Monday, November 26, 2007

I hardly leave the country...

...Georgia, that is, and all hell breaks out! Again the multitudes were marching, this time to call for the reinstatement of the TV station Imedi, which the authorities had closed down at the start of the state of emergency. 'Closed down' is not quite the appropriate word, given that the equipment and even the employees' private cars were smashed up. Will they get compensation? Not until the courts go against the government, and in the most recent court case about this the judge(s) confirmed that the closure had been correct. Hmmm. The station is (was? there may have been a very recent change of ownership) owned by Badri Patarkatsishvili, a multimillionaire who made his fortune in Russia (I'm never quite sure about multimillionaires who make their fortune in Russia), as well as News International, Rupert Murdoch's outfit. Which of course would make anyone with any sense of quality close down the station, but the question was about free speech, not about quality of broadcasting. Since I don't have any TV in Georgia, and would not understand it anyway, I cannot really comment on quality...

Meanwhile, electioneering of the crudest kind is going on. Unbelievable how naive the politicians are, and what they think of the intelligence of their electorate (a negative IQ). They have promised to raise pensions from 1 January (election is on 5 January) - potentially this might have an undesirable effect on the poverty benefits many people get, but they might not notice it until after the election. In addition, a programme has been announced, whereby 100,000 unemployed Georgians will get a 200 lari stipend to get 2 weeks work experience between 15 and 31 December (the monthly minimum wage is 38 laris); possibly in addition afterwards they will get another 250 laris. Pity the poor employment office, having to find work experience places for 100,000 people within the next two weeks; someone has to interview people and place them roughly in the right type of work. Are there enough formal places of employment for 100,000 people at all in Georgia?

Still, the pensioners and these 100,000 people and their families should swing the election, no?

It's as if the government is playing monopoly.