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The News in Brief

Monday, August 17
First anniversary of Akhalgori occupation commemorated

Yesterday was the first anniversary of the occupation of Akhalgori by the Russian Army and Ossetian formations on August 16, 2008, when Russian troops entered the region at 18:20 and occupied centre of it. According to reports, Russian soldiers started to offer Russian passports to the local population at 20:00 the same day.

At 21:15 on that day about 60 military vehicles were stationed at the north-eastern entrance to Akhalgori 40 kilometres from Tbilisi. 5,348 refugees fled Akhalgori as a result of the Russian occupation.

Russia launched a wide ranging military aggression against Georgia on August 7, 2008. It made land, air and sea attacks. 228 civilians, 146 servicemen and 14 policemen died in Georgia as a result. 23 soldiers are considered lost. Almost 150,000 people fled their homes and 26,000 have become IDPs – 19,381 from the Tskhinvali region and 1,893 from Kodori Gorge in Abkhazia. (Interpressnews)

Council of Europe condemns terrorist acts in breakaway Abkhazia

Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, has condemned the terrorist acts carried out in Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia in a statement published on the official website of the organisation.

“A week ago many international organisations expressed concern that the rhetoric employed by politicians in Georgia and Russia might lead to renewed violence on the anniversary of the war between these countries. I am relieved that the anniversary has passed without the escalation which worried us, but we must condemn the explosions in Abkhazia in recent days. At least two people have been killed, and several Russian tourists are reported to have been injured as a result of these explosions. These tragic events can only be described as terrorism, and it is time for everyone in the South Caucasus to recognise that terrorism is a crime and totally unacceptable in today’s Europe,” the statement reads.

Russia content that NATO enlargement has disappeared from the political foreground

The Russian Foreign Ministry considers it a victory for sanity that the issue of Georgia and Ukraine joining NATO has disappeared from the political foreground, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko has said. He has also said that Russia and NATO have a common responsibility for security in the Euro-Atlantic space.

“We have an additional opportunity for everyone to think about strengthening cooperation on real security issues, rather than facing the consequences of the implementation of political projects inherited from the past,” he said. (Rustavi 2)

Block collapses in Tbilisi

Two families have been left homeless due to the collapse of a block of flats in Bukhaidze Street in Tbilisi. The two-storey building was completely brought down. Eight people were in their apartments during the collapse late on Saturday night, although no casualties occurred as they got out of the building in time.

The injured families spent the night in the open air. Experts are investigating the reason for the collapse, although it is presumed it was caused by the prolonged rain and the age of the building. Clearance works are being conducted.

The administration of Old Tbilisi district has promised to provide the displaced citizens with the rent of temporary apartments until the block is restored. (Rustavi 2)

Public Defender claims his staff were impeded

The Georgian Public Defender asserts that representatives of his office have not been allowed to review the situation and living conditions in prisons No1 and 7 in Tbilisi or talk to prisoners privately. Subari also asserts the prison doctors refused to give verbal information about the prisoners, which he says is a brutal violation of the law.

The First Deputy Minister for Probation, Penitentiary and Legal Assistance has refuted the Ombudsman’s allegations, saying that representatives of the Public Defender’s office have not been prevented from meeting the prisoners but asked to do so in special rooms. Nobody is allowed to visit prisoners in their cells in Georgia or any European country. (Rustavi 2)