The messenger logo

The News in Brief

Friday, January 4
Georgian, Ukrainian, Moldovan Parliaments Condemn Russia’s ‘Aggressive Actions’

Russia’s actions in the Kerch Strait represent “a blatant violation of international law,” and a continuation of “direct military aggression” against Ukraine, the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine said in a joint resolution on December 27.

According to the resolution, the Assembly “strongly condemns” Russia’s actions in the Kerch Strait, and “reiterates unequivocal support” to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“The Parliaments of the three signatory States will never agree to Russia’s occupation and annexation by military force and illegal actions,” reads the document.

In its resolution, the Assembly also calls on the Russian Federation “to return ships and immediately release the illegally detained Ukrainian servicemen,” and to ensure “free international shipping through the Kerch Strait and in the Azov Sea.”

It also calls on the international community to take actions against Russia’s illegal operations in the area and more broadly, as well as on the European Union and the United States “to extend political support to the democratic states of Eastern Europe.” (

Georgia’s parliament to consider a ban on wearing burqa and niqab in public

The parliament in Georgia is to consider a proposal by a far-right group to ban the wearing of burqa and niqab in public.

The bill was proposed by Emzar Kvitsiani, a member of parliament from the socially conservative political party Alliance of Patriots.

The party is often accused of having pro-Russian sentiments, but party members themselves deny this.

Kvitsiani has been seen at several rallies in Tbilisi held by Georgian March, a far-right, anti-LGBT and anti-immigration group.

On Monday, the human rights and civil integration committee held a hearing about the bill, which was introduced to parliament by Kvitsiani but actually prepared by Zviad Tomaradze, a far-right activist who heads a non-profit called Georgia’s Demographic Society 21.

The wearing of niqab and burka makes it impossible to identify a person and therefore poses a threat of terrorism, Emzar Kvitsiani said.

According to the bill, the wearing of burqa and niqab in public places will be punished with a fine of 500 lari (USD 188) the first time, but and 1,500 lari (USD 564) for each consecutive violation. However, the ban will not apply to persons working at diplomatic missions.

Members of the ruling party, Georgian Dream, have said that the bill will require much deliberation, falling short of either condemning or endorsing it, while the opposition criticized the initiative for violating basic human rights.

Instead of banning burqa and niqab specifically, it would be more correct to ban the wearing of full-face veils, said Ramin Idigov, a sheikh in Georgia’s Shia community, at the hearing.

Committee chair Sopio Kiladze said the issue is very sensitive, as it a involves balancing, on the one hand, basic human rights with ‘the state security and the country’s interest’ on the another.

“It is not easy to balance these two issues, and this applies not only to Georgia, but this dilemma also stands before the whole world, including developed countries that are seen as human rights flagships,” Sopio Kiladze said.

She proposed establishing a working group to handle this and similar religious issues. The parliament will continue debating the bill after New Year, with January 21 as a tentative date for the next hearing.

Niqab and burqa are banned in some European countries, including France, Denmark, Austria, Estonia and Bulgaria, while some states, including predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan and Turkey, prohibit the wearing of full-face veils locally, in certain cities and regions. (DF watch)