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The News in Brief

Tuesday, April 4
U.S. Senators Initiate Resolution on Georgia

Senator Roger Wicker (Rep.) and Senator Ben Cardin (Dem.) introduced a resolution in support of Georgia’s territorial integrity on March 30.

The non-binding resolution, which was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “urges the United States Government to declare unequivocally that the United States will not under any circumstances recognize the de jure or de facto sovereignty of the Russian Federation over any part of Georgia, its airspace, or its territorial waters, including Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia.”

The resolution refers to the Stimson Doctrine – non-recognition of territorial changes effected by force – and recalls that the doctrine was also applied in 1940 to three Baltic states and “every Presidential administration of the United States honored this doctrine until independence was restored to those countries in 1991.”

The draft resolution urges the U.S. President to “deepen cooperation with the Government of Georgia in all areas of the United States-Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership, including Georgia’s advancement towards Euro-Atlantic integration” and urges the President “to place emphasis on enhancing Georgia’s security through joint military training and providing self-defensive capabilities in order to enhance Georgia’s independent statehood and national sovereignty.”

“The Russian Federation’s policy vis-a-vis Georgia and the alarming developments in the region illustrate that the Government of the Russian Federation does not accept the independent choice of sovereign states and strives for the restoration of zones of influence in the region, including through the use of force, occupation, factual annexation, and other aggressive acts,” the document reads.

The draft resolution “condemns the military intervention and occupation of Georgia by the Russian Federation and its continuous illegal activities along the occupation line in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia” and calls upon the Russian Federation “to withdraw its recognition of Georgia’s territories of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia as independent countries, to refrain from acts and policies that undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, and to take steps to fulfill all the terms and conditions of the August 12, 2008, Ceasefire Agreement between Georgia and the Russian Federation”.

The resolution also “stresses the necessity of progress on core issues within the Geneva International Discussions, including a legally binding pledge from the Government of the Russian Federation on the non-use of force, the establishment of international security arrangements in the occupied regions of Georgia, and the safe and dignified return of internally displaced persons and refugees to the places of their origin.”

Senator Roger Wicker, who co-sponsored the resolution, said that “it is time for the United States to make it clear once again that we do not recognize Russian land grabs within its neighbors’ borders.” “Russia should adhere to the cease-fire agreement it signed in 2008, withdraw its troops from Georgia, and allow international monitors and aid workers access to occupied regions.”

“Russia’s violation of the territorial integrity of Georgia is a blatant breach of one of the guiding principles of the Helsinki Final Act by Russia. This reflects a broader pattern of disregard by Putin’s regime for transatlantic security norms and democratic values, which the United States and our allies must stand against with resolve,” said Senator Ben Cardin, who is a Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Georgia is a strong partner of the United States and continues to take important steps to further integrate with the transatlantic community,” he added.

A similar document was endorsed by the House of Representatives in September 2016.

Rustavi 2 web domain hijacked by former owners

Georgia’s embattled opposition TV company Rustavi 2 has lost control over its web domain and has had to switch to a different web address to stay online.

In a statement posted online on its new address, Rustavi 2 blamed former owner David Dvali of having hijacked their most used link,

“Without warning, [he] switched off the television station’s online platform,“ Rustavi 2 wrote in the statement which is posted on its backup address The switch-off happened right before the start of the talkshow “P.S.” at 9pm Sunday night.

The primary domain contained an open letter from Dvali and business partner Jarji Akimidze claiming that the domain had always belonged to them. Besides the letter, the domain, which is one of the most popular in Georgia, now points to various debates and news items about the controversy surrounding the TV station, posted on yet another address,

According to the statement by Rustavi 2’s management, the person who owns the domain is a friend of Davit Dvali and that is what allowed him to take control over the .com domain, which has been the company’s primary domain in recent years.

According to the latter statement, Akimidze and Dvali will try to balance ‘the propaganda and disinformation flow’, which is being spread from Rustavi 2 TV.

The hijackers are a different set of former owners from the one who has been in the news lately. Kibar Khalvashi sued Rustavi 2 and won in the Supreme Court, threatening to wrest control over the station from the current director Nika Gvaramia, a former justice minister and education minister and activist for the National Movement, the political party which held power in 2004-2012.

However, the European Court of Human Rights suspended the implementation of the Supreme Court ruling ‘until further notice’.

Dvali and Akimidze predate Khalvashi as owners of Rustavi 2, dating back to the early 2000s. They ceded control in 2004; a transfer of ownership which is not described in detail in the formers’ open letter. “The case has been fully documented with the supporting evidence, including the witness accounts, and was later filed to the prosecutor’s office,” the letter states.

The two founders sided with Khalvashi in the lawsuit against Rustavi 2’s current owners, the brothers Levan and Giorgi Karamanishvili. The brothers are regarded as aligned with former President Mikheil Saakashvili who lives in exile in Ukraine.

Apart from and, the current owners also appear to control a third domain, which dates back as far as 1998 and is also updated with today’s content. Rustavi2 was founded in 1994.
(DF watch)