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The News in Brief

Wednesday, March 5

Duma considering inviting Moldovan and Georgian speakers to hearings on breakaway regions

The Russian Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, is considering inviting Georgian Parliamentary Speaker Nino Burjanadze and her Moldovan counterpart Marian Lupu in upcoming hearings on breakaway regions scheduled for March 13.

“At the committee sitting dedicated to organizing hearings on March 6, I will insist on inviting the parliamentary speakers of Georgia and Moldova,” first deputy chairman of the committee for Commonwealth of Independent States issues Konstantin Zatulin told journalists.

“For our part it will be good to get familiar with all points of view,” he added. (Black Sea Press)

Foreign Ministry expresses hope for constitutional resolution to Armenia situation

In a statement released yesterday, the Foreign Ministry conveyed its condolences to the families of those who died in the recent turmoil in Armenia and expressed hope that the situation will be resolved peacefully.

“The Foreign Ministry is closely observing developments in Armenia and expresses hope that [the situation] will be resolved in full compliance with constitutional norms on the basis of constructive dialogue,” the statement reads.

At least eight people died and 130 were reported injured after police clashed with demonstrators protesting Armenia’s February 19 presidential election in the capital city Yerevan. The country is currently in a state of emergency. (Black Sea Press)

Burjanadze leaves for Brussels

Georgian Parliamentary Speaker Nino Burjanadze left for Brussels yesterday evening to discuss cooperation with EU and NATO.

On her two-day visit Burjanadze is scheduled to meet NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, as well as with EU officials to discuss Georgia’s integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. (Black Sea Press)

Tbilisi street to be named after late actress Sofiko Chiaureli

A Tbilisi street will be named after late Georgian actress Sofiko Chiaureli, Parliamentary Speaker Nino Burjanadze announced on March 4.

She also said a Sofiko Chiaureli scholarship program will be set up at the Shota Rustaveli State Institute of Theater and Cinema.

“The Georgian country, our culture and society have suffered a great loss. I have had connections with that family since childhood, and it’s my personal loss and grief. She was an amazing and unusual individual, a friend for me and for many other people with whom she communicated,” Burjanadze said. (Black Sea Press)

Former minister to run in parliamentary elections

Former defense minister Irakli Okruashvili will stand in the upcoming parliamentary elections slated for late May, according to Giorgi Tortladze, a prominent member of Okruashvili’s Movement for a United Georgia party.

“Irakli Okruashvili will run in the upcoming parliamentary elections. He is going to head our party list. I expect he will be among the top candidates put forward on the joint party list of the opposition coalition, of which the Movement for a United Georgia is a part of,” Tortladze said.

Okruashvili’s lawyer, Eka Beselia confirmed he would participate in the election.

The former minister is currently under house arrest in Paris awaiting a ruling on an extradition request from Georgia, where he is wanted on corruption charges stemming from his time in office. He is claiming political asylum in France. (Black Sea Press)

Danish PM: NATO to signal its support for Georgia

NATO will send a strong signal of support to Georgia and Ukraine at its summit in Bucharest in April, Danish Prime Minister Anders Rasmussen said at a news conference after meeting US President George W. Bush in Texas on March 1.

“Through NATO and the European Union we will reach out to aspiring countries like Georgia and Ukraine. We will support their efforts to reform and develop links with Europe and across the Atlantic,” Rasmussen said.

Tbilisi is hoping Georgia will receive a Membership Action Plan, the next step towards integration into the alliance, at the upcoming summit. (Black Sea Press)

Windstorm takes roofs off two buildings in Tbilisi

Strong winds took the roofs off two buildings in Tbilisi last night, leaving over 15 refugee families without shelter.

The State Ministry for Refugees and Accommodation says it will cover the cost of the damage and Refugees State Minister Koba Subeliani visited the site to observe construction works that are already underway there.

The Georgian Meteorological Center reported winds reaching 15–20 mph swept through western Georgia and reached Tbilisi yesterday morning. (Black Sea Press)

Russian citizens in Abkhazia vote for Medvedev

Russians in the breakaway region of Abkhazia voted overwhelmingly in favor of Dmitry Medvedev, the news agency RIA Novosti reports.

Some 51 000 voters took part in the election in Abkhazia, spokesman of the Russian Central Election Commission Sergey Malygin told journalists on March 3. Around 90 percent of them voted for Medvedev, he said.

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov garnered 6 percent of votes, while Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky took 3.5 percent.

Malygin said no voting violations were observed in the region.

The Georgian government protested the setting up of polling stations in Abkhazia without its permission, summoning Russian Ambassador to Georgia Vyacheslav Kovalenko to the Foreign Ministry on February 26 to lodge a complaint.

Kovalenko stated afterward that he did see anything illegal in facilitating the participation of Russian citizens in the election. (Black Sea Press)