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The News in Brief

Friday, January 15
Statement by Georgian Foreign Ministry

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia expresses its deep grief over the earthquake that hit Haiti on 12 January 2010, which destroyed buildings and killed, by preliminary accounts, hundreds of people.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia expresses its condolences to the families of the earthquake victims. “The Georgian Government took the decision last night to send aid. This is a very important decision; Georgia itself faces financial and economic difficulties; nevertheless Georgia cannot remain indifferent towards the people of Haiti,” Nino Kalandadze, the Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister, told Imedi TV yesterday. (The Messenger)

Georgian observers leave for Ukraine

Georgian observers left for Ukraine yesterday morning after the Kiev City Court nullified the ruling of the Ukraine`s Central Election Commission, which had rejected the request of Georgian monitors to observe the Presidential elections there.

The law court announced the ruling on Wednesday. It allows Georgian observers to monitor the elections of the President of Ukraine, which will be held on January 17.

Reportedly, opposition candidate Viktor Yanukovich's supporters form the majority in the CEC, which refused to allow Georgian observers to attend the elections two days ago. (Rustavi 2)

Minister of Refugees greets Old New Year with IDPs

The Minister of IDPs and Resettlement, Koba Subeliani, greeted the Old New Year with IDPs residing in the Mukhiani district of Tbilisi. The Minister presented the IDPs with presents and candies.

The Ministry also organised a show for the IDPs, at which two modern folk bands, Chveneburebi and Zumba, sang for the spectators. The show was held in two parts, before midnight and after. The Minister visited every IDP family residing in the settlement and wished Happy Old New Year to them.

The Old New Year is an unofficial celebration in Georgia, which marks the New Year holiday according to the old calendar. (Rustavi 2)

Georgian President celebrates Old New Year with locals in Guria Region

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili arrived in the Guria Region to celebrate the Old New Year in the Ozurgeti district. Mikheil Saakashvili visited the Salukvadze family in one of the villages. He participated in a local tradition of calling the God of Wine and Fertility to homes.

The President tasted Saperavi red Georgian wine. Local women gave him the traditional blessing.

Mikheil Saakashvili met locals assembled at the Salukvadzes' home and listened to their problems. He promised them that a new road will be constructed in the region.

Mikheil Saakashvili received a present - a traditional New Year tree made of wood that is considered to be a symbol of abundance. (Rustavi 2)

Three die when landmine explodes in Gonio

Three people have died in a landmine explosion. 44-year old Nugzar Bilvanidze and his wife Ketevan Bedinadze, and a 5-year old relative died.

The accident happened yesterday at about 11:00, while Nugzar Bilvanidze was cutting scrap iron in his yard. The landmine was hidden in the scrap iron, which Nugzar Bilvanidze had collected in the vicinity of the Gonio military base. (Interpressnews)