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The News in Brief

Tuesday, January 8
Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on January 7

The Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on January 7 with a special service. The Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II delivered a Christmas liturgy service with St. Synod members at St. Trinity Cathedral. The liturgy began with his Christmas epistle. Christmas ended a 40-day fast that started on November 28th. This is a time of reflection, self-restraint and inner healing in the sacrament of confession.

Representatives of all orthodox churches will arrive to Georgia from January 10-14

Representatives of all orthodox churches are due to arrive in Georgia to attend the festive events dedicated to the 35th anniversary of the Patriarch’s enthronization and his 80th jubilee. The World Patriarch Barthlomeos I will be among the guests.

Patriarch called on the government to take care of the nation and help people in need

At the youth centre of the St. Trinity Cathedral, Ilia II thanked those who gathered for his 80th anniversary. The patriarch addressed the congregation to promote the belief– love of the homeland and not to be away from their homeland. Ilia II blessed all the people at St. Trinity Cathedral and his more than 13, 000 godchildren. Ilia II said that happiness is in unity. He said he always prays for his parish but asked people to pray for him too. Patriarch also appealed to the government to take care of people and help those in need.

Embassy of Israel releases a statement

The embassy of Israel in Georgia has released a special statement about the problems that Georgian pilgrims wishing to attend Christmas ceremony have faced.

“The embassy of Israel in Georgia is probing into the reports in the media regarding the Georgian pilgrims. Issuing visas to individuals or tourist groups is carried out in accordance with Israeli legislation. The embassy is doing its best to facilitate the resolution of the process,” the statement says.

Reportedly, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Israel has refused visas to commercial tour agencies and the Religious Tourism Department of the Patriarch’s administration to attend Christmas ceremonies in Israel. The patriarch’s administration does not rule out the possibility that refusal stems from the frequent immigration from Georgia. However, there may be another reason– the Israeli government might have taken such a decision after Georgia voted in support of Palestine at the UN General Assembly.

Court Orders Pretrial Detention for Ex-Justice Minister in Absentia

Tbilisi City Court ruled late on Saturday night on the pre-trial detention of ex-justice minister Zurab Adeishvili in absentia. The Prosecutor’s Office filed charges against Adeishvili in late December, accusing him of “the inhumane treatment of inmates” in September, 2012. Adeishvili left Georgia the day after the October 1 parliamentary elections, while still serving as justice minister, and “his whereabouts are unknown”, according to the prosecutor’s office.

The court has also accepted prosecutors’ motion to invalidate the diplomatic and ordinary passports that are currently held by Adeishvili. The Prosecutor’s Office says that Adeishvili possesses one ordinary passport and three diplomatic passports. Although Adeishvili no longer holds a government post, the prosecutor’s office said on January 6 that all three of his diplomatic passports were valid because of the October 12 presidential order allowing holders of diplomatic passports to keep on using such passports for one year after losing official posts.

Criminal charges against Adeishvili, who was an influential member of President Saakashvili’s government, include the abuse of power with the use of violence; inhumane treatment; provoking a crime and fabricating evidence. Less than a week before criminal charges were filed against Adeishvili, former PM and secretary general of the United National Movement party, Vano Merabishvili, said in an interview with the Georgian newspaper Kviris Palitra that he was in touch with Adeishvili and knew his whereabouts. He also said: “I do not rule out that he will return to Georgia."

Saakashvili to Address PACE

President Saakashvili will address the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE) when it gathers for a winter session on January 21-25. Also during its winter session PACE will hold debates on the humanitarian situation in the areas affected by the August 2008 war on January 23. According to a draft resolution, which will be discussed by PACE, the humanitarian consequences of the conflict “remain a major concern.”

“While the emergency needs of IDPs and refugees have been largely taken care of, there is a slow but sure freezing of the conflict where people’s lives are becoming trumped by politics. This makes progress on the humanitarian front difficult,” the draft resolution reads. “The preoccupation on all sides, about status issues, access across the administrative boundary line and terminology issues poisons the possibility of progress on the humanitarian front. These issues are political in nature and should be secondary and not primary in any humanitarian discussion. Recent political changes in Georgia following the elections on October 1, 2012 provide an opportunity for a change of dialogue on all sides.”

“What are needed to restore security and long-term trust is not armies facing each other along the administrative boundary lines, but a strong non-partisan international peacekeeping and monitoring presence both sides of the line,” the draft resolution says.

Protests demanding the president’s resignation held in several cities of Georgia

Several hundreds of people assembled outside the President’s Palace in Tbilisi on January 4th demanding his resignation exactly five years after his inauguration of his second term. The protest was organized by the political party Tetrebi [the Whites] and the Ertsulovneba coalition, which unites 50 NGOs. The protestors read an ultimatum listing eight points and announced that they would resort to radical measures of protest unless Mikheil Saakashvili resigns by January 20th, exactly five years since his inauguration. The protestors say they will prevent Saakashvili from fulfilling his duties and even block his residence. The protestors are still collecting signatures. They say at present 830,000 people have signed the demand for the president`s resignation. Similar rallies were held in other cities of Georgia inclduing Kutaisi, Batumi, Zugdidi, Gurjaani and Gori.

Minister of Interior passed drug test

Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia Irakli Gharibashvili and all of his deputies have passed drug tests today. According to the ministry PR department, no drugs were detected in their blood. Irakli Gharibashvili called on other ministries to pass drug tests too.

”We launched drug tests for ministry staff today, I was the first to pass the test and thus, I have given an example to my staff. I want to introduce and enforce a healthy lifestyle in out ministry; we are combating all fallaciousness of our society. I want to call on other ministries, my colleagues to carry out similar activity and I am sure that this will have a good outcome,” the minister said.