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The News in Brief

Wednesday, October 16
Public TV unveils set-up for presidential candidates’ debates

Eight out of 23 presidential candidates have been invited by the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) to take part in the TV debates scheduled this week.

Seven of them are candidates nominated by “qualified political parties” – those, which, as defined by the election code, have won at least 3% of the vote by running either separately or in a bloc with other parties in the most recent parliamentary elections or local elections; and the remaining one is Nino Burjanadze, who was invited based on recent public opinion polls showing that she has relatively high rating than many “qualified” candidates, but lower than those named by UNM and GD.

The first pool of candidates nominated by the parties, which had the best results in the October 2012 parliamentary elections, which will face each other in the debates on October 17 includes: Giorgi Margvelashvili of GD; Davit Bakradze of UNM; Giorgi Targamadze of Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) and Zurab Kharatishvili, a former chairman of Central Election Commission, who went into politics two months ago.

The second group of candidates, whose debates are scheduled separately on October 18, includes: Nino Burjanadze; Koba Davitashvili of People’s Party; Sergo Javakhidze of Movement for Fair Georgia and Teimuraz Mzhavia, nominated by the Christian Democratic People’s Party.

The debates, facilitated by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), were also hosted by GPB ahead of the local elections in 2010 and parliamentary elections in 2012. (Civil.Ge)

Former Georgian Defense Minister arrested in France

Former Georgian Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili has been detained in France.

Georgian Interior Ministry spokeswoman Nino Giorgobiani said on October 15 that more details on Kezerashivili's arrest will be made public later.

In February, the Tbilisi City Court issued an arrest warrant in absentia for Kezerashvili, accusing him of corruption.

Kezerashvili, who is known as a close associate of Georgia's outgoing President Mikheil Saakashvili, served as Georgia's defense minister between 2006 and 2008.

A number of investigations were launched against officials representing Saakashvili's United National Movement party after current Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream coalition won parliamentary elections in October 2012.

Saakashvili will leave office after voters choose a new president on October 27. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Georgia discusses prospects of joining NATO alliance

During his visit to Brussels, Georgian State Minister on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Alexi Petriashvili met with Deputy Secretary General of NATO Alexander Vershbow.

The sides discussed prospects for Georgia's entry into NATO, the political situation in the country before the presidential election and the democratic processes.

The meeting noted progress in the implementation of reforms that were reflected in the report of the Special Adviser of the European Union Thomas Hammarberg.

Vershbow assured the readiness of NATO to continue supporting Georgia in the way of integration. He expressed the hope that this process will be irreversible and the government will continue with its democratic reforms.

"In this sense, comprehensive support will be provided by NATO that will be reflected in future decisions. It is hoped that when the time comes for these particular solutions, the progress made by Georgia both from the point of view of an indemnity in the ISAF operation (International Security Assistance Force) and in the successful implementation of democratic reforms, will be accordingly and adequately reflected in the decisions of NATO," Petriashvili said.

The Georgian State Minister met with the NATO Secretary General Adviser on New Security Challenges Sorin Ducaru and Permanent Representative of France to the alliance Jean Baptiste Mattei. (Trend)

Prison minister meets the family of dead prisoner

Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance of Georgia, Sozar Subari, arrived in Senaki, in western Georgia on Monday, to visit a family whose son is said to have committed suicide in prison.

Father of the late Goga Dzvelaia demanded that he would not bury his son until Subari personally visited his family. Now the family demands to show footage that was taken in the cell of their son after he allegedly hanged himself.

The family does not trust the official version that it was a suicide and claims that Dzvelaia was killed by other prisoners, with whom he had problems. Lawyer Ledi Dukvadze and independent expert Maya Nikolaishvili, visited the cell where he died. Nikolaishvili told journalists that she received answers to many questions from the minister, but one question remains, and that more time is needed to receive an answer.

The father still believes his son was killed and says he has plans to provide proof for this.

“I think my son was killed and then was hanged,” he said.

Subari promised the family that they will have the opportunity to watch the footage from the cell in a few days. He told Rustavi 2 that investigators have the footage right now. It is a video about 24 hours long and will require a whole day to watch through.

The family says it will not bury 16-year-old Goga Dzvelaia until the investigation is finished.

Dzvelaia died October 7 in Prison No 7 in Kutaisi, about 24 hours after he was brought there. He had been convicted before. On August 28, he was pardoned by the president. He told law enforcers and his family that he did not want to be placed in Kutaisi prison because he had problems with the other prisoners there, but the prison administration and the ministry claim that he did not have contact with the other prisoners because he was in a solitary cell. (Democracy & Freedom Watch)

ADB, Georgian government to hold investment business forum

Georgian Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri's working visit to the U.S. has ended. In the final hours of the visit he met with President of the Asian Development Bank Takehiko Nakao and Citi Bank representatives.

At a meeting with the president of the Asian Development Bank, the parties discussed projects undertaken by the bank in Georgia. The construction of the Tbilisi-Rustavi highway, as well as the rehabilitation of the water supply and sewerage systems was also discussed. According to the agreement reached by the parties, the business forum will be held in Tbilisi in spring of 2014. It will be organized by the Georgian government and the bank.

"Our meeting was fruitful," Khaduri said. "We agreed that a business forum will be held in spring of 2014. It will be organized by the Asian Development Bank and the Georgian government. I think investors will show an interest in this format.

"The meetings held in the U.S. convinced me that the general background is very good. Washington is well aware of the situation in Georgia. The investors and heads of international financial organizations trust the new government. We agreed that our cooperation will actively continue in bilateral and multilateral formats." (Trend)