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The News in Brief

Wednesday, December 10
Medvedev tasks Emergency Minister with helping South Ossetia

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has instructed his Minister for Emergency Situations, Sergey Shoygu, to assist South Ossetian colleagues in establishing an Emergency Situations Ministry in the breakaway Republic, Russian media sources report.

"They are in the process of forming their own Emergency Ministry, which will be your "younger brother'. We should help this agency to stand on its feet and start working in full capacity," Medvedev told Shoygu in the Kremlin on December 8.

According to the Russian President, the South Ossetians "require assistance in adjusting state mechanism." "We should share with them the regulations that are in effect in our country and which have proved themselves," Medvedev said.

According to Sergey Shoygu, water and electricity supplies have been restored in Tskhinvali. Gas boilers have been installed in all schools with the help of the Russian Gazprom Co. The Minister added that gas supply to South Ossetia from Georgia has been blocked, and expressed hope that the construction of a direct gas pipeline to South Ossetia (which is already underway) would be successfully completed within the first six months of next year.

According to the Minister, all citizens of South Ossetia who have lost their homes and property will received immediate compensation. Experts from the Ministry have also carried out mine clearing operations in South Ossetia. According to Sergey Shoygu, 2,000 missiles and bombs were discovered during this process, two in the schoolyard in Java. (Black Sea Press)

Labour blames authorities for large scale sale of Georgian forests

The Labour Party of Georgia has accused the authorities of selling the country and says that the auction for granting a long term license for the use of forests planned for December 11 is a crime.

“The Ministry of Economic Development, with the consent of Saakashvili and Bendukidze and others, sells Georgia. Georgian forests have been placed on the world market. It is a crime future generations may become the victims of,” Labour Party representative Kakha Dzagania stated at a briefing on December 9.

Dzagania says that forests all over Georgia have been placed at auction. The prices of the various lots begin at GEL 25,000 (approximately $15,000) and end at GEL 20,000,000 (approx. $12,000,000). Dzagania believes the sale will lead to the complete liquidation of forests in Georgia.

The Labour Party plans to present a bill to Parliament in the near future “to prohibit the sale of forests in Georgia once and for all and ensure that only local residents would be able to use forestry resources, under specific conditions,”, Dzagania stressed. Dzagania points out that in the Georgian Constitution the sale of natural resources is prohibited. (Black Sea Press)

Old couple die after gas leakage

Tbilisi residents Mikheil and Valentina Galoyan, 65 years old, have died in their flat as the result of a gas leak, TV company Imedi stated on December 9. This tragedy happened in their one room apartment in Samtredia Street on Monday evening.

According to preliminary information, a gas water heater installed in the kitchen was the source of the leak. Mikheil Galoyan was found dead in the bathroom and his wife in the kitchen. An investigation is under way. (Black Sea Press)

World Mourns Alexey II

The Orthodox world, heads of state, leaders and representatives of different religious confessions, science and culture and thousands of believers will participate in the mourning ceremony for the 15th primate of the Russian Orthodox Church – Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexey II.

“He was a courageous person, a person who belonged not only to the Russian Orthodox Church, but the whole of Orthodoxy,” Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II said after the ceremony at the coffin. (Black Sea Press)