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The News in Brief

Wednesday, January 29
Supreme Court gives Ivanishvili Georgian citizenship

After waiting more than two years, ex-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili is finally a Georgian citizen.

The businessman had his Georgian citizenship revoked by then President Saakashvili in October 2011, shortly after he declared that he would go into politics in order to remove the latter from power.

Saakashvili granted the billionaire Georgian citizenship in 2004 based on special merits.

Before going into politics, Ivanishvili was also a citizen of France and Russia, and renounced his Russian citizenship, planning to do so with the French one too, in an effort to go through the procedures to reclaim his Georgian citizenship. But Ivanishvili never let go of his France citizenship.

The businessman’s lawyers appealed to Tbilisi City Court, but it did not restore his citizenship. Neither did the Appeals Court.

But on Monday, the Supreme Court abolished Saakashvili’s 2011 decree revoking Ivanishvili’s citizenship. (Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Margvelashili plans his first annual address to parliament

President Giorgi Margvelashvili is in consultations with the speaker of parliament about the date of his annual address to parliament.

The Georgian constitution says that the president must visit parliament once a year and present a report about ongoing processes and problems in the country and answer questions from MPs.

On Monday, President Margvelashvili said that he does not plan to violate the constitution and will fulfill this obligation.

That was a reference to ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, who in 2013 did not hold his annual address in parliament, which lies in Kutaisi, but instead held it at the National Library in Tbilisi. This happened after the Georgian Dream majority had postponed his appearance in parliament for a while.

Before he spoke at the National Library, there was a scuffle outside between Saakashvili supporters and people opposed to him and his party. The ex-president never came to parliament untill the end of his term in October 2013.

President Margvelashvili said on Monday that his annual address to parliament may have a different format than before.

“Naturally, we are in a new situation. We plan new traditions,” he said.

The president’s annual address to parliament usually takes place in February, as the constitution says it must be held on the first day of the spring plenary session. This year it means February 4, when the spring session starts. (Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Georgian government presents bill about citizenship on newborns

The government of Georgia proposes to automatically give Georgian citizenship to a child who was born through in vitro fertilization if none of the parent’s home countries recognize it as its citizen.

The Ministry of Justice explains that the new bills, which will amend the law about citizenship, were prepared so that children will not end up without citizenship.

When a child is born in Georgia and one of the parents is a Georgian citizen, the child will also be a Georgian citizen. If both parents are Georgian citizens, the child will get Georgian citizenship regardless of where he or she is born.

If a child lives in Georgia and it is unknown who the parents are, he will get Georgian citizenship.

The Justice Ministry explains that also, frequently when a child is born, it is known who the parents are, but not what citizenship they have. In this case the child will still be recognized as a Georgian citizen.

Also, if one parent does not have Georgian citizenship and the other one has unknown citizenship, but the child is born in Georgia, it will get Georgian citizenship. (Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Kadyrov Again Claims Chechen Rebel Umarov Is Dead; Boasts of Killings

Izvestia newspaper has quoted Chechen leader Ramazan Kadyrov reiterating that he thinks the leader of the Islamic insurgency in the region, Doku Umarov, is dead.

In the interview, published on January 28, Kadyrov claimed that Umarov was severely injured during security operations in Chechnya two months ago and died from his wounds.

According to Kadyrov, secret talks between Umarov's close associates -- allegedly monitored by Chechen intelligence services -- prove Umarov is dead.

In the same interview, Kadyrov also bragged that several years ago he personally killed four brothers of Aslambek Vadalov, a possible replacement for Umarov as insurgency leader.

Kadyrov first said Umarov was dead in December and repeated that claim earlier this month.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told CNN last week that Umarov should be considered alive as long as there is no firm evidence confirming his death. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Russian Campaigner Launches Sochi Corruption Website

Russian opposition figure and anticorruption blogger Aleksei Navalny has launched a website that monitors alleged corruption connected to the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The website,, which went public on January 27, claims that the price tags for at least 10 Olympic venues were twice as expensive as they should have been.

It also alleges conflicts of interest in lucrative Sochi construction deals that were handed over to oligarchs and companies with close ties to the Kremlin of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"The entire Sochi project from the very outset was conceived in the way that it would not only produce the Olympic Games but would also enrich a small circle of Putin's close friends," Navalny told Reuters news agency in Moscow.

The colorful website presents an array of graphics, photos, and data. It provides links to a variety of other websites in a bid to demonstrate the legitimacy of its claims. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

New agency prepares Georgia for digital switch

A Digital Broadcasting Agency will be established in Georgia in preparation for the country’s digital change-over in 2015.

Parliament has discussed the project and revealed the new agency would provide the development of the digital broadcasting ahead of Georgia’s change-over in June 2015.

The Digital Broadcasting Agency is an official entity of the Ministry of Economy in Georgia and will be granted 20 million GEL by the Ministry.

It will be responsible for creating broadcasting and electronic communication policies, which will boost the transition of Public Broadcasting and other TVs to digital broadcasting.

The agreement to establish an agency was accepted in 2006 at a Geneva conference, which announced Georgia and other Caucasian countries and Iran will switch to digital broadcasting on June 15, 2015.

The agency will close in 2015 once the digital change-over has taken place. (Agenda.Ge)