single-party democracy

National Movement picked up enough votes to have the constitutional majority. Misha promised that each amendment will be talked over with all shades of opposition, but we will see that...


Here's what Bagapsh said according to article
Abkhaz leader, Sergey Bagapsh, instructed the breakaway region’s government to develop a comprehensive plan on how the authorities could help foster repatriation of ethnic Abkhazians.

“We do not need Abkhazia without Abkhazians,” he said at a meeting with senior Abkhaz officials from the executive and legislative authorities on May 6, Apsnipress reported.

He said that “numerous trips” by Abkhaz officials and representatives of the Abkhaz intelligentsia to Turkey failed to result into “mass repatriation” of ethnic Abkhazians to the breakaway region.

I wonder why repatriation would not take place. Would it have anything to do with the fact that parts of Abkhazia are militarized? Or is it that it has not been rebuilt yet, and buildings are in shoddy condition? Or is it that Georgians are threatening to take action against anyone who illegally comes into possession of IDP property? Or maybe it has something to do with Abkhaz in Turkey feeling better living in Turkey, compared to potential of a Russian dominated war-zone?

I really wonder...

who should resign?

Thanks to Greg, now I am aware that I have been accused of Misha-bashing and made a reason for failed efforts to unite Georgia... Se, here's an example of non-Misha-bashing cartoon I recently did.

I was telling a friend a few days ago that I am undecided about elections. In the US, undecided usually means "not sure which candidate". With me, it's "not sure if I will even go to vote". I probably will. I wish I could vote against certain people, rather than for some people. I just know who I don't like.

Going back to Misha-bashing, I don't think what I usually say (either using text, or by drawing) about Misha is anywhere near what the opposition says. And, even worst is their state of mind. They constantly change their mind. So, I am suggesting they print a single banner, and just fill in the ____ with the "name of the day". First it was Misha, then it was Nino, then it was the head of the CEC (whose name is escaping me). It seems that their silver bullet is someone leaving. But who will or should replace the person that leaves? In their opinion it has to be one of their people (the opposition). Should not they earn the right to appoint though?

They have yet to understand that bashing is not the way you get support of enough people to proceed. Maybe I am naive, but people are not as hateful as the opposition wants them to be.

million tourists

This one is from couple months ago as well, February 7, to be exact. Government made an announcement that Georgia was visited by 1 million tourists in 2007. Not 920 thousand, not million and 23 thousand, but exactly 1 million. While I do not have as big of a problem with rounding, I have a problem with the number. It just seems overly large.

Ok, let's step back for a second. Imaging there were 10 international flights a day to and from Tbilisi (I believe there are less than 5 daily flights) and out of 150-something passengers that fit in a plane (keep in mind that large planes do not fly to Georgia much), 100 are foreigners. It's very generous estimate, but still. That would only give us 365 thousand. So, where do 635 thousand come from?

World Tourism Organization includes people who travel on business in the definition as well, but would an Azeri farmer bringing over a truckload of pomegranates be considered a tourist? Russian border was closed I believe all of 2007, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey would be able to supply more than half a million foreigners without a problem, but how many of them should be considered tourists?

What about those Americans/Europeans who cross Armenian or Turkish border every 90 days, just to get a new Georgian visa? I've crosses Georgian border with my fiancee many times (close to a dozen in 2007) and only on couple occasions was she asked what the purpose of her visit is. Response is always the same, "she's my spouse". It seems to stop questions immediately.

Who is supposed to be so stupid to take that statement without questioning it, who was the target?

catching up is hard to do

I realized that I have a few cartoons that never made it to this blog for one reason or another. I will try to put them up one by one next few days and give some info along with each of them. This one does not need much commenting, but I would like to explain what drove me to do it.

Education situation in Georgia is somewhat fragile and confusing. I personally believe that when a country needs to have a decent access to books in order for education reforms to be counted as successful. Unfortunately, books are not very good for money laundering and they are not very profitable either.

At the point I drew this (December 2007), there were three main sources that a person could direct his attention to in order to find a book he desires/needs. There were (and still are) just a few new bookstores. While they are pretty from outside and pleasant inside, they have issues with the selection they provide. Propsero's tends to stock New York Times top three (could be two), odd selection of science dictionaries from the 20th century and cheap, but great out-of-copyright novels. Parnasus (and the like) tend to have current Georgian literature (unfortunately printed using crappy paper) and Taschen. One would think that with all the Taschen books out there, Georgians would get the sense of proper architecture...
There are also Old, Soviet-time bookstores that could not afford paying rent just by selling books and turned into a stores that sell all kind of goods, as well as books. Last one, and still more or less the best source is street vendors. They are the best, as they happen to be the only ones that have wider selection of books. Their selection is not limited to current Georgian literature, and includes older, out of print books, as well as books in Russian.

Last fall was a breaking point. In the midst of grand scheme of things happened to be the Soviet-time bookstores and street vendors. Street vendors do not fit into the new vision of Tbilisi streets life. Same goes for the Soviet-time bookstores.

Results could have been pretty grave if not for the November events. I am not praising opposition, and neither condemn/praise the government. Street vendors happened to be the disenfranchised group that had only one desire, to continue their business. Fortunately, the government saw that using police to kick them out of the street would not help matters and let them be.

Soviet-period bookstores were not so lucky. One by one they were replaced by more profitable businesses, to name a few: Collezione (Italian? fashion store), Dolce & Gabana, BasisBank (one of too many banks), Bank of Georgia, Sony (that has not taken place yet, but rumor has it that the Justice ministry is offering Sony former Saunje bookstore to compensate for property they took away from them).

Now, unless you tell me that books are not part of the education, how does the government consider that their education reforms are good?

elections are coming

I can't believe, it's that time again. Didn't we just have elections? Sure, these are different, and I managed to avoid last ones. I think I will be in town this time, and I may even vote. Unfortunately, I do not believe in every vote counts theory - especially when it is more or less decided. In my mind it is already decided. In less than three weeks, I will know better.

Opposition did all its best to keep presence in the Media either by protests in front of the Parliament, or by breaking down doors of the CEC office, or calling for this or that's resignation. Meanwhile, most of Tbilisi's billboards are rented by the national movement. I have yet to see non-national movement bill board anywhere. As much as people might dislike the national movement, it is a constant reminder and it may even stick in some people's minds.

I am not going to go off what is wrong with "we do, while they talk" slogan.

Cartoon above is more or less what opposition accused national movement of. I am wondering if it really was a miscommunication from the CEC's part to blame. Following happened, on the day when all the party lists were due, opposition demanded to see national movement's list. CEC people said that it was in another room locked up in a safe. When they scrambled to find keys, person who had the keys was not available. Opposition immediate started protesting, saying that the national movement's plan was to fill in the list later, depending on how opposition parties fill in their's.

List turned up. It was in a different room. I am not sure if it was the same day, or the next. But what? Burjanadze refused to run anyway...

it's always about Misha

Well, it seems that stability post did not go well with Greg. I do not think that he mentioned anything in his blog, but somewhat heated debate took place.

At one point, I mentioned what I really (personally) think about the latest conflict - it's a pre-election stunt.

Dollar might might be having a comeback, and it might make things a bit more complicated than Misha's people thought, with all pre-election spending, how do you more than double the pension? It's 70 GEL right now, and he promised 100 dollars back when dollar was at 1.70ish rate. Of course, now it's only 1.47, but it will most likely go back up.

Oh, and he is obsessed by Dubai - it's always about Dubai of Caucasus, only better. To start with, don't we need a decent airport for that?..