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The News in Brief

Monday, December 17
First snowfall in Tbilisi

Tbilisi's first snow fell on Saturday. The Monitoring and Prognosis Center of the Ministry of Environmental Protection foresees a drop of temperature to -6 degrees on 17 December. Frost will last in eastern Georgia until 18-19 December. However, weather forecasters say the temperature will increase from 20 December.

920 more babies to become Patriarch's godchildren

Ilia II will bless 920 babies at a traditional baptism ceremony at Trinity Cathedral on December 17. The Patriarch baptizes every third child of wedded couples.

The first such ceremony was held on January 19, 2008. The Patriarch initiated the special baptism to encourage marriages and improve the demographic state in the country.

Georgian Soldiers' social Conditions will Improve from Next Year

Minister of Defense Irakli Alasania said Georgian servicemen will have a new insurance package in the near future. He said Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili also initiated an increase of salaries for the soldiers who serve in Afghanistan. Alasania said it is just the beginning of the social improvements and conditions of life for Georgia military servants. “It is most important for them to have the equipment and ammunition to be able to protect their own country,” Alasania said. The Minister of Defense along with heads of the Joint Staff visited Vaziani military base and attended some training missions.

“We are proud to congratulate you on joining this great and most valuable family of armed forces. I want you to remember the most important thing– to take care of yourself and your fellow soldiers,” the Minister said at the ceremony where the fourth infantry brigade of recruits took their oath.

He said that Georgia has a lot of heroes whose names are being remembered, but the state needs living heroes, who will protect the country.

EP President Assesses Situation in Georgia as "Alarming"

President of the European People’s party– Wilfried Martens, called on the new Georgian Government to respect the democratic institutions in the country, stressing that the current situation in Georgia is “alarming.”

According to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s administration, Martens assessed the developments in Georgia at the summit of the European People's Party (EPP) in Brussels where Saakashvili was also invited.

“The previous government carried out significant reforms and reached progress on the way to European integration,” Martens said, adding that although fair and proper parliamentary elections were possible, imprisonments and influencing the media outlets, causes concern in Europe.

“We call on the new government to stop such activities and respect the institutions of the democratic state, like media freedom and basic human rights,” the President of the European People's Party said.

President of the European Council, representatives of the European commission and European Parliament together with leaders of other EU member states also took part in the summit.

Merabishvili’s Uncle Faces Charges over Alleged Tax Evasion

Levan Tumanishivli, who runs a wood processing business in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Georgia, was arrested after the Revenue Services accused him of tax evasion and illegal logging.

Tumanishivli, 66, is the uncle of former PM and secretary general of the UNM party Vano Merabishvili.

The Revenue Services said on December 15, that Tao, a company owned and ran by Tumanishivli, was engaged in the “illegal cutting” of logs in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region, which caused GEL 150,000 in damage. The Revenue Service has also claimed that Tumanishivli was “evading the payment of taxes” by forging financial papers.

Davit Bakradze says summoning of MP for interrogation is constitutional violation

Davit Bakradze, minority MP and former Parliamentary Chairman, says that the summoning of the MP for interrogation is a violation of the Constitution since immunity protects members of parliament.

Bakradze clarified that the investigation has to obtain permission from the parliament in order to call the MP for questioning. He said minority MPs will show up for questioning if questions will be sent to them publicly.

Pharmaceutical uncertainty still confusing citizens

The Ministry of Health made several statements regarding the new regulation on the terms of purchasing partial doses of medicine. However, the citizens still find themselves in a confusing situation. Director of the GPC pharmacy company has also reacted on the topic and stated there was no limit on the pharmaceutical network and that the population could purchase medicine in split packaging without restriction. Representatives from the pharmacy shop networks of PSP and Aversi did not wish to speak about the confusion on the matter. The ministry plans to regulate the law, while pharmacy companies argue that they have always worked within the framework. The argument leaves customers as the only side in the loss.
(Georgian News TV)

Georgian wine may return to Russia from 2013

Georgian wine may return to Russian market on New Year – Russia’s chief sanitarian Genady Onishchenko said. He also added that adding there are no artificial obstructions for bringing wine and Georgian mineral water back to Russia. According to Onishchenko, his office has received statements on exporting their product to Russia from 30 Georgian companies. “We are prepared for meeting with Georgian entrepreneurs here, but it is necessary to inspect those enterprises,” Onishchenko said adding that if the standards are satisfactory, Rospotrebnadzor would start the registration of their product. He said the process would begin from 2013.
(Rustavi 2)

Former official arrives in Georgia after 8 years abroad

Former minister of internal affairs and one of the leaders of the armed formation of the 90s, Temur Khachishvili arrived in Georgia after eight years abroad. Khachishvili has talked with human rights defenders, who say he is not going to return to politics or make political statements, but he just arrived to meet his family here in Georgia.

Khachishvili was arrested and tried for organizing a terror attack on former president Eduard Shevardnadze. In addition, he was accused of murdering NDP leader Gia Chanturia. He served part of his sentence and was released under state pardon soon after. After the Rose Revolution, Khachishvili was arrested and tried for arms trafficking so he fled Georgia soon after being released. Since 2004, Khachishvili lived in Russia. Currently, Khachishvili is not facing any criminal charges.
(Rustavi 2)