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The News in Brief

Monday, December 9
U.S. Ambassador Praises Georgia's 'Strong' Reforms

The U.S. ambassador to Georgia, Richard Norland, has praised Tbilisi for initialing the EU Association Agreement in Vilnius last month.

In an exclusive interview with RFE/RL this week, Norland said that Georgia "has spoken loud and clear on its intentions to move on the direction of membership in Euro and Euro-Atlantic institutions" by initialing the EU agreement.

Norland added that the United States and Georgia will continue to develop a joint strategic partnership.

He called democratic reforms in Georgia "very strong."

Norland also called Tbilisi's efforts to improve relations with Russia over Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia "bilateral pragmatic diplomacy."
(Radio Free Europe/radio Liberty)

Georgia to host final conference on Vilnius summit

Tbilisi will host a final conference on the Vilnius summit titled "Eastern Partnership - the way after Vilnius summit" on December 10. The conference will be held at the initiative of Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili, the Georgian parliament said. The conference will be opened by the speaker of Georgian parliament David Usupashvili, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, Director of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation mission in the South Caucasus Canan Atilgan and EU Ambassador to Georgia, Philip Dimitrov.

The purpose of the conference is to summarize the results of the Vilnius summit, to discuss the tasks that the country will face after the initialing of the Association Agreement, the action plan until the signing of the document and the opportunities of development of bilateral and multilateral relations within Eastern Partnership, the organizers stated.

The conference will also discuss the case reports related to the spheres of security, justice, the action plan on visa liberalization, energy and comprehensive free trade.

Diplomats informed about situation in Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone

The representatives of the information-analytical department under the Georgian Interior Ministry informed representatives of the diplomatic corps and international organizations about the situation in the settlements near the border with South Ossetia on Thursday.

The Georgian Interior Ministry told Trend that the representatives of law enforcement bodies reported on the latest events and discussed the issue of installing barbed wire fences.

The representatives of the diplomatic corps and international organizations systematically meet to discuss the situation in the conflict zones, the Interior Ministry reported.

Last week, the Georgian authorities reported on resuming the installation of barbed wire fence on the South Ossetian side, particularly near the Dirbi and Gogeti villages. An EU monitoring mission expressed concern in this regard.

Georgia charges former deputy prosecutor with staging torture

Police in Georgia have detained a former deputy prosecutor and charged him with participating in filming videos of staged torture at a prison in Tbilisi.

The Prosecutor’s Office charges Davit Chkhatarashvili, the former first deputy of ex-Chief Prosecutor Murtaz Zodelava, for abuse of powers and organizing humiliating treatment and mistreatment, as well as falsification of evidence, in connection with a prison torture scandal that caused massive protests before the 2012 parliamentary election.

Investigators say former Justice Minister Zurab Adeishvili and Chkhatarashvili in September 2012 learned about the existence of video footage shot in Prison No 8 in Gldani, Tbilisi, which showed physical abuse of prisoners. The minister instructed Chkhatarashvili and other government officials to make a video of beating and humiliation of prior selected prisoners at the same prison. The goal was to publish it in order to give the impression that government bodies were revealing incidents of beating and torture in Georgian prisons.

The Prosecutor’s Office claims Chkhatarashvili was the organizer of staging and shooting process of false video, the office’s spokesperson Davit Kvinikadze said at a televised briefing Saturday afternoon.

Kvinikadze said the investigation is continuing in order to identify other persons involved.

Two weeks before the parliamentary election in October 2012, a handful of videos were made available to the media showing physical, verbal and sexual abuse of prisoners.

Earlier the same day, September 19, the Interior Ministry posted videos of torture at Gldani prison. The government claimed that the opposition had staged those videos in order to discredit the government before the election.

Releasing the videos was followed by large street protests which lasted several weeks. The interior minister and prison minister resigned.
(Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Georgia not to send officials, only athletes to Sochi Olympics

Georgian athletes will participate in the Sochi Winter Olympics, but the country will not send an official government delegation.

Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili said a few days ago in an interview with Russia Today that only Georgian athletes and representatives of the (NOC) will be going to the Sochi Olympics.

He said the government discussed whether they themselves should participate alongside the Olympic Committee, and decided to not send a government delegation.

Kakha Beridze, spokesperson for the NOC, said the government made the right decision.

The NOC spokesman says it is excluded that any athletes will be representing the breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia at the Games in Sochi, because these territories have not been recognized by the International Olympic Committee.

Beridze says he would not dramatize a possible appearance by some officials from either of the disputed regions, as it won’t have any political significance, but that if it happens, it is likely that the leadership of Georgia’s NOC will make an appropriate response.

Mamuka Khabareli, Vice President of the NOC, told journalists that a 20-member delegation will go to Sochi. It will include athletes, NOC representatives including the organization’s president, as well as journalists. He said he will be chairman of the mission.

He said Georgia has four athletes and thus four licenses for the Olympics. Beridze said that the Georgian athletes will represent the country in two sports: figure skating and alpine skiing. The athletes are Elene Gedevanishvili in figure skating and in alpine skiing Iason Abramishvili, Alexi Bendianidze and Nino Tsiklauri.

He added that Georgia does not expect to win any medals.

“For us the most important thing at this Olympics is promoting winter sports in Georgia and to demonstrate that Georgia is serious about its affiliation with the big Olympic family,” he added.
(Democracy & Freedom Watch)