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The News in Brief

Monday, October 19
Ilia II talks about value of relations between Georgian and American Churches

Relations between the most ancient Church of Georgia and the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) are an example what relations should be between nations and churches. Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II declared this during a sermon in the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Trinity yesterday.

The Patriarch concelebrated the Sunday liturgy with Metropolitan Jonah of All America and Canada. “Today is a happy day. The Orthodox Church of Georgia celebrates a big feast. In Georgia today we have Metropolitan Jonah of All America and Canada. Your arrival is the Divine sign that Georgia will unite. Georgia will follow the world’s way, and our nation will rally,” the Patriarch said.

Ilia II expressed gratitude to Metropolitan Jonah on behalf of the Holy Synod of Georgia and the believers. “I think your arrival will bring a positive result,” the Catholicos-Patriarch said.

Saakashvili visits Kakheti

On October 17 Saakashvili visited Kakheti to observe the wine making process in the village of Khodasheni. “We should await the vintage in celebration, not in fear,” he said. “We have learnt to conduct it better, and learnt to make better wines. Our wine is much better than it was before the embargo,” he said at the meeting with Kakheti region Governors. “The mistake made by our winemakers was that they thought the Russian market was more profitable for them than the US market. Our main friends today are the Americans living in New York, Washington, California and Houston. We should learn how to sell wine there. The ones who tried this have managed to,” Saakashvili said. He added that despite a “lot of money” being spent on the vintage last year, it was not successful. “Last year it was not organised properly. This year everything was well-organised,” he said.
(The Messenger)

Firefighters extinguish fire by helicopter in Svaneti

A fire is being extinguished by helicopter in the Mestia district of Svaneti. The fire broke out in the mountains between the villages of Lenjeri and Latali on Saturday and spread over about five hectares.

The fire broke out in a mixed forest nine kilometres from Mestia. The place is difficult to reach, therefore, it is impossible to use fire engines to fight the disaster. About a hundred locals have tried to stop the further spread of the fire. The cause of it is so far unknown.

Fire also broke out in another region of Georgia, Racha. Fortunately, this fire was localised to the village of Chorji in the Ambrolauri district. The Georgian Environment Minister confirmed that the local population faces no danger from these fires.
(Rustavi 2)

Eighteen prisoners released early

18 prisoners have been released after the Commission for Conditional Early Release interceded for them at court.

The new Commission for Conditional Early Release was created on September 1, 2009. It contains six representatives of the Georgian Ministry for Corrections and Legal Assistance, two MPs and two NGO members. It has held just one session so far, at which from 73 cases discussed 18 prisoners were recommended for early release.

The submission of applications to the Commission begins on the 5th of every month and it takes its final decisions at the end of each month.
(Rustavi 2)

Georgian Ombudsman visits prisoners

Giorgi Tugushi, in his capacity of Georgian Ombudsman, made his first visit to the pre-trial detention isolator on Friday. He held an hour-long conversation with prisoners there. The Ombudsperson reviewed the living conditions in the pre-trial detention isolator and said that the prisoners’ rights were being violated and their living conditions do not conform to any legal standards.

Giorgi Tugushi intends to discuss the prisoners’ problems with the Georgian Interior Minister and present his own initiatives for resolving them. The Ombudsman’s proposes to construct a new pre-trial detention isolator and improving living conditions on the ground in prisons.
(Rustavi 2)

Ethnic cleansing in breakaway regions discussed in Parliament

Ethnic cleansing carried out in Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and so-called South Ossetia and evidence proving it is taking place were discussed at the session of the Temporary Parliamentary Commission for Restoring Georgia’s Territorial Integrity on Friday. MPs also talked about intensifying their work in this direction.

There is a lot of evidence hanging around in different offices in Georgia and to use this properly more coordination within the Government is needed. Representatives of the Justice and Interior Ministries were summoned to Parliament on Friday for this reason and agreed to exchange information, coordinate their actions and sending their evidence to international organisations.

“What happened in Georgia was a crime committed against humankind. Ethnic cleansing was carried out. Russia will be made answerable for this in the international court as well as all international organisations,” Shota Malashkhia, the Chair of the Commission said.
(Rustavi 2)

Employment booklets to be abolished

The Georgian Government has proposed to abolish the employment booklets which have been obligatory at public offices so far. The law on Public Service will be soon amended and keeping an employment record will be no longer obligatory for people employed in State offices.

Under current legislation an employee’s record of employment is inscribed in an employment booklet. Officials say this is a dated system and the authenticity of the records is impossible to control. The idea of abolishing the booklets was proposed by the Government and the public registry will prepare a draft law for further discussion in Parliament.
(Rustavi 2)

Hostage released after three months

An ethnic Georgian, Makhare Makhatadze, has been released by separatists after three months captivity. The former hostage states that he was first taken to the Sokhumi isolator, where he was tortured permanently. Afterwards, thanks to the support of his Abkhaz relatives, Makhatadze was taken to the Sokhumi asylum. During the period he was held in the isolator, the captive received grave injuries to his head.

Makhare Makhatadze was arrested on charges of “illegally crossing Abkhazia’s borders” three months ago. The family of the captive paid a 2,500 dollar ransom to the separatists. The released hostage was taken from the occupied region to the Georgian-controlled area and left at the Georgian police checkpoint. Police informed the family of Makhatadze that he had been freed.
(Rustavi 2)