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The Week in Brief

Friday, February 22
President Mikheil Saakashvili spoke of Georgia’s resolve to stop breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia from following in Kosovo’s wake, as their separatist leaders vowed to continue their own bid for internationally-recognized independence.

Initial autopsy results show billionaire former presidential candidate Badri Patarkatsishvili suffered from severe heart disease, but police are awaiting the results of toxicology tests before making any conclusions about the cause of his death.

The opposition coalition rallied outside parliament after the government and opposition failed to find common ground on a list of changes the opposition say are crucial for holding fair parliamentary elections this spring. Opposition coalition leaders threaten a hunger strike and a nation-wide ‘town of tents’ beginning today, if the government doesn’t capitulate on three key demands.

In an ambitious effort to bring the ‘Georgia without poverty’ slogan into reality, the government presented its working plan for the years ahead. The plan is divided into three major categories: employment and investments; the revival of rural areas; and social assistance and education.

Constitutional amendments which would reschedule the next parliamentary elections for spring went nowhere after the ruling party claimed it didn’t have the votes to pass them, and accused the boycotting opposition of holding the amendments up. Parliamentary opposition MPs say the ruling party can easily muster the votes without them, dismissing the stalled amendments as part of a ‘ridiculous’ stunt.