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The News in Brief

Tuesday, September 3
Georgian men`s Judo team is World Champion

Georgia crowned the world champion by winning the men`s team title at the Judo World Championships in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday. Georgian wrestlers defeated the Russian men`s team by the score 3-2. In a decisive fight in the 100 kg category, Adam Okruashvili defeated Russian Aleksandr Mikhailin. Lasha Shavdatuashvili, 66kg, lost against Russian wrestler Alim Gadanov and Zebeda Rekhviashvili lost against Kimurat Kodzov in the 73 kg category. The score became 3 to 2 when Avtandil Chrikishvili and Valeri Liparteliani overcame Sirazudin Magomedov and Kiril Denisov with warnings. It should be noted that Liparteliani and Orkuashvili defeated rivals twice in this tournament - both in team and personal fighting.
(Rustavi 2)

Ivanishvili Comments on Minaret Removal

PM Ivanishvili said that minaret in the village of Chela was removed from a mosque because it was built illegally, but also said that the authorities should be “more cautious” while addressing religious matters.

He also said that the authorities would “study” if excessive force was used by the police against local Muslim residents of Chela during the removal of the minaret on August 26.

PM Ivanishvili raised the issue while delivering a prepared speech at an annual ambassadorial gathering of Georgian diplomats in Tbilisi on September 2. It was his first public comment on this issue.

Ivanishvili said that he “strongly” believes Georgia’s tradition of religious tolerance “has not disappeared.”

“Respect towards religious tolerance, religious feelings is not only our tradition, but it is also one of the fundamental principles of the Georgian constitution,” he said.

“That is exactly what makes me think that incident in the village of Chela has nothing to do with religious intolerance. The minaret was built in violation of the law. The authorities cannot turn a blind eye to this. If the law was violated in the process of disassembling the minaret or if excessive force was used against demonstrators [protesting against minaret’s removal], facts will be studied and appropriately responded to,” Ivanishvili said.

“But it is of utmost importance that only the state, law and court to restore justice,” he said.

“When the case involves religious feelings, the authorities should be more cautious, because this is rather fragile issue,” he continued. “There is no alternative to accord and peace between religions.”

Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru interested in cooperation with GUAM

Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru are interested in cooperation with GUAM, the Permanent Representative of Georgia to GUAM, Merab Antadze, told reporters in Tbilisi.

"Bilateral relations within the framework of GUAM are quite active and the relationship with partner organizations, Japan, the United States, and the Visegrad group states are also intensive," he said.

Antadze also said that there are a number of countries that wish to establish closer cooperation with the regional organization.

PM Confident Margvelashvili will win presidential race without run-off

PM Bidzina Ivanishvili said he remains confident that GD’s presidential candidate, Giorgi Margvelashvili, will win the election in the first round without a run-off, but told supporters not to think that the job is done and called on them to go to the polling stations on October 27.

The PM made the remarks while speaking at Margvelashvili’s campaign rally in Ivanishvili’s native Sachkhere on August 31. In his speech, the PM also said that in the first year in office, "we have delivered a majority of our promises” and listed among them the ongoing “restoration of justice”, de- politicizing the police and putting law enforcement agencies “into the service of people”, carrying out “fundamental” constitutional changes cutting presidential powers to appoint new government without Parliament’s authorization; providing government subsidies to agriculture and introducing broad state-funded health insurance. He praised Margvelashvili for his decision while serving as education minister to allocate state funds to distribute textbooks in public schools free-of-charge from this year. Ivanishvili also said that the judiciary “is getting rid of pressure from the previous government.”

“But for the public it is very scarce. I think we’ve done maximum of what was possible to do. We are not miracle workers. But if we keep this pace, very soon we will turn into a European-type of state,” Ivanishvili said.

Natural disaster in western Georgia

Western Georgia has once again become a victim to a natural disaster on Sunday night. Torrential rain and gale-force winds caused damage to Batumi, Kobuleti, Shekvetili, and Senaki.

As a result of the wind in Batumi, the electricity supply was cut-off, trees were brought down and nine cars were damaged.

The Paz River in Senaki rose as a result of heavy rain and flooded more than 30 homes. Domestic animals died.

Local residents state that a barrier should be constructed along the river. The old fence was damaged about six weeks ago in the flood. The residents demand a timely restoration of the fence.

The central government has transferred funds and will finish the design work in coming days, and begin rebuilding barriers, the local authorities said.

It should be noted that western Georgia has been frequently affected by natural disasters in the last month.

Statue of Stalin vandalized in Telavi

A statue of Joseph Stalin which was erected in Telavi on September 1, was vandalized with paint.

According to available information, the cost of designing and casting the Stalin statue was covered by private contributions. The opening ceremony of the Stalin statue in Telavi was held by the organization Stalinists and the Veterans' Union on September 1. Later on the same day, it became known that the monument might be dismantled. The chair of the local city council, Dima Bochoridze, told reporters that the council had not issued a permit for erecting the statue and he had learned about that from media.

This is not the first time that Stalin's statue was vandalized. Several months ago statues of Stalin were painted in pink in the villages of Zemo Alvani and Akura as well as Kiketi.