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The News in Brief

Wednesday, February 27

Saakashvili: political stability guarantees territorial integrity

While meeting with veterans yesterday, President Mikheil Saakashvili said that stability in Georgia is a guarantee that the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia will remain part of the country.

“During the past months our country prepared for problems that could appear after Kosovo’s declaration of independence,” Saakashvili said. “One of the main reasons why separatist regimes in Abkhazia and South Ossetia were not recognized was that Georgia remained strong. There is no chaos, or possibility of a repetition of the events in the 1990s,” he continued.

He added that Georgia avoided becoming a “country of tents”—a reference to the opposition’s aborted demonstration on Friday 22 in which they threatened to set up tents across Georgia and go on hunger strike in an anti-government protest.

“Stability exists in Georgia, democratic processes develop and the state reacts adequately to all situations,” he said.

Saakashvili also said that the de facto leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Sergey Bagapsh and Eduard Kokoity respectively, had expected recognition from Russian “until the last minute,” and that Russia’s refusal to do this represented a “great victory for the domestic and foreign policy of Georgia.” (Black Sea Press)

Russian ambassador comments on Russian citizens in Abkhazia, South Ossetia participating in presidential election

Russian Ambassador to Georgia Vyacheslav Kovalenko was summoned to the Foreign Ministry yesterday and presented a statement protesting the opening of Russian polling stations in Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia without Tbilisi’s consent.

The ambassador told journalists afterward that he sees nothing illegal in Russian citizens participating in the upcoming presidential election, which is slated for March 2.

“The Russian constitution guarantees the right of every citizen of the Russian Federation wherever he is to fulfill his civil duty and participate in elections,” Kovalenko said. (Black Sea Press)

Okruashvili Paris hearing postponed

An extradition hearing for former defense minister Irakli Okruashvili in Paris, scheduled for today, has been postponed.

Okruashvili’s attorney Eka Beselia said additional material supporting the former minister’s case has been submitted to the court for consideration, causing the postponement.

The Georgian government has submitted an extradition request to French authorities and Okruashvili is claiming political asylum in France. (Prime News)

Health minister visits Rustavi hospital

Health Minister Sandro Kvitashvili visited Rustavi Central Hospital yesterday to meet with medical staff.

Zurab Melikishvili, governor of Kvemo Kartli province, and Rustavi Mayor Davit Nadashvili were present at the meeting.

“We were surprised at the situation here, how staff have managed to preserve such service amid such hard social conditions in the region. This is the result of good management, which should be an example for many hospitals in the capital,” Kvitashvili commented.

He is due to visit hospitals in Guria province today. (Prime News)

Refugees from Pankisi Gorge to receive assistance vouchers

Chechen refugees in Pankisi Gorge will be given vouchers for social assistance tomorrow, according to the press office of the UNHCR.

State Minister for Refugees Koba Subeliani will attend the event, according to UNHCR.

The agency says it is a new form of assistance allowing refugees more flexibility in purchasing essential goods. The project also aims to provide refugees with bank accounts. (Prime News)

Amendments to state budget under consideration

The first amendments to the 2008 state budget are being considered in parliamentary committees, the government’s parliamentary secretary said yesterday.

The amendments are based on expected increases of GEL 100 million to state revenue, and an increase of GEL 203 million to expenditures. (Black Sea Press)