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The News in Brief

Friday, January 31
President announces new ethnic minority adviser

Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili announced Sopho Shamanidi as the new ethnic minority adviser. At the meeting with leaders of non-governmental organizations that work on the rights of ethnic minorities in Georgia, the president said he considers the term ‘ethnic minority’ inadequate.”

"It would probably be wrong to say that if a color is less used in a painting that it is a minority,” he added.

Margvelashvili noted Georgia had developed its unique identity with the help of the children of different nations, who filled Georgia.

In addition, the President said the government worked hard to create favorable conditions for ethnic minorities.

After the announcement, Shamanidi greeted the event attendees.

"I myself represent ethnic minorities and I will try to be in constant touch with all minorities living in Georgia,” she said.

"As you know, their number is huge. They are doing everything to support the development of our country and I will try to bring all their problems to the President. I will play a role of a mediator and search for solutions together with the President,” Shamanidi said.

Shamanidi is a professor of Modern Greek Philosophy at Tbilisi State University. She is also an author and an editor of numerous scientific papers. Shamanidi is also a member of the editorial board of magazine ‘Phasis.’

She has been a recipient of the Alexander Onassis Foundation scholarship and has received the President’s Fund scholarship twice. (Agenda.Ge)

Rights group calls for proper probe into Cases of alleged ill-treatment in police custody

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) accused law enforcement agencies of a failure to investigate properly several reported cases of ill-treatment in police custody.

GYLA said it was approached by several people in recent months claiming that they were beaten, and in one case “tortured”, by police officers in Rustavi and Tbilisi.

“Regrettably in all of these cases that we are aware of, investigation was either not opened at all or has not been carried out adequately and effectively. It is obvious that such an approach creates high risk of increasing number of such alleged crimes [by police officers],” GYLA said.

It reported alleged police ill-treatment of six men upon detention by the police in six separate cases in a period between September, 2013 and January, 2014.

In three of these cases, according to GYLA, bodily injuries were substantiated by medical examination of penitentiary system carried out after detainees were transferred to detention facility and in one case by the state forensic agency.

Deputy Interior Minister, Levan Izoria, said that cases reported by GYLA are being probed by the ministry’s internal investigations unit. “Prosecutor’s office has also opened investigation in some of these cases,” he added.

He said that any reported police abuse is reacted “immediately.” “So I call on the non-governmental organizations to refrain from pre-judgment. In this case both the [Interior Ministry’s] general inspectorate and prosecutor’s office will inform us about their findings and those who deserve to be punished will be punished,” Izoria said. (Civil.Ge)

French Olympic travelers advised not to visit Georgia’s breakaway regions

French visitors planning to attend the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi have been advised not to visit the breakaway regions of Georgia.

They are the second international group to be warned against visiting Georgia’s occupied regions in their Olympic travels.

France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released guidelines to French travelers ahead of next month’s Olympic competition.

France’s official Spectator Guide for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games included a special note recommending visitors to abstain from visiting Georgia’s occupied regions including Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The guide stated it was a crime, punishable by local law, to entering these regions across a Russian border without informing the Georgian authorities.

Sochi is located 40km from Abkhazia, along the Black Sea coast. Russia is one of the few countries to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as sovereign states since they broke away from Georgia in 1990.

Earlier this week, Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released the same guidelines to Romanian residents.

Earlier this month, the de-facto Government of Abkhazia declared that the boundary zone would impede on Georgian territory until March 21, when the Olympic Games are over.

During the competition, the Georgia-Russia border will temporarily be moved by 11km kilometers on the Psou River, near the town of Gagra.

The Georgian Government expressed "deep concern" over the "illegal expansion" of Russian territory. (Agenda.Ge)

Georgian government issues ID cards to simplify visa liberalization

The Georgian Government is continuing to issue new identity documents to make it easier for Georgians to travel to EU countries.

The Ministry of Justice is continuing to roll out the Visa liberalization process.

The ministry said issuing free Identification Documents (IDs) and Electronic Identity Cards (EICs) will also ensure election lists are relevant and up-to-date ahead of the next election planned for spring this year.

From January 24 to Feb 24, free IDs will be issued to Georgian citizens aged 17 to 21 and all former inmates. These residents will also get an EIC.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs believed the EIC database will make regulating and monitoring migration easier. The regulation of migration is one of the most important conditions for visa liberalization.

Currently 953, 228 adult Georgian citizens have EICs.

The EIC is a government-issued identity card for online and offline identification. (Agenda.Ge)

Patriarch visits women’s prison

Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II visited the women’s prison No.5. Deputy Ministers of Corrections and Legal Assistance, the Chief of the Penitentiary Department and other officials of the Department also attended the meeting. Ilia II asked the president, the Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance and the Parliament to do their best to prevent women from being in jail. (InterPressNews)

Saakashvili as lecturer: meeting Tuft University students in the US

A video released on the Facebook page of the former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili shows his meeting with Tufts University students and faculty staff as a lecturer at the university’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Georgia’s former president held three lectures for the school, following which he also attended a reception, speaking to students.

The university created the position of Senior Statesman for Saakashvili’s educational work at various prestigious universities to carry out speeches and lectures. (Georgian News)