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The News in Brief

Tuesday, March 2
Mikheil Saakashvili Ė Iím not afraid of Putin

President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili has told Russian newspaper Kommersant that he is not afraid of Vladimir Putin.

"No, Iím not afraid. Heaven forbid! Putinís problem is that he doesnít know how to treat those who are not afraid of him. I know some present and previous European politicians who physically avoid him," Saakashvili stated.

Saakashvili noted that politics is shaped by interests and not private relations. He said that autocrats will always be outnumbered and suffer defeat.

"Itís my historical instinct and historical knowledge. I have told Putin many times: If you respect our independence, you wonít find a more pro-Russian country, but if you continue such a policy, you will lose us. I may not be the last, but Iím next to the last Georgian who can speak good Russian, and may be the last of those able to quote from Esenin, Brodsky, Pushkin or Visotsky interminably. Eventually Georgian leaders will not speak Russian at all,í Saakashvili stated.

Saakashvili said that military force may intimidate a certain amount of people for a while, but has no long term prospects. "The cultural influence of Russia was boundless. When we were being bombed by Russian jets my bodyguard said 'donít they understand they are losing us with every bomb?'" Saakashvili stated.

Ministry says that there are no Georgian citizens in Chile

Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze has stated that there are no citizens of Georgia in Chile. She said that information being received from Chile is limited as Georgia has no representation there, but the Ministry is getting information through the Georgian representation at the UN.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has announced emergency measures to deal with the destruction caused by Saturdayís massive earthquake. The 8.8 magnitude quake - one of the most powerful ever recorded - devastated central parts of the country, killing more than 700 people.

Leader of Whites Movement sums up visits to Ukraine, Belarus and Russia

Leader of the White Movement Temur Shashiashvili summed up his visits to Ukraine, Belarus and the North Ossetian Republic of the Russian Federation at a news conference yesterday.

Shashiashvili told reporters that he had gone to these countries to learn what their politicians and political analysts thought about the situation in Georgia and its leadership. He said that the attitude expressed towards our country was not desirable. "Police regime, aggressive demagogy and marginalised opposition" were the comments Shashiashvili quoted.

Shashiashvili said he had discovered one of the political ruses of the Government while in Kiev and found out that a Georgian businessman in Russia, Mikheil Khubutia, has held meetings with someone called Giorgi Tsurtsumia, who will allegedly be nominated as Tbilisi Mayor.
(Rustavi 2)

Four Government employees in Mtskheta-Mtianeti arrested for bribery

Investigators from the Ministry of Finance have arrested four employees of the Mtskheta-Mtianeti regional branch of the Economic Development Ministry. The head of the Property Registration and Privatisation Division of the region, Davit Zariashvili, and three other employees of the same office, Mamuka Giligashvili, Aleksandre Nagliashvili and Moris Tvaliashvili, are suspected of illegal machinations and bribery. A fifth person, Davit Nagliashvili, who was also allegedly involved in the machinations, has also been arrested.

The investigation says that the aforementioned Economic Development Ministry employees entered into an illegal deal with interested parties and took 1.5 GEL for each square metre of land costing 2 GEL per square metre, subsequently extorting a 60,000 GEL bribe from the bidders. Davit Zariashvili was arrested red-handed while taking 10,000 GEL as a guarantee for the rest of the bribe. The suspects also allegedly forged tenders and privatisation documents for the other parties to the deal.

An investigation is in progress. The charges they face carry terms of 7-11 years imprisonment.
(Rustavi 2)

Commission discussed cases of 146 convicts

The Standing Commission of Conditional Release has examined appeals for the early release of 146 convicts.

Early release will be recommended in about 20 cases, but in the rest the Commission decided that the sentence had not achieved its desired affect yet. The petitioners will be able to make another plea to the Commission in 6 months.
(Rustavi 2)