Georgian press review (March 18-24)
One of the most discussed topics on the pages of the Georgian media is still the situation around videos, which secretly captured various moments from the lives of both ordinary and well-known people, including private affairs. "Attempts at such a blackmail were expected, based on the fact that thousands of such records were found in the so-called barrel one day, but then no one has suffered any responsibility for this, on the contrary – someone destroyed evidence and the investigation hasn't continued. I and many others said that it is a naive step and self-deception to believe that there are no copies. You need a few seconds to make a copy. So the problem resurfaced and, presumably, the war of compromising materials will continue and assume a large scale before the elections. It is almost impossible to investigate the case and arrest the distributors, if it does not happen by chance, of course," Akhali Taoba cited the lawyer Gela Nikolaishvili.
"It was an anti-state action. If someone loses from it, that would be the authorities in the first place. If we say that Ivanishvili stands behind it, then he acts against himself and just went crazy. Personally, I do not believe it. As for detainees, the authorities decided to show people some actions and tried to do something as much as possible. These specific entities may be unrelated to the proliferation of those videos. These people were detained already after Eliso Kiladze received information. They found these people using Gurtskaya. Those who instructed Gurtskaya to deliver the video could have financial or political interests, but those people could have nothing to do with it. In practice, they are distributors. Perhaps there was a new law, but they did not pay attention to it. Many people showed these recordings to each other. They also existed in 2013. Many people told me in 2013 that they had seen these recordings. The fact is that these videos were passed from hand to hand on memory cards, but then it wasn't a crime," Nikolaishvili added.
In this connection, some people have expressed concern that the current state of affairs may lead to complications in foreign policy.
"Today the situation in the country is much more complex than it was under Saakashvili. When such crimes were carried out under the regime of Saakashvili, it was easy to identify the head of this filthy system, because we knew that there is only one villain in the residence who resolves all the issues. Today it is very difficult to identify the head, because instead of one big villain we got a lot of little rascals, therefore, all the sides can be suspected. There is a great risk that these records may fall into the hands of foreign intelligence services. Five people were detained over one of the cases recently, absolutely neutral individuals who should not have access to such materials. This example shows that the videos spread like metastases. After all, who knows how many copies these five people made, whom they give these copies to or where they hid them?" the newspaper Kviris Palitra cited the expert Gia Khukhashvili as saying.
"So great a risk that foreign intelligence agencies started to look for hidden camera videos. Perhaps they even have some of these videos. We must take into account the fact that the videos may be not only of a sexual nature, which people can handle. Now public attention focused only on such records, which is wrong, I think. There may be videos capturing crimes, for example, drug addiction, crucial political conversations and so on. I mean such materials, using which it is possible to blackmail people. This goes beyond privacy and concerns state security," Khukhashvili fears.
Another constant theme of the publications in the press of the republic are the upcoming parliamentary elections in autumn.
In this regard, the issue of what the electoral list of the Georgian Dream party will be and its possible changes is being actively discussed. "The list of the coalition will show what goal was set by the government and what is more of a priority for them – the short-term welfare of the ruling party or the country's interests in the long run. According to political analysts, it will be seen in whether the government will release a coalition of those people whose statements are often opposed to the policy of the state and its associates. They said that the release of a coalition of them will benefit the country, but the 'Dream' itself may suffer, because these people are supported by a considerable segment of society. As you know, the member of political council of the Georgian Dream, Armaz Akhvlediani, has recently criticized the party's work and advised Giorgi Kvirikashvili to get rid of the 'old political crocodiles' soon as possible," Rezonansi writes.
"As the former Executive Secretary of the party explained, if there will be no radical, significant changes, as well as experienced, educated and decent people with a normal, democratic way of thinking in the 'Georgian Dream', it will have very serious problems." I respect in human terms all the members of the political council, everyone has contributed there. There are experienced and educated people there, but we often have to choose between bad and worse in Georgia, not between good and the best. I want the Georgian Dream party to choose between good and best in the near future. This is the order of society," he noted. Our respondents also note that Bidzina Ivanishvili will take part in compiling the lists and he will have the casting vote. Therefore, according to them, conclusions can be made on the list. In the first place, about what is more important for him – the strengthening of positions before the elections or presence of pro-Western people, who enjoy less support in society, on the list," the newspaper notes.
We periodically raise the issue of the need for electoral reform in the country in this context. "Our demands are known to all and they are real and fair. The main requirement is the change of the system we are willing to compromise, but the compromise should be within reasonable limits, based on the fact that no constitutional changes can be changed in the electoral law, which would remove all the issues. Only in this case can we speak about the legitimacy of the elections. It is very good if the authorities are ready for fair elections. If they aren't ready, then we have our own plan. If the authorities aren't going to compromise, then we will take other measures. Prime Minister Kvirikashvili, the Minister of Justice and members of the majority are aware of these requirements,'' Akhali Taoba cites the chairman of the National Democratic Party, Bachuki.
"The system can be changed without a change in the constitution. We are offering the authorities to hold elections according to the German model. It's our significant compromise. When the majority and proportional systems remain, but none of the parties can take 80% of the seats in Parliament in case of 40% proportional support. According to this model, such a party will receive 40% of the seats. The most important thing in this process is that it isn't necessary to change the constitution. According to this system, one vote actually affects the composition of the Parliament and its staffing," Kardava believes.
Local mass media actively cover the political life of Georgia and report about the steady deterioration of the socio-economic situation in the country. In particular, journalists paid attention to the high prices of bread.
"The most expensive bread is in Armenia. The price of 1 kg is 2 to 2.2 laris. The cheapest price in Azerbaijan is 1 kg for 0.9 laris. On the Georgian market 1 kg of bread costs 1.7-1.8 laris. According to the association of wheat growers, the country has resources to reduce the cost of bread and attributes the reason for this decline to the price of flour. Bakers don't agree with the wheat producers and say that it is impossible to reduce the cost of bread. 1 kg of bread is about 1.7 laris in retail in Tbilisi, in Yerevan its price is 2-2.2 laris, in Baku – 0.9 laris, in Kiev it is not more than 1 lari, in Russia – 0.96-1 lari, but about 1.8 laris in Moscow. It should be noted that there is the so-called social tariff in Moscow, which is much lower than the market price. According to these figures, bread isn't so cheap in Tbilisi. It is cheaper bread only in Ukraine and Azerbaijan. The Ukrainian price is due to the status of wheat-producing countries, the Azerbaijani price due to the decision of the authorities,'' Rezonansi reports.
It is noted that the decline in the price of flour doesn't mean an automatic reduction in the price of bread. "The price of flour has decreased from 45 to 36-37 laris. It is a very serious decline in prices in respect of the main component of bread. Therefore, it is necessary to assume that bread should be cheaper. But bread has never become cheaper following the decline in the price of flour. But we often saw cases when bread bakers increased prices immediately after an increase in flour prices. This logic seems to be wrong. When the price of wheat and flour grows they point to the factories, but when everything is getting cheaper, bakers keep silent. The price of flour has fallen by 20%, therefore bread should also become cheaper and bread on average by 5 tetris,'' the edition cites the words of the head of the Association of Wheat Producers, Silagavy Levan.
Finally, journalists didn't stay away from the attacks that took place on March 22nd in Brussels. In this regard they have wondered whether a repetition is possible in Georgia.
"Daesh actually came to jihad of a global type after the mass acts of terrorism in Brussels. It means a war against all who are not with them. It's a sad reality, but a series of attacks can continue. I think the scale will be even larger. Despite the fact that Turkey refrained from the deterioration of relations with Daesh as much as possible, it was forced to change its position and fight against any caliphate. The main goal of the terrorists is to sow panic and fear among the population. They want to influence the opponent in ideological and cultural ways," military expert Vakhtang Maisaya said in an interview for Rezonansi.
"Now we should wait for developments on any scenario. We should not await without taking actions, as if there is no danger for us. Certainly, if the Jihadists become more active in Russia, risks will increase in our country. The attacks in Turkey and Belgium mean that they have declared global jihad and not a single country is protected. The security services had to take the necessary measures when jihadist videos in the Georgian language appeared in the Internet. It is possible that it was a coded message for their supporters in Georgia. In 2015 Daesh started exporting militants and well-trained and armed jihadi groups returned to their countries. The attacks in France and Belgium were committed by returned jihadists who came back home. These groups migrate to Europe and travel there under the guise of migrants and under the guise of refugee status. They have fairly strong plans to implement... These people are prepared at the level of the special services. Nobody doubts their professionalism, which is why our country is not protected from this threat,'' Maisaya expressed fear.