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The News in Brief

Tuesday, May 8
Magnitude 5.7 quake hits eastern Georgia

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake hit eastern Georgia at 8:40 a.m. on Monday. The quake's epicenter was located in Azerbaijan, some 40 kilometers from the border.

The tremor was most acutely felt in Dedoplistskaro, located close to the border of Azerbaijan and 155 kilometers to the east of Tbilisi. Several weaker aftershocks followed the initial quake.

No damage or injuries were reported, although cracks appeared in homes in the villages of Dedoplistskaro.

A tremor was felt in Tbilisi as well, where walls in apartments cracked in the old district of the city.
(Rustavi 2)

Heavy rain in forecast for next three days

Three days of heavy rain is being forecast for eastern Georgia.

It has been raining since Monday morning in most districts of eastern Georgia, the Monitoring and Forecast Centre of the National Weather Agency told InterpressNews. Rainfall will strengthen Tuesday. Rain is also forecast for western Georgia.

Cellars and entrances of houses have been flooded in Tbilisi because of heavy rain, the Emergency Agency reports. They received 25 calls with regards to flooding from various districts in the capital. No serious damage has been reported yet, although a house was partly ruined on Bukhaidze Street because of heavy rain.

The weather will brighten up on Thursday. Temperature will reach 30 degrees Celsius in western Georgia, and upwards of 28 degrees in eastern Georgia.

Co-Chairs of Geneva talks to arrive in Georgia

The co-Chairs of the Geneva talks will arrive in Georgia Tuesday.

Philippe Lefort, EU Special Representative for South Caucasus and the Crisis in Georgia, Special Representative to the UN Secretary General Antti Turunen, and Representative of the OSCE Chair Padraig Murphy, are expected, Deputy Foreign Minister Nikoloz Vashakidze announced Monday.

Vashakidze said that during their visit a meeting will be held with the Georgian delegation to the Geneva talks, headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergi Kapanadze.

The 20th round of Geneva talks will be held on June 8.

UAE Sheikh to open $40 million hotel on Rustaveli Avenue

The delegation of the United Arab Emirates signed an agreement with the Georgian government in Tbilisi today. According to the agreement, after having rehabilitated the former Imeli office on Rustaveli Avenue, the Millennium Company will operate a hotel in the space.

According to the project, the building will maintain its architectural style, although it will comprise a new 130-metre structure.

An investment of $40 million USD is being put into the project, which will employ over 100 people. The hotel is expected to open in two years.
(Rustavi 2)

Anti-Putin demonstrators clash with police in Moscow

New videos depicting riot police using batons to beat back advancing demonstrators in Moscow have been released online.

The Russian Investigation Committee is investigating the death of a 26-year-old photographer who fell from a fire ladder during the opposition March of Millions on Sunday.

Russian riot police beat protesters with batons and hauled away dozens after skirmishes broke out at a demonstration against Vladimir Putin, on the eve of his return to the presidency.

Opposition leaders Alexei Navalny, Boris Nemtsov, and Sergei Udaltsov were among those detained at the rally, for "incitement to mass disorder".

Police, forming a line to prevent protesters from moving towards a bridge leading across the Moscow river to the Kremlin, struck several protesters on the head. Demonstrators fought back with flag poles before the scuffle died down. Police said four officers were hurt.

The violence came at the end of a day of anti-Putin protests in several cities. The President-elect was sworn in for a third term as President Monday at a ceremony inside the Kremlin, at which the head of the Russian Orthodox Church blessed him.

Many of the protesters are angry that Putin is extending his 12-year rule of Russia, despite being undermined by large protests from December to March, and fear he will stifle political and economic reform in his six-year term.

Many are frustrated that the same faces are still leading Russia.

After Putin ushered his ally Dmitry Medvedev into the Kremlin and became Prime Minister in 2008, many Russians feel the two men agreed simply to swap jobs.

At least 20,000 people protested in Moscow under banners and flags, chanting "Russia without Putin" and "Putin - thief".

Udaltsov, a leftist leader, was taken away as he tried to address the crowd from a stage and Navalny, an anti-corruption blogger, was dragged off after trying to organize a sit-in protest calling for Putin's inauguration to be scrapped.

The clashes were the worst since police moved in to disperse hundreds protesters at rallies the day after Putin's March 4 election victory, which the opposition said was achieved with the aid of electoral fraud.
(Rustavi 2)