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The News in Brief

Wednesday, February 6

Apparent gas explosion injures two in Tbilisi

By Eka Gogisvanidze

Half of a two-story house on the outskirts of Tbilisi was destroyed yesterday morning in an apparent gas explosion.

Of the seven people home at the time, only two were injured.

“I was asleep when I heard the explosion,” resident Maia Zurabishvili told Rusatavi 2. “I looked for my baby immediately but couldn’t find it. Finally, I found the baby lying under the ruins.”

The baby was unhurt, but a husband and wife were injured, the man with serious multiple burns, said a City Hall Emergency Department spokeswoman.

Another Emergency Department representative said a gas leak was to blame, and could not say whether neighboring houses were at risk. Authorities are investigating the incident.

Tbilisi Vice-Mayor Zurab Arsoshvili and local district head Khvhicha Sanaia went to the scene to promise shelter for those left homeless by the explosion.

“Those families left homeless will be temporarily moved to another building,” Sanaia said. “As for the five other families whose houses are also damaged, experts will investigate [the homes] and we will decide whether or not to move them.”

Road closures due to heavy snow

There are restrictions on roads across Georgia because of heavy snowfalls and avalanche warnings, the Roads Department announced yesterday.

Traffic is prohibited entirely on the Pasanauri–Lars section of the Georgian Military Highway, and on the Chuberi–Sakeni section of the Khaishi–Sakeni–Omarishara highway in the evening and early morning.

Large buses and trucks are not allowed on a portion of the Zhinvali–Pasanauri section of the Georgian Military Highway. Other restrictions are in place, but cars with chains are allowed on most other roads. (Black Sea Press)

Outgoing Guria governor gets ambassadorship

Mikheil Svimonishvili, the former governor of western Georgia’s Guri province, will be appointed ambassador to Switzerland.

Ramaz Nikoleishvili, formerly the head of the Financial Police’s investigative department, is taking over the post of Guria governor.

The governors of Mtskheta–Mtianet and Shida Kartli were also changed, with more replacements expected. (Prime News)

Georgia and Turkey sign military cooperation agreement

The Defense Ministries of Georgia and Turkey joint signed a military cooperation plan for 2008 yesterday.

The two sides discussed bilateral defense cooperation and future plans for partnership and military exercises. (Black Sea Press)

Former ministers appointed deputy heads of presidential administration

Former culture minister Giorgi Gabashvili has been appointed deputy head of the president’s administration along with former environment minister David Chantaldze, both of whom will serve under newly-appointed head of administration Zurab Adeishvili, the former prosecutor general.

The former head of administration, Eka Sharashidze, has been made minister of economic development. (Black Sea Press)

Court considers case of murdered academic

On February 4 Tbilisi City Court was due to begin considering the case of Giorgi Barateli, who is accused of murdering academic Giram Shaardze; however, proceedings have been postponed until February 11.

The court sentenced Giorgi Barateli to 27 years in prison after he was convicted of murder, attempted assault of a policeman and the illegal purchase and possession of a firearm.

Guram Sharadze, 67, was killed on Melikishvili Street in central Tbilisi on May 20 2007. He was a close ally of Georgia’s first president, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, in the early 1990s, and tried to organize an anti-Western movement in Georgia after the Rose Revolution. (Black Sea Press)

Telephone conversation between foreign ministers of Georgia and Latvia

Foreign Minister Davit Bakradze held a telephone conversation with his Latvian counterpart Maris Riekstinesh on February 4, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The pair discussed bilateral relations and potential for further cooperation, as well as Georgia’s integration into Euro-Atlantic structures and development of regional cooperation. (Black Sea Press)

Estonian PM: Georgia can count on Tallinn’s support

Georgia can count on Estonia’s support as it continues to strive for NATO and EU integration integration to NATO and the European Union, Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip told Speaker of Parliament Nino Burjanadze yesterday.

After the meeting, Ansip told journalists that good relations exist between the parliaments of Georgia and Estonia and Burjanadze said Georgia counts on the support of the government and parliament of Estonia.

She also expressed gratitude for Estonia’s support of Georgia at all stages of its development. (Black Sea Press)