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The News in Brief

Monday, July 22
UNM primary elections starts with clashes in Zugdidi

The primary elections of the United National Movement (UNM) started with clashes in Zugdidi. Several dozen local residents protested against holding the primary elections of the former ruling party by throwing stones and bottles at leaders of the UNM. The UNM leaders said the events in Zugdidi were inspired by the new authorities, who gathered their active supporters and interfere with the pre-election activities. They evaluate the events in Zugdidi as the authorities' failure to fulfill their obligations in the pre-election sphere.

Despite all the attempts to break up the primary elections, all delegates and four presidential candidates entered the theater building and Davit Bakradze gained the majority of the votes once again. However, the Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia condemned any violence stressing they are not connected with the Zugdidi incident.

"Our political party has no connection with this fact; we believe that the election process should be held in fair, equal and free environment,” the statement suggested.

According to the spokesperson of the political team, the assessment of the incident made by the UNM aimed at discrediting the electoral process.”We are sure that all the facts of the offenses and provocations committed either by demonstrators or the UNM members will be revealed in time in full compliance with the law," says the statement.
(The Messenger)

UNM Loses Most of Tbilisi Sakrebulo Posts

After losing majority in the Tbilisi City Council (Sakrebulo), UNM party has also lost chairmanship posts of the Sakrebulo commissions.

Deputy Chairman of the Sakrebulo, Mamuka Akhvlediani of UNM, was also voted out at a session on July 19.

Chairman of Tbilisi Sakrebulo, Zaal Samadashvili, is the next most likely target of being voted out at the next session, scheduled for July 26.

UNM members of Sakrebulo boycotted the July 19 extraordinary session, citing that it was convened through procedural violations. They filed a lawsuit arguing that the session was held in violation of procedures; hence decisions taken at this session are not legitimate.

“We do not cling to our posts. We offered our opponents to hold consultations and vote out incumbents and vote in new ones in the frames of regulations and law, but these negotiations have failed,” UNM’s Mamuka Akhvlediani, former deputy chairman of Tbilisi Sakrebulo, said.

Two other deputy chairmen of the Sakrebulo are from the Georgian Dream coalition; one is Giorgi Tkemaladze of Industrialist Party, which is part of GD coalition and another one is Jaba Samushia, who was elected in Sakrebulo as a member of the Christian-Democratic Movement, but switched to GD after the October 2012 parliamentary elections.

UNM now has 22 representatives in the 47-member Sakrebulo (there are total of 50 seats but three of them are currently vacant) after 16 of its members quit the party since the 2012 parliamentary elections

Georgian Defense Minister inspects military bases

Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania inspected military bases in the west of the country on Friday. The external communications, maintenance of buildings and other infrastructure are being reconstructed. Canteens are being built for the military, barracks were repaired.

Large-scale construction and renovation work on all military bases of Georgia is being conducted.

Next Georgian president to reside in new palace

Georgia's next president will be taking up residency in a new presidential palace.

The new presidential palace will be located in the former US Embassy located at 10 Atoneli Street in Tbilisi. Around $16 million has already been expended by the former Georgian government for the renovation of the mansion, as it was planned to place the residency of Georgian PM in one of these buildings. Nevertheless, Bidzina Ivanishvili refused to move to this building and his residency remained in the State Chancellery of Georgia.

Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili stated that the head of the government will not need the Presidential Palace built in 2007 after restrictions on his authority were placed. Saakashvili noted that the PM can operate out of the presidential palace. The new authorities haven't accepted Saakashvili's proposal so far.

Catholicos-Patriarch blesses Bidzina Ivanishvili

Patriarch Ilia II talked about the strength and solidity of the family in his Sunday sermon at the Holy Trinity Cathedral. According to him, special attention should be paid to families and children. He also said families should be large.

"We have more than 17, 000 godchildren. These are the children who were doomed to death, but today they are our wonderful children. I would like to say that Mr (Bidzina) Ivanishvili pays great attention to family strength; family resiliency and he arranged a place for children in the Trinity Church yard. I want to bless Ivanishvili for his efforts done for our nation," said His Holiness. The Patriarch traditionally blessed several surnames, as well as the soldiers which left for Afghanistan.

Clergymen, who arrived from England, France and Ukraine, also took part in today’s sermon.

Airzena Georgian airline builds a new airport in Tbilisi

Airzena, a Georgian airline, has begun to build a new airport at the former Vaziani military airbase near Tbilisi. According to Airzena's General Director, Iase Zautashvili,

Tbilisi International Airport is small and a new airport is needed to drive economic growth.

Airzena's general director noted that if a military airbase exists in Vaziani, then the private sector considers there the most cost effective place to build. According to Zautashvili, this question will be raised once more at the next meeting of the commission, but he is unaware of the time of that meeting.