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The News in Brief

Wednesday, July 24
Former Minister questioned as a witness

Former Agriculture Minister Davit Kirvalidze was questioned as a witness. He said he was asked questions about the Ministry of Agriculture and "Mechanization" Ltd. Davit Kirvalidze declined to discuss any details about the questioning. Kirvalidze said the investigation was ongoing and the court would make everything clear. In May, the Anti-Corruption Agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs detained high ranking officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and "Mechanization" Ltd for the misappropriation of a large amount of state funds, negligence at work and exerting pressure on the investigation. (IPN)

Georgia to implement energy strategy until 2015

There is an action plan for the formation of a long term Georgian energy development strategy; an initial SWOT analysis will be known next month. Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze said that the development of an energy policy is an important issue. The U.S. Agency for International Development is actively assisting the Georgian government. Kaladze added that Georgia will have a direct energy strategy by 2015. Several years will be required to form a long-term strategy for all energy sources. (Trend)

Georgia near hepatitis C epidemic

According to official statistics, hepatitis C levels in Georgia have hit record levels, namely 200,000 infected currently and 2,000 new cases emerging annually.

According to experts, the death rate is also high, as the treatment of the disease is expensive. Moreover, there is no state program for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis C. The data of the official statistics state that only 10 percent of the infected can afford treatment.

As the Public speaker of Georgia reported on Monday, Georgia takes first place in the South Caucasus in regards to number of people infected with hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is generally spread through the blood. A common transmission mode is through the sharing of infected needles within the injecting drug using community. (Trend)

Heads of churches to meet Presidents of Russia, Ukraine and Belorussia

Heads of churches will meet with the Presidents of Russia, Ukraine and Belorussia with regard to the 1025th anniversary of Russia’s Christianity, Father Giorgi Zviadadze said at the airport.

According to him, the Patriarch and the delegation from the Georgian Church are paying an official visit to the Russian Federation. The delegations of local churches, clergy and patriarchs will take part in anniversary events.

The heads of churches will meet the Russian President on July 23, while meetings with Ukrainian and Belarusian Presidents will be held on July 27 and 29. “Such important visits include various meetings and we will try to discuss important issues during the visit,” Father Giorgi Zviadadze said. To the journalist’s question whether Georgian-Russian relations will be discussed or not, he said it is not a working visit and no similar topics will be discussed. (IPN)

Lugar’s laboratory process is completely controlled by the Ministry of Health

Minister of Health, Labour and Social Affairs of Georgia, David Sergeenko, responded to the statement of “Rospotrebnadzor” and said “Lugar’s laboratory process is completely controlled by the Ministry of Health”.

According to the Minister, Richard G. Lugar Center for Public Health Research is not producing environmentally hazardous substances.

We remind you that Russia's chief sanitary inspector, Gennady Onishchenko, accused the U.S. of producing biological weapons in Georgia at a U.S. Navy facility.

“The facility, the Center Public Health Reference Laboratory (CPHR), is situated on a former Soviet military base and is located on the outskirts of Tbilisi. Here, the U.S. government is conducting activities in violation of the 1975 Biological Weapons Convention,” Onischenko told Interfax.

“Lugar's lab has every opportunity to work on especially dangerous infections,” says the statement of “Rospotrebnadzor”. (Front News)

Georgia seizes $100,000 of 'smuggled cash' from Iranian citizen

The Georgian Interior Ministry and Revenue Service said on July 22 that their officers seized undeclared USD 100,000 from an Iranian citizen, who, they said, was trying to smuggle the cash into Georgia.

The cash, hidden in a concealed area of a passenger bus, was seized at the Vale border crossing point on the Turkish border, according to the Interior Ministry.

The Iranian citizen was fined and the cash confiscated. The Interior Ministry said that an investigation was ongoing to find out what the smuggled cash was intended for.

According to the Finance Ministry’s revenue service, Georgian customs officers seized undeclared USD 60,000 in cash from two Iranian citizens at the Tbilisi airport in June when the two arrived from Dubai. In a separate case in May one Iranian citizen en route from Dubai was caught in Tbilisi airport with undeclared USD 255,700. (Civil.Ge)

Delegation of Russian RusHydro to visit Georgia

The delegation of the Federal Hydro-Generating Company RusHydro JSC will visit Georgia soon, Georgia's Energy and Natural Resources Minister, Kakha Kaladze, has said recently.

According to him the representatives of the company have already visited Georgia several times in order to get acquainted with the projects.

"We introduced them to some current and planned projects. However, they have not made any specific decisions yet. In the near future the head of the company will visit the country and we will have a meeting with him. Presumably, we will reach an agreement on specific projects," Kaladze underscored.

The Georgian minister also touched upon the issue of electrification of Georgian villages.

According to him the problem of villages not receiving electricity will be solved after a year and a half.

At this stage about 40 villages are not provided with electricity, Kaladze noted. He said that the electricity supply of four villages has already been restored through the financing of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Some $400,000 has been spent for this purpose.

"We are a country seeking EU membership, and currently we have such problems. The electricity supply for the remaining villages will be restored gradually over the next year and a half. In total, the project will cost $9 million," Kaladze underscored.

According to him, the corresponding work will be activated from October. (Trend)

Free swimming pool opens in Holy Trinity Cathedral yard

Another summer spot for children has appeared in Tbilisi as a free swimming pool was opened in the Holy Trinity Cathedral yard with a blessing by the Patriarch of Georgia. The pool was set up through the initiative of Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. (Georgian News)