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The News in Brief

Thursday, February 2
Venice Commission cannot yet comment on new election financing law

In response to questions posed by Georgian journalists, Thomas Markert, the Secretary of the Venice Commission, noted that the text of the Law on Political Union of Citizens adopted by the Georgian parliament included a number of amendments that differed from the text submitted to the Commission. These amendments contained additional restrictions on party financing. He was not able to assess the new laws as the Commission has not yet made an in-depth examination of the adopted text.

The Commission will discuss the amendments at its next plenary session in March. (COE)

Tskhinvali to return five Georgian citizens

The breakaway region of South Ossetia will hand over five Georgian citizens detained for illegally crossing the de-facto border, Kavkazsky Uzel reports. A source from the Ossetian security ministry claims that the Georgians were detained on January 25 by Russian border guards near the village of Kirbali.

“There are two brothers among the detainees – Muraz and Davit Tokadzes, [as well as] Nodar Maghaladze, Shalva Papiashvili, and Murman Tatishvili. All of them illegally crossed the border and they were handed over to the border service of the Security Ministry for further measures. A court trial was held on their case,” a representative of the ministry told Uzel. He said that the court decided to release the prisoners to the Georgian government.

The detainees will be handed over to Georgia in Ergneti. (Interpressnews)

New contest announced for elementary class teachers

The Ministry of Education and Science has partnered with the Microsoft Corporation to sponsor a competition for elementary school teachers who teach with the aid of netbooks at Georgia's public schools. Contestants are asked to propose new methods of teaching using modern technology. The two winning projects will be sent to Lisbon, where the Partners in Learning European Forum 2012 will be held from March 20-22. If the Georgian entries are successful at the Lisbon forum, they will be sent to the Partners in Learning Global Forum 2012, which will be held in Athens in October.

This is the third year Georgian teachers have taken part in the contest. (Rustavi 2)

Freighter ship sinks in stormy waters off Turkey's Black Sea coast

A ship of unknown registration, the Vera, was sailing from Russia to Turkey's Aliaga port when it sank off the coast during a storm.

Turkish authorities say that police are searching for the missing crew. The ship's second and third captains, and its cook, a woman, were rescued and hospitalized.

The Associated Press reports that there were ten Ukrainians and one Georgian aboard the ship, which was carrying scrap metal. (Rustavi 2)

27 000 Customers without electricity due to inclement weather

Due to inclement weather, electricity has been suspended to 27 000 customers of JSC ENERGO-PRO Georgia, primarily in the villages of Samegrelo and Svaneti. The supply to Mestia is reportedly uninterrupted.

For the last several days, heavy snow has caused the shut-down of 65 000 customers in total. As a result of 24 hour repair activities carried out by EPG technicians, the number of customers in the dark was decreased, before rising again thanks to further snow.

Inclement weather has also hindered repair efforts, causing EPG staff to work on an emergency schedule to an effort to resume service as quickly as possible. (Interpressnews)