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The News in Brief

Thursday, November 5
Aleksandre Kvitashvili – No reason to panic over H1N1 virus in Georgia

There is no reason to panic over the H1N1 virus, the so-called swine flu, says Healthcare Minister Aleksandre Kvitashvili. He has said that the Healthcare Commission will convene on Friday and tell the public the true situation in Georgia. He noted that there have been 31 cases of infection with this virus confirmed in Georgia since June.

“The country is sufficiently supplied with medicine and there is no reason to panic,” Kvitashvili declared, saying that Georgia had helped Ukraine by supplying medicine and other means of dealing with this virus. (Interpressnews)

Public Defender interested in conditions in Batumi No.3 prison

Interpressnews has been informed by the Office of the Public Defender that members of his monitoring group will enter the Batumi No.3 penitentiary institution and be introduced to the situation in that prison.

Interpressnews has been informed by a reliable source that underage prisoners are on hunger strike in Batumi No.3 penitentiary institution. The Public Defender’s office has said that this has not been confirmed to it by the prison administration.

One of the main reasons for the alleged hunger strike is the toughening of prison conditions. The prison leadership was changed two months ago and the new team has suspended psychological and educational programmes. This information is also not confirmed by the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Aid. (Interpressnews)

Fuel crisis in Akhalgori

There is a shortage of fuel in Akhalgori, locals have told Interpressnews.

“Representatives of the local authority had to visit Tskhinvali yesterday but were unable to get fuel. They finally siphoned some from an ambulance car,” Akhalgori natives stated.

It is impossible to bring a large amount of petrol from the Georgian side of the adminisatrative border with South Ossetia and inclement weather has prevented them getting it from Tskhinvali. The Tskhinvali-Akhalgori road becomes blocked when it rains. (Interpressnews)

Occupiers burn down home of ethnic Georgians in Gali

Russian occupiers burnt down the house of Ruzgen Khasaia in the village of Nabakevi, in the Gali district, on Wednesday morning. They did this after Khasaia refused to give them his income from the nut harvest.

The occupiers accused the family of crossing the ‘border of the Abkhazian republic’ illegally and urged Ruzgen Khasaia to pay a fine. They also wanted to dig trenches in their yard, which is situated on the administrative border. When the ethnic Georgians protested the occupiers burnt down the house and forced neighbours to come out and see this. (Rustavi 2)

Opposition movement objects to highway construction in Tbilisi

The Movement for Fair Georgia, led by ex-PM Zurab Noghaideli, objects to the construction work taking place in the River Vere Gorge and accuses the municipal government of violating the law on Tbilisi.

Petre Mamradze of the party says that the construction of a new highway, intended to ease traffic flow on two central avenues in the capital, in fact represents the beginning of an ecological catastrophe in Tbilisi. He also asserts that the construction of the new highway violates the general development plan for Tbilisi and international norms which stipulate that at least 50 square metres of green cover should be designated per person in large cities. In Georgia this norm is 2-3 square metres.

Mamradze says that the main argument of the municipal government, that the construction of the highway will ease traffic in other districts of the capita, is not based on any scientific survey. (Rustavi 2)

Heavy rains damage remote regions

Non-stop rain has left remote mountainous regions of Georgia isolated from their regional centres. Yesterday the Highways Department and local administrations began work to clear the roads to the villages of Piraketa Khevsureti. They are waiting until the level of the river Katsliskhevi lowers before taking further action, as the river has damaged the bridges connecting different villages.

In addition, the last few days’ rain has blacked out remote regions. 21 families in the village of Katsliskhevi remain isolated.

The situation is similar in Pshavi, where the roads are blocked by the disaster. The villages have no electricity and classes are suspended in most of the local schools.

45 families in the village of Chabano are unable to contact the rest of the region. (Rustavi 2)

Trade Unions propose amendments to the tax code

The Georgian Trade Unions (GTU) propose amendments to the Tax Code of Georgia. GTU Chair Irakli Petriasvili gave details of the organisation`s proposal at a news conference yesterday. It has already submitted the relevant document to Parliament for consideration.

Petriashvili said that traders, who have maximum 100 GEL turnover should not be obliged to use cash machines. Petriashvili said that most of the traders fall to use the cash machines properly anyway and tax inspectors often fine them, therefore Petriashvili proposes imposing fixed taxes for traders with a minimal turnover.

Petriashvili believes that this amendment will be both acceptable for the traders and more profitable for the state budget. “The state has no moral right to impose high taxes on people who make less than the minimum wage from their trading activities,” Petriashvili said. (Rustavi 2)