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The News in Brief

Thursday, April 5
Bass shoots down rumours about preferred US candidate

American Ambassador to Georgia John Bass spoke about the Georgian electoral environment with journalists in Batumi on Tuesday.

He addressed rumours that the US has a "desired candidate" in the parliamentary elections. I reiterate that the US supports Georgia and its peoples' aspiration to democracy and supports them in this process. We dont have a desired party, candidate, or a desired outcome we expect from the parliamentary or presidential election. We support Georgia and selecting the desired candidate is... the choice of citizens of Georgia, he said.

The Ambassador underscored the importance of conducting transparent, fair, and free elections, in order to select a Parliament that reflects the diverse opinion of the Georgian public. (IPN)

Georgian Prosecutor's Office invites Malaysian counterpart to visit

The Georgian delegation to Malaysia, in that country to defend the interests of two Georgian nationals on trial for drug smuggling, have held a meeting with representatives of the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to thank then for their support and cooperation, the result of which the women were spared the death penalty.

Early Wednesday, the Deputy Prosecutor of Georgia, Davit Sakvarelidze, met with his Malaysian counterpart, and thanked him for his help with the case. He also invited Malaysian authorities to visit Georgia and familiarize themselves with Georgian reforms.

The Malaysian prosecutor made no comment to the media after the closed-door meeting. Sakvarelidze remarked that the negotiations achieved their goal.

"The main goal has been achieved and two of our citizens have avoided the death penalty, and they will have to serve [the most] minimum sentence we could ever imagine," he said.

Babutsa Gordadze and Darejan Kokhtashvili were detained by Malaysian police two years ago and charged with drug smuggling. They faced the death penalty, but negotiations conducted by the Georgian government were successful and they will now serve only four more years in a Malaysian prison. (Rustavi 2)

Global TV accuses government of sabotage

The government has been trying to create problems for Global TV since the company declared it was going to carry Channel Nine, a lawyer for Global TV said at a press conference at the InterpressNews office Wednesday.

According to him, damage of Global TV's equipment has become a "tradition" at customs checkpoints. In addition, the National Communications Commission sent the company a letter in which it called on Global TV to refrain from re-broadcast of the THT television network.

Zurab Bazlidze, marketing director of Global TV, says the above-mentioned facts are a deliberate campaign aimed at the expulsion of Global TV from the market.

He noted that Rozen Hess, an American who owns 16% of the company, will arrive in Georgia soon to discuss the issue.

Natalia Geladze, head of Global's legal department, said the National Communications Commission drew up an illegal protocol with regards to the company. "We will sue against the decision. We may even go to the European court," she asserted. (IPN)

Gas explosion injures four in Batumi

A powerful gas explosion has injured four in Batumi.

The accident occurred at an apartment block on Lermontov Street Wednesday morning.

Reportedly, natural gas collected in the apartment of the Morchiladze family caused the blast. The apartment was completely destroyed, and flats belonging to neighbours as well as several vehicles parked outside were also damaged.

Four people were hospitalized briefly after police and paramedics arrived, one of whom is in critical condition.

The explosion was so strong that it broke windows in neighbouring blocks. (Rustavi 2)

Georgian Embassy not aware of any injured Georgian citizens in Japan

The Embassy has not been informed of any injured Georgian citizens in Japan, Georgian Ambassador to Japan Revaz Beshidze told InterpressNews.

According to him, no Georgians have sought assistance from the Embassy, although, "We are trying to get information about Georgians living in Japan," Beshidze said.

Four people were killed this week as a result of heavy wind, which also caused obstructions in air and railway traffic.

Approximately 40 Georgians live in Japan, the Embassy says. (IPN)

Papuna Davitaia meets with Georgian immigrants in Italy

Minister for Diaspora Issues Papuna Davitaia, alongside Georgia's Ambassador to Italy Kote Gabashvili and noted Georgian singer and actor Vakhtang Kikabidze, recently met with Georgian immigrants living in the Italian city of Bari.

The Minister spoke about a new law on Diaspora organizations and the rights and status of Georgians residing abroad. Davitaia explained the idea of "compatriot" status, which is proposed to Georgian nationals living in foreign countries and which grants them special privileges.

Later, Kikabidze performed a concert to an audience of approximately 700 Georgian citizens. (Rustavi 2)