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The News in Brief

Monday, December 14
Goga Khachidze to participate in Copenhagen summit

Environmental Protection Minister Goga Khachidze is in Copenhagen to take part in the summit on climate change, InterpressNews has been told by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources.

Part of the Georgian delegation had already left for Copenhagen. The Minister joined the delegation yesterday and will stay until 18 December.

The Georgian delegation will present its viewpoint on climate change. Documents for this meeting have been discussed on various levels.

Delegates from 192 countries, including more than 100 Heads of State or Government, are gathering in Copenhagen.

Georgian sailor reported dead as ship sinks in Black Sea

Nothing has been heard of Davit Tchitchilashvili, a sailor on the ship Oganbey which has sunk in the Black Sea. The sailor called his family late last night and told them the ship was sinking. They have not been able to reach him since.

The death of another Georgian sailor, Sergo Jintchradze, has also been reported. In this case the owner of the ship called his family members personally. The 52-year-old sailor had been due to return home by the end of December. His body will be taken from Turkey to Georgia in two days.

The Panama-flagged cargo ship sank off Eregli in the Black Sea coast province of Zonguldak, taking the lives of two crew members, officials said on Saturday. The Oganbey, 5,547 gross tonnes in weight and 136.8 metres in length, was heading from Russia to Turkey’s northwestern Canakkale province and sank 7 miles off the coast of Eregli. Two crewmen - Georgian and Ukrainian citizens - died and 12 were rescued. Two others were missing, officials said.

An Israeli ship, initially thought to be Turkish, sank off the coast of Israel on Saturday, the Anatolia News Agency also reported.
(Rustavi 2)

Irakli Alasania meets with population in Didi Digomi district

Leader of the Alliance for Georgia Irakli Alasania was meeting people in the Didi Digomi district of Tbilisi yesterday. The aim of the meeting was to find out what their problems are.

Irakli Alasania said that the steps politicians take must reflect the interests of the people. "We know people need change. However, these changes must be made peacefully. People need optimism and hope. Today there are attempts being made to thwart people’s hopes for the future," Alasania said, adding that changes must occur in the country through elections.

Russian police abduct Georgian from Chuburkhinji village

Russian “border police” have abducted Irakli Kalandia, a resident of the town of Ochamchire, from the village of Chuburkhinji in the Gali region. According to the Public Broadcaster, Kalandia was detained because he did not have a permit issued by a Federal Security Service Board Guard.

The occupiers have called the family members of the detainee and asked $5,000 for his release.

EU monitors in Georgia call on Russian forces to pull back from disputed village

On Saturday European Union monitors in Georgia called on Russian forces to pull back from a disputed village and honour their commitments under the Six Point Agreement negotiated by the international community. Head of mission Hansjorg Haber said that Russia had remained in violation of an EU-brokered ceasefire agreement that called for the withdrawal of all forces to prewar positions.

"The biggest difference between the European Union and Russia is of course over point five, the withdrawal of the Russians to the lines held before the war. From the legal position of the European Union Russia has not complied with this point," Ambassador Haber told Reuters on the anniversary of the initial withdrawal of the Russian troops from the Georgian village of Perevi.

Two months after the war, at the heart of a key energy transit region to the West, Russian forces pulled back from a buffer zone inside Georgia proper but kept soldiers in the village of Perevi, which lies outside South Ossetia, angering Georgians. Though Russian troops pulled back from Perevi on December 12, 2008, they returned on the same day when Georgian forces moved in.

"The Perevi checkpoint is clearly outside Ossetia. It`s still being held by Russian forces. It's now one year since the Russians evacuated the checkpoint after the Russian-European Summit in Nice but on the same day they reoccupied it, pointing to the massive presence of Georgians there immediately after their withdrawal," Haber said.

Haber also said that the appeal was clearly directed to the Russian Government and it has to resolve this problem. "We have, in the meantime, agreed with the Georgian Ministry of the Interior on the framework for a reoccupation of the checkpoint in the case of another, final Russian withdrawal, and it will in this event run much smoother. So I think the time has come to resolve this problem," he said.

Russia has recognised South Ossetia and Georgia`s other rebel region, Abkhazia, as independent states and says the several thousand troops it has introduced into both territories are there on the basis of bilateral agreements.
(Rustavi 2)