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The News in Brief

Thursday, August 15
Ex-chief of CEC confirms his intention to run for presidency

Former chief of the central election commission of Georgia Zurab Kharaishvili has confirmed his intention to run for president in an interview with the Prime Time News agency. He is going to make an official announcement about his political plans at the briefing scheduled for August 15. “I will hold a briefing at the press club, where I will announce my political plans,” Kharatishvili said the day prior to the press conference. (Rustavi 2)

GD activists defect from the party to join Burjanadze’s campaign

About 25 activists from the Gurjaani branch of the Georgian Dream coalition have announced their defection from the party for joining the election campaign of presidential candidate Nino Burjanadze.

One of the defected members of the Kakheti branch of the party, Gia Khelashvili, says the main reason of their dissatisfaction is the presidential candidate nominated by the Georgian Dream. He doubts that Giorgi Margvelashvili will be able to solve Georgia`s problems on the international level.

The GD members have commented on the defection of the party members. They say the main achievement of Georgia’s new government is the freedom of choice and political vision.

Chairperson of the procedural issues committee of the parliament Irina Imerlishvili says the reports are untrue, though she confirmed the defection of two members of the GD branch in Lanchkhuti to Burjanadze’s party. (Rustavi 2)

Benelux countries’ heads to visit Georgia

The new ambassador of the Netherlands Hans Horbach presented his credentials to Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Pandzhikidze. After the ceremony, a meeting was held, during which the sides discussed bilateral and multilateral relations between the countries.

The ambassador stressed the importance of the Benelux countries' Foreign Ministers visit to Tbilisi, which was scheduled for September 5-6, Georgia's Foreign Ministry told Trend on Wednesday. During the meeting, the sides also discussed Georgia's cooperation with NATO and the EU, as well as the progress made in this area.

The new ambassador of the Netherlands and the Georgian Foreign Minister also discussed the upcoming Vilnius summit of Eastern Partnership. (Trend)

Many hospitals to return to public ownership in Georgia

The Oncology Center in Tbilisi was privatized and bought by the Canadian Pegasus Pharmaceuticals Groups. According to the contract, the company was obliged to modernize the center. The modernization should have finished in May of 2013, but very little was done.

The center’s Director, Revaz Gagua, explains that the work to modernize the center has barely even started. In two year's time, the company has only managed to refurbish the facade of the clinic and change the windows. The company was obliged to fulfill $20 million investment into this clinic, but not more than half a million has been spent so far, according to the Health Ministry.

The ministry has canceled the contract with Pegasus and modernization work will start in the fall. It will be finished in a year and a half, and up to $30 million will be allocated for it, according to preliminary information.

Hospitals which are owned by the Israeli company Aditti in nine regions of Georgia will also be returned to public ownership. Doctors at Aditti hospitals last weekend protested because they haven’t received their salary for six months.

Sergenko explained that the transfer process has started. “It is not planned to massively change other medical facilities into municipal ownership,” he added. (DFWatch)

Three detained as anger boils over outside Akhalaia trial

In a few days, the court will announce its verdict in the final case against Akhalaia which deals with torture and the illegal deprivation of freedom.

During all of Tuesday, there was a rally outside of the court building, with people waiting for the hearing to finish. Among the detainees was Giorgi Gabedava, a member of the National Front, which is mostly known for holding ‘anti-gay propaganda’ rallies in recent months.

When the hearing was finished those who attended the hearing came out in the yard where protesters started whistling and shouting, which was followed by verbal and physical confrontation.

As Gabedava was being taken into a police car, he told journalists that Akhalaia’s lawyer Giorgi Oniani had hit him, but he was detained instead of the lawyer. Later iReporter posted a photo showing the incident. But Gabedava remains in detention, as well as Onise Gergedava, who is a member of the organization Free Zone, which supported Akhalaia.

Pridon Merebasvili, a former political prisoner, was also detained, but later released on 100 lari bail (USD 60).

The verdict in the case about torturing seven special unit employees will be announced in a few days. Bacho Akhalia, the former defense and interior minister, was charged by several other people for torturing special unit employees for having a different political opinion.

At Tuesday’s final hearing, Akhalaia said he hopes the court will find him innocent, as well as the others who are charged. He called his co-defendants ‘successful soldiers’ who remain in detention only because of him. The former minister said the charges are groundless. (DFWatch)

Chinese Ambassador to Georgia completes his mission

Chinese Ambassador to Georgia Chen Jianfu has completed his diplomatic mission.

Chen Jianfu met with Georgian Foreign Minister Maya Panjikidze on Tuesday, the Georgian Foreign Ministry told Trend. During the meeting, Panjikidze thanked the diplomat for the contribution he has made to the deepening of relations between Georgia and China and wished him success in his future endeavors. Chen Jianfu has been serving as the Chinese Ambassador to Georgia since 2010. (Trend)