Georgia. According to Countryaah official site, President Micheil Saakashvili and his government faced extensive and violent protests during the year. In January, peaceful demonstrations were held at the outset, where war veterans demanded to regain lost social benefits. Authorities arrested several protesters sentenced to a fine.
Inspired by the riots in North Africa, around 10,000 oppositionists gathered in the capital Tbilisi in May, demanding the departure of Saakashvili. He was blamed for the lost war against the Russian Federation in 2008 and for failing to fight poverty in Georgia. The police used tear gas and fired rubber bullets to disperse the protesters. Hundreds of opposition activists were reported to have been arrested in various cities. The protests continued for several days but were eventually knocked down by the riot police, and two people were killed and about 40 injured in the violence. Over 100 people were arrested, and Saakashvili accused them of attempting a coup. He said the Russian Federation was behind the protests. Opposition leader Nino Burdzjanadze’s husband Badri Bitsadze was later prosecuted, accused of organizing attacks on the police.
In June, a constitutional amendment was passed which means that the Georgian Parliament in 2012 will be moved from Tbilisi to the city of Kutaisi in western Georgia. The opposition was critical to the costly construction of an extravagant parliament building, but the government argued that Kutaisi is a safer place for parliament, as Russian military is within easy reach of Tbilisi. The constitutional amendment also included restrictions on demonstrations.
In July, three photographers in Georgia were accused of spying on President Saakashvili on behalf of the Russian Federation. One of the three was Saakashvili’s personal photographer. About 50 journalists protested against the arrests, which they considered to be politically based.
In August, Acting President Aleksandr Ankvab won the presidential election in the Aboriginal Republic of Abkhazia, since the previous president passed away. Russian Federation Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attended the funeral of the departed leader. The Russian Federation has recognized Abkhazia as independent.
Georgia’s response to Russian support for Abkhazia was a multimillion effort on tourism in Anaklia on the Black Sea, near the border with Abkhazia. During the year, among other things, hotel and a new airport.
In September, 15 opposition activists were sentenced to prison for up to six years accused of organizing an armed movement and attempting to take an opposition leader from exile to the demonstrations in Tbilisi in May.
In November, the Russian Federation succeeded in getting Georgia to join Russian membership in the World Trade Organization. Georgia’s veto was the last obstacle to the Russian Federation, which has held membership negotiations since 1993.
In the November presidential election in the South Ossetian Republic, the opposition candidate Alla Dzhiojeva won, but Moscow-backed candidate Anatoly Bibilov annulled the election results by court. Re-election was scheduled for March 2012.
Over a thousand dead in covid-19
Since the covid-19 pandemic reached Georgia, a total of 1,085 deaths have been confirmed. This means that a second wave of the spread of infection has had serious consequences fairly quickly (compare 2 November). The government is preparing new restrictions and claims that demonstrations against the parliamentary elections have accelerated the spread. On the same day, the EU gives the go-ahead for the payment of EUR 100 million in financial crisis aid to Georgia in the wake of the pandemic, in accordance with previous agreements. The Georgian opposition continues to demand that the election be rescheduled.
Water cannons against election critics
Thousands of protesters gathered outside Tbilisi to demand a by-election. Police use water cannons to disperse the crowd. The government party Georgian Dream denies that there has been election fraud, but the protesters demand that, among others, the election commission resign. According to Reuters, eight opposition parties have announced that they intend to boycott parliament. International OSCE observers have stated that the election was mainly fair, although they noted that there had been criticism of allegations of pressure on voters.
Organizations criticize the election
More than 20 NGOs in Georgia that have watched the October 31 parliamentary elections with their own observers are judging it. According to a joint statement from them, both voting and violations of the election secret have been discovered. During the election campaign, threats and harassment occurred and these have not been investigated, the organizations also claim. The ruling Georgian Dream party is accused of mixing up the state treasury and the party treasury before the election; by using state resources, the party must have gained advantages over political opponents. Signatories supporting the statement include Georgian Transparency International and the Open Society Foundation.
Party boycott of Parliament
Aleko Elisashvili, who formed the new Citizens’ Party and has been elected to parliament, says he will not take his place. He states that the opposition parties have agreed to boycott parliamentary work.
The Prime Minister has covid-19
Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia has been infected with the pandemic virus sars-cov-2, according to his press secretary. Gakharia is fine but stays in home quarantine. The next day, a government body decides that it will be mandatory to wear a face mask even outdoors. Events such as weddings and baptisms have long been banned. Georgia has registered a total of 342 deaths in covid-19 since the infection reached the country, but already two days later the number is written up to 381.