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The News in Brief

Thursday, January 24
Distribution of compensation begins for people affected by bad weather

The distribution of compensation funds to the Kakheti region population affected by the bad weather has started. 2,768 people will receive compensations in Cartu Bank during the first stage of the financial relief effort. Some people gathered at the Cartu Bank expressed dissatisfaction over the small amount of compensation (500-700 GEL). They said the government had promised to provide up to 4,700 GEL to each family. The process will last for 6 weeks. People will be able to receive compensation in Cartu Bank in Tbilisi and Telavi. (IPN)

During the election campaign I found out that we were heading in the wrong direction with regard to many issues - Vano Merabishvili

Vano Merabishvili, Secretary General of United National Movement (UNM) said on Rustavi 2 TV that during the election campaign, when he was Prime Minister, he found out that his team was heading in the wrong direction with regard to many issues. According to him, the former ruling party's main mistake was that they had not been involved in the daily conversation with the population. "We thought the information we were providing to the population was enough to make the right choice. Unfortunately, it turned out that more discussions and more frequent meetings were necessary," said Merabishvili.

He explained that the UNM made many mistakes, while the prison video footage led to the consolidation of public opinion. “It took place shortly before the elections, and we did not have time to prove our truth," he said. (IPN)

Finance Minister denies UNM's allegations about economic crisis

The Minister of Finance of Georgia, Nodar Khaduri, has downplayed the concerns of the United National Movement Secretary General, Vano Merabishvili, about the danger of a financial economic crisis. Vano Merabishvili presented the data of economic parameters of the 2013 budget and said the country was almost in economic crisis due to the failure and lack of the economic strategy of the government of Georgia.

The finance minister told Rustavi2 on the late-night political talk show Position anchored by Nino Shubladze, that the statement made by Merabishvili was simply irresponsible. He said the general turnover has increased by 100 million GEL. The Ministry of Finance plans to publish a document with economic parameters later today. Nodar Khaduri has also denied the pressure on the business sector, as it was alleged by Merabishvili, adding that such irresponsible statements are simply incorrect from the representatives of the previous government.

"We have exceeded the planned budget by 11million GEL and in January 2013, the taxes collected exceed that of the previous year in January. We have no problems paying salaries, pensions or other mandatory payments," the finance minister said.

Calling the situation in the country "alarming" UNM has started collecting signatures to initiate legislative amendments pertaining to tax amnesty. (Rustavi 2)

Is Georgia’s position on the international stage weakening?

“I have noticed signs of the weakening of Georgia’s positions in the international arena,” President Mikheil Saakashvili said in an exclusive interview with Rustavi 2 TV. He said the previous government had been building Georgia’s reputation for years and as a result of this, Georgia, which was a hopeless country, turned into a democratic state.

"We had a good reputation because Georgia had developed democracy and the recent elections have proved it. The new government should have concentrated on what we built rather than spending all its energy on cursing the previous government. It would be good for them and for the country as well," Saakashvili said.

According to him, many world leaders stood beside Georgia in 2008 because there was democracy in the country. "Nobody will protect you if you do not have democracy. If democracy weakens, Georgia’s immunity against foreign aggression and occupation will weaken too. I have noticed the signs of weakening of Georgia’s positions in the international arena," said Saakashvili. (IPN)

Shota Khizanishvili returns to post of Deputy Mayor

Shota Khizanishvili has returned to the post of Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi, the capital’s City Hall told InterpressNews. Khizanishvili’s authority was suspended because of his detention. He was released from custody on 35,000-GEL bail on 17 January. Shota Khizanishvili was charged with abuse of power, hampering political activities of political parties and illegal monitoring of telephone conversations. (IPN)