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The News in Brief

Wednesday, June 19
Georgia's jailed former PM starts hunger strike

Former Georgian Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili has started a hunger strike in pretrial detention. Merabishvili’s lawyer, Giorgi Chiviashvili, said that his client is demanding a television set in his cell and that his credit and debit cards be unblocked so that his family can use them.

Merabishvili, who is the secretary-general of President Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement party, was arrested last month and charged with abuse of power, embezzlement and bribing of voters.

Merabishvili insists the charges are politically motivated. (RFE/RL)

Head of EU mission in Georgia says Merabishvili’s care needs serious monitoring

Diplomats said that the case of Vano Merabishvili needs serious monitoring, head of the EU mission in Georgia Philip Dimitrov told reporters after meeting of representatives of the diplomatic corps with the attorneys of Secretary General of the National Movement.

"We are closely following the case of Merabishvili. Position of his lawyers is natural and points on inconsistencies and inaccuracies. We can not talk about the fact that at the stage of the investigation, but diplomats told that the issue requires serious monitoring," Dimitrov said . (Trend)

Georgia to participate in OSCE Conference on Security

The annual OSCE conference on security issues will be held in the Austrian capital of Vienna from June 19 - 20. The Georgian delegation will be headed by the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, David Zalkaliani, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia told Trend.

Before his flight to Vienna, Zalkaliani said that he will take part in the work of the three panels within the framework the conference, and will also make a report.

"Issues such as early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management, conflict resolution and post-conflict rehabilitation will be discussed at the conference. In my speech, I will focus on the regions of conflict and the existing situation there, including the facts of the installation of wire obstacles," the Deputy Minister said. (Trend)

Any commercial operations in Abkhazia to be considered illegal

Abkhazia is a separatist region and any commercial activities on this territory are illegal, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Davit Zalkaliani, said at a press conference on Monday.

Zalkaliani commented that the Abkhazian media reports that the Rosneft Company is going to conduct oil exploration in the territory of Abkhazia for 45 years. According to the same sources, one of the partners of Rosneft will be the Chevron Company.

According to Zalkaliani, the civilized world does not recognize the independence of Abkhazia and so any commercial transactions there will be deemed as illegal.

"Specifically, on this occasion I have no information, but I doubt that Chevron was a partner, based on the fact that the civilized world does not recognize the independence of Abkhazia," Zalkaliani said. (Trend)

Trans-Caucasian corridor should be strategic for entire region

Georgian Energy Minister, Kakha Kaladze, believes the country should do everything to make the Georgian Trans-Caucasian corridor strategically important for the entire region.

This was stated by him at the presentation of a Georgian Railway development plan on Monday.

"The plan provides both economic and social provision for the country and all this must be done in the shortest possible time. Both energy and railway are strategic spheres for us and we must do everything to make our corridor strategically important for the entire region," the minister said. According to him, Georgia has good relations with its neighbors. "There is a great interest in the corridor, including from Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. We must do our best to ensure that there is even more interest," Kaladze said. (Trend)

Kadiyev`s relatives say he is innocent

Relatives of Mikail Kadiyev, who was arrested last week for organizing a terror attack in Georgia, say he is innocent and has nothing to do with terror attacks and its organizing.

Kadiyev’s brother Ramzan Kadiyev said at a briefing on Monday that the fire arms, weapons and the explosives, which were seen on the video, did not belong to his brother. He also said Mikail and his cousin Omarov, also arrested for the same crime, lived in Georgia the past few years and never had problems. They also say the two defendants have never been convicted as it was reported by officials.

“When he learned the news about their detention, we were almost shocked. None of them has been convicted in the past. My brother and cousin announced at the court that the guns and the explosives found in their apartment did not belong to them,” Ramzan Kadiyev stated. (Rustavi 2)

Film Director Giga Lortkipanidze buried at Didube Pantheon

Famous Georgian film director Giga Lortkipanidze was buried at Didube Pantheon on Tuesday. According to the head of Tbilisi Social Services and Culture, Mamuka Katsarava, Giga Lortkipanidze was buried next to the actor Otar Meghvinetukhutsesi. On June 18 from 12:00 to 15:00, Marjanishvili theatre bid the film director farewell. Mamuka Katsarava said that on June 21, in front of Marjanishvili theatre, a star for Lortkipanidze will be unveiled. It was planned to open the star in his lifetime, though they could not make it happen due to the film director’s illness. (IPN)

A charity photo session for women struggling with cancer

A joint art therapy project by designer Anuka Areshidze and the Art House organized a charity event for women struggling with cancer. A photo session on June 17 involved fifteen women in alongside public celebrities, while June 19 will feature a show room with a presentation of works by Areshidze and other designers like Irakli Rusadze, Ana Changiani and others. The project also involves learning courses for felt, construction and clay for the participating women. (Georgian News)