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The News in Brief

Friday, June 10
Gov’t opens 34th Community Centre in eastern Iormughanlo village

Life has become easier for hundreds of people in eastern Georgia, thanks to the opening of a new Community Centre where they can now access vital social services.

Today Georgia’s Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani opened the country’s 34th Community Centre in the village of Iormughanlo in the Sagarejo municipality.

The Centre will make a huge difference for people living in rural areas, as it will give locals and nearby residents access to more than 200 in-demand state services without leaving their region.

Until now, roughly 6,000 people of Iormughanlo and those living in five nearby villages were forced to travel 35km to the nearest state office to access vital state services, such as obtaining identification documents, birth certificates, property documentation and more. The new Community Centre also offers free Internet access, computers and equipment for video-conferences, as well as an electronic library and a modern conference room open to locals, central and local authorities and civil sector representatives. (

Tbilisi’s embattled vegan cafe is searching for a new location

Tbilisi’s embattled vegan cafe Kiwi is looking for a new location after neighbours complained about its environment and guests.

One of the employees of the cafe told DFWatch that the owner two weeks ago barred them from putting tables outside, because there are children there and they do not like when people are hugging each other.

“This is a country of traditions, you know,” Lasha told us.

He said that two weeks ago one of his friends who has his hair dyed in green was told by a neighbour of the cafe that entire neighbourhood was against him.

“They cannot accept that LGBT people come to our cafe, that boys may have their hair in a different color, or may have a piercing. We even have audio recordings which we will publish as soon as we leave this place,” Lasha says.

He told us the recordings prove different kinds of discrimination. One of the examples involves the owner of the cafe, the other one her son.

“The son of the owner [of the cafe] told us that they’ve heard about vegan cafes, however, they said Georgia is a country of traditions and people will never accept a man wearing flowery pants.”

Kiwi Cafe will remain on Vertskhli Street in the old part of the capital until the end of month, but the staff is looking for a new location.

A lawyer advised them to contact a non-governmental organization, a possibility they are now considering.

Goga Khatiashvili, a lawyer working for Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association, told us that there are signs of discrimination in the May 29 incident at Kiwi cafe.

“It’s hard to say whether those messages and shouts to people in the cafe was discrimination or not, but I think that the investigation took this direction as well – whether there was a crime based on discrimination,” Khatiashvili told us.

In his opinion, if investigators find signs of discrimination, then the punishment has to be more severe.

Employees of Kiwi reported in the evening of May 29 that several fascists broke into their cafe.

A young girl who also works at the cafe told DFWatch that they have identified members of a racist group called ‘Bergman’ among the attackers. They allegedly were together with their leader Giorgi Bakradze.

She said that the attackers were wearing chains of sausages around their neck and were throwing meat at the guests.

“'Aren’t you a Georgian? How can you not eat the meat?' – they yelled at guests,” the girl recalled.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs launched an investigation under article 125 of the Criminal Code about beating, which may be punished by a fine or community work.

On June 1, an MIA spokesperson told DFWatch that the investigation continues but they have not yet released whether they have any suspects.

On Wednesday, employees at Kiwi told us that they have not been informed of any details about the investigation, but as far as they know, investigators are not searching for any nationalists.

Since the incident on May 29, many people have come to Kiwi Cafe to express support.

“One of them was a priest – father Damiane, who, it turns out has been a vegetarian for the past 15 years, and a vegan for the last year. He came here and told us that it is not anyone’s business how other people dress. The ambassador of the US expressed his support, as well as Moby, Auditorium 115, different NGOs, but I cannot remember everyone, foreigners, like yesterday, people from the UK sent us a picture with old people holding posters which reads the name of our cafe,” Lasha told us. (

Central Banks Buys USD 40m amid GEL Appreciation

The National Bank of Georgia (NBG) bought USD 40 million at a foreign currency auction on June 8 as lari (GEL) continued strengthening against U.S. dollar.

The GEL was trading at 2.1282 per U.S. dollar as of late Wednesday afternoon, 11.5% stronger than in the beginning of this year and 7.3% stronger compared to a year earlier.

Total of USD 235 million was bought by the central bank in 12 interventions on the purchasing side since mid-March.

GEL started depreciation in November 2014, weakening from about 1.75 per U.S. dollar to its all-time low of 2.4985 by late January, 2016.

Amid lari’s depreciation, the central bank made three interventions in January by selling total of USD 60 million.

Total of USD 286.96 million was sold in nine separate interventions throughout 2015 to support GEL.

Gross international reserves stood at USD 2.569 billion as of end-May 2016, up from USD 2.456 billion a month earlier, and up from USD 2.393 billion a year earlier. (