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The News in Brief

Thursday, August 22
Saakashvili comments on selecting CEC Chair, election climate

President Saakashvili said he has not yet chosen the candidates for the Central Election Commission (CEC) chairmanship, but added that candidates should be from the NGO sector.

"We should nominate candidates on which the entire society will say that they are unbiased and objective. There should be no political inclination in this issue,” he said at a news conference on August 20.

The CEC chairperson’s post became vacant after Zurab Kharatishvili filed for resignation on August 12 to pursue a career in politics. (Civil.Ge)

Georgian Finance Minister discusses reforms with EU expert

Georgian Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri met with Twinning Project expert on cooperation with the EU, Werner Grassmann. According to the statement of the ministry, the purpose of the meeting was to acquaint the expert with the current and planned reforms in the ministry.

"With the support of the EU Finance Ministry, the Investigation Service started the implementation of twinning- program, which envisages a structural improvement of service, its approach to the most successful European experience, and also retraining candidates, translation of Georgian legislation into English, so that investors have access to existing information on Georgia," Khaduri said. He also expressed hope that after completion of the project the Investigation Service will become a modern European structure. (Trend)

Georgia sees troops off to Afghanistan

The next group of Georgian soldiers is leaving for Afghanistan. The seeing-off ceremony took place in Vaziani. The peacekeeping platoon of the 13th battalion of the 1st infantry brigade will leave for the ISAF mission in a few days. It will replace the reinforced platoon of the Operations Task Force-West in Afghanistan. First Deputy Head of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces, Brigadier General Vakhtang Kapanadze; Deputy Colonel, Vladimir Chachibaia; Naval Attache of the U.S. Armed Forces, Vice-Colonel Richard Brady and other top officials attended the seeing-off ceremony. (Trend)

Burjanadze says UNM leadership did nothing to start dialogue with Abkhazia and South Ossetia

The leader of Democratic Movement-United Georgia and presidential candidate Nino Burjanadze said that UNM leadership did not take any measures to start direct dialogue with the leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia."There was probably an opportunity for our meeting with the leader of Abkhazia during the past 10 months, or at least we could have made such a proposal. Why did we not think about it? Or why did we not think that senior officials in Georgia's leadership start direct dialogue with Vladimir Putin? I wish at least there was a meeting between the foreign ministers which would create the groundwork for a meeting between the Georgian and Abkhazian parties," Burjanadze said on Kavkasia TV, whilst commenting on the recent meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the de-facto head of the occupied Abkhazia, Alexander Ankvab. (Trend)

Defense Minister leaves for the United States

Minister of Defense of Georgia Irakli Alasania has left for the United States for an official visit.

Alasania will hold high-level meetings while he is there. The meetings are scheduled with United States (US) Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel; Chief of the National Guard Bureau, General Frank Grass; the acting Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs and Edmond Mulet, the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.

Alasania will take part in the forum of the CACI (Central Asia-Caucasus Institute) round table. The topic of the forum will be the National security of Georgia and Regional Security in the Caucasus. The defense minister will hold a meeting at the U.S. Defense University.

Before leaving for the United States, The Defense Minister visited a military base in Germany, where Georgian soldiers are being trained. (Front News)

Georgia Urged To Free Tajik Journalist

Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based international media-rights group, has called on the Georgian authorities to quickly release a prominent Tajik opposition journalist.

Dodojon Atovulloev told RFE/RL by phone that he was stopped at passport control on August 20 and is being held in Tbilisi's airport after arriving from the Czech Republic.

Atovulloev said he was told he was detained at the request of Tajik authorities, who accuse him of extremism and terrorism.

Atovulloev is well-known for his reports that are critical of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and members of his family.

Reporters Without Borders said on August 20 the Tajik authorities' request that Georgian authorities arrest him was politically motivated.

Last month, Atovulloev was denied entry at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, where he also arrived from Prague.

Atovulloev, who has lived in the Russian capital for the last 20 years, survived an apparent assassination attempt last year.

He was stabbed several times in a Moscow restaurant.

He believes the attack was connected with his journalistic work.

However, according to the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs the journalist was only inspected at the airport and let leave to Germany where he has the status of refugee. (RFE/RL)

Georgian hospitalized in Athens, beaten while awaiting extradition

A Georgian man is in hospital in serious condition after being beaten while in detention awaiting his extradition to his home country. The man, Davit Chkitunidze, was detained at Athens airport on August 14 as he was preparing to fly to Turkey, and according to his lawyer brutally attacked while in detention. His lawyer, Dali Imnaishvili, said her client has injuries to his head as a result of an attack in the extraditing detention facility. He was brought to the hospital in Athens and is still unconscious and in serious condition.

Lawyers have not been allowed to visit him yet. They say do not have information about who attacked him, but that there is reason to believe that it was one of the Georgian prisoners who was in detention along with him.