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The News in Brief

Tuesday, January 6
Poland sends humanitarian aid to Georgia

The Chancellery of President of Poland Lech Kaczynski has organized a convoy of humanitarian aid for the people of Georgia for New Year together with the Caritas Polska Polish charitable organization, the Press Service of the Polish President reports.

The aid is destined for the population of districts adjacent to the South Ossetian conflict zone. The Polish side has sent foodstuffs, hygiene items, warm clothes, blankets, pillows and nappies. Two loaded vehicles have already left Warsaw and were due to arrive in Georgia on January 5.
(Black Sea Press)

Funding for opposition parties restored

The Georgian Parliament has passed an amendment to the ‘Law on Political Amalgamation of Citizens’ under which state funding for opposition political parties will increase.

According to the amendment, state funding for opposition parties which refused to enter Parliament after the Parliamentary elections in May will be restored. The Government stopped financing those parties from the State Budget in accordance with a Parliamentary decree of July 2008. The New Rights Party, National Forum, Freedom Party, Movement for United Georgia and People’s Party received 18 percent of the vote between them at the Parliamentary elections as part of the opposition coalition.

Regardless certain discrepancies on a number of issues between the Parliamentary majority and minority, the opposition in general has backed the amendment and agreed to restore state funding for the opposition parties. One part of the opposition had demanded that Parliament not only increase the basic funding (stipulated by law) but double it, and to retain until the next Parliamentary elections funding for political parties which failed to clear the electoral threshold. The Parliamentary majority and minority however failed to reach consensus on this issue.

As Parliament Vice-Speaker Levan Vepkhvadze stated after a meeting with the Parliament Chair, it was agreed that in parallel with passing the amendment a special decree would be adopted which would allow lawmakers to proceed with debates on disputable issues within a certain period of time. “If we do not pass that amendment then those political parties whose funding should be restored will be left without it,” Vepkhvadze said.

Under the agreement reached between the Parliamentary majority and minority, each party which fails to return over 30 MPs to Parliament will receive GEL 600 per mandate. Those winning over 30 seats will receive GEL 100 per mandate.
(Black Sea Press)

Zurab Tsereteli marks his jubilee with new projects

The President of the Russian Academy of Arts, sculptor and artist Zurab Tsereteli, marked his 75th anniversary (on January 4) by initiating new projects – Russian RIA Novosti reports.

“I begin my work on January 2 – this has been my tradition since childhood. Thus, such phrases like “I have no mood to paint today” are not familiar to me. I am accustomed to work each and every day,” Tsereteli said.

Tsereteli is currently working on a new sculpture dedicated to 300th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava, which will be marked in 2009. Peter the Great straddling a rearing horse is the central figure of the composition. He is surrounded by seven heroes of the battle, also mounted on horses.

“I will do my best to present this monument in summer – on the anniversary day,” the sculptor said. Zurab Tsereteli is also working on a 33-metre (the number of years of his earthly life) high monument of Christ.
(Black Sea Press)