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The News in Brief

Monday, September 23
Former Interior Ministry Official Extradited From Ukraine

Former Interior Ministry official, Oleg Melnikov, facing multiple criminal charges, has been extradited from Ukraine to Georgia on Saturday.

Melnikov, a former officer with the Constitutional Security Department of the Interior Ministry, was detained in Ukraine in December, 2012 upon the request of Georgian law enforcement agencies after he was charged with exceeding official powers.

In July, separate charges were brought against Melnikov related to the high-profile murder case of Sandro Girgvliani; he was charged with providing assistance to the illegal confinement of a person.

Giorgi Oniani, who acts as Melnikov’s defense lawyer, said his client denies the charges.

Bill Offers Six-Fold Reduction of Maximum Term of Administrative Detention

Parliament started discussion of a legislative amendment envisaging the reduction of the maximum term of imprisonment for administrative offenses from the current 90 days in jail to 15 days.

The draft of amendment to the code of administrative offenses was presented by Deputy Interior Minister Levan Izoria at a hearing of the parliamentary committee for legal affairs on September 19.

Georgia’s justice system differentiates between administrative offenses, which are misdemeanors, and criminal offenses. Penalties for administrative offenses range from a fine to imprisonment of up to 90 days. The maximum prison term for administrative offenses was increased from 30 to 90 days following anti-government street protest rallies in 2009.

Minister: Export Development Agency to be established in Georgia in 2014

In 2014 it is planned to establish an Export Development Agency, Georgian Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, told journalists during his speech at the International Business Development Forum on Friday. "Small and medium businesses should be the cornerstone of the country's development. The plans of the next year include the establishment of the Export Development Agency, the main focus of which will be small and medium business. There is no doubt that small and medium business should have access to new technology. This is extremely important. We welcome the fact that world-renowned experts will share their experiences with us on the development of small and medium business in countries with economies in transition, on its management, on use of modern technological advances and so on," the Minister stressed.

Chief Prosecutor attends international conference in Moscow

Chief Prosecutor of Georgia, Archil Kbilashvili, was in Moscow on a four-day visit. The administration of the Prosecutor's Office reported that Archil Kbilashvili has already returned from Russia. Reportedly, Archil Kbilashvili participated in the annual international conference and held meetings with his foreign counterparts. No other meetings with senior Russian officials have been held within the visit.
(Rustavi 2)

Tourism share in Georgia’s GDP increases slightly

According to the data from Georgia's National Tourism Administration, the share of the tourism sector in the country's GDP has increased by 1 percent. The head of the National Tourism Administration, George Sigua said on Friday that currently, the share of the tourism sector in Georgia's GDP amounts to 7.3 percent. This figure amounted to 6.37 percent of GDP last year.

According to him, it is expected that over 5 million tourist will visit Georgia by the end of 2013. Around 3.5 million tourists visited Georgia in the first eight months of this year, which is 26 percent more than in the same period of 2012. According to research conducted by the administration from January to July, foreign tourists spent about 1.7 million lari, or on average, 613 lari per person during the reporting period. . According to Sigua, an official delegation from China is to arrive in Georgia on September 21. The delegation will study the country's tourism potential. The official exchange rate for September 20 is 1$=1.66 lari.

Georgian former governor and Deputy Minister of economy released on bail

The Prosecutor's Office of Georgia demanded 1 million lari as collateral for the former governor Mtskheta-Mtianeti and businessman Cesar Chocheli. Bail for the former deputy economy minister David Giorgadze was set at 500,000. They are accused of the acquisition of state property by fraud, sleeper factory, in particular. In addition, Cesar Chocheli is accused of involvement in the scheme of bringing the bank "Cartu" to bankruptcy and money laundering.

Tbilisi City Court partially satisfied the prosecutor's office demand on Friday. Chocheli will be released on bail of 50 000 lari, while David Giorgadze's bail is 10 000 lari.

Pretrial hearing will be held on November 11.

Russian experts “pleasantly surprised” with quality of Georgian wine

Georgian wine is third behind Moscow, Italian and French wines in terms of demand, the Deputy Chairman of Alcohol Beverages said. According to Rospotrebnadzor's Valery Katukov who was in Georgia on Friday, both Rospotrebnadzor and the country's government pay great attention to the return of Georgian alcohol beverages to Russian markets. This is evident by the fact that the highest-level experts were sent to monitor Georgia's local enterprises. The third group of Russian experts was "pleasantly surprised" with the quality of Georgian wine.

"We are pleasantly surprised with that how much has been done by Georgian producers in such a short period," Katukov stressed.

According to him, there is a demand for qualitative Georgian wine in Russia.

"I can't speak for all of Russia, as Georgian beverages are not everywhere, but there is demand for Georgian wine in Moscow and its surroundings," Katukov stressed and added that the main thing for now is to maintain the quality.

Saakashvili meets former Ukrainian president

Former President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko is visiting Georgia. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili received the Ukrainian ex-president yesterday at his estate, the Georgian presidential administration said on Friday. Mikheil Saakashvili introduced the recently opened wine-making training centre to the guest. Member of the Paris Wine Tasting Experts Union, Jean Michel Mounier conducts trainings there. Saakashvili spoke about the goals and objectives of the center. It is not known how many days Viktor Yushchenko will stay in Georgia.