The News in Brief
Friday, February 1
Ex-Defense Minister Kezerashvili Accused of Corruption
Georgia's former defense minister and ex-head of the financial police Davit Kezerashvili, received over 12.3 million USD in bribes for providing 'protection' to an ethanol smuggling scheme between 2007 and 2012, the Investigations Service at the Ministry of Finance said on January 30th.
The Finance Ministry's agency in charge of probing into economic and financial crimes said that as a result of this alleged scheme over 19.8 million litres of ethanol was smuggled into Georgia from Ukraine from 2007-2012, which resulted in up to 49.39 million GEL lost in unpaid taxes.
Kezerashvili, who was President Saakashvili's close associate, was chief of the financial police, , from 2004 till late 2006 and then served as Defense Minister till December 2008 before going into business.
The Finance Ministry's investigations service said that Kezerashvili continued providing 'protection' to the smuggling scheme even after leaving the government as he maintained close links with the authorities. (Civil.ge)
Giorgi Sibashvili granted 15,000 GEL bail
Giorgi Sibashvili, former Deputy Governor of the Kakheti region, has been granted 15,000 GEL bail. Sibashvili is to cover the bail within 30 days. The Investigative Service of the Ministry of Finance accuses Sibashvili of abuse of power as well as misappropriation of government funds. The investigation is in progress under the criminal code articles 332 and 333. He faces 11 years in prison if convicted. (IPN)
Candidacies of several ambassadors announced
The names of several new Georgian ambassadors have been revealed. Tedo Japaridze will be Georgia's ambassador to the United Kingdom, Kakha Imnadze will be Georgia's ambassador to the UN and Lado Chanturia will be ambassador to Germany. Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze selected the ambassadorial candidates after holding consultations with them. Tedo Japaridze currently is the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee; Kakha Imnadze was the speaker of Shevardnadze`s government and has also worked as the State Security Secretary; while Lado Chanturia was the Chairperson of the Supreme Court of Georgia, Minister of Justice and an advisor to the President. The parliament is to confirm the candidacies of 18 ambassadors. (Rustavi 2)
Kvemo Kartli Governor threatens to stage permanent street protests
Kvemo Kartli Governor Davit Kirkitadze threatens to stage permanent street protests. He said the Rustavi 2013 yearly budget has decreased by 50 %, meaning either there is a budgetary crisis in the country or the government has launched a war against the city of Rustavi. According to the governor he had been monitoring the new government. He sent several letters and requests to the PM and the Finance Minister regarding the reduction of the Rustavi budget. The governor said the budget-cut led to suspension of many important projects for the city. He called on the PM and the Finance Minister to be more interested in Rustavi's problems.
Davit Kirkitadze said if the PM and the Finance Minister do not provide any concrete response, the United National Movement will stage permanent protests. (IPN)
Tbilisi Opera Theatre has a new director
The Tbilisi Zakaria Paliashvili Opera and Ballet Theatre has a new director. The Minister of Culture Guram Odisharia introduced conductor Giorgi Jordania as the new head of the theatere yesterday. The Minister said the candidate was selected according to his professional experience on international level.
“We want to make our famous opera and ballet theatre better then we can even imagine.” Guram Odisharia said. Giorgi Zhordania hailed the success of the Opera and Ballet Theatre in recent years and said he would do his best to develop the theatre. (Rustavi 2)
Georgian Justice Minister on fight against “crime bosses”
Georgian Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani confirmed that the new government of Georgia will continue the fight against the criminal world. “The so-called criminal bosses will be strictly punished in Georgia as organized crime is a phenomenon which should be completely eradicated. This is my and all of Georgian law enforcement's position." she said. (Rustavi 2)
Georgia on the 100th place in World Press Freedom Index
Reporters without Borders released World Press Freedom Index 2013. Georgia improved its position by moving from 104th place to 100th. “Despite the difference in their indices Georgia (100th), Moldova (55th), Armenia (47th) and Kyrgyzstan (106th) have a lot in common. Although these countries have media pluralism and low state censorship, they still face important problems including: independence of the media and working environment for journalists.. Finland, the Netherlands and Norway occupy the top three positions with press freedom index. (Tabula)