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The News in Brief

Wednesday, March 14
President's Office re-iterates Russian negotiation policy

Presidential spokesperson Manana Manjgaladze commented on statements made by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in response to Georgia's decision to unilaterally lift the visa requirement for Russian citizens. She re-iterated that Georgia was prepared to begin a dialogue with Russia.

"Unfortunately, the Russian government is still refusing to start such a dialogue. The restoration of diplomatic relations with Russia is possible only after negotiations on the de-occupation of Georgian territories, repatriation of IDPs and respect for Georgia's territorial integrity are over," she said, adding there must be only one Russian embassy on Georgian territory, rather than three – a reference to the Russian missions to the disputed regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Russian officials said on Monday that the only side preventing negotiations is the government of Georgia. As for President Saakashvili's decision to end the visa regime, they called it "Georgian propaganda".

She also provided details about the large-scale rehabilitation project announced by President Mikheil Saakashvili during his visit to Kakheti on Monday.

Manjgladze said that several thousand new jobs will be created during the implementation of the project, which involves rehabilitation of historic buildings, monuments, streets, and parks in Telavi. (Rustavi 2)

Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian-South Ossetian House to publish weekly newspaper

The organization that operates Georgian-Abkhaz House and Georgian-South Ossetian House, has announced the launch of a newspaper, Tbilisi-Sokhumi, Tbilisi-Tskhinvali.

Head of the Houses, Nestan Kirtadze, and editor-in-chief of Svabodnaia Gruzia, Tato Laskhishvili, spoke about the project at the offices of InterpressNews.

According to Kirtadze, the newspaper will be written jointly by Georgian, Abkhaz, and Ossetian journalists.

Laskhishvili noted that the newspaper will be published in Russian, Abkhaz and Ossetian.

"Negotiations are under way with South Ossetian and Abkhaz journalists. They will send us material through the Internet. At the second stage, an internet radio and internet TV portal will be created on the basis of the newspaper. Georgian and English languages will also be added. A joint media holding will be established later," he explained.

According to Kirtadze, Tbilisi-Sokhumi, Tbilisi-Tskhinvali will be distributed in Abkhazia and South Ossetia free of charge.

"We are preparing for a meeting with Georgian, Abkhaz, and Ossetian journalists. We will try to find some common topics," she said, adding that Georgian-Abkhaz House and Georgian-South Ossetian House would notify all embassies accredited in Georgia and international organizations of the above-mentioned project. Kirtadze also intends to showcase the newspaper in Brussels and Berlin in the near future. (Interpressnews)

Status change for three universities

Three higher education institutions in Tbilisi – the Academy of Arts, Tbilisi Conservatoire, and the Rustaveli University of Theatre and Cinema – will become non-entrepreneur legal entities.

Minister of Culture Nika Rurua has downplayed the concerns of some public figures, who believe the move is intended to sell off the schools. He says the change in status will only make the work of the universities more flexible.

"The controversy about the changes to the Drama Institute, Art Academy and Conservatoire is a lie. As for their status, it will be similar to Tbilisi State University. This is the High Point University format... which grants more independence, more chances to be sponsored, and more chances for creative work in higher institutions," he explained.

Rurua also remarked that the top priority of the Ministry this year is to carry out reforms in art education institutions across Georgia. (Rustavi 2)

Georgian citizens detained at the Turkish-Greek border

A number of Georgian citizens have been detained at a border crossing between Turkey and Greece, according to

Sixty-two people were detained for attempting to illegally cross the border.

The detainees were taken to a police station in Edirne. Besides Georgians, the group includes citizens of Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and the Philippines.

The detainees had been working illegally in Turkey, but will be deported to their homelands in the near future. (Interpressnews)

Cold weather to last through weekend

The recent spate of cold weather will last until March 18, according to the Forecast Centre of the National Environmental Agency.

Heavy winds will blow throughout Georgia, including Tbilisi, on March 15 and 16. Snow is also in the forecast for most regions of Georgia on Thursday.

The lowest temperature is expected on March 18, at -6 degrees in western Georgia, and -10 degrees in eastern Georgia.

The weather is expected to brighten up for several days after next weekend. (Interpressnews)

Education Minister hosts Kyrgyz counterpart

Minister of Education and Science Dimitri Shashkini hosted his Kyrgyz counterpart in Tbilisi Tuesday.

Kanat Sadikov, the Minister of Education of Kyrgyzstan, was introduced to the reforms carried out by the Georgian government in the education sector, particularly at higher education institutions and professional colleges. Professional colleges have been re-tooled for an emphasis on natural sciences and other most requested professions in the labour market.

Sadikov hailed Georgian reforms and hoped to share them in Kyrgyzstan. The ministers agreed to cooperate in the future and exchange their experiences for the further development of education. (Rustavi 2)

Teenager’s body found near railway

On Tuesday, 18-year-old Ucha Labadze was found dead near a rail line in the Avchala district of Tbilisi. The 12th grade student's body was found by an employee of Georgian Railway in the course of his duties.

The body of the boy has been transferred to a local morgue for examination. The police have not ruled out that it was an accident, as he may have been hit by a train he did not see coming in the poor visibility of Monday's snowstorm.

Labadze's family says he went out on Monday evening and did not return afterwards. Police had been searching for the boy since that time. (Rustavi 2)