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Georgia far-right groups threaten to disrupt gay film premiere

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Far-right groups in Georgia have threatened to disrupt the premiere of an Oscar-nominated Swedish-Georgian gay film, highlighting the grim situation over LGBTQ rights in the conservative country, its director said Friday.

Set in Georgia, “And Then We Danced” — Sweden’s official Oscar submission in the best international feature film category — is a love story about two male dancers in Georgia’s national ballet company.

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The film is scheduled to premiere in the capital Tbilisi on Friday evening.

The drama has won worldwide critical acclaim but was denounced by the Caucasus country’s influential Orthodox Church as an “affront to the traditional Georgian values.”

“Some far right groups and the Church have basically condemned the film and are planning to stop people from entering the sold out screenings,” the film’s director Levan Akin, a Swede with Georgian roots, wrote on his Facebook page.

“(T)hese are the dark times we live in,” he wrote, adding that it is important to “stand up against these shadowy forces in any way we can”.

Earlier this week, Sandro Bregadze, former junior minister in the ruling Georgian Dream party’s government, said his nationalist Georgian March group will not allow the film to be screened in Tbilisi, calling it a “propaganda of sodomy.”

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Levan Vasadze, a Georgian businessman with links to Russia’s anti-Western and far-right groups, said his supporters will “enter screening rooms in the six cinemas in Tbilisi and turn off the projectors,” also vowing to “shove back police if need be.”

Georgia’s interior ministry issued a statement, promising to ensure “the protection of public safety and order, as well as the freedom of self-expression.”

“We address everyone: obey the law. Otherwise, police will use their lawful mandate and suppress unlawful acts immediately,” the statement said.

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Homosexuality is still highly stigmatised in Georgia, a socially conservative Black Sea nation where the immensely influential Orthodox Church has previously clashed with Western-leaning governments over social issues.

Critics of the ruling Georgian Dream party have accused the government of giving tacit support to homophobic and nationalist groups which traditionally support the party in elections and have staged protest rallies against pro-Western opposition parties.

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Michael Avenatti says he has El Chapo’s former jail cell — which the drug dealer described as ‘torture’: report

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Attorney Michael Avenatti, the colorful attorney who came to prominence representing Stormy Daniels against Donald Trump, is unhappy with his jail conditions.

On Monday, his attorney wrote to the federal judge overseeing his trial to complain about the jail conditions Avenatti is experiencing during pre-trial detention.

Scott Srebnick, Avenatti's attorney, wrote to Judge Paul Gardephe to complain about the "notorious 10-South" section of the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he is being held in the Special Housing Unit.

"He is in a cell reportedly once occupied by El Chapo, on a floor that houses individuals charged with terrorism offenses," Avenatti's attorney wrote.

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It is Greta Thunberg vs Donald Trump at climate-focused Davos gathering of economic elites: report

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The starkly opposed visions of US President Donald Trump and Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg on climate change will clash in Davos on Tuesday as the World Economic Forum tries to face up to the perils of global warming on its 50th meeting.

The four-day gathering of the world's top political and business leaders in the Swiss Alps gets under way seeking to meet head-on the dangers to both the environment and economy from the heating of the planet.

Trump, who has repeatedly expressed scepticism about climate change, is set to give the first keynote address of Davos 2020 on Tuesday morning, on the same day as his impeachment trial opens at the Senate in Washington.

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‘Which Senator up this year most deserves to lose?’: Preet Bharara flooded with replies to provocative question

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Former United States Attorney Preet Bharara asked his 1.2 million Twitter followers a provocative question on the eve of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

With worries that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is presiding over a sham trial, many analysts have suggested that the Senate itself will be on trial.

"Which Senator up this year most deserves to lose?" Bharara, who was fired by Trump, asked.

There are a number of potentially vulnerable Republicans facing voters in 2020, including McConnell himself, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

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