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The News in Brief

Thursday, September 19
Thomas Hammarberg says footage stealthily gained by the previous government was crime

EU Special Representative to Georgia, Thomas Hammarberg, declared that the footage stealthily gained by the previous government was a crime. Hammarberg said at a meeting at the European House that it was important to destroy all the footage depicting people’s private lives to protect the ones in the videos. He said that the footage did not have to be destroyed hurriedly, as it would make clear those who were behind all this.

Hammarberg said that all kinds of footage obtained illegally, including those of a political character, must be destroyed by the court’s decision. “Such types of video footage may be preserved if the investigation needs them, but finally, all of it must be destroyed to avoid abuse of the video footage,” Hammarberg said. (IPN)

New Head of Energy Regulatory Agency Appointed

Irina Milorava has been appointed by PM Ivanishvili as the new chairperson of the Georgian National Energy and Water Supply Regulatory Commission (GNERC) for a six-year term.

Milorava served as the director general of JSC Electricity System Commercial Operator (ESCO), a state-owned company involved in the sale and purchase of balancing electricity since 2009, and before that she was its deputy general director since 2004.

She replaced Guram Chalagashvili, whose term in office expired in August.

In June, parliament passed a legislative amendment shifting the right of appointing the chairman and members of the GNERC from President to Prime Minister. President Saakashvili vetoed the bill, but the veto was overturned by the parliament in July. (Civil.Ge)

Georgian president grants nearly 1,000 Turkish residents citizenship

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili gave Turkish citizens who are Georgian by origin, a certificate of Georgian citizenship. Saakashvili's meeting with the Turkish citizens was held at Turkey's Samsun Airport where the Georgian president's plane landed.

The Georgian president granted about 936 ethnic Georgians from Turkey Georgian citizenship and following this, he brought forward passports for them by himself.

Saakashvili also noted that his presidential term will expire, but he is not going to leave politics.

"Together, we should think about Georgia's renaissance. If you want our homeland to be revived, know the Georgian language and have such a wish, then you are given such chance," he stated. (Trend)

Georgia, United Kingdom deepen cooperation in military education

A memorandum on mutual cooperation was issued on Tuesday between the National Defense Academy of Georgia and the Military Academy of the United Kingdom.

The document was signed by the rectors of higher military schools Zurab Agladze and Peter Watkins. In accordance with the memorandum, meetings between the academies will be held intensively, and will provide for the development of skills of the administrative and academic staff. From now on, the development of military and civilian programs will begin, as well as the exchange of ideas in relation to quality management and educational methods. The personnel of the academies will exchange recommendations on the preparation of publications.

The memorandum also provides for the provision of language training and the conducting of training courses by the specialists. Rector of the Academy, Zurab Agladze, familiarized the British guests with the ongoing reforms in the school and the curriculum. They also discussed the issues of potential partnerships. (Trend)

Olympic Committee lists Abkhazia and South Ossetia as countries

On Tuesday, the public broadcaster in Georgia reported that the Russian Olympic Committee has listed Abkhazia and South Ossetia as separate countries to take part in the winter Olympics in Sochi in February. “This is a very unpleasant precedent and we will have an equal reaction,” Elguja Berishvili, Vice President of Georgia’s Olympic Committee says. “Abkhazia and South Ossetia are not recognized by the UN and 99 percent of the countries in the world." The government in Georgia is preparing a note of protest. The two Georgian regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia became disputed during the break-up of the Soviet Union in the early 90s. A bloody war in the former led to an exodus of more than two-hundred thousand people who are still waiting to return. Russia intervened on the side of the breakaway regions, and during the 2008 war, after which it recognized them as independent states, but built up a heavy military presence afterwards, taking control over expanded de facto borders. President Saakashvili earlier planned for Georgia to boycott the Sochi Olympics, but the new Ivanishvili government which came to power in 2012 decided to participate. (Democracy and Freedom Watch)

Bomb hoaxes continue in Georgia, tougher punishment introduced

Georgia is increasing the sentence for making false terrorism reports from three years to five years in jail. The government explains that it is doing this after many false bomb reports lately. Most of the offenders are minors and today’s legislation does not allow for the punishment of minors. Adults may be sentenced to up to three years in jail.

There have been more than ten bomb reports made to the Interior Ministry’s call center 112. As a result, the building of parliament was evacuated three times, as have TV stations Rustavi 2, Imedi and Maestro. Even the international airport in Tbilisi was evacuated once, and flights were delayed. Police detained a suspect in all cases. Only a few of them are adults and have been placed in pre-trial detention. The criminal code will be amended to introduce tougher sentence for this kind of crime. A draft has been presented to parliament and will be reviewed in a fast-track procedure. False terrorism reports will be punished by fine, or by jail terms from two to five years. In aggravating circumstances the sentence may be from five to seven years in jail.

If the offender is a minor, there will be sanctions against the parents or guardians. (Democracy and Freedom Watch)

Richard Norland awards representatives of youth wings of political parties

Participants in a series of debates among youth wings of political parties were awarded at Betsy’s Hotel today. The U.S. ambassador Richard Norland gave certificates to the participants and finalists of the debates. Norland said it is a very important day and the debates between the young are much more important. “This is important as these debates help young people to develop politically and also gain the qualities that will serve them in the future,” Norland said.

He said that the topic of the debates was important – judicial reform. The ambassador states that this is the issue that is significant for the future of the country. Representatives of the youth wing of 9 parties took part in the debates and the Conservative Party has been declared the winner. (IPN)