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The News in Brief

Wednesday, December 30
Georgian sailors among crew of hijacked tanker

Somali pirates have hijacked a UK-flagged chemical tanker in the Gulf of Aden, officials say. The St. James Park was captured on Monday while on its way to Thailand from Spain, said the Kenya-based Seafarers Assistance Programme. Its 26 crew hail from Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Georgia, India, Turkey and the Philippines.

Pirate attacks have been common off the Somalia coast and international navies have been deployed to counter them. The St James Park had issued a distress call on Monday night saying it had been attacked by pirates, said the International Maritime Bureau.

The tanker, which was carrying a cargo of chemicals used to make plastics, had changed course and was now heading towards the northern coast of Somalia, said Andrew Mwangura of the Seafarers Assistance Programme. "It is expected to arrive there later this evening," Mr Mwangura told the AFP news agency. (Rustavi 2)

Giorgi Baramia and Sandra Roelofs congratulate IDPs on New Year

Giorgi Baramia, head of the legal Government of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, his spouse Ketevan Kacharava and First Lady of Georgia Sandra Elisabeth Roelofs and her parents have visited one of the shelters in the Didube-Chughureti district and congratulated the IDPs living there on the upcoming New Year holiday, Interpressnews has been told by the media centre of the Abkhazian Government.

Giorgi Baramia and Sandra Roelofs gave presents to internally displaced children. About 80 families live in the abovementioned shelter and the Government has legalised their ownership of their accommodation there. The building, once a technical college, will be repaired within the framework of the special rehabilitation programme next year.

Sandra Roelofs and Ketevan Kacharava have also met IDPs living in the Lilo district and given them presents. (Interpressnews)

Infrastructure projects will remain regional policy priority in 2010

Infrastructure projects will continue to be the priority in regional policy in 2010, Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Davit Tkeshelashvili told journalists before the Government session. In particular, roads, schools and kindergartens will be repaired.

Highways in the Adjara and Imereti regions, the Zugdidi-Mestia road and the Gombori road will also be built, the Minister added. (Interpressnews)

President appoints new Governor of Imereti

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has presented the new Governor of the Imereti Region in Batumi. Lasha Makatsaria, formerly Deputy Head of the President's Administration, has been moved to this post after the dismissal of the previous Governor following the death of two civilians during the demolition of the Memorial of Glory in Kutaisi.

The President said that every planned project in Kutaisi would be fulfilled. One such project is the construction of a new hydroelectric power station at Namakhvani. (Rustavi 2)

1072 H1N1 cases reported in Georgia

The condition of 7 patients infected with H1N1 is still poor, Shota Tsanava, Deputy Head of the National Centre for Disease Control, has told Interpressnews. These patients are being treated at the Infections hospital, the Ghudushauri hospital and the Kutaisi hospital. Pregnant women are not among them.

1072 cases of H1N1 have been confirmed in Georgia. 10 people have died of it. The last casualty was a 35-year-old man in Kutaisi. (Interpressnews)

Internally displaced teachers demand maintenance of wages

Teachers internally displaced as a result of the August war have staged a protest in front of the Presidentís Residence. About 100 teachers from Gori, Akhalgori and Tserovani took part.

The protestors demanded a dialogue with the Government, Manana Ghurchumelidze, Chair of the teachers' trade union, told Interpressnews. They have also demanded the maintenance of their wage levels and insurance packages.

Manana Ghurchumelidze hosted a discussion of the abovementioned problems on 22 December. Despite invitations being sent to officials, only the Ombudsman attended this, therefore the teachers decided to protest in front of the Presidentís Residence to inform Mikheil Saakashvili of their problems in this way.

Nanuli Burdzgla, former school director from the Liakhvi Gorge, said that the teachers had been receiving GEL 290 in wages since their displacement but this is not accounted for in the 2010 state budget. They had been receiving GEL 300 when they were in the conflict zone, but this was taken from them after they left the gorge. (Interpressnews)

Environmental Protection Inspectorate seizes 90 illegally cut fir trees from markets

The Environmental Protection Inspectorate has discovered that about 90 fir trees on sale at the markets as Christmas Trees were illegally cut down and stolen from their rightful owners.

The impounded Christmas Trees have been given as presents to children at the House of the Future. The Ministry has presented them with 50 kg of tangerines too.

The Ministry of Environment Protection is redoubling its inspection efforts due to the upcoming New Year and will raid premises suspected of selling illegally obtained trees. (Interpressnews)