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The News in Brief

Friday, April 13
Panetta visits Georgian soldier wounded in Afghanistan

United States Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta visited a Georgian soldier wounded in Afghanistan, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Lieutenant Commander Alexander Tughushi is current at Walter Reed undergoing medical rehabilitation.

President Mikheil Saakashvili awarded Tugushi a first rank Vakhtang Gorgasali Order while in America this past January. After Saakashvili, the Georgian soldier was visited by the President of the United States, Barack Obama.

Personnel from the 31st Battalion have been involved in the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan since 2011. The Georgian military contingent is engaged in the NATO-led ISAF operation in the province of Helmand as part of a US military unit. (IPN)

Government planning Ivanishvili’s liquidation: Subari

Sozar Subari, a member of the Georgian Dream movement, told InterpressNews that the government is trying to kill Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Subari met with journalist Vakhtang Komakhidze in Switzerland, where he claims a mediator sent by the government informed him of the plan.

Subari said Komakhidze was well acquainted both with the mediator and a representative of the government, as he had worked at the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the past.

"The main reason for exposing the plan was the fact that the person, who was ordered to liquidate Ivanishvili, appeared to be in danger. Namely, he realized that he would be punished sooner or later if he had taken part in a murder," Subari asserted.

He went on to say that, according to the plan, Ivanishvili was to be liquidated during his visit to "some Georgian region".

Komakhidze, who is living in Switzerland under political asylum, released a letter on facebook claming that Ivanishvili’s life was in danger. Georgian Dream sent Subari, along with lawyer Archil Kbilashvili, to Switzerland to meet with Komakhidze. (IPN)

Georgian businessman in Russia to sponsor Free Georgia party

Aleksandre Ebralidze, a Georgian businessman operating in Russia, will sponsor the election campaign of the Free Georgia opposition party, leader Kakha Kukava announced Wednesday. Kukava noted that all funding would come in the form of a donation and the party will publish all financial transactions within two weeks.

Kukava also says Free Georgia will hold no consultations with other parties or coalitions, and will run in the October parliamentary elections independently. (Rustavi 2)

Putin hails formation of Eurasian Union

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called the formation of a Eurasian Union one of the most important geopolitical and integration events after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The President-elect introduced his five-point action plan for the economic union to lawmakers in the Russian Duma Tuesday.

"The creation of the customs union and a common economic space is, I believe, the most important geopolitical and integration event in the post-Soviet space since the break-up of the Soviet Union," Putin announced, anticipating that other parties interested in cooperation will join Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan in their endeavour.

Prior to assuming the office of the President for a third term, Putin introduced several new initiatives to Russian lawmakers. According to new constitutional amendments, an individual may become President of the country for only two terms, leaving his own third term presidency an exception.

Putin's inauguration is planned for May 7. The Kremlin is already preparing for the event, though no world leaders have been invited to the ceremony yet. (Rustavi 2)

Solidarity for Freedom of Media releases petition

The political movement Solidarity for Freedom of Media has released a petition.

"There is still a serious threat to freedom of speech and expression in Georgia. There are hardly any broadcasting companies that are providing alternative information to the population throughout the country. The Georgian National Communications Commission has turned into a mechanism of pressure on free TV networks," the petition reads.

Solidarity for Freedom of Media believes that a double standard exists in the Georgian National Communications Commission, and that this is unacceptable.

"Recently, the Regulatory Commission fined the Trialeti TV network 5000 GEL for illegal use of frequencies, although the Commission did not present grounded arguments," the petition states.

The group is also protesting against government pressure on the newly-founded Ninth Channel. Namely, they claim that the government is attempting to restrict the coverage area of the television network. Those cable and satellite providers that intend to carry the station are also under pressure, particularly Global TV.

Solidarity for Freedom of Media believes that the Regulatory Commission has exceeded the scope of its regulation and jurisdiction. They demand a stop to all untoward pressure on the media, and an end to media discrimination, saying, "We demand an end to illegal actions from the National Communications Commission and pressure on free TV stations from the government".

The petition will be sent to representatives of the foreign diplomatic corps. (IPN)

New anti-drug campaign logo and motto unveiled

"[Take] Care [of] Yourself – Drugs Kill" is the motto of the new anti-drug campaign launched by the Prosecutor's Office.

The motto and accompanying logo were selected via a competition conducted in Georgian schools. The winners of the contest were final-form students from Tbilisi and Melaani schools. The logo was designed by Elza Tamazashvili, and the motto was suggested by Giorgi Osepashvili.

The winners were presented with personal computers. The contest was conducted by the Prosecutor's Office in coordination with the Ministry of Education and Science. (Rustavi 2)