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The News in Brief

Thursday, February 6
Georgia halts surveying work for mega-dam

The Energy Ministry in Georgia says the government is taking into account the requests of villagers in Khaishi and has halted surveying work in their village.

The construction of the massive Khudoni hydropower station in northern Georgia will cause flooding of the village Khaishi, as well as several other settlements in the Svaneti region, which is one of the areas of the country with the most distinct traditional cultural landscape.

A few days ago, the government proposed to start surveying work on the lands that villagers will have to give up, and offered to let them register these lands for free. But the villagers said no, and blocked the road to prevent workers from starting the land surveying work.

On Tuesday, Energy Minister Kakhi Kaladze said that the surveying work has been halted. He said he was informed about the villagers’ demands and decided to do what they wanted.

He said they asked to temporarily stop the surveying work.

“We are ready for that. I am also ready to go there and meet with locals and to explain the positive sides of this project to them in details,” Kaladze said, but didn’t specify when he plans to visit Khaishi.

Villagers want to organize a gathering of people from all of Svaneti and discuss this issue together with them.

At first, they planned to hold the gathering on February 6, but it has been postponed indefinitely. (Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Georgian president’s annual address postponed

The Georgian president’s annual address will be held either on February 19 or February 21, the speaker of parliament says. According to the Constitution of Georgia, the president must visit parliament to present a report about important processes in the country once per year. The address must take place at the beginning of parliament’s spring session, which started on Tuesday. It was expected that President Giorgi Margvelashvili would visit parliament this week, but Speaker of Parliament Davit Usupashvili said at Tuesday’s session that the president will deliver the address to parliament in the next session week.

“This will be either 19 or 21st of February,” he added. (Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Eight new projects for prisoner rehabilitation on the agenda

Eight new projects will be implemented in the prison system in order to rehabilitate and re-socialize prisoners.

The projects were selected through the EU grant competition Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance Sozar Subari, Deputy Minister of Justice Mikheil Sarjveladze and a delegation of EU representatives attended the event.

"Eight projects will be presented today, out of which seven are directly related to us [Ministry of Corrections] and the other one concerns the Ministry of Justice,” Subari said before the event.

"These very important projects were selected through the EU grant competition and they absolutely fit the strategy chosen by our Ministry and the state in general. The projects aim to psychologically and socially rehabilitate released inmates and prisoners, as well as preparing them for release so that they are inclined to start a new life,” he said.

He said the Ministry and himself had personal experience working with the organisations that will carry out these projects.

"Our strategy is not to punish but to rehabilitate the prisoners and to prepare them for independent life,” Subari added.

From now on, the new projects will begin to be implemented in Georgian Correctional Facilities. (Agenda.Ge)

Russia released two Georgian citizens

Russia has released two Georgian citizens, who had been convicted of espionage in Russia, before the scheduled time. They were sentenced to 8 and 9 years imprisonment, the Prime Minister's Special Envoy Zurab Abashidze said at a press conference.

"The Russian side released them and they are already in Georgia. A few more people are still in prison in Russia and we're working to get them released," said Zurab Abashidze. However, he did not specify the names of the released detainees.

"We already have a concrete result. This is a response to the critics who say that the dialogue with Russia is not needed. It is exactly the result of the dialogue. We are sure other detainees will also be released," said Abashidze.

He said that the Russian side arrested the above-mentioned two persons after the August war. (InterPressNews)

Cyprus, Georgia discuss implementation of joint road infrastructure development

Georgian Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure David Narmania met with the Cypriot Minister of Communications and Infrastructure Tasos Mitsopoulos in Tbilisi on February 4.

During the meeting the sides discussed projects in the field of road infrastructure and their implementation scheduled for 2014 in Georgia, as well as prospects of developing cooperation with Cyprus in this area.

After the meeting Narmania and Mitsopoulos held a joint press briefing.

Georgian Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure and representatives of a Cypriot delegation were updated with the construction work on the Ruisi-Agara road section on February 4.

A Cypriot delegation's three-day visit to Georgia will conclude on February 6. Meetings are planned to be held among representatives of the delegation and Minister of Economy and Minister of Culture, the director of the National Agency for Cultural Heritage and other Georgian officials. (Trend)

Sector Committee Representative Selected to Defender of Consumer Rights under GNCC

Tamta Tepnadze, the leading specialist at the Parliamentary Committee for Sector Economy and Economic Policy, has been selected to the position of public defender at the Consumer Rights under GNCC. The contest led by Zurab Tkemaladze, chairman of the same committee drew to a close on January 31.

The Parliament of Georgia announced the opening for the position on January 9, and January 20 was set as deadline. According to law, the Committee for Sector Economy and Economic Policy composed a contest commission including MPs, as well as the representatives of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, Georgian National Communications Commission and NGOs. Out of up to 90 applications 30 were shortlisted and interviewed. The contest commission showed preference to Tepnadze.

Why the Contest Commission, chaired by Zurab Tkemaladze, opted for the employee of the same agency, Zurab Tkemaladze clarified that the key factor was the qualification.

“Tamta Tepnadze was selected by the commission; I was not the one having taken this decision. The minutes are available, and I can provide upon your request. Qualification, knowledge, experience were the key issues,” Zurab Tkemaladze told Media.Ge. (Media.Ge)