Amid criticism from the international community, four members of the High Council of Justice were elected

Amid criticism from the international community and protests from the local civil society, four members of the High Council of Justice were elected at a conference of judges on 26 May.

The voting process took place amid protests by opposition parties, non-governmental organizations and the Shame Movement. According to them, the approval of the council members by the influential group in the judiciary empowered the dominating influential group of judges in the judiciary system, commonly referred as the Clan. According to the civil sector, this step contradicts the “spirit” of the April 19 agreement. They say that without ambitious reform of the justice system, the selected candidates will not have “high public confidence and legitimacy.

Nazi Janezashvili, a non-judicial member of the council, said that the elected members of the council were members of the “clan”. “In the past, their activities were marked by the fact that they supported the clan’s decisions, both in judicial and administrative positions,” she added.

US and EU Ambassadors to Georgia – Kelly Degnan and Carl Hartzel, as well as Natalia Vutova, Head of the Council of Europe Office, highlighted the need for an “immediate” suspension of the judicial appointment process on 22 May.

The High Council of Justice, which is the main coordinating body of the judiciary, consists of 15 members. The Council is staffed by the Chairman of the Supreme Court, eight judges elected by the Conference of Judges and six non-judge members, five of whom are elected by the Parliament of Georgia and one by the President of Georgia.

Rallies against Namakhvani HPP

A protest rally against Namakhvani HPP was held in Tbilisi, on May 23. Activists arrived in the capital from Kutaisi in the afternoon, where they joined other supporters and voiced their demands at the First Republic Square.

Varlam Goletiani, one of the leaders of the Namakhvani HPP protests, called on the authorities to terminate the contract signed with the HPP construction company, which he considers to be Against the interests of the state. At the same time, Goletiani once again voiced the demand of the activists for the resignation of the Minister of Economy, Natia Turnava. They also demanded the initiation of a criminal case against all the persons, including Natia Turnava, who was involved in preparing the contract with the company and signed it. Activists are also calling for a moratorium in the energy sector before setting public opinion priorities.

Enka, the construction company of Namakhvani HPP, said in response to the protest that it was ready to continue “business discussions with all stakeholders.” However, the company also stressed that the Namakhvani HPP project “is a Georgian business that serves the well-being of the residents of the Rioni Valley and the whole country.”

The online publication “Mtis Ambebi”, on may 25,  reported that it had obtained a “secret” report from the Ministry of Justice containing critical remarks about the Georgian government’s agreement with the Namakhvani project investor. Opponents of the HPP have been demanding the cancellation of the “anti-state” agreement for months. The document also states that under the agreement, certain force majeure circumstances do not release the Georgian government from fulfilling its obligation, while the company is exempt from such obligation. 

According to the document, it is also necessary to further evaluate the provision that obliges the Georgian government to release the company from the obligation to obtain a natural resource extraction license. The document recommends further clarification of conditions and vague provisions and calls on relevant ministries to conduct additional feasibility studies on issues such as period, transfer of non-agricultural land, or exemption from company taxes.

The “Rioni Gorge Defenders” returned to Kutaisi, On May 27. Varlam Goletiani, a representative of the anti-construction movement of Namakhvani HPP, said that the road leading to Rioni gorge will be blocked right next to Gumati settlement.  Goletiani said that the protesters will only block Enka vehicles. In addition, they will block the second road leading to the Rioni Valley. Goletiani also said that the road from Kutaisi to Racha will be blocked so that the company will not be able to navigate in this direction. 

The situation in the village of Gumati in the Rioni gorge became tense on May 28. Police and protestants confronted each other, where police erected barricades. The demonstrators started to hit the barricades as a form of protest. At this point, the police moved to the other side of the barricades,and eight activists were arrested during the incident. An ambulance was also mobilized at the spot.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has launched an investigation under Article 187 of the Criminal Code against several protesters in connection with the “damage to the iron barricade located near Gumati HPP”.

Georgia celebrates Independence Day on May 26

A gathering of the Georgian National Council was held on Golovin Avenue in Tbilisi On May 26, 1918. The assembly was chaired by Noe Jordania. The National Council unanimously approved the “Georgian Independence Act“.

To celebrate Independence Day, festive events were held on Freedom Square in Tbilisi. The President of Poland Andrzej Duda visited Georgia. He congratulated the country on Independence Day and expressed readiness to share vaccines with Georgia. Duda also demonstrated his support towards Georgia’s integration in Euro-Atlantic structures. “Georgians, we are waiting for you in Europe, because you are a part of its heritage. Georgians, we are waiting for you in NATO, because you are a proud nation, which deserves liberty” – said Duda in his speech while addressing Georgians.

General of the Army of the First Republic of Georgia (1918-1921) Giorgi Kvinitadze was buried in Mtatsminda Pantheon in Tbilisi after being repatriated from France to Georgia. The funeral ceremony was symbolically held on Independence Day, May 26th. From 1918 to 1921 he took an active part in the ongoing hostilities on various fronts. During the Russo-Georgian War of 1921, on February 16, he was reappointed Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

There is no bullet that kills me, because my roots are in the country that was being killed but would not die,” – these are the words of Giorgi Kvinitadze. He lived to old age and died in exile in 1970.

 

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