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The News in Brief

Friday, February 5
Temur Basilia arrested in the United States

U.S. police have arrested Temur Basilia, the former Economic Adviser to Eduard Shevardnadze. Basilia fled Georgia after the Rose Revolution and has lived in the United States since then.

Basilia, who was sentenced to 9 years in prison by the Tbilisi City Court in absentia for bribe taking, works for an international organisation in the U.S. Shalva Shavgulidze, his lawyer, says he has not been officially notified of his client's detention. (Rustavi 2)

Finance Minister clarifies tax amendments

Minister of Finance Kakha Baindurashvili has answered the questions of Koba Davitashvili, the leader of the People's Party, who launched a sit-in outside Parliament yesterday.

Fines for violating the new law on issuing invoices and fixed taxes came into force on February 1, causing protests among traders. Baindurashvili accused opposition leaders of misinforming the traders for their political ends, saying Davitashvili had told them that traders would be sued if they did not produce invoices for each product sold. Baindurashvili announced at a news conference that the new law did not apply to retail traders as the opposition leader had asserted.

"In the written reply we have sent to Koba Davitashvili we clarify that the provisions of Article 143 of the Tax Code do not apply to entrepreneurs involved in retail trading or street vendors," Baindurashvili said. (Rustavi 2)

Work on new Constitution to end in autumn

Work on the new Constitution of Georgia will end by autumn, Avtandil Demetrashvili, Chairman of the Constitutional Commission, has told Interpressnews.

"A lot of amendments will be made to the Constitution. The Venice Commission’s message is to work out an effective Constitution," he said. Work on it was initially due to end in December of last year, but this deadline was extended to spring, and now autumn.

The new Constitution will come into force after its final draft is discussed by the Venice Commission. The Commission has worked on the Georgian Constitution since 1993. (Interpressnews)

Scandal maturing between Moscow and Sokhumi

A scandal is developing between Moscow and Sokhumi, the Moskovski Komsomoletsi newspaper says. It alleges that the Russian Foreign Ministry has already sent a note to the Sokhumi regime expressing concern about "a lot of violations of the property rights of Russian citizens". Only Abkhazian citizens have the right to buy real estate under the de facto regime and Russian citizens are being forced to take part in suspicious schemes in order to buy real estate.

Abkhazian lawyer Tamaz Ketsba says he is aware of hundreds of cases of deprivation of property. "Russians are not protected in Abkhazia", Ketsba said. (Interpressnews)

Deputy Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance resigns

Deputy Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance Levan Zarandia has resigned. This has been confirmed by a spokesman from the Press Service of the Ministry. Zarandia has made no comment.

An article in the Alia newspaper states that Zarandia has had a disagreement with Minister Khatuna Kalmakhelidze. The article says that Zarandia ‘dug up’ something about one of Kalmakhelidze’s relatives that upset the Minister.

Khatuna Kalmakhelidze was appointed Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance two months ago. Zarandia has worked at the Ministry since it was established. He is a former head of the Pardon Commission. (Interpressnews)

Members of New Rights join Noghaideli`s party

Some members of the New Rights have announced that they are leaving it after changing their political vision and priorities. Koba Modebadze, head of the Sachkhere regional branch of the New Rights, announced at a briefing yesterday that they he no longer accepts the political course of Davit Gamkrelidze, New Rights leader, and the plans of Zurab Noghaideli, who leads the Movement for Fair Georgia, coincided with his vision.

Modebadze specified that the refusal of the Alliance for Georgia, which includes the New Rights, not to take part in the primary elections organised by some opposition parties, was the key reason for his dissatisfaction.

The head of the Kutaisi branch of the New Rights, who was attending the briefing, said that Noghaideli's allies were trying to win their party members over by paying them money. Another leader of the New Rights, Mamuka Katsitadze, said in Tbilisi yesterday that Noghaideli was 'hunting' party members and making corrupt deals with them and called on him to stop doing it. (Rustavi 2)