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The News in Brief

Monday, February 22
Richard Holbrooke to visit Georgia

The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, will visit Georgia on February 21-22. He will meet Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. Ambassador Holbrooke will also visit Georgian troops at the Krtsanisi National Training Centre (KNTC) and observe training for the ISAF operation in Afghanistan.
(US Embassy in Tbilisi)

Saakashvili: Georgian media lacks professionalism and objectivity

Mikheil Saakashvili, the President of Georgia, has said that the Georgian media lacks professionalism and objectivity. He said this while taking the floor at the Chatham House Institute of Foreign Affairs in London.

"Our Government is sincere about freedom of the media, and the proof of this is that several existing TV channels are open enemies of the Government but retain official licences for broadcasting. They are very, very adversarial channels," Saakashvili said. At the same time he noted that reforms are pending for providing "political debates on TV channels". As an example he cited that the Second Channel of GPB will now provide a platform for declarations by politicians and press conferences.

Russians begin new wave of privatisation in Abkhazia

The Russian newspaper Kommersant has published details of a new agreement between Russia and Abkhazia. "Baghapsh has granted Russian citizens the exclusive right to buy land and real estate in the occupied region. Until now only so-called Abkhazian citizens had this right," the newspaper reads.

The newspaper noted that this decision by Sokhumi was taken under pressure from Moscow. "Sergey Lavrov, the number one diplomat of the Russian Federation, is irritated by Russian citizens being deprived of their property in Abkhazia and has sent a protest note to Sokhumi," Kommersant reads.

Business owner cuts his wrists in Kutaisi

One of the owners of Ocean Ltd. has cut his wrists in the city of Kutaisi. Irakli Surguladze expressed his protest in this way after multiple attempts to reach an agreement on banning street vending outside his office had failed. He asked the street vendors to move to a trading centre and this provoked an argument with them. Surguladze was given medical aid at the scene.

Other representatives of Ocean Ltd. and vendors at the so-called Green Market have also demanded that the street vending be banned. They have held a protest rally outside the Mayor's office. The street vendors object to trading in the designated centres due to the high fees they have to pay for doing so.
(Rustavi 2)

Martvili district has gas

The Martvili district of Samegrelo has been provided with a natural gas supply. The Georgian President symbolically lit the gas stove at the home of the Kvekvetsia family, which is in the list of vulnerable families. The gas pipeline has been constructed as an investor said he would build a ceramic works there if Martvili was supplied with natural gas.

After he met the Kvekvetsia family a local woman approached Mikheil Saakashvili and asked him to help her 9-year-old boy, Dato Tsanava. He suffers from a hand injury, surgery for which costs USD 25,000. Mikheil Saakashvili promised help to the boy. The funds necessary for the surgery will be allocated from the President's fund.
(Rustavi 2)

Pregnant woman with possible H1N1 taken to Tbilisi

A nine months pregnant woman presumed to have the H1N1 virus has been taken to the Gudushauri Clinic in Tbilisi. She received a caesarean section. Doctors say the newborn baby`s health is stable but the mother's is very bad. She is suffering from bilateral pneumonia and is connected to a respirator.

Tests will ascertain whether so-called Swine Flu has caused the deterioration of the patient's condition. The pregnant woman, 22, was taken to Tbilisi from the town of Abasha, Samegrelo region, on Saturday night.
(Rustavi 2)

Two people poisoned by carbon monoxide

Two people have been poisoned by carbon monoxide in Tbilisi. Emergency brigades took the man and woman to the Gudushauri National Centre at daybreak yesterday. Doctors say that natural gas has presumably caused the intoxication.

The condition of both patients is satisfactory now and they will be discharged from hospital soon. According to preliminary information the natural gas supply was suspended for a while but the gas heater remained turned on in the apartment where the patients were poisoned.
(Rustavi 2)