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Compiled by Liana Bezhanishvili
Thursday, March 11
MP Baghaturia works on new draft law on amnesty

Rezonansi writes that the leader of Kartuli Dasi (Georgian Troupe), MP Jondi Baghaturia has proposed a new draft law on large scale amnesty to Parliament. The MP has called for people convicted under a wider range of articles of the criminal code than at present to be considered for early release. The new categories of prisoner considered will include the underaged, women and those convicted of minor offences.

"We thought this would the best present for women on March 8. Those in prison as a result of causing an accident, minor hooliganism and the illegal possession of weapons which has not created any problem, alongside drug users, will now be considered for early release under this draft," Baghaturia said.

"Today there are more than 22,000 prisoners in Georgia, 3,500 more than before this Government came in. When the number of prisoners increases this indicates that legislation in Georgia is more severe than necessary," Baghaturia said.

Alliance says Tbilsresi has bought Bezhuashvili’s company

Rezonansi reports that according to the Alliance for Georgia the joint-stock company Tbilsresi has bought Davit Bezhaushvili’s company. Leading Alliance figure Sozar Subar has stated: "The Georgian International Power Company was bought by the company of Bezhuashvili at auction on February. Now it belongs to them. The Alliance for Georgia demand the immediate repayment of the arrears owed to Tbilsresi workers.

"This is not the first instance of State property being bought by the political elite. Unfortunately, as always, the workers’ interests have been ignored. 587 more people are now unemployed and the legislation concerning them has been abrogated. There are also 3 months of wage arrears owing to the workers and the Georgian International Power Company is planning to pay this off in stages, not immediately," Subari said.

Saakashvili's Washington lobbyists

Rezonansi writes that the Georgian Government has hired another PR company to lobby for it in the USA, at a cost of USD 300,000. Another similar contract was signed with another American lobbying company on January 12 for USD 500,000. Both companies will now lobby for the Georgian Government in the US Congress. The Government has spent analogous sums for similar services in the USA, but it is unknown how much it has spent in Europe.

The last lobbying contract posted on the internet site was signed by Secretary of the Security Council Eka Tkeshelashvili and stipulates that Georgia will pay USD 300,000 for six months of lobbying services from the influential Podesta Group. Podesta is obliged to lobby for the Georgian Government in the US Congress, executive and media. The Georgian Government signed similar contacts in the USA last year, costing USD 770,000, the newspaper states.

The sources of the sums spent on lobbying in Europe are unknown. The Ministry of Finance says it has no information on the sums the Government has spent on lobbying in either Europe or the USA. The President’s Press Speaker Manana Manjgaladze says that this issue is not within her competence to discuss and the head of the Prime Minister's Press Service Nikoloz Mchedlishvili says that he has no information. Neither is anything said about lobbying contracts on the official website of the Government.