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News in Brief

Wednesday, December 26

Georgian soldier dies in Iraq

Corporal Jambul Mgeladze, a Georgian soldier serving in Iraq, died in a car crash in the town of Al-Kut, the Defense Ministry announced on December 24.

He served in the 33rd battalion of the Defense Ministry’s 3rd brigade.

Mgeladze had served in the Armed Forces since 2005, and was deployed to Iraq in March 2007.

The crash is being investigated; Georgia has not suffered any combat deaths in Iraq, though another solider committed suicide in September of this year. (Black Sea Press)

Victor Yushchenko meets with Burjanadze

Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko is in Tbilisi for meetings with top Georgian officials, including acting president Nino Burjanadze.

Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze and Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili were also expected to meet with Yushchenko.

Ukraine is a strong ally of Georgia, Gurgenidze told journalists.

Yushchenko is the godfather of incumbent presidential candidate Mikheil Saakashvili’s youngest son, and was scheduled to visit Saakashvili’s campaign headquarters. (Prime News)

GOGC to manage repair works on gas pipeline

The Georgian Oil and Gas Corporation (GOGC) will manage rehabilitation works on the North-South gas pipeline, with funding from Millennium Challenge Georgia (MCG).

17 damaged sections of the pipeline, which brings Russian gas southwards, are to be repaired.

The first stage of the rehabilitation project has already been completed; six sections of the pipeline were repaired.

The project’s total budget is USD 49.5 million. (Prime News)

New Year 2008 festivities begin in Tbilisi

Festivities to celebrate New Year 2008 began in Tbilisi on December 25.

Tbilisi City Hall is constructing “New Year’s villages” in front of the parliament building, Rose Revolution Park in Gldani district, a park in Varketili district and in the Zoo, and will leave them up until January 7 next year.

Free concerts and theater events are planned for each of the “villages.”

An “Ice Square” will be built outside parliament, open to skating during the day. It will also close on January 7, two days after the presidential election. (Prime News)

32 pupils in South Ossetia receive GEL 100 scholarships

The Association of Diplomats and the charity fund Diplomat are giving out GEL 100 scholarships to 32 young students in Georgian-controlled portions of secessionist South Ossetia.

Two winning students were chosen from each school, the Association said, and former first lady Sandra Roelofs will participate in the awards ceremony. (Prime News)

Maisashvili: Destabilization another way for oligarchs to enrich themselves

Presidential candidate Giorgi Maisashvili, of the Party of the Future, says that destabilizing countries is a prime method for “oligarchs” to enrich themselves.

The statement was in reference to a government tape apparently proving that tycoon and presidential candidate Badri Patarkatsishvili has been plotting a coup attempt for immediately following the January 5 presidential election.

“The policies of the incompetent authorities have posed a threat by giving a typical oligarch the chance to destabilize the state,” Maisashvili said at a December 24 press conference.

In preparing the alleged coup, Maisashvili added, Patarkatsishvili was using the methods employed by former president Eduard Shevardnadze in 1992.

“Shevardnadze himself didn’t want to appear on the radar, he wanted everything to be done by other people’s hands. Patarkatsishvili is doing the same,” Maisashvili claimed. (Black Sea Press)

Sarishvili: Authorities will begin political repression after January 5

Presidential candidate Irina Sarishvili-Chanturia of the Imedi party predicts that the authorities will begin to persecute their opponents after the January 5 election.

“If Saakashvili carries the elections, repressions in the state will restart with twice as much power,” Sarishvili told journalists.

Sarishvili said she realized this after seeing the covert videotape of Badri Patarkatsishvili’s campaign head, Valeri Gelbakhiani, detailing an apparent coup plot to a top Interior Ministry official.

Infighting between the opposition candidates will only hand victory to incumbent presidential candidate Mikheil Saakashvili, she added.

“In light of [December 24’s] developments, it should be clarified who is working for whom, and what kinds of games are being played with the authorities. And if the opposition doesn’t abstain from accusing each other, then they, along with the authorities, will have been guilty of misleading the people,” Sarishvili stated. (Black Sea Press)