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One Belt, One Road, and One Troubled Georgian Bank

Prominent banker claims the government is trying to muscle in on a big Chinese-backed port project.

8 March 2019

Allegations of financial malfeasance at one of Georgia’s largest banks could slow work at the showpiece port planned someday to be the largest in the Black Sea.


The Anaklia port is due to begin operations in 2021. Financed by Georgian, European, and American investors, as well as the Chinese-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, it is foreseen as a major hub in China’s continent-spanning Belt and Road initiative, The Economist’s Charlemagne column said last month.


Mamuka Khazaradze, the founder of the bank Georgian authorities suspect of money laundering, accused the government of a multi-pronged attack on the bank in a speech in parliament Monday shown on live television.


View of Anaklia. Image via helene veilleux/Flickr.


TBC Holding, an affiliate of Khazaradze’s TBC Bank, leads the international consortium financing the Anaklia project. Some government critics accuse it of trying to scuttle the project or take control of it, writes.


By opening a much-needed deep-water port in the region, Anaklia would end the current bottleneck on one of the main trade routes between China and Europe, Charlemagne writes. The port will have an annual freight capacity twice that of Georgia’s existing ports combined, and upgrades could make it the largest on the Black Sea within four decades.


Khazaradze also accused officials – Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia and the president and vice president of Georgia’s central bank – of putting pressure on him to help the ruling Georgian Dream party’s candidate in last year’s presidential election.


He told lawmakers officials told TBC Bank to participate in a debt relief program for 600,000 people financed by a foundation affiliated with Georgian Dream founder Bidzina Ivanishvili, according to Democracy & Freedom Watch.


The relief program was announced shortly before the second-round runoff vote won by the party’s candidate Salome Zurabishvili.



  • Anaklia is one of many major urbanistic and infrastructure projects in the Belt and Road scheme stretching from Central Asia to Poland.


  • Across the Caucasus in Azerbaijan, a seaport and special economic zone are rising at Alyat, south of Baku.


  • Anaklia consortium “insiders” claim it has raised $600 million and that work is continuing, according to Charlemagne.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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We would like to invite you to meet Kathryn Thier, a recognized expert and instructor of Solutions Journalism from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.


Join us to learn more about the connections between investigative reporting and Solutions Journalism and discover the impact that bringing the “whole” story has on communities. Kathryn’s keynote speech will be followed by a panel discussion on bringing the solutions perspective into reporting practices with Nikita Poljakov, deputy editor in chief of the business daily Hospodářské noviny. Nikita is also head of the project “Nejsi sám” (You are not alone), which uses the solutions approach to tackle the issue of male suicide. The main program will be followed by an informal wine reception. 


The event will take place on Monday, 25 March at 5 p.m. in the Hollar building of the Charles University Faculty of Social Sciences (Smetanovo nábřeží 6, Praha 1). The event will be in English. 


Attendance is free upon registration - please, fill in the registration form.


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Moldovan diaries

The Moldovan Diaries is a multimedia, interactive examination of the country's ethnic, religious, social and political identities by Paolo Paterlini and Cesare De Giglio.

This innovative approach to story telling gives voice to ordinary people and takes the reader on the virtual trip across Moldovan rural and urban landscapes. 

It is a unique and intimate map of the nation.


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