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The News in Brief

Friday, July 24
Belarus tells its citizens to respect Georgian law in Abkhazia and South Ossetia

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus has instructed its citizens to obey Georgian law if they travel to Abkhazia and so-called South Ossetia.

Alexander Lukashevich, Deputy Head of the Main Consular Department at the Belarus Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Interfax that travel to Abkhazia and South Ossetia is limited. It is only possible to enter the breakaway regions from the Gori and Zugdidi districts. Lukashevich explained that persons entering these regions from other districts will be charged under the Law of Georgia.

The Ministry also mentioned that only Russia and Nicaragua have recognised the breakaway regions. The Belarus Parliament has delayed the discussion of that issue. President of Belarus Lukashenko has said that a lot of money has been offered to him in exchange for recognising the breakaway regions. Russia offered a USD 500million loan, but Lukashenko stated he will not ‘sell’ his position.

The Tskhinvali puppet regime has commented on the Belarus Statement. RIA-Novosti reports that de facto Minister of Foreign Affairs Murat Jioev has stated people can enter South Ossetia only from the Russian borders, as the Georgia-Ossetia border control points aren’t operational. He added that South Ossetia is a sovereign country and the law of Georgia doesn’t apply there. (Interpressnews)

Abandoned newborn baby hospitalized

An abandoned infant was found on Tsabadze Street on Wednesday. The child, wrapped up in clothes, was noticed by locals on the stairs of the 18th public school. They called for the police and the emergency services.

The child was taken to the Iashvili Children’s Clinic, where he remains. Doctors have examined the infant and said he was born a few hours before and is healthy. Police have already begun an investigation into the incident. (Rustavi 2)

President visits exhibition about Berlin Wall

The Georgian President made his first comments on the visit of the US Vice President to Georgia at the Tbilisi Hippodrome, where he viewed a photo exhibition called Open the Iron Curtain. The exhibition is dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The President attended the exhibition after the concert held in honour of the US Vice President in the new Presidential palace. Afterwards he joined a group of young people, sitting down beside them on the grass, and talked about the Georgia-Russia conflict and the significance of Biden’s visit. Saakashvili said the Vice President was charmed with Georgian culture. (Rustavi 2)

Georgian President receives winner of Miss Deaf World beauty contest

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili received the winner of the Miss Deaf World beauty contest in the President’s palace on Wednesday. Georgian Nino Davitinidze won the title in Prague several days ago. Mikheil Saakashvili promised Nino Davitnidze that the next Miss Deaf World contest would be held in Georgia.

“Despite all the difficulties in their life, each person should try to overcome their problems, work, fight, compete and be ready for victory,” Mikheil Saakashvili said. (Rustavi 2)

Journalist’s murderer admits crime

Former General of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry Alexei Pukach, who has been arrested on suspicion of killing Georgian journalist Giorgi Ghonghadze has confessed to his murder. Russian news agencies report that the former General has also named the persons who put the contract out on Ghonghadze, though these names have not yet been revealed. Pukach has also promised to show investigators where he buried the journalist’s head.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshchenko has commented Pukach’s detention. She has demanded that the people who put out the contract for his murder be properly punished. Pukach was detained in the Zhitomir district of Ukraine and afterwards taken to Kiev, where he is being interrogated.

Giorgi Ghonghadze was kidnapped and murdered in 2000. The circumstances of his death became a national scandal and a focus for protests against the Government of then-President Leonid Kuchma. Gongadze’s killers have yet to be publicly identified or put on trial, although two men accused of his murder were arrested in March 2005. His widow Myroslava Ghonghadze and their two children were granted political asylum in the United States and have lived there since 2001.

Investigators say that Pukach, who chaired the Criminal Investigation Department of the Interior Ministry at that time, monitored the journalist’s movements and assigned three police officers to kidnap him. Reportedly Pukach smothered the journalist himself and threw his corpse into a forest. In 2003, Pukach was arrested for destroying documents proving that the journalist was spied on, but he disappeared after being bailed out. In 2005 President Yushchenko announced that the murder was being investigated. Pukach was charged with premeditated murder and declared wanted by police.

Ghonghadze exposed high-profile corruption in his stories, and his killing caused an uproar and months of protests against then-President Leonid Kuchma after a key witness released tape recordings in which voices resembling those of Kuchma and others were heard conspiring against Ghonghadze. Ghonghadze’s family believes the true masterminds of the killing are still at large. (Rustavi 2)