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The News in Brief

Monday, June 17
Georgia’s PM meets with Constitutional Court Chairman

The Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili met on Friday with the chairman of the Constitutional Court, Georgi Papuashvili. The meeting was held in Batumi. First, Ivanishvili and Papuashvili met one on one, later they extended the meeting with the judges of the Constitutional Court. The Prime Minister was informed about the work of the Constitutional Court. Bidzina Ivanishvili promised the judges that the government will provide them with maximum independence.

Students make live chain between two universities

Students of several universities of Tbilisi are objecting to the draft amendments to the Law on Higher Education initiated at the parliament. According to these amendments, the requirements towards the person who wants to become a rector of the higher education institutions will change and the candidate must have an academic degree; in addition, the candidate must be approved by the Prime Minister.

Students made a live chain from the Tbilisi State University first building to Ilia University– both are located on Chavchavadze Avenue. Students and some NGOs object to the hasty discussion of the draft amendments and think that the changed legislation will cause infringement of the autonomy of universities.

Afterwards, the protestors moved to the Ministry of Education to express their protest. Along with the students, professors and lecturers of various universities also participated.
(Rustavi 2)

MP leaves UNM

MP Kakha Guruli has left the Tbilisi City Assembly National Movement. He submitted an application in the City Assembly two days ago. Kakha Guruli intends to be an independent MP in the Samgori region. The National Movement has 24 MPs in the City Assembly and it maintains the majority. There are 23 MPs in the opposition, including two independent.

Rally held in Tbilisi in support of Muslims

A rally was held in the old district on Meydani in Tbilisi in support of Muslims who are not allowed to conduct Friday prayers in Samtatskaro. The participants then went to the mosque.

Among those who advocate freedom of religion are Orthodox believers, Baptists and Catholics.

Bishop of the Evangelical Baptist Church, Rusudan Gotsiridze, said that the state must take action so Muslims may pray freely. She added that not only the police, but officials must be there and enlighten the population.

Construction of three new power plants planned in Georgia’s highlands

Construction of three hydroelectric power plants is planned for the mountainous regions of Adjara. Adjara Water - Georgia LLC is the initiator of the project.

According to the report, the first phase of the project envisages construction of the Shuakhevi-Shalta power plant with the second phase being hydro power plants in Khelvachauri and Keda. The total capacity of all three plants will total 1,200 megawatts. The estimated cost of the project is $700 million. It is planned to export the bulk of the generated electricity.

The project also includes the construction of a 36 kilometer underground tunnel which will supply water to the central dam.

While discussing the project, representatives of non-governmental organizations in Georgia made a number of observations regarding the environmental risks. According to NGOs, construction of three hydroelectric power plants in the highlands could lead to the destruction of the ecosystem.

Representatives of Ajara water - Georgia LLC have promised to once again hold a similar discussion with the participation of experts. Construction of hydropower plants in the highland regions of Adjara is expected to start in August this year.

Russia receives first batch of Georgian wine after 7 year break

Georgia has resumed wine exports to Russia for the first time since 2006, with the first batch of 30,000 bottles from the Dugladze winery crossing the Georgia-Russia border on June 15.

Russia banned the import of Georgian and Moldovan wine after Russia’s chief health inspector, Gennady Onishchenko, claimed the potables were contaminated with heavy metals and pesticides.

The ban was seen by critics as an attempt by Moscow to punish Tbilisi and Chisinau for their pro-Western stance.

Moldova was allowed to resume wine exports to Russia in 2007.

Onishchenko announced in March this year that a number of Georgian wines and mineral waters had passed new health checks and were being allowed back into Russia.

Russia is expected to import about 10 million bottles of Georgian wine and cognac in 2013 alone.

Ilia II to visit Adjara

Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II will visit Adjara on 17 June. InterPressNews was told by the patriarchate, that Ilia will visit Khulo on 17 June, where a christening will be held. On 18 June, the Patriarch will visit Tbel Abuseridze State University in Khichauri and bless students and teachers. On 19 June, the patriarch will visit Batumi, where a big christening will also be held.

Georgian FM welcomes Kazakhstan's decision to raise level of diplomatic representation

Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze has received the Ambassador of Kazakhstan Ermukhamet Ertysbayev. The Georgian Foreign Minister welcomed the decision of the Kazakh Government on the appointment of Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Georgia, the Foreign Ministry told Trend. The sides discussed issues of bilateral and multilateral cooperation.The sides highlighted the importance of mutual visits for further development and deepening of the fruitful cooperation between Georgia and Kazakhstan, the Georgian Foreign Ministry reported.