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The News in Brief

Thursday, March 4
Foreign Policy publishes interview with Eka Tkeshelashvili

Foreign Policy magazine has published an interview with Georgian National Security Council Secretary Eka Tkeshelashvili.

Tkeshelashvili says that Russia is still occupying important parts of Georgian territory. "They can easily cut off communication lines if they just come a few kilometres out of Abkhazia. When it comes to South Ossetia, it’s only 40 miles from the capital. So this military presence is not only [a] political burden of being under partial occupation, but a substantial security threat because ... we firmly believe that Russia’s aim when invading Georgia was not to annex Abkhazia and South Ossetia through occupation. The aims were much larger. Even larger than Georgia itself. And those aims are not yet fulfilled," Eka Tkeshelashvili states.

She says that there are no signs that the Russian military in Abkhazia and South Ossetia are willing to withdraw. "They say they will now have legal arrangements with the local regimes to build bases in the territories. They want to have a bigger military presence on the ground, so it’s institutionalised," Tkeshelashvili states.

Tkesheslashvili says that the French Mistral has great potential to change the security equation for Russia. "The French have tried to downgrade that. First of all, [the French] frequently cite that it’s a humanitarian ship. [But] a ship is a ship. It has great amphibious capacities for carrying arms, helicopters, armed vehicles, soldiers, having a hospital attached to it or a military headquarters. You can use it for humanitarian purposes if you wish, or you can use it for military purposes. It's pretty much the pride of the French Navy," Tkeshelashvili declares.

"In addition, the Mistral sale is a political signal from France, which was the broker of our ceasefire agreement. It’s a political signal to Russia that it's OK that they continue to occupy the territory of Georgia and are still aggressive in their rhetoric. It sends the signal that the occupation of our territory is a fait accomplit," Tkeshelashvili tells Foreign Policy.

Tkeshelashvili also talks about Georgia’s participation in Afghanistan. "We're not doing it to get a Membership Action Plan. It's not a quid pro quo - we believe that it's a cause we share. Common security is threatened by an unsuccessful operation in Afghanistan. If our country can contribute, then we will. We are also getting good training for our forces," Eka Tkeshelashvili states. (Interpressnews)

Georgian-born crime boss bailed out by Spanish court

A Spanish court has released internationally known crime boss Zakhar Kalashov on 300,000 EURO bail. The convict cannot cross the borders of the country and is obliged to report to police twice a week.

The crime boss has been charged with money laundering, smuggling arms and drugs and kidnapping. In 2005 Spanish police carried out a special operation and arrested other persons suspected of having ties with him. Kalashov escaped from Spain but was subsequently arrested in the United Arab Emirates in 2006. (Rustavi 2)

Nana Intskirveli leaves Imedi

Head of the News Service of TV Company Imedi Nana Intskirveli has left. She has told Interpressnews, that she took the decision to leave herself.

"I consider that my work was not appreciated at Imedi. It is not worth staying where you are not valued," Intskirveli noted. She said that she has already been offered several proposals but did not go into details about this. (Interpressnews)

World press on International Olympic Committee’s negligent attitude to Nodar Kumaritashvili’s death

The internet publication has published an article entitled 'Nodar Kumaritashvili: Never Forget'. Its author Dave Zirin cites the claim of the International Olympic Committee that one of its primary purposes is to "encourage and support the promotion of ethics in sports". He says that the circumstances surrounding the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili expose the charter as an absolute lie.

"The IOC and the International Luge Federation (FIL) should right now be begging for forgiveness, demanding a thorough investigation, and already starting to make restitution to Kumaritashvili’s family. They should count themselves lucky that they won’t be nabbed for involuntary manslaughter. Instead, they have chosen a path of ugly arrogance that recalls the imperious former IOC President Avery Brundage at his absolute worst," the author writes. "VANOC (the IOC's host body) and FIL issued a response with a tone of barely concealed annoyance that Kumaritashvili had to selfishly go and die. Taking a mere ten hours to ‘investigate’ how Kumaritashvili died, they blamed him for his own death on Curve 16, writing, ‘There was no indication that the accident was caused by deficiencies in the track.’

"The incredibly callous and patently suspect ‘official finding’ is rooted in the true mission of the IOC: maxing out television revenue. The highly profitable niche of extreme winter sports has put pressure on the Winter Games to supply a product with ever more speed and spectacle. The result is the first luger to die on the track in thirty-four years. To slow down the games out of respect for the dead, or even to investigate how so many concerns could be ignored, would be to slow a carnival that has generated 26.4 million average viewers for the first five nights of NBC's pretaped television primetime broadcast. (These numbers are 22 percent higher than the 2006 games in Torino.)

"Their argument is that they’re not at fault because they're the IOC; therefore, they can’t be at fault. But the IOC’s actions after the blood was mopped off the ice show that they know very well knew where to place blame. After insisting that their oh-so-extensive ten-hour investigation found the track to be safe, they had workers put up a high wooden wall just past the curve where Kumaritashvili died. They also put padding on the exposed metal beams before the finish line and they changed the men's starting point, which will slow their speed on the track. After being questioned on these hurried moves, they said that it was all done out of concern for the emotional state of Kumaritashvili's teammates and competitors, a feint toward sympathy that even the New York Times called ‘bogus’.

"To further make sure that we forget that the 2010 Vancouver Olympics started with death, Steve Capus, President of NBC News, handed down a directive that the graphic video of Kumaritashvili's death is not to be shown on any of NBC's news programming without his permission. In addition, this policy has apparently been adopted by NBC Sports. Out of sight, out of mind. As for Kumaritashvili, his body has already been shipped back to his native Georgia. His family is grieving, his mother throwing herself on his coffin as it travelled the streets toward his home.

"Now the sports pages are filled with stories about Lindsay Vonn, Shani Davis, and Bode Miller. (Nodar who?) But while the games go on, we should never forget. After all, if this is how the IOC treats its athletes, heaven help the rest of us. As the games get underway in London in 2012 or Russia 2014, remember that there is blood on the tracks," Dave Zirin writes. (Interpressnews)