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The News in Brief

Monday, April 24
Georgia in CoE Annual Report on Democracy

Thorbjorn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, released his fourth annual report on the state of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Europe - “Populism - How Strong are Europe’s Checks and Balances?” - on April 20, 2017.

Apart from other European countries, the report also touches upon the conditions of judiciary system, media pluralism, freedom of assembly, elections, social rights and good governance in Georgia.

On budget allocation to judicial systems across the Europe, the report pointed out that Georgia is among the six countries which spent the least - lower than EUR 20 per capita.

Despite the adoption of the law on broadcasting which “encourages all responsible authorities” to “continue strengthening the independence and diversity of public and private media,” the Secretary General stated that concerns “have been expressed about the past and continuing changes in media ownership, which have an impact on media pluralism and diversity” in Georgia.

“Efforts to change the ownership of the country’s most popular TV station have caused continual concern among many international interlocutors and in civil society,” the statement read, apparently referring to Rustavi 2 case, which led the European Court of Human Rights to suspend the Georgian Supreme Court ruling.

Regarding freedom of assembly, the Secretary General said that the Georgian legislation prohibiting “spontaneous” assemblies “also raises concerns.” In this respect, it recalled the march of International Day against Homophobia in 2012, where the “Court held that the authorities had failed” in “sufficiently containing homophobic and violent counter-demonstrators.”

Furthermore, the document stressed on inequalities existing “in the political representation of certain groups such as persons with disabilities, minorities, internally displaced persons and young people and between men and women.”

“Progress is starting to be visible with asset declaration systems being gradually improved, the introduction of e-declaration systems, the widening of their scope and more in-depth monitoring,” the report read.

The report also pointed out that the CoE Committee of Ministers also welcomed “the adoption of anti-discrimination legislation in the field of employment.”

Dropping a cigarette butt in Tbilisi now costs you 33 USD

Littering in the Georgian capital may now cost you a fine of 80 lari (USD 33). This includes dropping cigarette butts.

A total of 14 people were fined as the new regulation began to be enforced on Thursday. 13 of them were fined for dropping cigarette butts in the streets. Three foreigners were among those unlucky enough to get caught.

The new fines come as a result of a long awaited move by City Hall to pay more attention keeping the capital clean and tidy.

Starting from April 3, Tbilisi began enforcing new stricter regulations for street littering, but did not begin issuing fines until Thursday in order to give residents and visitors enough time to adapt to the new rules.

Rubbish on the streets has always been a concern in Georgia’s capital, and the regulations have been weak and not even been enforced in practice.

Although compared to many other cities of its size, the new regulations do not seem to be very strict, but Tbilisians believe that if they are enforced properly, the new rules may bring real improvements.

The fines for street littering is 80 laris (USD 33) for up to 2 kilos of rubbish, while throwing waste from a building costs the offender 100 laris (USD 42). Littering with over 2 kilos entails a fine of 150 and 500 laris for throwing it in the street and from a building, respectively.

There also incurs a fine for leaving a dog’s or other pet’s waste, if it is not cleaned up within reasonable time, there entails a 50 laris (USD 21) fine.

Polluting with hazardous materials is punished by 400 laris (USD 166) for a person and by 1,000 laris (USD 416) for a legal entity.

The fines are enforced by special inspectors who patrol the streets in pairs, and are equipped with cameras and other gadgets to document the administrative offences.
(DF watch)

Agreement with European Investment Bank to be signed – Finance Minister

A new, 250-million agreement will be signed with the European Investment Bank in July 2017, the First Vice PM of Georgia, Finance Minister Dimitri Kumsishvili, has declared.

According to him, the bank has doubled investments in Georgia and its portfolio has hit 1 billion euro.

According to Kumsishvili, the investments envisaged by the agreement will be considered for the construction of the east-west highway.

Kumsishvili is now paying a visit to the U.S., having already participated in meetings held by the IMF and the World Bank.