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The News in Brief

Friday, January 18
Ivanishvili says Armenians should feel at home in Georgia

"The Armenian community of Georgia should be confident that the campaign promises will be honored," Georgian PM Bidzina Ivanishvili told reporters in Yerevan. Ivanishvili said during his campaign that he visited all Armenian-populated regions of Georgia where he got a warm reception. “I had warm meetings. Armenians felt my warm sentiments towards them, too. Armenians should feel at home in Georgia,” he said, adding that he has a lot of Armenian friends. (News.Am)

Mikheil Saakashvili calls on media not to praise released inmates with the status of political prisoners

"No one identified as political prisoners and released were political prisoners," the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili said on Wednesday. He said there are 5 political prisoners in Belarus and this country denies this, while in North Korea there are 10. According to the President, although Parliament of Georgia declared that there were 200 political prisoners, this is not the truth.

He thinks the Parliament made a very dangerous step. President Mikheil Saakashvili calls on the media not to praise inmates released with the status of political prisoners. “These people have committed very bad crimes. They destroyed families and murdered people. Show people what they have done, why there were jailed. They are telling lies. Don’t let them – the enemies of the Georgian statehood – do whatever they want,” the President said. According to him, the Georgian society will necessarily make right conclusions. He said he wished the country to pass the transient period without much pain. (IPN)

Jazzman Beka Gochiashvili demands releasing of video footage showing his and his brother’s interrogation

Young jazzman Beka Gochiashvili demands the release of video footage showing his and his brother’s interrogation. “I am very sorry that my and my brother’s names were somehow connected to a criminal incident. Politicization of the issue was not my choice. When information was spread about our interrogation, journalists connected with me via Skype and I told them about the facts of pressure and insults during my interrogation. The names of the president and then Culture Minister were mentioned by the investigator and not by me,” Gochashvili says on his Facebook webpage. “I demand the Ministry of Internal Affairs to immediately release the video footage showing my brother’s and my interrogation,” the post reads. (IPN)

Mikheil Saakashvili to deliver speech at PACE winter session

President Mikheil Saakashvili will deliver a speech at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) winter session on 21 January. According to the PACE official webpage, addresses by Georgian President, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule, and Italian Justice Minister Paola Severino (to be confirmed) are among highlights of the 2013 Winter Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe taking place in Strasbourg from 21 to 25 January.

Other highlights include debates on the honouring of obligations and commitments by Azerbaijan and the follow-up to the issue of political prisoners in this country, the situation in Kosovo, the state of media freedom in Europe and the humanitarian situation in the conflict-and war-affected areas of Georgia and Russia. A resolution on this issue will be discussed on 23 January. According to the Russian media, Russia will protest against the resolution.

“The draft resolution is much too critical and politicized. It includes too much politics,” the deputy head of the Russian delegation told Itar-Tass news agency. (IPN)

Interior Minister meets German Ambassador

Georgia’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Irakli Gharibashvili, has held a meeting with the Ambassador of the German Federal Republic to Georgia Ortwin Hennig. During the meeting, future plans, perspectives and cooperation issues with German and Georgian Law Enforcement agencies were discussed. The German Federal Republic actively assists Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs in the sphere of border management. (IPN)

Shota Khizanishvili released on bail

Shota Khizanishvili, the Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi and former Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, was released on 35,000-GEL bail on January 17th. The Tbilisi City Court judge made the above-mentioned decision on the base of lawyer Mamuka Chabashvili’s mediation. Shota Khizanishvili left the court building without making any comment. (IPN)

Discussions over the constitutional changes continue

Parliament members and NGOs continued discussing the State Constitutional changes with Kutaisi residents on January 17th. Special commissions launched discussions of two amendments to the Constitution of Georgia on January 9. One of the amendments is concerned with the restriction of presidential powers and the other pertains to returning the parliament building to Tbilisi. Majority explains that it is necessary to provide balance between parliamentary and presidential governance in order to avoid a political crisis in the country.

The Organization Commission of Discussion of Constitutional Changes was created at the parliament. The next public discussion is scheduled on January 22nd in the capital Tbilisi. When the initiative will be introduced to the regions, discussions will end on February 4th and the package of constitutional changes will be presented to the Parliament. (The Messenger)