Georgia. In January, air travel between Tbilisi and Moscow resumed, one and a half years after the war between Georgia and the Russian Federation. In March, the two countries also opened the only useful border crossing, which had been closed for three years.
At the beginning of the year, three militants were sentenced to long prison sentences, which at most 30 years, accused of mutiny and attempted coups the year before. However, the myth was debated. According to the opposition, the regime had fabricated the charges to turn the attention of several weeks of demonstrations against President Micheil Saakashvili.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Georgia has a population of 10.62 million (2019). The breakaway republic of Abkhazia signed an agreement with the Russian Federation in February on the establishment of a Russian military base in Abkhazia. The agreement was valid for at least 49 years and 3,000 soldiers would be stationed at the base. The Russian Federation, which recognized Abkhazia independently after the war against Georgia in 2008, also planned airbase and naval base in the Republic.
Later in the year, Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev visited the outbreak republic for the first time since the war. Following Medvedev’s visit, the Russian Federation announced that it had stationed advanced anti-aircraft robots in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
In the Georgian municipal elections in May, President Saakashvili’s National Movement Party succeeded and took about 60 percent of the vote. Despite people’s dissatisfaction with the war in 2008 and the weak economy, the opposition succeeded poorly, partly because of internal fragmentation. According to the OSCE election monitors, the election had significant shortcomings with voting fraud.
In June, a famous Stalin statue was moved from Josef Stalin’s Georgian birthplace Gori. The local authorities carried out the move at night, and police kept the media away. The image of the former Soviet dictator was replaced with a monument in memory of the victims of the war between Georgia and the Russian Federation in 2008, when Gori was severely affected.
EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton visited Tbilisi in July and announced that the Union would begin negotiations with Georgia on an association agreement with a framework for economic and political cooperation. Negotiations were expected to take four years.
In October, Georgian police arrested four Russians and nine Georgians, including six Air Force pilots, who were accused of spying on Russian military intelligence service GRU. The Russian Federation rejected the allegations as provocations ahead of NATO’s impending summit, when the Russian Federation was invited.
During the year, a new Georgian constitution was passed which transfers power from the president to parliament and government. It will come into force after 2013, when the current term of office of President Saakashvili is over. The opposition accuses Saakashvili of pushing through the change and then becoming head of government himself and retaining his power.
In November, opposition leader and former Foreign Minister Salome Zurabishvili announced that she would leave politics for a UN mission until further notice. She cited the lack of democracy as the main reason for her decision.
A man was killed in a bomb attack outside an opposition party’s premises in Tbilisi in late November. In December, six people were arrested who, according to authorities, were suspected of being recruited by the Russian military to carry out the deed and five other assaults during the fall.
Protests against pro-Russian party
According to reports that the pro-Russian party of the Georgian Patriots is funded by the Kremlin (the Russian leadership), opposition politicians are demanding that the party not be allowed to run in the October 31 parliamentary elections.
The opposition sees a risk of cheating
Two months before the parliamentary elections, about 30 opposition parties have signed a joint declaration against feared electoral fraud. They will set up a common database where information on suspected fraud can be reported. The parties also promise to cooperate with NGOs and international election observers. The parliamentary elections, when 150 members are to be elected, are scheduled for 31 October.
National grief after a traffic accident
A minibus crashes down a rock wall on the road between Tbilisi and Shatili in the north and 17 people die. One day of national mourning is announced until 25 August. Shatili is a hard-to-reach area on the border with Chechnya that attracts tourists and mountaineers during the summer.