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The News in Brief

Thursday, November 24
President pardons 137 prisoners

President Saakashvili has pardoned 137 prisoners on Saint George`s Day, Wednesday. The State Pardon Commission discussed cases of about 300 prisoners and sent 95 recommendations to the president. The Patriarch of Georgia also applied to the president to pardon several prisoners. A full pardon referred to 111 of the 137 convicts, who will be released from prisons today; six convicts will have to serve only half of their sentence; 18 have been freed of conditional sentences and two have had their sentence reduced. The president pardons convicts on Saint George`s Day annually. (Rustavi 2)

US Congressmen met with opposition leaders

A group of American congressmen met with the leaders of Georgian opposition parties Wednesday. The meeting held at the US embassy in Georgia was closed to the media. The leaders of the New Rights, Christian Democratic Movement, Free Democrats Party, Republican Party and the National Forum commented on the details of the meeting.

The leader of the CDM, Giorgi Targamadze, said that the country needed more security guarantees; people needed peace, democratic development, jobs and the ability to provide for their families.

`A key to this problem is the unity of our society; we should achieve a better future not by revolutions but by evolution, democratic elections and the support of the American and European states is very important in this process. We are expecting serious messages from the NATO summit in Chicago,` Targamadze said.

The leader of the New Rights, Davit Gamkrelidze, said the topical issue of discussion at the meeting with congressmen was the NATO-Chicago summit. The US and Europe`s support for Georgia`s integration into Euro-Atlantic structures has become particularly topical after the recent statement of the Russian president Dmitri Medvedev, who said Russia launched the war in Georgia in 2008 against NATO expansion.

`The Chicago summit must be a response to Medvedev, Putin and all those persons, who think that they disrupted the prospects of Georgia`s integration into the Alliance,` Gamkrelidze said.

Other opposition leaders said they emphasized the need to conduct fair and democratic elections and the support of international community in this process. (Rustavi 2)

Incident Prevention Group fails to agree

The meeting of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism group was held in the village of Dvani, Tskhinvali Region on Wednesday. The Georgian side raised the issue of Georgian citizens detained by the separatist regime a few days ago. The sides discussed security issues, free movement across the boundary line and the release of detainees, however, the sides failed to agree on any of the issues.

The next meeting of the group will be held on December 26, but before that a Georgian delegation at the Geneva internationally-mediated negotiations will raise the issue of 18 Georgian citizens captured by law enforcers of the South Ossetian regime. The next round of the Geneva talks will be held on December 14. (Rustavi 2)

President awards famous people with orders of Brilliance

On the eighth anniversary of the Rose Revolution and on Saint George`s Day, the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili awarded prominent public figures for their intensive work in different spheres with the Presidential Order of Brilliance. Diplomats who were involved in the negotiations about Russia`s accession to the WTO are among them. The president assessed their work as a diplomatic breakthrough.

The orders have been awarded to diplomat Gela Charkviani, singer Nino Katamadze and other prominent figures.

Saakashvili emphasized the success which Georgian scientists have had in technical sciences and added that the representatives of various generations contributed to these achievements. The presidential order was given to the Professor of the Kutaisi Akaki Tsereteli University Vakhtang Kankava. (Rustavi 2)

Construction of new district begins in Tbilisi

Construction of a new district in Dighomi began in Tbilisi Wednesday. The project will be implemented by the Arabian Company Rakeen and the district will have one of the largest malls in continental Europe. President Saakashvili opened the Tbilisi Mall Wednesday and addressed the crowed assembled there. The president said the goal of the construction of a new district is not to enlarge Tbilisi, but to make Georgia closer to European standards.

`A new district means that people should have a chance to buy new houses,` Saakashvili said adding that the new district will have a subway station and new communications.

`This is a historic moment for Tbilisi. Let them say whatever they want, but this is the largest period of building in the history of Georgia,` Saakashvili said.

The construction of a new district begins now and in 2015 it will have taken shape, Saakashvili said. (Rustavi 2)