Batumi riots, Abkhaz vote, McCain on Rustavi 2, Margvel in Baku, Klimkin Ukraine FM visit, Putin makes South Osset Army Russian, Tskhinvali protests re Kokoity, new ambos, Azoti employees suit, Israeli asylum, Georgia Iran Technology transfer office, remittances up US tops list, FDI numbers Baku tops, St Petes flights, Ryanair, wine in Japan and London, Kutaisi sewing, Lelos beat Russia, Ananiashvili gets Oracle of Art, London Book fair features Georgian translators, Margvel opens constitution process, noise regulations, TI on campaign funds, Tedo on chain reaction, Dunbar Wheeler on Jorbenadze not Avto, NPR on Khurvaleti, bikes

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  1. The MEME this week features the now-famous BBC dad with his wife and two children, but with a twist: Dad’s face is covered with an EU flag, the two kids represent Georgia and Ukraine, and Mom, who pulls the kids away from Dad and out of the room, is covered with a Russian flag.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2n2ENIO


    Josh Kucera writing for EurasiaNet covers growing popular discontent with Turkish influence in Batumi. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly evoked the Ottoman Empire as a model for the current Turkish state, and Adjara was part of the Ottoman Empire until 1878. These days, Turkey accounts for the majority of foreign investment into the region, and its government is starting to promote cultural projects there, too. This isn’t sitting well with ethnic Georgians, many of whom are vocal about their opposition to construction of a new mosque in Batumi.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2mw4vlj

    Also for EurasiaNet, Oliver Urs Lens covers Abkhazia’s recent tightening of the Administrative Boundary Line. The authorities there closed two crossing points on the 5th of March, claiming it was necessary to better control the boundary line. It also raised fines for illegal crossing into territory administered by Tbilisi. In Len’s view, the authorities in Sokhumi view the ethnic Georgian residents in Gali as a fifth column and want to reduce their contact with the rest of Georgia.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2mxmh8l

    Luka Pertaia of OC Media considers whether the unrest in Batumi is the result of broad-based discontent with political and economic conditions in the region. He focuses on a statement by the Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center that highlighted social crisis in the region. Also, regional identity was a factor. During the incident, demonstrators shouted Adjara for Adjarans, and religious tension between Christians and Muslims in Adjara also has a lot of people on edge.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2ndAew5

    Writing for Jamestown, Eduard Abramyan discusses Armenia’s recent efforts to revitalized its relationship with NATO. At a meeting last month in Brussels, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan invited NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to Yerevan. Sargsyan also stated that there is no contradiction between allying with Russia and having a strong partnership with NATO. The goal may be unrealistic, but many interpret these moves as an attempt by Armenia to weaken Russia’s influence over the country’s foreign and domestic policies.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2n2L3jL

    Transparency International Georgia releases its report in Georgian of electoral campaign funding sources for 16 major political parties during last year’s pre-election and post-election period. They find that together the parties received 32 million lari in donations, with Otsneba getting about 21.32 million of that, so slightly more than two-thirds. Transparency referred to that large concentration of funds by a single party as unprecedented. Second was the National Movement with 2.8 million lari followed by the Alliance of Patriots with 1.7 million.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2nIlEsW

    Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and member of Otsneba Tedo Japaridze has an Op-Ed in DF Watch, where he takes aim at the criticism coming from the EU regarding the Rustavi Ori ruling. His argument is that any criticism from the EU causes a major chain reaction in Georgia’s political class, with opposition parties and media using it as fuel to discredit the government. He also brings up the dilemma caused by the European Court of Human Rights’ suspension of the ruling. If the government fails to enforce a ruling by the Supreme Court due to outside pressure, it erodes the system of checks and balances.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2mxm452

    Writing for the Georgian Institute of Politics, Lincoln Mitchell starts with a good question: what does he have to say about democratic development in Georgia that he hasn’t said already? His main point is that democratization experts need to pay more attention to the needs and perceptions of people outside the political class. Georgian analysis tends to be an elite project, and its practitioners–of which he is a member–miss a lot of important details because of it. Mitchell also says we should stop thinking of democratization in Georgia as a linear process. It’s more cyclical, and right now the question is whether Otsneba can break the cycle of one-party dominance leading to eventual collapse that has characterized every ruling party for the past 25 years.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2mSA645

    Lincoln Mitchell also has a new Georgia Analysis devoted to the Rustavi Ori ruling and how it will likely polarize the country’s politics further. Neither the government’s opponents nor its supporters are entirely correct, however. In his view, the Rustavi Ori case is the product of the murky landscape of the National Movement years. However, any repression of it, legal or not, is harmful to the country’s media environment and does more damage to Otneba’s reputation than could be done by any negative coverage from Rustavi Ori.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2ndogSQ

    Chai-Khana profiles Alan Parastaev, a rock musician and a member of the political opposition in South Ossetia. Now 46 years old, Parastaev recounts how the region’s culture has changed over the years. He thinks South Ossetia’s culture has become stifling and repressive, and a big part of the problem are government policies making it difficult for young people to travel to the West, or even to Moscow.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2mMAlM4

    Will Dunbar and Angela Wheeler for The Calvert Journal cover the work of Viktor Jorbenadze, an unsung postmodernist architect who designed some of Georgia’s most memorable buildings as well as masterpieces in other countries as well. Examples of his work include the Wedding Palace outside Tbilisi, an iconic building that was visited by foreign leaders such as Margaret Thatcher during the Soviet period.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2m4BGkk

    Last week we covered the opening of the Quadrum, a new hotel in Gudauri made entirely from repurposed shipping containers. This week, the Quadrum is featured in a video by the BBC.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2mMwBdy

    NPR’s Morning Edition takes us to the Administrative Boundary Line with South Ossetia. Their reporter, Stephanie Joyce, tells the story of residents of the village of Khurvaleti, which was split in half when the Boundary Line was moved deeper into Georgian territory in 2015.
    Link: http://n.pr/2mpSf6r

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