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The News in Brief

Monday, December 24
Five Shortlisted for Vacant Post of GPB Head

The Georgian Public Broadcaster’s (GPB) board of trustees has shortlisted five out of 143 applicants, who have applied for the vacant post of GPB’s general director.

Five shortlisted candidates, who will now be interviewed by the board members include: Giorgi Baratashvili, GPB’s acting director and head of its technical department; Natia Abramia who now works for BBC; Tinatin Rukhadze, a managing partner with Event Masters and previously the PR manager at the construction firm Center Point; Megi Tavdumadze who has experience working for UNDP and UNESCO and Nikoloz Makharashvili of the Tbilisi-based International Black Sea University.

Judging based on how board members’ votes are distributed while selecting shortlisted candidates; Baratashvili seems to be the frontrunner. He serves as the acting director of GPB after Giorgi Chanturia quit the post of public broadcaster’s general director on December 14.

Ten board members voted for Baratashvili to be shortlisted, followed by Abramia with 8 votes. The others received 7 votes each, which was the minimum required to endorse a candidate to the second stage.

Former officials questioned in connection with criminal scheme

Georgia’s former Prime Minister Nika Gilauri was interrogated in connection with his purported attempt at artificially bankrupting Cartu Bank.

Another former official, questioned in connection with the same case, was former finance minister Dimitri Gvindadze.

Former economy minister Vera Kobalia also gave her testimony regarding the same issue. The former minister who is pregnant now, arrived at the agency with her lawyer and remained for four hours.

Former justice minister Zurab Adeishvili, was also associated with the case. Adeishvili is not in Georgia nowadays, but a notice of summons was delivered to his family.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia (MIA) unveiled the criminal scheme and machinations aimed at bankrupting Cartu Bank, which was owned by the current prime minister of Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Nino Giorgobiani, the head of the PR department of the MIA said that senior officials from the ministries of finance, economics, justice, Georgian parliament and the even the president, may also be connected with the preliminary scheme aimed at bankrupting Cartu Bank as revenge against Bidzina Ivanishvili in the pre-election period.

According to Giorgobiani, the evidences in the case was obtained from the testimonies of the former chief of the revenue office of the ministry of finance, Jaba Ebanoidze, head of the audit department of the same office Mamuka Lashkhia, former deputy chief of the main division, Otar Agladze, former deputy minister of economics Davit Giorgadze and the businessmen, who have cooperated with the investigation and provided detailed information to law enforcement officials.
(Rustavi 2)

Parliament Approves Law on Amnesty

Parliament passed a law on amnesty with its third and final reading on December 21 giving pardon in various forms to more inmates than the draft initially envisaged.

The amnesty, which will go into force after President Mikheil Saakashvili signs it, envisages several forms of amnesty such as exemption from punishment, the halving of prison sentences or reducing it either by one-third or by one-forth. The amnesty will apply to those who have committed crimes before October 2, 2012.

Unlike its initial version, the final document envisages applying a reduction in prison sentences by one-fourth to almost all the prisoners, who will not fall under other forms of amnesty, including to those convicted of especially severe crimes.

No exact figures about how many inmates would receive a reduction in their prison term were available following the confirmation of the draft’s final version by the Parliament.

The amnesty in a form of release from prison, among others, will also apply to those 190 inmates who have been recognized by the Parliament’s December 5 resolution as political prisoners. Among them are people who have been convicted during the previous authorities for espionage. President Saakashvili said on December 20 that Russia “will of course be pleased” as Georgia’s new government “is releasing all the Russian spies.”

The Interior Ministry, as well as the prosecutor’s office, was offering lawmakers to limit the scope of the amnesty by not applying it to a certain category of crimes, such as offences against law enforcement officers, but this proposal was not accepted by the lawmakers.

Also on December 21, lawmakers voted down a proposal from Georgian Dream MP Koba Davitashvili offering to automatically apply an aggravating factor if a crime is committed by a person to whom an amnesty was granted.

Lawmakers from the United National Movement were not present during the parliamentary discussions on the amnesty on December 21; they have temporarily suspended parliamentary work on December 20.

MP By-Elections to be Held in April

MP by-elections to fill three vacant seats in the Parliament are expected to be held in April, instead of October 2013, as a result of an amendment to the election code, passed by the Parliament with its third and final reading on Friday.

Three seats in the Parliament became vacant after majoritarian MPs from the Georgian Dream coalition were appointed in the executive government – Tea Tsulukiani, who was elected in Tbilisi’s Nadzaladevi single-mandate constituency was appointed as Justice Minister; Kakha Kaladze, who won the majoritarian race in the Samtredia constituency became Energy Minister and Archil Kbilashvili, who was the majoritarian MP from the Bagdati single-mandate constituency, was appointed as chief prosecutor.

I have restored 543 monuments and I am proud of this - Bidzina Ivanishvili

Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has talked about the construction of the Rike concert hall in his interview with Kviris Palitra. He said society is irritated when they say Ivanishvili should be interrogated. ‘They say about us that a brigade of destroyers has come to power. I have restored 543 monuments and I am proud of this,” Ivanishvili was referring to the United National Movement (UNM).