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The News in Brief

Thursday, April 22
Saakashvili awarded Honorary Doctorate by New York University

The President of Georgia received an honorary doctorate from New York University on Tuesday. Continuing his visit to the USA, Saakashvili was invited to speak at the university.

"Georgia will not be going back to corruption and nihilism. We already talk about democracy and achievements. The Rose Revolution was not only what was shown on television, even on CNN. The social transformation happened afterwards. There is chaos in the region now and we have to govern in the midst of such chaos, but the picture would be different if it were not for Russia’s hostile attitude," Mikheil Saakashvili said.

The President also met American multi-millionaire Donald Trump and noted that Trump had been stunned by Georgia. Later, the President told Georgian journalists about the interest of American businessmen in the country. "We have high level business meetings as well as political ones. American business circles show an interest in Georgia. A lot of things, for instance a half hour programme on CNN telling the world about Georgia, have contributed to this. This report was not broadcast on our orders," the President of Georgia noted. (Interpressnews)

CEC allocates ballot paper number by lot

The Central Election Commission has determined the numbers which parties taking part in the elections will be identified by on the ballot paper by lot.

Parties who have taken part in previous elections asked the CEC not to change their numbers. Three of the parties forming the National Council are standing separately and have their own numbers. (Interpressnews)

Labour Party urges the Government to protect the national heritage abroad

The Labour Party has called on the Government to pay more attention to the protection of the national heritage of Georgia outside the borders of the country.

Nestan Kirtadze of the opposition party briefed in this regard yesterday and accused the Government of negligence. The party expressed its concern over the damage to the bas-relief of Shota Rustaveli in Jvari Monastery in Jerusalem and called on the Israeli authorities to conduct an unbiased investigation and restore the damaged relief.

Nestan Kirtadze also mentioned the Oshki church in eastern Turkey, built when the area was part of Georgia, which was partly ruined a while ago. The party accused the Government of trying to forget about the national heritage beyond the present borders of the country. (Rustavi 2)

National Forum leaders meet French Ambassador

The leader of the opposition National Forum, which is boycotting the local government elections, has met Ambassador of France to Georgia Eric Fournier. Kakha Shartava told reporters after the meeting that the Ambassador was surprised and concerned at the results of voters list monitoring they showed him at the meeting.

Political Secretary of the National Forum Irakli Melashvili was also present at the meeting. He said the parties discussed the pre-election situation in Georgia.

"We discussed the general situation in the country, including the level of democracy and the election campaign, which we believe fail to comply with international standards. The Ambassador of France was surprised and even concerned by the mismatch between the official number of Georgian citizens and the number of eligible voters. We also talked about the voters who live abroad who have not been registered for these elections," Kakha Shartava said. He added that they also discussed the geopolitical situation of Georgia. (Rustavi 2)

Russia to sign agreement to purchase Mistral by year end

Russia will sign an agreement with France on the purchase of a Mistral-class helicopter carrier by the end of 2010, head of the Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation said on Wednesday, RIA Novosti reports.

Russia has negotiated the purchase of at least one Mistral-class amphibious assault ship, worth 400-500 million euros (around $540-$675 million) and plans to build three more vessels of the same class in partnership with the French naval shipbuilder DCNS. France however is insisting on selling two vessels and building another two in Russia.

"The agreement on the purchase of a Mistral-class ship is due to be signed by year end," Mikhail Dmitriev said, adding that the French side is more optimistic and believes that a contract could be ready for signing as early as September.

A Mistral-class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 armoured vehicles, including 13 battle tanks, and 450 personnel. Many Russian military and industrial experts have questioned the financial and military sense of the purchase, and some believe that Russia simply wants to gain access to advanced naval technology that could be used in the future in potential conflicts with NATO and its allies. (Interpressnews)

Georgian dies in Azerbaijani road accident

A citizen of Georgia has died in a road accident in the Tovuz region of Azerbaijan,

Interpressnews was told by Georgian Consul in Azerbaijan Mindia Sanadze.

The accident victim was 33-year-old Dachmina Gambarova, who lived in Ponichala. The Consular Department of the Georgian Foreign Ministry has already informed the relatives of the dead.

Another three citizens of Georgia were injured in the accident and are currently in Tovuz regional hospital. Mindia Sanadze has stated that their lives are not in danger. (Interpressnews)

Smoking may be banned in public places in Tbilisi

A smoking ban may be imposed in public places in Tbilisi following the meeting between President Saakashvili and Mayor of New York Mark Bloomberg during the President's US trip.

Mikheil Saakashvili stated after the meeting that smoking may be banned in public places like it is in New York and wearing seat belts may also be made compulsory. (Interpressnews)