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The News in Brief

Friday, October 9
U.S. Government team led by Assistant Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow to visit Georgia

Alexander Vershbow, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, will lead an interagency U.S. Government team on a visit to Georgia on October 19-20 to meet Georgian Government counterparts and launch the first round of working group meetings under the U.S. – Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership. Four U.S. – Georgian bilateral working groups will focus on the priority areas identified in the Charter: democracy, security, economic development and people-to-people relations.

During the Security Working Group, the sides will discuss Georgian defence reform, contributions to NATO operations in Afghanistan and regional security issues. Other working group meetings are planned for November and December.

The U.S.–Georgia Strategic Partnership Charter was signed in Washington in January 2009. The Commission on the U.S.–Georgia Charter established the specific working groups tasked with implementation of Charter provisions in June 2009, when the first meeting under the Charter was held in Washington. (US Embassy News Release)

Hungary supports Georgia in the process of democratic development

Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia Davit Jalaghania hosted the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary Jeno Faller yesterday. After their private meeting the Ministers recounted at a joint briefing that they had discussed the process of Georgia’s integration into Euro-Atlantic structures and issues of regional security.

Mr. Faller said that Hungary supported the activities aimed at developing democracy in Georgia and handed over an official invitation to Hungary. Grigol Vashadze will visit Hungary on October 20. Davit Jalaghania said Georgia saw Hungary as a democratic country with a leading position in the region. (Rustavi 2)

Clinton raps Russian failure to prosecute journalists’ killers

Hillary Clinton, set to make her first visit to Moscow as US Secretary of State next week, rapped Russia’s failure to bring to justice the killers of journalists and rights activists on Wednesday.

The State Department said that Clinton, who issued the critical statement on the third anniversary of the unsolved slaying of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, would raise US concerns about such violence with her Russian interlocutors. Analyst Sarah Mendelson said meanwhile that President Barack Obama`s administration faces a hurdle in resetting ties with Russia because of what she called a “culture of impunity”.

In her statement Clinton expressed alarm about a trend in which she said the killers of only one of 18 journalists murdered in Russia since 2000 have been convicted. She mentioned the unsolved case of Politkovskaya, an investigative journalist for the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, who was shot outside her apartment building on October 7, 2006, and that of Paul Klebnikov, editor of the Russian edition of Forbes magazine, who was gunned down outside his Moscow office on July 9, 2004. She also mentioned the unsolved murder of Natalya Estemirova, a 50-year-old human rights activist, was shot dead after being kidnapped from outside her home in the Chechen capital Grozny on July 15 this year.

“The failure to bring to justice the killers of these journalists undermines efforts to strengthen the rule of law, improve Government accountability and combat corruption,” Clinton said. (Rustavi 2)

People return to damaged houses in Racha

Residents of the Racha region left homeless due to last month’s earthquake have returned to their damaged homes from the tents erected by the regional administration. They say the low temperature and rains have made it impossible to remain in the tents.

The local MP says that project groups are expected to arrive in the remote region to repair the damaged houses. Over 300 families, whose houses are in a grave state, will receive financial assistance. People who suffered in the earthquake have been provided with free medical service and medicines at the Kutaisi Intervention Medical Centre. (Rustavi 2)

5,000 citizens of Georgia detained worldwide

According to all available information 5,000 citizens of Georgia are detained in different parts of the world. Head of Analytical Management at the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Paata Papuashvili stated this at a Parliamentary committee.

Citizens of Georgia are in custody mostly in Ukraine, Austria, Turkey and Spain. Frequently they are accused of larceny, but in Turkey prostitution is the most common charge.

Deputies called this information "stunning". (Interpressnews)

Bridge collapses in the village of Tsnisi, Akhaltsikhe region

A bridge has collapsed in the village of Tsnisi, in the Akhaltsikhe region. It was the only means for villagers to access their agricultural lands and pastures. Luckily, no one was injured in the collapse but some cattle died.

Locals say the bridge was very old and damaged, and had not been repaired since it was constructed in the 70s of the last century. The villagers are asking for help as they have to gather their harvest. (Rustavi 2)

Pupils poisoned

The pupils of Kutaisi public school number 1 have been poisoned with natural gas. All those poisoned have been taken to hospital. The teachers are accusing a development company of negligence, saying that it cut the natural gas pipe beside the school and left it open, meaning the gas flow reached the school.

Classes were not disrupted, but most pupils were taken from the school by their parents. (Rustavi 2)

Russian military detain bus passengers at Enguri

Yesterday morning Russian soldiers detained bus passengers on the administrative border with Abkhazia at Enguri. Deputy Head of the Representation of the Government of Abkhazia in exile in Samegrelo - Zemo Svaneti, Tornike Kilanava, told Interpressnews: “ At the Enguri border Russian military stopped the bus and took the passengers to the Gali police department. We have no information about the driver.”

Kilanava said that the bus had been travelling from the village of Saberio in Gali to Zugdidi. It is assumed that the detained persons are residents of Gali. (Interpressnews)

Ethnic Ossetians ask Russian President for assistance

A family of ethnic Ossetians, the Fadeevs, have asked the President and Prime Minister of Russia for help.

Members of the family held a briefing at the offices of Izvestia alongside representatives of the Dobroye Serdtse Charitable Foundation and talked about the problems of their compatriots. They said the money allocated for the rehabilitation of damaged houses in Tskhinvali had been misappropriated and they still have to live in tents. The Fadeevs said that they do not believe rehabilitation work will ever begin in Tskhinvali. (Rustavi 2)