Review of Georgian mass media (September 17-24th)

By Vestnik Kavkaza
Review of Georgian mass media (September 17-24th)

The main event of the last few days in Georgia was the trial of the former mayor of Tbilisi, Gigi Ugulava, who was released after his first nine months on remand, before being sentenced to four and a half years and returning behind bars again.

"I graduated from a theater school, which is why I watched the whole process as a spectacle. The things that have been happening in the halls of the Georgian courts in recent days were a farce that spoiled the image of Georgia in the eyes of its citizens and foreign partners. Even uninitiated people ask why the law abolished the constitutional court and what they rejected. They rejected the law that was adopted by the National Movement a few years ago. It's true. They considered that it was success to abolish what they have recently adopted. I am surprised, as this was represented as an advantage,’’ Kviris Palitra cites Mamuka Areshidze.

"However, Ugulava doesn’t realize his mistake. He mentioned the words ‘take in hand.’ As is the call, so is the echo. But not only Ugulava can ‘take in hand.’ As regards the talks about pressure on the court, the pressure was the actions of the National Movement. "Frankly speaking, I have never seen pressure on such a scale. Is it normal to show a live meeting in parallel with a court hearing, where everybody insults the judges and the court? Isn’t it pressure to organize an action near a judge’s house?! I don’t even know how to describe the actions of Rustavi 2. They finally turned into a party-pris television station, which does the work of party bosses at a very high level,’’ Areshidze complained.

The media is closely monitoring the ups and downs of the struggle over the amendments to the law ‘On the National Bank.’ Recall that President Giorgi Margvelashvili was categorically against the adoption. He even vetoed it. However, it was overcome by the Parliament, and the head of state still had to put his signature to the document. However, it turns out that the story isn’t over yet.

"The next round against the law 'On the National Bank' started and even overcame the President's veto. The joint claim of the Free Democrats and the National Movement was signed by 39 deputies and it is to be directed to the Constitutional Court on Tuesday. After the Constitutional Court went against the authorities in respect of the Ugulava case, the opposition hopes that the department of Papuashvili will adopt the law 'On the National Bank'. According to the opposition, the separation of the banking supervision service from the NBG contradicts the constitution and it intends to prove it in court,’’ Resonance reports.

This position was expounded by Shalva Shavgulidze, the representative of the Free Democrats, who asserts that there are two major contradictions between the adoption of the law and the constitution. ‘‘Firstly, according to the 95th article of the constitution, the NBG is obliged to contribute to the stable functioning of the financial sector. The NBG should oversee the financial sector. The adopted law deprives the NBG of this function and hands its functions to the new agency." The RBN remains constitutionally obliged to promote the stable functioning of the financial sector. Therefore, the new law is contrary to the constitutional requirements. The NBG won’t be able to fulfill this requirement if it has no control over the mechanism,’’ Shavgulidze said. According to him, the second contradiction lies in the fact that the law violates the constitutional procedures for the distribution of powers between the branches of government. In particular, according to the Constitution, supervision over the financial sector should be carried out by the NBG. The President creates its governing body – the Council of the NBG,’’ the publication expounds his opinion.

Materials that criticize the policies of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition regularly appear against the background of these episodes of the political struggle in the pages of the Georgian media.

"Some representatives of the authorities are euphoric about the success in China, while others are engaged in business, trying to avoid responsibility. The parliamentary majority is preparing for elections in 2016 and forming Georgian Dream. "Everybody is trying to find their own place there. Unfortunately, the problems of the country are in the background. Moreover, the government was unprepared for these challenges and problems. Some members of the coalition had quite a strange attitude towards the case of Gigi Ugulava. I mean the statements of some Republicans, as well as representatives of the public, who previously expressed sympathy for the authorities. Over the years we have repeated that the authorities have no system of countermeasures or preemptive tactics. This is also a part of their PR technique. Unfortunately, both the authorities and those expensive media groups that cooperate with the government don’t have such technology. In general, the situation is very shameful," Alia cites Mamuka Areshidze’s opinion.

"I have said that there are many unprofessional people and saboteurs in power, but no one wants to hear it. That's the result from this point of view: the case of Ugulava is a litmus test. You asked the right question: Are we losing the signs of the state? Unfortunately, we give priority to less important cases, rather important ones. Ambition, personal life, family well-being dominate, and the fortune of the state is a secondary thing. Unfortunately, this reality has been going on for 25 years. Our Western partners consider that our state is a country of missed opportunities. Those who had to deal with the fortune of the country don’t want to do that. These people are satisfied with the role of outside observers," he said.

The question of whether the opposition can take advantage of the situation and overthrow the ruling coalition is regularly discussed in this regard.

"Any explosion needs its own conditions. Various actions can be organized, but these scales cannot foretoken a disaster. Dissatisfaction isn’t enough. We need a leader for a social explosion. I don’t mean one leader, but a party that can take an initiative to direct this dissatisfaction. Otherwise, dissatisfaction will be closed and people will share their emotions with each other and nothing else. I don’t know such a party, or an individual leader today, who can be supported by the people. Certainly, this can affect the fortune of small choices. We mean one particular region such as Sagaredjo. We see that in Kakheti nationals came to the region in the background and a wave of protest instead of raising winegrowers to revolt,’’ Resonance cites Ramaz Sakvarelidze.

"Due to peoples’ inattention, the nationalists have left such a legacy and they are unlikely to be an initiator of this discontent. Certainly, some groups welcomed them, but there is a second question: if we mean not only the grapes that were spoiled by hail, in this case the harvesting of grapes is to start at full capacity. Many Kakhetians can receive benefits, as in the past year. Many people in Kakheti can understand that the proposed conditions are favorable. As for the other regions, protests can take place somewhere else, but it is necessary to have a leader who can involve people so that the situation could take the form of social destabilization,’’ he said.

Georgian journalists write about problems in education. In particular, Rezonansi wrote about the reverse of the coin: the practice of free textbooks to students of the state that they then have to return at the end of the school year. "The Ministry of Education and Science gives textbooks to public schools for the third year. Students received both new and used books. The Ministry claims that they distribute books only in good condition. However, some parents don't agree with that. According to them, when receiving free textbooks they are faced with two problems: some books are very tattered, and in some books exercises are already done with a pen or pencil,’’ the publication reports.

However, the Ministry of Education insists that they aren’t to blame for this. "Yes, we noted from the very beginning that children will receive both new and used textbooks. Of course, we meant only used books that are in good condition. For this purpose, the Ministry of Education sent headteachers letters three times in order to resolve existing problems. If a child has such a problem and he received an unsuitable book, it means that the headteacher didn’t pay attention to this problem. When the school year comes to an end, children return books. We know the suitability of these books is checked. The Ministry asks heads of schools to inform us how many new books they need. Therefore, if a student receives an unsuitable book, his parents should demand a new one. Moreover, parents should refuse to take such a textbook," the newspaper cites representatives of the Ministry.