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The News in Brief

Friday, June 28
About 30 municipal officials are interrogated

The investigation service of the Ministry of Finance has interrogated about 30 officials of the Tbilisi municipal government-among them deputies of the Tbilisi mayor, one of the district governors and about 30 MPs from the opposition UNM party. Investigation service officials explained that the individuals were questioned regarding the ministry's investigation of embezzlement and misappropriation of funds. All of them were summoned as witnesses to the investigation service. They have already left the investigation service's office.

The released officials say they were dragged out of their cars, handcuffed and taken to the investigation service office without being charged with any crime. However, afterwards they were told that they would be summoned to the investigation service's office for interrogation if necessary.

UNM leaders have characterized Thursday’s mass detention as an example of "political pressure". (Rustavi 2)

Nationwide entrance exams begin

The unified national exams for university entrants started on Thursday. On the first day of testing students throughout the country took tests in the Georgian language. The number of the entrants registered for university entrance exams is the highest ever. The tests for the nationwide exams were printed in Great Britain. Until the opening of exam centres on each exam day, the tests are held at the nearest police office and transferred to the exams centre securely. (Rustavi 2)

Batumi hosts GUAM Conference

Batumi is hosting a joint conference of the GUAM Parliamentary Assembly and Baltic Assembly. The chairperson of the GUAM Parliamentary Assembly, Georgian Parliament’s Vice Speaker Zurab Abashidze, told reporters that during the two day conference participants will make a resolution condemning regional conflicts. The conference entitled "Partners for a Safe and Successful Region" is dedicated to the discussion of the following issues: a proactive and intellectual approach to cooperation against organized crime; cooperation in the energy sector; investing in promoting the region; enhancement of cooperation in the tourism sector; political collaboration and European and Euro-Atlantic Integration and the prospects of cooperation for the GUAM Parliamentary Assembly and Baltic Assembly.

The conference includes debates and consultations among the participants. The GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development has four members: Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Latvia and Turkey have observer status. (Rustavi 2)

Georgian Prime Minister hosts Asseco Group delegation

Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili hosted a delegation of the Asseco Group at his residence in Tbilisi. The sides discussed the present investment environment for IT technology in Georgia. The Asseco Group representatives announced at the meeting that they want to invest in the Georgian IT sector. The Asseco Group is a federation of companies active in information technology. Asseco Group offers comprehensive and proprietary IT solutions for all sectors of the economy. The Asseco Group operates successfully in EU countries, Israel, United States, Canada and Japan. It is involved in banking, insurance systems and government. (Rustavi 2)

Chief Prosecutor says Zhvania's death will be investigated soon

Chief Prosecutor Archil Kbilashvili says the investigation into the death of the late Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania will be reopened soon and promised that the public will have a definite answer as to whether Zhvania was killed or not.

"The investigation is not in deadlock, on the contrary, it`s in progress and soon it will be completed successfully. It means that the cause of death will be definitely determined. Currently, I don't think it is correct to make any further statement about this, but all questions will be answered." Kbilashvili said in the interview with Kvela Siakhle newspaper.

Zurab Zhvania was found dead in a rented apartment in Tbilisi on February 3, 2005. The official cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning. (Rustavi 2)

Members of public against building hydroelectric dams in Adjara

At a public meeting members of the public expressed their opposition to the construction of a hydroelectric power station in Adjara.

According to the Adjaran Environmental Protection Department, the construction of the hydropower plant could cause soil erosion in the region. The local population also sees the dam as an environmental threat.

According to the dam project leaders, the environmental impact has been studied, compensation payment to the public will be made and environmental safety measures will be observed at the highest possible level.

The project involves the construction of three large-scale hydropower plants in mountainous Adjara.

According to the report, the project involves the construction of a hydroelectric plant in Shuakhevi in the first phase and hydroelectric plants in Khelvachauri and Keda during the second phase. The total capacity of all three plants will be 1,200 megawatts. The estimated cost of the project is $700 million. Most of the generated power will be exported.

The project also includes the construction of a 36-kilometer underground tunnel through which water will be supplied to a central dam. (Trend)

Spices added to the list of drugs and psychotropic substances

Amendments will be made to the Law on Drugs, Psychotropic Substances, Precursors and Narcological Aid. An amendment to the law has been proposed in Parliament, according to which spices (plant substances with large amount of synthetic cannabinoids): JWH-018, JWH-081, JWH-122, JWH-398, JWH-073, JWH-200, HU-200, GP-47, 497 will be added to the proscribed list of drugs and other narcotic substances in Georgia.

The legislative initiative was proposed by Tamaz Avdaliani, deputy chair of the Legal issues Committee. (IPN)