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The News in Brief

Wednesday, February 15
U.S. Ambassador comments on law of political unions

U.S. Ambassador John Bass has commented on the controversial amendments to the law of political unions:

"I would say a couple of things... Obviously, as you know, we are strongly committed to helping the people in this country have a very competitive campaign and electoral cycle, and the freest, fairest possible elections – that hopefully result in a Parliament that broadly reflects the spread of opinion and perspective across Georgian society".

Bass continued that he is aware of the existing concerns about the specific amendment on financing political parties, despite the fact that it explicitly says that it cannot be used to infringe on freedom of speech or political activity. "Clearly some organizations in Georgia are still concerned, notwithstanding some provision. I think it is important that there be, in the process of enforcing that legislation, a process of clarifying exactly what the rules are so that everyone is clear on their respective responsibilities," he noted. (By Messenger staff)

Four Georgian sailors trapped in Sokhumi

For the past year, four Georgian sailors, all crew members on the ship Hakki Ehilioglus, have been held prisoner at the port of Sokhumi.

An InterpressNews correspondent reports from Poti that George Sapanadze, Manoucar Bolkvadze, Aziz Varshanidze, and Sulkhan Tetskhladze signed a six-month contract with a Turkish firm on February 21, 2011, after which they were fraudulently taken to Abkhazian territory. The sailors have yet to receive a salary, family members say.

InterpressNews contacted the sailors' employer, Laura Chaduneli, in Turkey, who said the Georgian embassy is working on the case, and that the sailors should be able to leave Abkhazia within a week.

However, the sailors’ families do not trust Chaduneli's claims, saying she has been promising the same thing for the past year.

According to the families, the sailors lack both food and medicine. They are not able to leave the port, as they were deprived of their passports. They say they have already contacted relevant agencies for assistance, but received no response. (Interpressnews)

Appathurai: Georgia carrying out reforms per NATO standards

"Georgia’s affiliation with NATO has already been decided," James Appathurai, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, said in at interview with the Armenian public broadcaster, Regnum news agency reports. He emphasized that Georgia is carrying out important reforms as per NATO standards.

He also noted that Armenia and Azerbaijan have not expressed an interested in joining NATO. "We are, of course, eager to accept new members, but we are not looking for them. We have good partner relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan," Appathurai said. (Interpressnews)

President awards Order of Brilliance to ambassador

Ambassador of Georgia to the United States, Temur Iakobashvili, has been awarded the Presidential Order of Brilliance. The decision was made by President Saakashvili after the diplomat's successful organization of the official Georgian visit to the United States earlier this year. (Rustavi 2)

Jioeva may leave politics

Alla Jioeva, the disputed winning candidate of the South Ossetian presidential elections, told journalists that she may soon leave politics.

She spoke of her intentions at Tskhinvali Hospital, where she is undergoing treatment after suffering from a stroke. Jioeva was hospitalized last week when police raided her headquarters and, allegedly, caused her physical harm. Jioeva claims she lost consciousness after being hit on the head with the butt of a gun.

She says it will take three days to make her final decision. "I had never thought the politics was such a dirty thing and that people do anything to reach their goals," Jioeva admitted, noting also that she has not ruled out seeking asylum in another country.

Jioeva was transferred to Tskhinvali Hospital on February 9, a day before she was to hold her presidential inauguration ceremony. (Rustavi 2)

Saakashvili opens new hospital in Dmanisi

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili visited the town of Dmanisi yesterday, and inspected a hospital that opened in December.

The building was constructed by the IC Group Insurance Company, which invested approximately 3 million GEL into the project

The 20-bed hospital offers both ambulatory and stationery services, and is equipped with modern medical technology. It has a staff of 80 specialists.

Since December 2011, the hospital has served 975 patients, and aided in the birth of 29 children.

The President also met with local residents and awarded cardiologist Guliko Chafidze the Presidential Order of Brilliance.

In addition, Saakashvili visited the Dmanisi Culture Centre, where recent archaeological discoveries are exhibited. (Rustavi 2)

Labour Party calls on single-mandate MPs to leave Parliament

The Georgian Labour Party has called single-mandate MPs the "cancer" of Georgia.

Party Political Secretary, Giorgi Gugava, alleged at a briefing today that single-mandate MPs are corrupt, traitorous, and engaged in election fraud.

"We call on the caste of single-mandate MPs - leave the political boat of Saakashvili in time to facilitate the collapse of the current political regime and to ease the punishment you may face for numerous crimes you have committed," Gugava said. (Rustavi 2)

Entire family hospitalized with CO intoxication

An entire Tbilisi family, including three children, has been admitted to hospital with CO intoxication.

The accident occurred in the Vazisubani District of the capital early Tuesday morning.

The children were transferred to the Iashvili Children's Clinic. Their condition was described as satisfactory and they were soon discharged. Reportedly, the CO leaked from a faulty gas heater. (Rustavi 2)