Georgia: “We’re reverting back to Communism here”

Giorgi Gakharia

Name? Giorgi Gakharia

Official position? Prime Minister of Georgia since 2019

Number of cases? 188 (06.04.2020; 15:00 CET)

What are the measures employed?

On February 26th, Giorgi Gakharia set up a Covid-19 taskforce after the first Georgian citizen was infected with the virus after coming back from Iran. Flights to high risk countries were cancelled and three days later, after the third case, all schools were closed. Within a short period of time, these measures tightened as public transport was suspended and a nighttime curfew was put into place. One month later, Georgia halted air traffic and imposed a travel ban for all non-resident foreign citizens.

Why do I care?

When I asked my friend Sandro Mamikonian how Georgia was handling Covid-19 he responded: “We’re reverting back to communism here”. Jokingly, I asked for clarification and he hinted at the State of Emergency declared on March 21st reading as follows:

-The government is empowered, if necessary, to restrict private ownership rights for quarantine, self-isolation or other medical purposes.

State of Emergency declared on March 21st by the Georgian Parliament

After reading about all of them, I must say, it can sound like a step towards communism. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. In my last post about Jordan, you can read that they have undertaken similar measures to quarantine arrivals into their country, sending them to nice resorts for quarantine and chill.

-The government will be entitled to intervene in the management of businesses and private companies to restrict their service or instruct them to carry out specific tasks;

State of Emergency declared on March 21st by the Georgian Parliament

Donald Trump has been thinking about a wartime economy, forcing car manufacturers to produce ventilators, and nobody would ever call anything about the US communist, right? Well, unless you are Bernie Sanders, that equates to brotherhood with Stalin himself. (Fun Fact: Josef Stalin was born in Georgia and so was our beloved quarantine survival tool wine.)

-The government will be able to cap prices on the products of basic consumption, drugs and medical service;

State of Emergency declared on March 21st by the Georgian Parliament

This one is by far my favourite! With states outbidding each other on the global facemask market; raising the prices to astronomic heights, and private individuals selling masks to profit off of other’s suffering it does make some sense to cap prices for basic goods. I am thinking of pasta, toilet paper, face masks and health insurance. But that is just a start, feel free to add to my list of communist basics.

Why should you care?

You could experience the same as my friend Georgy Aroniya. Well, no, you can’t, at least not in Georgia since they won’t let you enter. He arrived in Georgia from Spain on March 11th and immediately self-isolated. After a few days, he developed a fever and called the authorities who moved him to a hospital and tested him for Covid-19. Luckily, the results were negative. However, he was still moved into State-sponsored quarantine, a four-star resort in the mountains (seems like someone read my last post, good job Georgia, glad to know you are reading my posts) where he continued his quarantine. 

“Georgy Aroniya quarantining in style”

To me, this sounds like a country that has reacted early enough and put a plan into place to limit the devastating impact of Covid19 it has witnessed in other countries. The question I’m left with is: What is Georgia’s exit strategy? Now that the system is working, it is time to think about the next step.

What do the people think about it?

Here I would like to simply copy-paste the answer of my good friend Sandro Mamikonian, as this seems to represent what people are thinking better than I could speculate:

Looking at other countries, even neighbours like Armenia and Azerbaijan, we’re doing pretty good and everybody realizes that. Most were satisfied with the measures very much so from the beginning of its implementation; if you don’t include some overly orthodox percentage who assume the only salvation is God and going to church every day.

Sandro Mamikonian

Any further comments?

Speaking of overly orthodox people…Orthodox Easter celebrations are coming up and they often involve the process of communion which can be fed to all participants with the same spoon for everyone, directly into the mouth. This reminds me of something we saw in South Korea: religious groups delusionally believing they know the cure for Covid-19 and therefore, abolishing all critical thinking. According to Article eight of Georgia’s constitution, the State cannot interfere with Church business. As a result, it will come down to the Patriarch of the Church to make the right decision. Distance during mass in churches makes a lot of sense, but feeding the communion by spoon poses a real threat to all attendees. 

And finally, a big Thank you to Sandro Mamikonian and Georgy Aroniya for sharing their thoughts, images and stories.

Joshua Dario Hasenstab

General Coordinator