Europe-Georgia Institute expresses its deepest condolences to the families affected by the crash of the Border Police helicopter of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Gudauri.
Eight people confirmed dead in a helicopter crash in Georgia
On 29 July, the Georgian Border Police helicopter Mi-8 crashed near mountain resort Gudauri, killing four crew members, two rescuers and two paramedics. The rescue team was attempting to recover one pilot and his passenger of a paraglider that crashed in the same incident earlier. The passenger, reportedly a foreign tourist, whose identity has not yet been made public, died. The pilot survived and is being treated for injuries. The reasons for the helicopter’s crash are being investigated, the investigation has been launched.
Minister of Interior Vakhtang Gomelauri visited the site of the crash and spoke of the need to tighten regulations licensing the paraglider pilots, highlighting the frequent accidents in the area. He pledged prompt investigation of the reasons for the tragic helicopter crash.
President Salome Zurabishvili and Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili have issued their condolences to the families of the deceased. 30 July was declared the day of mourning.
Bidzina Ivanishvili publishes a letter and talks about attempts to involve Georgia in the war
The founder of the Georgian Dream and former Prime Minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili in his letter repeated the message of the ruling party that “certain forces were actively trying to drag Georgia into the war, and this desire, unfortunately, is still relevant today.”
According to Ivanishvili, despite the political situation in the region and the “greatest difficulties” in the last few months, the Georgian government “worked correctly, took a correct and principled position”. He stated that, today, when “the immediate threat of war has been neutralized as much as possible”, the ruling party now has the opportunity to ensure that Georgia’s relation with the United States of America and the European Union is not damaged.
Ivanishvili connected the “personal problem” with the Swiss bank Credit Suisse to the ongoing processes in Georgia, however, he emphasized that he prefers to leave his relationship with the bank as a “personal problem” and not to bother the public too much.
At the end of the letter, the founder of Georgian Dream also answered the public question about the meeting of the US ambassador Kelly Degnan and himself, asked by the former GD MPs Mikheil Kavelashvili, Sozar Subari and Dimitri Khundadze, who have recently left the ruling party. Ivanishvili said that “such a meeting took place at the ambassador’s request on 21 March, and it lasted for about three hours.”
The US ambassador to Georgia, Kelly Degnan, on 28 July, in an interview given to the “InterpressNews” agency, confirmed that she did indeed meet with the founder of the Georgian Dream and former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili on March 21, however, she emphasized that “there was never any discussion about Georgia’s involvement in Russia’s war against Ukraine, or on “blackmail” or actions related to delaying the transfer of money to Mr. Ivanishvili.”
“Our meetings have always been about the US-Georgia strategic partnership and US efforts to support the development of Georgia’s economy, security, and democracy,” said the US ambassador to Georgia.
Ivanishvili’s letter was critically assessed by the opposition. Former Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said: ”It’s all sad. we have come to the point where state interests are traded for [Ivanishvili’s] personal interests.”
Chairman of the United National Movement Nika Melia said that “Ivanishvili is trading with the future of our country with the West. This is how Georgia has been put on the counter like commodity and is being traded!”
President of Georgia condemns Bichvinta transfer
Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili said on 26 July that she “strongly condemns” the deal between occupied Abkhazia and Russia for the former to transfer 186 hectares of land in the Soviet-era town of Bichvinta to the latter.
“What we’re seeing in Bichvinta is a form of annexation of Georgian territory by Russia,” she underscored. “We see a strong popular reaction to the developments. This is the result of continued occupation.”
President Zurabishvili called on the international community to “strongly react to this.”
Part of the opposition and non-governmental organizations actively criticized the government for its indifferent position regarding the Bichvinta case.
The Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili stated that “we should not make too much fuss” about the issue of Bichvinta. According to him, “not only Bichvinta, but all of Abkhazia, our indigenous, historical territory and Samachablo, Tskhinvali region, is temporarily occupied by Russia”.
The Parliament of the so-called proxy regime of occupied Abkhazia on July 21, addressed to the Constitutional Court and sent consent regarding the transfer of part of the territory of Bichvinta to the Russian Federation.