What was the year 2015 like?
1. June 13 flood
This tragedy, that occurred in Tbilisi, was a real shock not only for Georgia, but for the whole world. 20 people were killed, 2 – missing, 154 families were left homeless, 800 people were affected by flood and the total loss made – GEL 56million– that’s the dire statistics as a result of the Vere River’s bursting its banks overnight on June 13.
Washed away houses and vehicles, flooded zoo and wild animals in Tbilisi center.
A hippopotamus roaming the street in the vicinity of the overhead road got into the international media’s focus.
June 13 was undoubtedly the year’s most tragic day for Georgia.
This hippopotamus has become a symbol of June 13 chaos and calamity.
2. Rustavi 2 TV case
The situation around this opposition TV channel became tense after the company’s ex-owner, businessman Kibar Khalvashi, had filed a law suit in court, demanding 100 percent share in the TV company. Khalvashi claims that in 2006, Saakashvili forced him to give up on the TV channel and he is now seeking to return the illegally deprived property.
Rustavi 2 TV company‘s management and reporters, as well as the major part of the public, believe that through Khalvashi’s hands the authorities are trying to get a grip on the TV channel, which is inconvenient to them, in order to clear the information field ahead of the parliamentary elections.
For several weeks, the public figures and ordinary citizens were holding protest rallies outside the court building to support Rustavi 2 TV. The dispute in the first instance court ended in favor of Khalvashi. In 2016, this case is waiting for the Appeals Court ruling. Until then, the previous management will be maintained at the TV channel.
Rustavi 2 TV support rally
3. Scandal around the pardoning commission
Ex-chair of the State Pardoning Commission at the President of Georgia, Alexander Elisashvili, has accused the ruling team leader, Parliament Vice Speaker, Manana Kobakhidze and the Parliament’s Human Rights Committee Chairperson, Eka Beselia, of pressure and corruption.
Elisashvili claims. Kobakhidze and Beselia urged him to include in the pardoned persons’ list the prisoners, arrested over cocaine case. Elisashvili, who is now an independent member of Tbilisi Sakrebulo (City Council), claims that Beselia and Kobakhidze would have received GEL 1,5million in exchange for the aforesaid matter. The Georgian Dream MPs flatly deny those accusations and state that Elisashvili should be made liable for making false statements.
The political opposition has already termed it ‘an unprecedented political scandal in Georgia’.
Investigation into the case has been launched, though there aren’t any answers yet. “This matter won’t end until somebody gets into prison, the political opposition claims.
4. Visa Liberalization
On December 18, the European Commission supported introduction of a visa-free travel regime with Georgia, which means that starting from summer 2016, the citizens of Georgia are likely to travel to Europe visa-free. Tbilisi termed an opportunity to travel to Europe visa-free as “the most significant event in the history of independent Georgia.
5. Lari devaluation and inflation
A tendency of Lari devaluation began as early as the end of 2014. However, in 2015, Georgian national currency hit its own record and dropped to a historical minimum against the US dollar. Lari devaluated by 36% in 2015.
“The year 2015 was the most unsuccessful in the past 17 years; more people reached the poverty level compared with the previous years, – that’s how Roman Gotsiridze, the economy expert, has summarized the year.
By contrast, the fall has not affected the bonuses and salary increments of the public officials. The total volume of bonuses and salary increments in the Justice Ministry has increased by 206 percent; in the Ministry of Corrections and Probation – by 412percent; in the Culture Ministry – by 1509 percent.
6. Premier’s resignation and new Premier
At the end of the year, Georgia has a new Prime Minister. Giorgi Kvirikashvili assumed his office after unexpected resignation of his forerunner, Irakli Gharibashvili, on December 23. Irakli Gharibashvili did not specify the reason for his resignation. Some political experts link the government reshuffle to a drop of the Georgian Dream coalition and the government’s ratings. In their opinion, it was ex-Premier, Bidzina Ivanishvili, who decided on Irakli Gharibashvili’s resignation. Today, Ivanishvili does not hold any official post, though experts believe, he is the country’s unofficial ruler.
Georgia’s new Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili