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The News in Brief

Friday, April 5
Round table discussion about Rabati Castle planned

Secretary General of the United National Movement Vano Merabishvili is expected to attend the round table discussion concerning the controversial restoration of Rabati Fortress - the Deputy Minister of Culture has confirmed. The round table entitled "Metamorphosis of Historic Architectural Heritage in the Manner of Rabati" is scheduled for April 5th. According to the Georgian government, the Turkish government wants to reconstruct Islamic cultural heritage monuments on Georgian territory. Vano Merabishvili wants to share his experience in this regard with the current government.

Government to cover electricity and natural gas fees for refugees

The government of Georgia will pay the electricity and gas bills for some refugees accommodated in public housing in Tbilisi. Davit Darakhvelidze, the Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees, said covering expenses from the government reserve fund is currently being discussed. According to the Minister only those living in public housing on Baku and Black Sea Streets in Tbilisi will have their expenses paid for. Darakhvelidze added that in the future the government will discuss the paying utility bills for 12 more public housing buildings. (IPN)

Head of Adjaran Police is in recovery

The head of the Adjaran Main Police Division Valeri Telia is currently in the recovery unit of the Medina Clinic in Khelvachauri, InterPressNews reports. Telia has blood vessel problems but is feeling better and will undergo a rehabilitation course. (InterPressNews)

UNM loses their majority on the Kutaisi City Assembly

The United National Movement (UNM) has lost their majority on the Kutaisi City Assembly. InterPressNews reports that five MPs have left the UNM. Among those who have abandoned the UNM include Tamaz Margvelashvili and Kakhaber Nemsitsveridze. Nemsitsveridze told InterPressNews that he will continue to work in public affairs. Those Assembly members who have left the UNM will presumably create a new faction next week.

The UNM had 14 out of 25 members on the Kutaisi City Assembly. Now the UNM only has nine members on the Assembly. (InterPressNews)

363,286 visitors crossed the Georgian border in March

363,286 visitors crossed Georgia’s border in March, which is 37% higher than the same period in 2012, the Information-Analytical Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs reports.

There were 928,898 border crossings into Georgia in the period January-March, which is 37.2% higher than the same period for 2012.

There were 343,466 tourist visits, 122,093 transit visits and 463,339 other visits.

In March 2013, most visitors to Georgia were from Turkey (up 40.1% from March last year); Azerbaijan (up 9.4%); Armenia (up 53.1%); Russia (up 102.6%); Ukraine (up 63.5%) and Iran (up 3.2%).

An increasing amount of visitors from EU countries has been noticed, especially, Poland (up 54%). Increasing amounts of visitors are also coming from Central Asia, especially Uzbekistan (up 43%) and Kazakhstan (up 30%) as well as Eastern European countries such as Belarus (up 36%). (IPN)

Tbilisi Days to be held in Prague on April 22-24th

Tbilisi Days will be held in Prague on April 22-24th. The Culture Events Centre of Tbilisi City Hall reports that Tbilisi Days will be opened officially on April 22nd with a concert from the ensemble "Georgian Voices". Prague City Hall will hold a photo exhibition of Old Tbilisi's rehabilitation.

According to the conductor of the Georgian State Symphony Orchestra, the ensemble “Georgian Brass” will hold two concerts in Old Town Square in Prague.

Fingers Theatre will stage two performances at the theatre “Minor”. A thematic exhibition of Tbilisi municipal museums will be held at Prague Municipal Museum.

In November 2012 Prague Culture Days were held in Tbilisi. Two performances from the Prague National Ballet, the exhibition “Panoramic Prague”, a concert of the eminent young Czech pianist Ivo Kahanek and the street theatre group V.O.S.A.'s performance were part of the celebrations. (IPN)

H1N1 cases fall, measles still rampant in Georgia

In Georgia, swine flu cases have fallen while measles cases remain constant. As Amiran Gamkrelidze, head of the National Centre of Disease Control and Public Health, Gamkrelidze told InterPressNews, this year there were 310 cases of H1N1 infection. 28 patients died.

As for measles, 726 cases of the infection were registered, including 566 cases in Tbilisi. An 11 month old girl and 19-year-old boy died as a result of measles.

Amiran Gamkrelidze stated that that the measles' vaccination is free for all children up to the age of seven as well as those who have contact with people infected with measles. (IPN)

Indian TV reports that Indian farmers are arriving in Georgia

Indian television station NDTV reports that Indians are buying land in the eastern part of Georgia. Villagers in the area are not surprised anymore to see farmers in colorful Indian outfits working in the fields, which locals stopped cultivating shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

In 2011 the Georgian government decided to bolster agricultural production through encouraging immigration of foreigners with modern agricultural knowledge and successful experience. But not all Georgians are happy with the developments in the agriculture sector. Some are worried that impoverished small plot owners are too easily tempted to sell their land to foreigners.

The new government has already started implementing projects aimed at raising harvest volumes by introducing modern agricultural farming techniques, including soil irrigation and the use of liquid fertilizers, NDTV reports. (Georgian News TV)