabria of the Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center writes for Open Democracy about the recent number of workers’ demonstrations around the country. The Public Broadcaster and Defense Minister has fired large numbers of staff thus far this year, and private companies such as Rustavi Azot have done the same. In her view, the state is totally unresponsive to the needs of working people, so taking to the streets is really their only option to push for a policy where economic growth doesn’t come at the expense of public sector employment and workers’ rights. Currently, 15 percent of workers are employed in the public sector, compared to an average of 21 percent in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2mjsGUT

    Amnesty International releases its annual human rights report on Georgia. In particular, they highlight the lack of judicial independence and the poor human rights situations in the occupied territories. The report found that courts are more likely to hand down harsh sentences on people linked to the National Movement. On the positive side, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression are strong.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2mrvsXA

    Maka Chitanava writes an ISET blog post analyzing marriage in Georgia. She cites public opinion data on how Georgians view marriage in opposition to cohabitation. Interestingly, in rural areas more respondents think that marriage is better primarily because it’s more respected in society, whereas in urban areas, more respondents think it’s better because it gives partners a greater sense of responsibility. In Chitanava’s view, marriage is an institution that comes with formal and informal rules, and it’s widely respected in Georgia and most other societies because it serves a regulatory function in society. In most cases it provides economic insurance to females, and for men, it provides a stronger incentive to make parental investments in children.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2me9kEa

    Paul Rimple reviews Black Dog Pub for Culinary Backstreets. Black Dog is non-smoking and dog-friendly and serves good craft beer and solid bar food. There’s no Georgian food on the menu because, in the words of owner Zura Chitaya, people can get that everywhere. Rimple’s verdict? It’s a friendly neighborhood joint with good beer, and there aren’t many of those in Tbilisi. For those who don’t know, Black Dog is located at 33 Asatiani Street.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2l6mga1

    The New York Times covers Tbilisi’s impressive restaurant industry, starting with Shavi Lomi and moving on to Ezo and Barbarestan. Also featured is Azerpesha and Poliponia, a place that just opened in December. Lots of mistakes in the article but still interesting.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2l6kXIg

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