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The News in Brief

Tuesday, August 4
Mikheil Saakashvili -We do not intend to restore territorial integrity militarily

President Mikheil Saakashvili has said that Georgia knows it cannot take back its Russian-backed rebel regions militarily but fears Moscow has designs on Tbilisi.

In an interview with Reuters a year after the war with Russia, Saakashvili said the world had failed to hold Moscow to account for the "mass ethnic cleansing" of Georgians in the South Ossetia conflict for fear of jeopardising energy and trade interests.

That he is still in office is "almost a miraculous story of survival", Saakashvili said, adding that though a new war is not imminent, Russia has not given up hope of ousting him with its forces 50 km (30 miles) from the Georgian capital.

"I am still sitting in this office despite solemn pledges by Putin to hang me by different parts of my body, to crush Georgia's statehood," Saakashvili said. "... in many ways it's mission unaccomplished. That's certainly very worrisome."

Russia crushed a Georgian assault on South Ossetia last August, sending tanks into Georgia proper and shaking Western confidence in oil and gas routes running through the South Caucasus. A spike in tensions ahead of the anniversary is fuelling fears of new hostilities. Russia warned on Saturday it would use "all available force" to defend against Georgian "provocation" after South Ossetia accused Georgia of firing mortars. Georgia denied the charge.

Saakashvili said former Soviet Georgia had no pretensions of taking back South Ossetia and Abkhazia by force, responding to a comment by visiting U.S. Vice President Joe Biden last month in which he said there was "no military option to reintegration". "The issue is whether anybody in the world wants a new war in Europe with the participation of Russia, and the obvious answer is 'no', and that's exactly what Vice President Biden was implying, and is a view which we share," Saakashvili said. (Interpressnews)

2004 murder solved

As a result of investigations and searches jointly conducted by the officers of the Guria and Bolnisi police divisions, a murder which occurred in 2004 has been solved. Giorgi Kiladze, 23, has been detained. He murdered Davit Khasia, 33, with a knife while trying to extort money from him in the vicinity of the cemetery in Dvabzu village, Ozurgeti district.

Other members of the criminal group responsible have also been detained. Levan Skamkochaishvili, previously convicted, Irakli Maghularia and Irakli Tavberidze have been accused of participation in premeditated murder and the concealment of the crime. (Rustavi 2)

“World March” from Moscow to Tskhinvali

Bikers from Moscow have set off towards Tskhinvali to commemorate the anniversary of the Russian-Georgia war. They will travel there via Rostov and Vladikavkaz, says the Russian First Channel.

The members of the international Moscow-Tskhinvali “World March 2009” motorbike convoy will arrive in separatist South Ossetia on August 8 and join the No War rally. Only five bikers left from Moscow, but they said others, from Ukraine, North Ossetia, Dagestan and Vladikavkaz, would join them. They will travel 6,000 kilometres in total. (Interpressnews)

Anti-Crisis Council session disrupted

A session of the Anti-Crisis Council of the Georgian Parliament was not held on Monday due to the absence of a quorum. Only three of the eleven members of the Council came to Parliament to attend the session.

The Anti-Crisis Council was due to discuss fifteen issues, including the possibility of abolishing taxes for socially vulnerable families. The next session will be held in the near future and if this too is inquorate the question of the Council’s abolition or its transformation into some other body will be raised. (Rustavi 2)

Georgian Labour Party to boycott local government elections

The Georgian Labour Party will boycott the next local government elections, party member Giorgi Gugava said at a briefing on Monday. He said the party will participate only if the Government changes.

“Participating in the elections means taking responsibility for the possible breakdown and collapse of the country; extending and reinforcing the violent regime; creating a democratic veneer to the dictatorship, legalising falsification,” Giorgi Gugava said. (Rustavi 2)

Villages flooded by unceasing rain in Lagodekhi district

Several villages have been flooded due to the unceasing rain in the Lagodekhi district of Kakheti. The water has flooded about two hundred dwellings. Agricultural land has been damaged, poultry have died.

One family has been cast into the open air in the village of Tsodniskari, because the natural disaster completely brought down their house. The Tetritskali River has damaged a bridge in the village of Tsodniskari as well. (Rustavi 2)