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The News in Brief

Friday, April 27
US government extends national integration project

The US government has announced that it will continue financing the National Integration Assistance Project in Georgia. A presentation of the project, which assists national integration in minority ethnic regions of Georgia, was held at European House yesterday.

The event was attended by US Ambassador to Georgia John Bass and Public Defender Giorgi Tughushi, among other guests.

“The program aims at assisting tolerance and national integration. It is a continuation of the program the US has been financing since 2006. In terms of a modern democracy, it is necessary to give equal possibilities to the people with different origins and opinions, including in the electoral process,” Bass said at the presentation.

USAID will finance the National Integration Assistance Project with $3.75 million USD. The project is carried out in Georgia by the UN Association. (IPN)

Kobalia hopes to subsidize domestic Airzena flights

The Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Vera Kobalia, hopes to subsidize domestic flights on Georgian air carrier Airzena.

“We have an open business environment and any company, Georgian or foreign, has the possibility to compete with other companies. We want to assist Georgian companies the best we can. That’s why we offered state subsidies on local regional flights. We understand that local flights, Tbilisi-Mestia for instance, must be subsidized, as the aviation company can’t carry out flights to this destination on its own,” the Minister said, adding that they have not received an answer to the proposal yet.

Airzena released a statement on its facebook page, criticizing what they call the "unreasonable and inconsistent" policy in Georgian aviation. The company accused the government of protectionism for foreign companies. As a result, Airzena has abolished flights to Paris, Frankfurt, and Minsk, plans to cancel its routes to Dubai and Batumi. (IPN)

Public Defender releases statement confirming monitoring of accused terrorists' rights

The Office of the Public Defender has released a statement regarding monitoring of those individuals on trial for carrying out terrorist attacks on Georgian soil in 2010.

“The information released by media outlets about the convicts’ lawyers demanding a response from the Public Defender leaves the impression that there was no reaction from the Public Defender’s Office to the information released by media sources earlier. To avoid misleading the public, we introduce you to information about measures carried out by us," the statement read.

It maintained that the Public Defender regularly monitors the rights of convicts Merab Kolbaia, Gogita Arkania, and Joni Abuladze. Prior to their trials, all three men spoke to Office representatives multiple times, and denied that they were under pressure from prison employees.

But on April 20, their lawyer Besik Talakhadze told the Public Defender that the prisoners had changed their earlier testimony and they could potentially be under the threat of pressure. Representatives visited them again on April 23, to discuss their plea bargain, and none of the men reported any coercion.

The Office of the Public Defender continues to monitor all convict's rights, the statement affirmed. (IPN)

Georgian, Polish Security Councils sign memorandum

A memorandum of cooperation was signed between the National Security Council of Georgia and the National Security Bureau of Poland Thursday. The memorandum envisages the exchange of information, shared experience on security issues, and the participation of representatives from the two countries in joint events.

A delegation from Poland's National Security Bureau was officially invited to Georgia by National Security Council Secretary Giga Bokeria. Meetings with the Defense Minister of Georgia and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia will also be held within the two-day visit. (Rustavi 2)

All flights cancelled at Batumi Airport

Batumi Airport has been paralyzed for the past two days due to heavy mist in Adjara - all flights have been cancelled. Most passengers were out of luck, but Turkish Airlines was able to get its customers to their destinations by covering the cost of transport to Turkey via Tbilisi. (Rustavi 2)