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Prepared by Diana Dundua
Monday, December 24

“Incumbent Mikheil Saakashvili met with voters in Tskaltubo and Samtredia”

Akhali Taoba reports that incumbent presidential candidate Mikheil Saakashvili is continuing to hold rural campaign events.

On December 22, he visited Tskaltubo and Samtredia in western Georgia.

In a speech there, Saakashvili urged voters to get to the polls on January 5, and promised better roads and public health measures.

“I promise that I will fight for a better future, and I will fulfill all the promises I have given to you,” Saakashvili told the crowd.

“Lavrov criticizes Georgian administration”

Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov has commented on Georgia’s secessionist conflicts, Sakartvelos Respublika reports.

“In every meeting we called on the Georgian authorities, and those people which were lobbying the Georgian government, to avoid [negative] development of the situation. We were fulfilling all agreements which were essential to conducting a normal negotiation process,” Lavrov said, according to the newspaper’s account of his statements.

Progress in Georgian-Russian negotiations has been stalled due to Tbilisi, Lavrov continued.

“This is very important information because it is widely spread that Georgian military forces are quickly developing,” the newspaper quotes Lavrov as saying.

“New Year’s presents for children living in the conflict zone”

Rezonansi writes about the government’s New Year’s gifts to children living in the Georgian-controlled South Ossetian villages of Tamarasheni and Kurta.

On December 22, Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Davit Chantladze visited the villages, in the heart of the secessionist conflict zone, to deliver toys and fake trees to local children.

Chantladze was accompanied by the Tbilisi-backed head of the alternative South Ossetian administration, Dimitri Sanakoyev.

The gift-giving was done in conjunction with an Environment Ministry campaign called “Don’t cut down the fir trees,” meant to prevent Georgians from illegally cutting down trees over the holiday season.

“Fire destroyed homes in Avlarbari district”

Akhali Taoba reports on a December 21 fire which destroyed several homes at 6 Antelava Street, in Tbilisi’s Avlabari district, leaving seven families homeless as the New Year approaches.

The fire is suspected to have been caused by wind damage to old power lines.

Representatives of the Old Tbilisi administration responsible for the district say they will find apartments to house the seven families.

“Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs meets with head of OSCE Mission to Georgia”

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Giorgi Manjgaladze and Terhi Hakala, the head of the OSCE Mission to Georgia, met on December 21.

The meeting was set up to discuss the situation in separatist South Ossetia, according to Sakartvelos Respublika, and to look at OSCE efforts in the region.

Emphasis was given to OSCE economic rehabilitation programs, and a proposal to open a checkpoint at Didi Gupta.

The Georgian official expressed Tbilisi’s total readiness to cooperate with the OSCE and use every opportunity to peacefully settle the conflict in South Ossetia, the newspaper writes.