Georgia. On the first day of the year, Georgia was visited by U.S. Republican Senator John McCain. He wanted assurances about US support after incoming President Donald Trump paid tribute to Russian President Vladimir Putin and was unclear in his statements on the NATO military alliance.
According to Countryaah.com, the Georgian Orthodox Church performed mass baptisms in January at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi. Hundreds of children were baptized by dipping their heads and feet in a baptismal font three times. Mass baptism has become popular and was introduced some years ago as a way to attract the population to give birth to more children, a hope that has been fulfilled.
The church’s feast day was changed in the dark when a church servant in February was arrested by police on suspicion of planning to poison the church’s patriarch Ilia II, who was cared for in a German hospital. The priest was arrested when he boarded a plane to Berlin carrying sodium cyanide. The arrested was later brought to trial, and the prosecution then involved murder attempts on the patriarch’s female secretary.
In February, the European Parliament decided to grant Georgian citizens visa-free access to the Schengen area, that is, all EU countries except the UK and Ireland. When the decision came into force in March, it was greeted with great joy in Georgia, where Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikaashvili was one of the first to exploit the new freedom by flying to Brussels. He described the day as historic and explained that Georgia had returned to the European family.
In the city of Batumi, riots broke out in March and over 20 people were taken to hospitals after the crowd tried to storm a police station, ignited police cars and threw stones at police, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. The brawl was stated bottom in the refusal to pay parking fines. According to the political opposition, people are tired of the police using their position with unreasonably high fines for minor crimes.
Former President Micheil Saakashvili’s Party The national movement split during the year in conflict over the role of the volatile Saakashvili. Most of the party’s MPs left the National Movement to form a new party.
In July, the President of Ukraine decided to deprive Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship, which according to Saakashvili meant that he became stateless when he previously lost his Georgian citizenship. In Georgia, Saakashvili is charged with abuse of power. Later in the year, the Prosecutor General Saakashvili requested extradition from Ukraine.
In July and August, the Georgian Army conducted two weeks of military training along with soldiers from the United States and a number of other NATO countries. During the maneuver, Georgia was visited by US Vice President Mike Pence, who explained that the United States is united with Georgia.
Georgia and the United States condemned the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to the Georgian state of Abkhazia in August, the day nine years after the war between Georgia and the Russian Federation broke out in the region. Thousands of Russian soldiers are stationed in the breakaway states of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which count as independent and have been recognized by the Russian Federation. The United States called on the Russian Federation to withdraw its troops and withdraw recognition of the outbreak states.
President Giorgi Margvelashvili tried to stop the proposal for a new constitution during the year. In October, he vetoed Parliament, but was voted down by elected officials and must reluctantly sign the new law. It means, among other things, that Parliament and not the people will in future elect president.
In September, a new research study was published showing that the world’s oldest now known wine is produced in Georgia. According to the researchers, it was about 8,000 years old wine remains that they found in clay pots in two places south of Tbilisi.