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Black Sea Defense News Georgia Russia USA

US, Georgia sign military training pact amid Russian threat on the Black Sea (Joe Gould, Defense News)

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Georgian counterpart on Monday signed an agreement to extend U.S.-led military training for the embattled Black Sea ally as part of the secretary’s trip through the region to reaffirm support for eastern allies on the front lines of Russian aggression.

The action came on the first leg of Austin’s trip, ahead of visits to other Black Sea allies Ukraine and Romania to deliver a message of “unwavering” support for their sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian threats. Since Russia’s war with Georgia, it has had a 13-year grip on Georgia’s breakaway territories, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, that Austin decried on Monday.

US, Georgia sign military training pact amid Russian threat on the Black Sea (defensenews.com)

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Georgia

Tens of thousands in Georgia demand Saakashvili’s release (Al Jazeera)

Tens of thousands of Georgians have rallied in the capital Tbilisi to demand the release of jailed ex-president and opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili.

Chanting Saakashvili’s nickname “Misha!” and waving national flags, demonstrators filled the city’s Freedom Square and main thoroughfare Rustaveli Avenue on Thursday, with an AFP correspondent estimating the crowd at more than 50,000 people.

Tens of thousands in Georgia demand Saakashvili’s release | Protests News | Al Jazeera

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China Georgia

China’s Rapid Economic and Cultural Expansion in Georgia Troubles Some in Tbilisi (Paul Globe, The Jamestown Foundation)

At a time when the efforts of Russia, Turkey and Iran to expand their influence in the South Caucasus have received attention internationally, the ongoing moves by China to solidify its role in Georgia have slid under the radar. Nonetheless, Georgia promises to give Beijing an important bridge to Europe as well as the means to increase its geopolitical influence in the Caucasus more generally. Indeed, Beijing’s quiet approach in Georgia may gradually undermine this pivotal South Caucasus state’s relationship with the West. Furthermore, Chinese activities there may eventually spill over to building up Beijing’s role in resolving the Karabakh conflict and aid in the reopening of long-blocked transportation routes across the region.

China’s Rapid Economic and Cultural Expansion in Georgia Troubles Some in Tbilisi – Jamestown

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Georgia

Georgian Government Arrests Former President Saakashvili Upon His Return From Exile (Giorgi Menabde, The Jamestown Foundation)

On October 1, one day before Georgia held local elections, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili stated that the police had arrested former president Mikhail Saakashvili in the Georgian capital city of Tbilisi (Radio TavisuplebaCivil.ge, October 1). Saakashvili was detained almost immediately upon his return to the country from eight-year exile. Since May 2020, he has headed the executive committee of the Ukrainian National Reforms Council (Agenda.ge, May 8, 2020).

Georgian Government Arrests Former President Saakashvili Upon His Return From Exile – Jamestown

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Georgia

Near-Final Results Point To Win By Georgian Ruling Party After Tense Local Elections (RFE RL)

Near-final results from Georgia show the ruling party well ahead of challengers after nationwide local elections amid high tensions, allegations of electoral fraud, and early claims of victory by the South Caucasus country’s two main political forces.

With results from all but one of the country’s 3,743 precincts tallied, the ruling Georgian Dream party had nearly 46.7 percent of the vote, according to the Central Election Commission on October 3.

Near-Final Results Point To Win By Georgian Ruling Party After Tense Local Elections (rferl.org)

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Georgia

Georgian ruling party wins local elections, getting 48.56% — early results (TASS)

With data from 38.63% of polling stations in Georgia processed, the ruling Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia party is winning Saturday’s municipal election in the country, getting 48.56% of the vote, the country’s Central Election Commission said on Sunday.

The United National Movement (UNM) party, founded by former president Mikhail Saakashvili, is the runner-up, getting 31.23% of the vote. ‘For Georgia,’ the party of former prime minister Georgy Gakharia, comes third with 6.87% of the vote.

In a separate development, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze leads the mayor’s election in the Georgian capital with 45.5% of the vote, with 41.61% of votes already counted. Opposition candidate Nika Melia has 34.13%. Ex-premier Georgy Gakharia is third, with 8.97% of the vote.

A runoff will be held if none of the candidates manages to cross the 50% threshold.

Georgia has about 3.5 million registered voters. Over 3,700 polling stations opened across the country on Saturday. Georgians elected deputies of city and regional legislatures, as well as mayors of 64 municipalities, including the capital Tbilisi. City and district legislative assemblies in Georgia are elected through a mixed system, combining proportional representation and ‘winner-take-all’ districts. The threshold for the city council of Tbilisi is 2.5%, while for other municipalities it stands at 3%. A total of 43 parties participated in the elections.

The turnout stood at 51.92% when polling stations closed at 20:00 local time (19:00 Moscow time).

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Georgia

Georgians Await Results After Tense Local Elections Spark Fear Of Instability (RFE RL)

Tensions are high in Georgia as ballots cast for mayors and local councils across the deeply polarized South Caucasus country are being counted, amid early claims of victory by both the ruling party and the main opposition force, as well as allegations of electoral fraud.

Georgians Await Results After Tense Local Elections Spark Fear Of Instability (rferl.org)

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Georgia

Saakashvili urges residents to vote at local elections in Georgia (TASS)

Former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili who had been detained earlier by law enforcement after returning to his homeland has addressed citizens in an open letter urging them to participate in the election to local governing bodies.

“I ask you all very much to come to the polls tomorrow so that not a single vote is lost, and after that we will all stand together to defend the results of the referendum,” the letter published by Georgia’s opposition Mtavari Arkhi TV channel said on Saturday. The ex-president added that his freedom and the freedom of Georgia depend on the activism of people in the coming days. “Please, do not falter and have faith until the end that our victory is in our hands,” Saakashvili wrote.

On Saturday, Georgia is holding the election to local governing bodies. The country’s residents will vote for municipal and regional representatives as well as for mayors in 64 municipalities. The opposition is hoping to win thereby launching a procedure to release Saakashvili.

On Friday, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili announced that Saakashvili had been detained. The former president was taken to a detention facility in Georgia’s Rustavi. Earlier, Saakashvili announced that he returned to his homeland in time for the election to local government bodies on October 2.

Saakashvili served as President of Georgia from January 2004 to November 2013. In 2013, he left the country a few days before the expiration of his presidential term. Following that, four criminal cases were opened against him with verdicts returned on two of them. In January 2018, the Tbilisi City Court sentenced Saakashvili in absentia to three years behind bars for the 2006 murder of Sandro Girgvliani, an employee of the Georgian United Bank. In June 2018, the court sentenced him to six years in prison for the 2005 assault of lawmaker Valery Gelashvili.

Recently, Saakashvili who has a Ukrainian citizenship, has been residing in Ukraine. During the preparation for the October 2 municipal election he repeatedly stated his intention to come to Georgia despite a likely arrest. On October 1, he published a video recording claiming that he was in Georgia’s Batumi at the time.

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Georgia

Georgians Vote In Key Local Elections Amid High Tensions (RFE RL)

Tensions are high in Georgia as voters cast their ballots for mayors and local councils across the deeply polarized South Caucasus country, amid early claims of victory by both the ruling party and the main opposition force, as well as allegations of electoral fraud.

Georgians Vote In Key Local Elections Amid High Tensions (rferl.org)

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