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The News in Brief

Friday, October 28
Magazine editor detained on Georgia-Azerbaijan border

On October 25 Georgian police arrested the publisher of the Georgian Times at the Georgia-Azerbaijan border. Reportedly, Malkhaz Gulashvili was entering Georgia. Gulashvili was wanted by the police for an incident which occurred in the studio of the Tbilisi-based TV Company Kavkaskia on June 7, 2010. The debates in the studio grew into clashes between the participants and the police detained several people, while Gulashvili fled Georgia before he was charged, passing through the occupied region of South Ossetia.

Authorities from the Prosecutor`s Office have now stated that "Gulashvili cooperated with the investigation, has pleaded guilty and signed a procedural deal", on the grounds of which he has been sent to prison for 18 months. His son Davit Gulashvili was charged with hooliganism, but was released on bail. (Rustavi 2)

Kasparov slams Russia`s policy towards Georgia

Recently Russian opposition leader Garry Kasparov delivered a speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC, criticizing Russia's policy towards Georgia. The one-day conference, entitled "The Risks of the Reset: Why Washington Must Watch Its Step With Moscow", addressed issues of the US-Russian “Reset” in light of Vladimir Putin’s decision to return to the presidency in 2012.

"Despite heavy pressure from Putin’s Russia, Georgia has remained staunchly pro-democratic and pro-western, and yet it appears that getting Russia into the WTO is of greater importance to this US administration than protecting the rights and territory of an ally.

"Putin’s administration has been quick to boast of this success, celebrating how they kept Georgia and Ukraine out of NATO. WTO membership will be another feather in their cap. Putin is making no concessions on Georgia and so far his belief that doing business with Russia will trump protecting Georgia seems well founded. Even when a series of terror bombings in Tbilisi were tied to Russian intelligence, Hillary Clinton only politely hinted at this atrocity, at least in public. This is just the sort of display of weakness, a fear of public confrontation, that feeds the sense of impunity that has empowered dictators throughout history. The American “reset” policy with Russia began right after the Russian-Georgian war, spitting on the deal negotiated by Sarkozy and giving a clear indication of the Obama administration’s priorities in the region.

"I have no qualms about using that word “dictator” when referring to Vladimir Putin, nor should anyone else at this point. What has been clear to the Russian opposition for a decade should now be clear to any casual observer. Putin has no intention of ever giving up power. That Russia has these spectacles they call elections does not change anything. To make it clear, I have a clear image of a Russian polling station--updated again for the upcoming elections", Kasparov said. (Rustavi 2)

Georgian Development Research Institute founded

Experts Gia Khukhashvili, philosopher Zaza Shatirishvili, constitutionalist Vakhtang Khmaladze and sociologist Iago Kachkachishvili founded the “Research Institute of Georgian Development”. According to their recent statement, all Governments of Georgia since the country gained independence have tried to carry out reforms to establish a civilized system of modern values, though there have been no results and the country only reached a "facade democracy" and "nomenclatural capitalism". The statement reads that the country fails to pass even the simplest test which is to transfer authority by election.

“Our goal is to study the aspirations and viewpoints, concerns and explanations of modern Georgian society, to study the way our society thinks and what its system of values is. We want to pay special attention to values and categories like labour and attitudes towards labour; to the issue of wealth and poverty and attitudes towards the wealthy and the poor; attitudes towards truth and justice--how we perceive justice etc”.

They consider that research will indicate what kind of reforms Georgia needs and how the reforms are being implemented. They appealed to donors to assist them and Bidzina Ivanishvili was the first to express interest to financially support the new institute. “He realizes the Institute must not be under the influence of any political party or interest group. Results of the work must belong to society as a whole and must be equally available to all the political powers acting in Georgia--public and international organizations as well as interested citizens. He also expressed a desire to actively cooperate with the Institute and participate in discussions”, the statement reads.

The activity of the Georgian Development Research Institute will include thematic conferences, public discussions, and reports on studies that have been carried out. They invited scientists, political and public leaders as well as potential donors to cooperate with the institute. (Interpressnews)

Georgian Foreign Minister visits Azerbaijan

On 26 October 2011, the Georgian Foreign Minister, Mr. Grigol Vashadze, paid an official visit to the Republic of Azerbaijan where he met the Azerbaijani President, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister. Issues discussed included bilateral agreements in the spheres of economy, transport and energy, and talks focused on priorities for increasing existing strategic relations between Georgia and Azerbaijan.

The Georgian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers signed an agreement between the Government of Georgia and the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the mutual protection of classified information. (Rustavi 2)