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The News in Brief

Wednesday, May 14

Interior Ministry calls on ombudsman to cooperate

An Interior Ministry statement expressed support for Human Rights Ombudsman Sozar Subari’s efforts to investigate reported cases of voter intimidation and pressure.

The statement also called on everyone, especially the Human Rights Ombudsman, who has information on the cases in question, to inform the police and cooperate.

“Free and fair elections are our common goal and shared responsibility takes joint effort,” the statement read. It also said the Interior Ministry would guarantee the safety of any witnesses.

On May 9, Subari accused representatives of the police and local authorities in Mestia district of putting pressure on voters. (Prime News)

Lithuanian and Ukrainian presidents criticize Russian moves

The presidents of Lithuania and Ukraine called on Russia to reconsider its recent move to strengthen ties with Georgia’s two breakaway regions.

“We are deeply concerned over recent decisions by the Russian Federation that put into question the territorial integrity of Georgia and have escalated tension in the region,” Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko told journalists Vilnius.

Both presidents signed a declaration encouraging all sides involved to negotiate an end to the frozen conflicts in the region on the same day that five foreign ministers from EU countries visited Tbilisi in a show of support. (Prime News)

Abkhazia appeals to UN on Georgian drones

Abkhazia has appealed to the UN to comment on Georgian spy plane flights above the breakaway region, de facto foreign minister Sergey Shamba said, according to the news agency RIA Novosti.

Abkhaz separatists claimed on May 12 that their air defense shot down two unmanned Georgian surveillance aircraft, bringing the total number of Georgian drones they claim to have downed to seven. Tbilisi has acknowledged the downing of one of its aircraft, on April 20.

“We will have our confidence restored in mediators, namely the UN, after they answer some questions. First, they should investigate these flights, secondly [they should] comment on the information we have that these flights have been coordinated with them,” Shamba said. (Black Sea Press)

Peacekeepers run exercises in conflict zone

Peacekeepers recently deployed to the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict zone conducted training exercises yesterday, the Russian Defense Ministry said, according to the news agency RIA Novosti.

“During the last 24 hours [troops at peacekeeping posts] continued fulfilling peacekeeping observance tasks in accordance with the ceasefire agreement,” the statement reads.

“Personnel not serving at posts participated in the planned firing practice… The training showed that peacekeepers who had arrived, despite unfamiliar firing grounds and training fields, had been trained professionally,” the statement continues. (Black Sea Press)

Youth wing rally outside presidential palace

The youth wing of the nine-party opposition coalition protested outside the presidential residence in Avlabari district yesterday.

Demonstrators presented a poster that they said listed “seven sins” of the ruling party and President Mikheil Saakashvili. Among the sins were November 7—the day authorities clamped down on anti-government protestors—and the “terrorizing” of businesses. (Prime News)