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Prepared by Diana Dundua
Friday, February 8

“Davit Berdzenishvili advises Minister of Internal Affairs to resign”

Akhali Taoba reports that leading opposition coalition member Davit Berdzenishvili has “advised” Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili to resign now, warning that after the opposition sweep the parliamentary elections they will file criminal charges against him.

“The [opposition coalition] will not retreat, and it would be better for everyone if Merabishvili leaves his post as soon as possible because fewer crimes will be committed,” Berdzenishvili is quoted as saying.

He also reiterated accusations that President Mikheil Saakashvili rigged the elections to win a second term.

“The January 5 early presidential election was a political mistake on President Saakashvili’s part, because the country had a legitimate president and now he is illegitimate,” Berdzenishvili claimed. “In the last few months, the standing of the authorities has worsened. If the opposition gain a constitutional majority in parliament after the spring elections, this political crisis will be resolved once and for all.”

“Labor Party assures parents that state nursery schools now require payment”

Oppositional Labor Party campaigners held a press conference in front of City Hall on February 6 to protest the introduction of fees for state nursery schools, according to Sakartvelos Respublika.

Labor representative Soso Shatberashvili said this will hurt families that are already poor.

“I can show an agreement which proves that each parent must pay GEL 30 per month to take their children to the nursery school. We don’t know yet who made this decision, and we are trying to find out,” Shatberashvili announced.

The head of the city department for social services, Mamuka Katsarava, categorically denied Labor’s claims, insisting that state-run nursery schools are still absolutely free of charge. The agreement Shatberashvili pointed to, Katsarava said, was from a single nursery school where the director offered extracurricular lessons for GEL 30 a month.

“Businessmen awarded in Abkhazia”

Rezonansi reports that an Abkhaz business association, “Sokhumi,” organized an awards ceremony for businessmen in the separatist de facto capital of Sokhumi.

The 2007 title of Best Businessman was reportedly awarded to Nikolai Achba, the director-general of the local state-run wine company.

Abkhaz sources said about 50 businessmen were included in the ceremony.

The business association’s vice-president said Achba won the award for his efforts in “returning Abkhazian wine to the Russian market,” providing a major boost for Abkhazia’s economy.

Wines and Waters of Abkhazia, the state-run wine company, produces ten kinds of wine as well as cognac.

The newspaper quotes Russian sanitary service chief Gennady Onishchenko as saying that since January 1, 116 982 liters of Abkhazian wine have been imported to Russia.

“Criminal charges filed against former minister of de facto South Ossetia administration”

Criminal charges have been filed against a separatist minister in breakaway South Ossetia, according to Akhali Taoba.

The newspaper writes that Alla Jioeva is accused by de facto South Ossetian prosecutors of abusing her position’s power.

“Preliminary discussion of the case is being conducted. The minister is banned from leaving [Tskhinvali],” prosecutors said from the de facto separatist capital.