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Georgian politics heat up – founder of largest bank announces civic movement

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Co-founder of the largest commercial bank in Georgia, Mamuka Khazaradze, has announced the creation of a ‘civic movement’, slated for September.

TBC Bank co-founder Khazaradze announced the news today on Facebook, stating that the main goal of the pro-Western movement will be the unification of the country and the preservation of independence.

Against the background of the parliamentary elections scheduled for 2020 in Georgia, this decision of a businessman who is in open conflict with the informal ruler of the country, Bidzina Ivanishvili, is of particular interest.

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In his letter, Khazaradze criticizes the authorities and declares that “the processes taking place recently in the country are becoming alarming”.

Khazaradze says “there is a purposeful process of division and opposition in society.”

Khazaradze says that neither the current authorities or other political parties are capable of de-escalating the current situation, for which the consolidation of the public is necessary.

In September, Khazaradze says he will “unite a healthy, progressive and pro-western society” and invites those who share “the idea of ​​building a modern Western state in Georgia” to this union.

Khazaradze says he will establish a movement together with his “friends and like-minded people, professionals from different fields.

The statement does not indicate who exactly the businessman has in mind. All that is known is that his business partner and friend Badri Japaridze will be in the movement.

Khazaradze says that the night of June 20 pushed him towards this step, and said the day has become a dividing line. Khazaradze has announced his public support for the protesters [ed. on the night of June 20, special forces brutally dispersed a rally on Rustaveli Avenue].

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“Our sincere and free youth expressed a sincere and firm protest against the Russian occupation and violence,” writes Khazaradze.

On June 20, a demonstration was held in front of the parliament, where the crowds protested the Russian occupation [ed. that is, that Russia has recognised the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Georgia considers its own territory and with which a majority of the global community agrees – JAMnews] Khazaradze wrote about this on his Facebook page:

“Long live unanimity in the struggle for the freedom of the country!”

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And after Russia suspended flights with Georgia, Mamuka Khazaradze, in order to promote the tourism industry, expressed his willingness to finance ten Airzena charter flights for Ukrainian tourists from Kiev to Tbilisi.

Khazaradze’s stand off with the authorities

The scandal concerning Georgia’s largest bank began last summer.

The Prosecutor General’s Office was investigating transactions made at TBC Bank over the past 11 years, which now include the former chairman of the supervisory board of the bank, Mamuka Khazaradze, and his deputy Badri Japaridze.

• Explainer: why is Georgian billionaire Ivanishvili waging war against the country’s most popular bank?

During the audit, the prosecutor’s office claims that evidence of money laundering was uncovered – $17 million dollars worth.

From the very beginning of the investigation, the public has discussed the notion that the case against Khazaradze is politically motivated.

Many hypotheses have been put forward, given that it is unlikely that the prosecutor’s office would decide to ‘disturb’ one of the country’s main financial institutions without the consent of the informal ruler Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Some experts say that Ivanishvili sees a political rival in Khazaradze and is trying to clear his way to a victory in the 2020 parliamentary elections.

Others say that Khazaradze was punished for being a friend of the former prime minister, at one time favorite of Ivanishvili, who later fell into disgrace and was dismissed from his post – Giorgi Kvirikashvili.

Mamuka Khazaradze tried to regulate the spoiled relations with Ivanishvili and prove his loyalty during the last presidential elections by supporting pro-government candidate Salome Zurabishvili (the bank even called on its employees to support the pro-government candidate, in a special statement).

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But the fact is that for Ivanishvili the attempts of Khazaradze proved insufficient and not convincing.

The investigation concerning the bank has not yet been completed, many experts believe that Khazaradze is going into politics to save himself.

One of the most significant infrastructure projects in modern Georgia is also associated with the name Khazaradze – the deep sea port in Anaklia.

Experts and politicians

Few doubt that Mamuka Khazaradze’s ‘civic movement’ has political aims.

Economist Gia Khukhashvili says the authorities have pushed Khazaradze to this decision.

“In fact, the authorities didn’t leave Khazaradze another way out by their thoughtless actions. I welcome his appearance in the political space, since the ruling team, which has lost the trust of the population, is betting on the monopolization of resources. And in Mamuka, an alternative resource center appears and this can become an insurmountable problem for the authorities”, Gia Khukhashvili said in an interview with Kommersant.

Member of the parliamentary majority Sopho Kiladze is also confident that the Khazaradze movement has political goals.

“But I don’t think he will have a lot of support,” said the MP.

One of the leaders of the opposition United National Movement party, MP Roman Gotsiridze, says that Mamuka Khazaradze has a good start in order to form a political player, but in his opinion this alone is not enough.

The MP says that the activation of Khazaradze should not mean that “one oligarch will be replaced by another.

Khazaradze, as a person with large financial capital, should not be associated with lobbying business circles. On the contrary, it is necessary to emphasize that a healthy political system should be formed in Georgia and the dominance of the rich should stop once and for all”, Gotsiridze said.

The founder of TBC Bank did not specify who will make up the campaign of the movement – various sources speculate that the former Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili may be on the Khazaradze team.

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Azerbaijan

26 years pass since occupation of Azerbaijans Aghdam District

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Today, 26 years pass from the occupation of Azerbaijan’s Aghdam district by Armenia, Trend reports.

Armenian invaders occupied the major part of the Aghdam District on July 23, 1993, seizing around 882 sq km of 1,094 sq km territory of Aghdam, one city, and 80 villages.

More than 6,000 people died during the battles in Aghdam, while 128,000 people became internally displaced persons after the occupation.

The district’s occupation inflicted a damage of $6.179 billion to Azerbaijan. The damage inflicted to the region’s agriculture only is estimated at 992.8 million manats.

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.

The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.

News.Az

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Azerbaijan

India launches second Moon mission

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India`s mission to the moon has blasted into space one week after a technical glitch forced scientists to abruptly halt its scheduled launch, according to The Guardian.

Thousands gathered to watch Chandrayaan-2 take off at a 2.43pm local time on Monday from Satish Dhawan space center in Sriharikota, north of Chennai.

Last Monday, the unmanned mission was aborted 56 minutes from takeoff. The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) blamed a “technical snag”.

In a speech after the launch, Kailasavadivoo Sivan, chairman of Isro, said the agency’s staff had worked tirelessly to fix the fault and had “bounced back with flying colors”.

“It is the beginning of a historical journey of India towards the moon, and to land at a place near the south pole to carry out scientific experiments to explore the unexplored,” said Sivan.

With India poised to become the world’s fifth-largest economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ardently nationalist government is eager to show off the country’s prowess in security and technology.

Chandrayaan-2 aims to become the first mission to conduct a surface landing on the lunar south pole region, where it will collect crucial information about the moon’s composition. It would be India’s first surface landing on the moon – a feat previously achieved by only Russia, the US, and China.

The $141m (£113m) mission is a “demonstration of the growing sophistication of India’s space power”, said Dr. Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, head of the nuclear and space policy initiative at the Observer Research Foundation thinktank in Delhi.

India launched its first lunar probe in 2008 and guided a spacecraft into orbit around Mars in 2014.

News.Az

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Azerbaijan

Fires become frequent in Armenia

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Cases of fires in Armenia have become very frequent this year hitting the record high – they increased 2.1 times in the first half of this year, compared with the same period a year before, Sergey Hayrapetyan, spokesman of the emergency ministry’s firefighting service, said on Monday.

“As for the fires on territories covered with plants, their number was four times greater this year than at the same period a year earlier,” he said.

In his words, the territories swallowed by flames were 5.7 times greater.

Over 20 days of July 2019, he said, more than 1,200 fires have been reported, and 75% of them happened on green spaces.

Hayrapetyan said that the high frequency of fires was caused by heat and also by a human factor.

He said that most frequently fires happen in Yerevan as well as in Kotayk, Ararat, Syunik, Armavir and Aragatsotn provinces.

He stressed that fire-preventing efforts are not only the emergency ministry’s business – citizens themselves, local governing bodies and various organizations should do something as well.

News.Az

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