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The News in Brief

Wednesday, April 13
Georgian President Sends Letter of Condolences to Belarusian President regarding Minsk Metro Blast

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has sent a letter of condolences to the Belarusian President regarding the Minsk metro explosion.

Mikheil Saakashvili once again condemned any act of terrorism and expressed his readiness on behalf of the Georgian government to render assistance to the Belarusian people. The President condoled the families of the victims on behalf of the Georgian people.

‘The report about the blast in Minsk Metro, killing 12 and wounding 151 people, deeply depressed us. I am sure the organizers of the terror act will not achieve their aim – destabilization in Belarus. The Belarusian people will overcome all obstacles with their bravery, honor and wisdom. The Georgian government is ready to render any kind of assistance to Belarus’, the letter says. (Interpressnews)

33rd Battalion Leaves for Afghanistan

Minister of Defence of Georgia Bacho Akhalaia has hosted the deployment ceremony for 749 military servicemen.

The 33rd Battalion of the Georgian Armed Forces is leaving for Afghanistan to rotate with the 32nd Battalion currently serving in the country. The Georgian servicemen will take part in the NATO-led ISAF peacekeeping mission in the province of Helmand as part of the US peacekeeping contingent. The rotation will take place over a two-week period. At the first stage, 94 Georgian servicemen from the 33rd Battalion left for Afghanistan.

To mark the occasion, a departure ceremony was organized at the Vaziani Military Base.

The 33rd Battalion underwent an intensive 6-month preparation course for participation in the NATO-led security operation in Afghanistan. They went through a tactical preparation program under the guidance of the Training and Advisory Group of the US marines. During training, they developed skills in conducting protection, search, evacuation, convoy and cordon operations. The soldiers were also given training to enable them to communicate better with the leaderships and communities they will be working with in Afghanistan.

An intensive preparation course has been held at Vaziani and Krtsanisi training centers. The personnel from the Battalion also took part in exercises at the United States’ Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) in the German town of Hohenfels. Both the center experts and the US advisors and trainers positively assessed the overall level of preparedness of the Georgian troops. (Interpressnews)

UN Secretary General Satisfied with Geneva Consultations

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon does not expect the Geneva consultations to solve the Caucasian problem; however he is satisfied with the efforts concerning regulation of incidents. This statement was made in his interview with RIA Novosti news agency.

According to him, the full resolution of the problem is difficult; however he welcomes the results of the negotiations regarding eradication of volatile incidents. The 15th round of consultations proved they are useful, he added.

He pledged the Special Representative of the UN secretary General would still continue efforts for developing the consultations.

‘I want to consider how to apply more efficiently the consultations for peace and stability as well as for protection of human rights in the region’, Ban Ki-Moon said. (Interpressnews)

Nino Burjanadze downplays Okruashvili`s words

The leader of the Democratic Movement - United Georgia, Nino Burjanadze has downplayed the comments of another opposition leader, fugitive former minister of defense Irakli Okruashvili, who now lives in France.

Okruashvili accused Burjanadze in an interview with the weekly newspaper Kviris Palitra of creating webs of deceit. He said Burjanadze was watching the political processes from the position of a provincial structure.

Burjanadze told journalists today that she had no interest towards Okruashvili`s views about her.

`I`m not surprised by ill-informed speeches from anybody, but they should rather agree their positions inside the party,` Burjanadze said. (Rustavi 2)

Khodorkovski compares Putin with Stalin

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a convicted criminal and former Russian oligarch and businessman, former owner of YUKOS Oil Company, has compared Russia`s current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin with the tyrant soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Khodorkovski said in his interview with the German newspaper Die Welt that like Stalin, Putin replaced the notion of independent court with repressions. Khodorkovski was milder in his comments about Russian president Dmitry Medvedev saying he was really willing to carry out democratic reforms in the country, but his will alone would not be sufficient to make it happen.

Khodorkovski also slammed European leaders for their friendly relations with Vladimir Putin, saying the friendship posed more danger to Russian democracy. (Rustavi 2)

Conflict between religious figures in occupied Abkhazia

A conflict between religious figures has been reported from occupied Abkhazia. Besarion Aplia, the leader of the so-called Abkhazian church and the priest of the Athos Fathers` Monastery Andrei Antar are disputing a decision, according to which the Athos church should have a Russian monk as a leader. Abkhazian television has also reported the conflict between the religious leaders. The narrator said the decision was followed by a protest of the worshippers, who call upon Aplia to abstain from making decisions that contradict the interests of Abkhaz people. (Rustavi 2)

A street named after Lech and Maria Kaczinsky in Gori

Zoya Rukhadze Street in the city of Gori has been renamed after Lech and Maria Kaczinskis. The first street sign was symbolically unveiled by the Polish military attache in Georgia and the Regional Governor. Lech Kaczynski provided particular assistance to the people of Gori after the August war in 2008. Under the initiative of the late president, IDP children from South Ossetia were taken to Poland for psychological rehabilitation. (Rustavi 2)