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The Week in Brief

Friday, May 16
President Mikheil Saakashvili left the campaign trail for national celebrations in Israel, where he is to meet with George W. Bush [see article]. Before leaving, Saakashvili said Russia’s actions in separatist Abkhazia are fomenting an ‘international crisis.’

Moscow criticized a US diplomat for saying Russian forces in Abkhazia go beyond what a peacekeeping operation demands. US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza questioned the peacekeepers’ need for heavy artillery.

Georgia’s last pro-opposition television station went temporarily off the air due to apparent technical problems. Kavkasia TV, which broadcasts locally to the capital, hopes to restart broadcasts before next week’s parliamentary elections. It is bad news for the opposition, but station management say there is no reason to suspect sabotage.

Bank of Georgia announced it bought a controlling stake in Belarus’ Belarusky Narodny Bank for USD 34.2 million. Bank of Georgia also recently acquired a Ukrainian bank, and says it is done with foreign expansion for the year.