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The News in Brief

Friday, March 2
Visa free regime with Russia begins

President Mikheil Saakashvili's decision to unilaterally abolish the visa regime with the Russian Federation has begun. On Tuesday morning, citizens of Russia who arrived from Moscow by plane passed passport control without applying for visas.

Under the President's decree, Russian citizens will be able to visit Georgia without a visa for 90 days. (Rustavi 2)

Vice Prime Minister meets with EU enlargement commissioner

Vice Prime Minister Giorgi Baramidze met with Stefan Fule, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy, during his visit to Brussels.

The two men discussed Georgia-EU relations, including details of free trade agreement negotiations, and associate membership with the EU.

The Vice Prime Minister also emphasized the role of the European Union in the regulation of Georgia-Russia relations, and the prospects of cooperating within the Eastern Partnership program.

Fule took the opportunity to hail the reforms conducted by the Georgian government in recent years.

The meeting ended with the signing of an agreement of support for criminal legislation reform in Georgia, which provides 18 million in financial assistance. (Rustavi 2)

Tbilisi joins methadone program

The City of Tbilisi has joined a national methadone program.

In the first stage of the program, the municipal government will cover the cost of a treatment course for 100 drug addicts who cannot afford to pay and are from vulnerable families. The addicts, who will be registered, will be provided with methadone treatment for free.

Those who want to join the second stage will have to submit an application to the city government. Applicants are generally asked to pay for 30% of the treatment.

A key requirement of the program is that the applicant must not be using the services of any other medical programs funded by the city. (Rustavi 2)

Saakashvili visits new pharmaceutical plant

President Mikheil Saakashvili visited a newly-opened pharmaceutical plant, Abipharm, where he spoke to employees and observed production, according to the company's official Facebook page.

Abipharm invested more than $3 000 000 USD in the plant, which employs 30 people, including internally-displaced persons living in Tserovani.

More than five new enterprises have opened in Tserovani recently, representing the bulk of local employment. (Interpressnews)

Seven Georgians injured in car crash near Istanbul

Seven Georgian citizens have been injured in an automobile accident near Istanbul, Turkey. According to Georgian television, nine cars and one bus collided on an Istanbul highway. The bus was taking passengers to Georgia.

One Turkish citizen died at the scene, with 13 people injured in all. Injured passengers were transported to local hospitals.

Snow was cited as the cause of the crash, which led to the closure of the highway for several hours. (Interpressnews)

First Lady attends Day of Rare Diseases in Brussels

Georgia's First Lady, Sandra Roelofs, attended an event dedicated to the International Day of Rare Diseases in Brussels on Wednesday.

A conference was held, followed by a charitable gala, organized under the patronage of the First Lady, the European Organisation for Rare Diseases, and the President of the Council of Europe, Herman Van Rompuy.

Roelofs also founded an Alliance for Rare Diseases within her charitable foundation Soko, which aims at unification of those Georgian organizations that work on, and provide assistance for, rare diseases.

The money collected at the charity dinner will be spent on treatment for patients suffering from rare diseases, as well as scientific research. (Rustavi 2)

Poti school guard says his dismissal was politically motivated

A security guard employed by the Poti School, Zurab Tavartkiladze, says he was fired for political reasons.

As Tavartkiladze told InterpressNews, resource officers saw that he had a Georgian Dream newspaper, and accused him of spreading political propaganda in school. He was then fired.

"I took the newspaper to school in order to read it. I did not know if the newspaper was a proclamation and if reading it was an offence," he said. (Interpressnews)