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The News in Brief

Monday, March 19
Georgian rugby team beats Russia 46-0

The Georgian rugby team crushed its rivals Russia 46-0 at a politically-charged match on Saturday, in the first major encounter between the nations on Georgian soil since their 2008 war.

A joyous Georgian crowd watched their team inflict a humiliating defeat on their neighbour at a European Nations Cup game at the packed 24,000-capacity Mikheil Meski stadium in Tbilisi.

Georgia's pro-Western President Mikheil Saakashvili also appeared jubilant as he watched his country's team outclass the Russians, from the stadium's stands.

Having won the European Nations Cup three times, the Georgians were favoured to win the showdown in the second-tier European rugby union competition.

Georgia's coach insisted that both teams were part of "one big rugby family". Milton Haige said Georgia is going to play better in the near future and it will become a dangerous team for all competitors to face.
(Rustavi 2)

New candidate for Health Minister presents plan to MPs

The government's candidate for the new Minister of Health presented his plans to Parliament on Friday.

Zurab Tchiaberashvili met with representatives of the parliamentary majority and later spoke with representatives of the minority faction, the Christian Democrats.

Tchiaberashvili said he does not intend to carry out radical reforms nor staff changes in the healthcare system. He named equally-accessible healthcare for all citizens as his main priority.

As well as Tchiaberashvili, the Agriculture Minister also presented a 10-point plan to the lawmakers.

Meetings with ministers are supposed to last until the end of the week. On Tuesday, Parliament is expected to decide whether to give the government a vote of confidence or not.
(Rustavi 2)

Petrol price increases by five tetri

The price of a litre of petrol has increased by five tetri, climbing from 2.20 GEL to 2.25 GEL. The price of diesel increased from 2.30 GEL to 2.35 GEL.

Petrol companies link the rise to ongoing processes in the international markets.

The price of petrol increased twice in February, both times by five tetri.

Free Democrats' leader lays wreath on Monument of Heroes

Leader of the United Georgia-Free Democrats opposition party Irakli Alasania and his allies went to the Monument of Heroes at Heroes' Square in Tbilisi this weekend, to lay wreaths. Alasania was commemorating those soldiers who died in Abkhazia on March 16, 1992.

"This is the day when we commemorate their heroism, the victory of Georgians in this battle and, what's most important, we are remembering the heroes who sacrificed their lives for the territorial unity of homeland, for the protection of our country, and for the future of our children," he said.
(Rustavi 2)

Labour Party wants March 16 as "Day of Lost Territories"

The Labour Party of Georgia proposes that March 16 be named as the "Day of Lost Territories", leader Shalva Natelashvili announced at a press briefing this weekend. He said the opposition party would submit a corresponding draft project to Parliament this week.

"From March-February 1921, Russia and Turkey conducted joint aggression and split Georgia. The process of Georgia's separation was concluded by Saakashvili's criminal policy, as a result of which we lost control of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali Region. Today, we are submitting a draft project to the Parliament of Georgia to declare March 16 the Day of Lost Territories, because the homeland is lost when it is erased from memory. Generations should remember what they have to fight for," Natelashvili said.
(Rustavi 2)

Georgians may be lifted of capital charge in Malaysia

Two Georgian nationals, Babutsa Gordadze and Darejan Kokhtashvili, may have their capital charges lifted in Malaysia.

New details have emerged in the case of two Georgians who were arrested on charges of drug trafficking.

Their lawyer says the bag in question, in which the law enforcers found a large amount of amphetamine, was not on their possession when they entered the country. Reportedly, the defendants received it by post from Qatar. This is believed to be an important factor in the case, which will be heard by a Malaysian court.
(Rustavi 2)