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The News in Brief

Monday, March 31

Ex-minister’s allies say conviction is politically motivated

Members of the political party established by former defense minister Irakli Okruashvili say his recent conviction is politically motivated.

On March 28, Tbilisi City Court sentenced him to 11 years in prison for corruption offences while he was in office.

“The verdict on Irakli Okruashvili made by Tbilisi City Court is a political decision,” commented secretary of the Movement for United Georgia Party Eka Beselia, who is also Okruashvili’s legal representation in Georgia.

Beselia said that the court decision is aimed at preventing Okruashvili from taking part in parliamentary elections slated for May 21.

Okruashvili’s defense team may launch an appeal against the ruling.

The former minister is currently in France where he is being considered for political asylum. (Black Sea Press)

Georgians detained at Israel-Egypt border

Egyptian police detained 13 Georgian citizens trying to illegally cross the Israeli border according to the news agency MENA.

The detained are currently being questioned by the Egyptian police. In 2007 Egyptian authorities prevented three attempts by Georgian citizens to cross the Israeli border illegally. (Black Sea Press)

Batumi to have new coat of arms

Batumi City Hall announced a competition for a new coat of arms. The competition deadline in April and the winner will receive GEL 2000. (Prime News)

Georgian peacekeepers in Kosovo rotate

Preparations for the eleventh rotation of Georgian peacekeeping troops in Kosovo are underway.

A ceremony sending off troops to take over duties in Kosovo was held at the aerodrome in Alekseyyevka, Tbilisi, according to the Defense Ministry.

Some 129 Georgian servicemen will undergo training for four weeks in Germany, before leaving for Kosovo on April 29.

Georgian peacekeepers first began operating alongside German troops in Kosovo in 2003. (Black Sea Press)

Roelofs attends charity auctions in Lithuania

Georgian first lady Sandra Roelofs attended charity auctions with Lithuanian first lady Alma Adamkene on March 29 according to the press department of the Lithuanian president’s office.

“We cooperate with Ms Adamkene in implementing charity projects, we jointly render assistance to the blind and schools in western Georgia. I appreciate this support very much,” Roelofs told journalists in Vilnius.

Dutch-born Roelofs is currently on a five-day trip to Lithuania where she will visit hospitals and schools and help raise money for children suffering from tuberculosis. She is also scheduled to visit the Institute of Oncology at Vilnius University and deliver a speech entitled “Georgia on the Road of Democratic Reforms” at the European humanitarian university.

On April 1 Roelofs will leave for Riga. (Black Sea Press)

Foreign Ministry: CIS postpones Abkhazia peacekeepers issue

The Council of Foreign Ministers of the Commonwealth of Independent States has postponed considering the appointment of a new commander of CIS Collective Peacekeeping Forces in the Abkhaz conflict zone, Georgian deputy Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze told journalists.

“Georgia was against considering the issue of changing the commander CIS peacekeepers in Abkhaz conflict zone. Here the question is not about personalities, but all the obstacles to proper fulfillment of the peacekeeping mandate,” the official said.

Georgia has called for the replacement of the current commander of CIS peacekeepers Sergey Chaban, but at the end of 2007 the CIS Council of Defense Ministers renewed Chaban’s mandate. (Black Sea Press)