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The News in Brief

Monday, February 20
Obama names new U.S. Ambassador to Georgia

On February 17, U.S. President Barack Obama nominated former ambassador to Uzbekistan, Richard Norland, as the next U.S. ambassador to Georgia. Norland will replace John Bass, who has been serving in Tbilisi since late 2009.

Norland, a 32-year foreign service veteran, briefly served in Georgia in early 1990s as a U.S. representative and acting head of the OSCE Mission to Georgia, working on South Ossetia and Abkhazia conflict issues.

Before serving as ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2007-2010, Norland, who is now international affairs advisor and deputy commandant at the National War College, Washington, D.C., was deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Kabul for two years.

According to the U.S. Department of State, Ambassador Norland has spent much of his career on U.S. relations with Russia and other former Soviet states. He was a political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in the late 1980s.

He was also Director for European Affairs at the National Security Council for two years during the Clinton and Bush administrations, and served as deputy chief of mission in Latvia from 2003-2005.

26-year-old Tbilisi woman dies in childbirth

Twenty-six year old Tbilisi resident Nino Martoyan died after giving birth to her second child at a local hospital on Saturday.

The young woman's relatives have accused the staff of the hospital of negligence. They claim she should have given birth vaginally, but underwent a caesarean section instead. She later died from heavy bleeding.

After Martoyan's death, her doctor, Klara Merlan, attempt suicide. Merlan jumped out of a window, but survived the fall, and is currently being treated for serious injuries.

The baby survived the operation and is reported to be in good condition.
(Rustavi 2)

Bakradze continues regional tour

The Chair of Parliament, Davit Bakradze, continued his tour of the country yesterday, visiting the Marneuli District of Eastern Georgia.

The Chair inspected infrastructure projects, among them a new water pipe, which is expected to be completed within a few months.

Bakradze also visited the teachers' house in Marneuli, where teachers of other ethnicities are studying the Georgian language.

He also spent time speaking with locals and discussing their issues.
(Rustavi 2)

Abkhazian government denies allegations of beating

Representatives from the Abkhazian government deny allegations that Russian soldiers beat a Georgian teenager. In an interview with Ekho Kavkaza radio, a Russian military representative claimed that the boy, Mamuka Pepia, does not exist.

Allegedly, Russian soldiers beat Pepia after they found Georgian books and a flag in his bag. The boy's mother initially supported his story in an interview with Rustavi2, but recently denied any violence against her son, reportedly due to intimidation from authorities. The 10th grade boy fractured his arm and was badly bruised.
(Rustavi 2)

President Saakashvili inspects construction of Imereti bypass road

President Mikheil Saakashvili opened construction of a new bypass road in Kutaisi on Sunday. The Ministry for Regional Development is coordinating the project, which is funded by the governments of Georgia and Japan.

The 17 kilometre, express two-lane highway is a section of the already existing 58 kilometre Imereti road. The new highway will serve major towns in the region.

The new section will be covered with a concrete layer; six bridges will be constructed, one of them a rail line; and coast-protecting infrastructure works will be carried out. Approximately 1500 people are expected to be employed by the project.

After completion, the Kutaisi-Zestaponi-Samtredia road is expected to be relieved of significant traffic congestion.
(Rustavi 2)