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The Week in Brief

Friday, April 25
The government released video footage of what it says is a Russian MiG-29 shooting down an unmanned Georgian spy plane over separatist Abkhazia. Moscow asked why the Georgian drone was over the conflict zone; Tbilisi demanded to know why Russian fighter jets are blowing up Georgian planes.

The incident came shortly after Russia moved to lift a blanket trade embargo on Georgia, an overture Tbilisi dismissed as a carrot to Moscow’s stick of deepening ties with Georgia’s secessionist regions.

Speaker of Parliament Nino Burjanadze said she will not stand for reelection to parliament next month. The prominent and widely-respected Burjanadze, who was the first name on the ruling National Movement’s party list, attributed her shock decision to disagreements over who else should go on the party slate.

Ex-defense minister Irakli Okruashvili, convicted last month of extortion, won political asylum in France. The one-time Saakashvili confidant turned opposition martyr faced an 11-year jail sentence at home.

Georgians celebrated Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, attending church services clutching symbolic willow branches. The Georgian Orthodox Church observes Easter this Sunday.