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The News in Brief

Thursday, May 29
Tests confirm Patarkatsishvili died of natural causes

Extensive toxicology tests give no indication that Georgian billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili died from unnatural causes, a British police spokeswoman confirmed yesterday.

“This death is no longer being treated as suspicious,” local police spokeswoman Sarah Bailey told the newspaper.

Patarkatsishvili financed a political opposition campaign and ran for president after falling out with the Saakashvili administration. He collapsed and died on February 12 at his mansion outside London, with British doctors suggesting heart disease was to blame. (Messenger Staff)

Georgia to push for peacekeeping format change

The Georgian side is proposing a change to the peacekeeping format in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict zone, State Minister for Reintegration Issues Temur Iakobashvili has said.

“It should be a joint Georgian and Abkhaz police force, which will be trained and managed…by an international police force,” he said.

“This international police force should involve, as we see it, mainly European states and I want to stress here that we consider Russia as a European state as well. The most desired format would be if this operation is carried out under the aegis of OSCE,” Iakobashvili added. (Prime News)

Reports of gunfire in South Ossetia conflict zone

Gunfire broke out in Liakhvi Gorge in the South Ossetian conflict zone late on May 27, according to media reports.

Machine gunfire lasted 10–15 minutes according to some reports, damaging several houses in the village of Tamarasheni on Georgian-controlled territory.

Brigadier General Mamuka Kurashvili, the Chief Military Commander of Peacekeeping Forces in the South Ossetia conflict zone, said the gunfire came from near a Russian peacekeeping post.

“This was a provocation against a Georgian battalion. The attack involving grenade launchers and machineguns lasted for 15 minutes,” Kurashvili said.

He also said they were not Russian peacekeepers but a group of South Ossetian militants who were trying to provoke the Georgian side into returning fire.

The incident is currently being investigated by the Joint Peacekeeping Forces officers and OSCE observers. (Black Sea Press)

Russian peacekeeper in Zugdidi hospital

A Russian peacekeeper has been admitted to a hospital in Zugdidi, close to the Abkhaz conflict zone, under disputed circumstances.

A spokesman for the Tbilisi-backed Abkhaz government-in-exile said the Russian soldier was admitted after a scuffle at a peacekeeper post in the conflict zone.

“The scuffle between Russian peacekeepers occurred on May 27, at the Russian peacekeeping block post 305 in Pakhulani village, Tsalenjikha district. As a result [the peacekeeper] was injured. He underwent a serious emergency operation and is currently in intensive care in Zugdidi Hospital,” the spokesperson said.

He also said the government-in-exile consider it to be an “ordinary incident which frequently happens among peacekeepers under the influence of alcohol.”

However, a representative of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces said the soldier was injured after being attacked by unidentified individuals and sustained a knife wound, news agency RIA Novosti reports.

The representative said the incident occurred in a settlement in Zugdidi district and described it as an “act of hooliganism.” (Black Sea Press)

Estonian delegation visits Georgia

A four-member delegation of the Estonian Armed Forces, led by Lieutenant-General Ants Laaneots, is on an official visit to Georgia.

The Estonian delegation attended the military parade on Independence Day and met the Chief of the Joint Staff Col. Zaza Gogava as well as First Deputy Defense Minister Batu Kutelia.

“The main objective of our meeting was to discuss bilateral cooperation. We laid down future plans and hope for mutually beneficial relations. It is well known that Estonia is our strategic partner and has continuously supported Georgia,” Kutelia said.

Gogava said he discussed cooperation in military training with the Estonian representatives.

The delegation was due to visit Gori military base yesterday and will leave Georgia today. (Black Sea Press)

Incoming ruling party MPs undergo drug tests

Incoming ruling party MPs began compulsory drug tests yesterday.

In accordance with Georgian law, all incoming MPs must take a drug test no later than June 5. (Black Sea Press)

Landslide damages central highway in western Georgia

Traffic has been restricted on the Tbilisi–Senaki–Leselidze highway after a landslide damaged the road near Tsaishi village in western Georgia yesterday.

The Roads Department began a clean-up operation the same day.

The heavy rainstorms which caused the landslide also damaged telecommunications lines on the Black Sea bed, which provide internet to western Georgia.

And over 30 houses have been flooded by mud streams in Tsinandali, Kakheti province, in the east of the country. (Black Sea Press)

National Movement spent GEL 12 million on election campaign

The ruling National Movement Party spent GEL 12 million on its election campaign, according to Central Election Commission spokesman Zurab Kachkachishvili.

All political parties and blocs that took part in the elections must submit their official documents on their expenses during the pre-election period by today.

The Labour Party submitted its documents yesterday too, revealing they spent a total of GEL 300 000 on their election campaign. (Black Sea Press)