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The News in Brief

Monday, February 10
President: Khudoni hydro-power plant problems must be resolved

Dialogue is the most effective way to solve problems surrounding construction of the Khudoni Hydro-electric power plant in the Svaneti region, Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili said adding even though the interests of the local community and the State contradicted each other but he believed concessions were possible.

"We have two equally important values. On one hand there are the interests of local societies and we should protect the right of each person. But on the other hand we have an issue on the stage of national importance. In a normal society it is possible to reach a compromise by the way of dialogue,” Margvelashvili said.

Construction of the Khudoni dam on the Enguri River in western Georgia began in 1986 but was halted in the late 80s after protests over environmental concern.

Environmentalists remain skeptical. They believe construction of the 200m dam and reservoir for the Khudoni Hydro-electric power plant will cause the Khaishi village to flood, requiring resettlement of local residents.

For this and other environmental reasons, local residents, environmental protections groups and some experts are against construction of the big hydro-electric power plant.

Meanwhile the Government maintained the construction of power plant will give the country energy independence and economic benefits.

Vladimir Putin keeps it short at Sochi opening ceremony

Vladimir Putin waited years for this moment. And then it was over in seconds.

The preparations were complete, the athletes were attired in their finest and strangest uniforms, the mascots had done their dancing, and the only task that remained was that of declaring the 2014 Olympic Games officially open.

After two-and-a-half hours of Opening Ceremonies pageantry, Putin stepped to the podium and, without any preface or delay, declared the Olympic Games officially open, setting off fireworks shooting into the Russian night sky.

Doves were released into the air, and Putin’s moment in the spotlight was complete.
(ABC News)

Georgia approves standards of temporary shelters for homeless people

Georgian government has approved technical regulations for minimum standards of temporary shelters for the homeless people.

Georgian Health Minister, David Sergeenko said on Friday that the purpose of the document is to regulate the current situation and bring the shelters into line with the international law.

He said the regulation was approved by non-governmental and international organizations as well as experts.

"This means more security, less confusion and more organized work. This regulation will extend into the new area, which will house a shelter meeting the standards," Sergeenko said.

Georgian parliament speaker visits Romania and Hungary

On Monday, Georgia’s speaker of parliament begins on a five-day tour of Romania and Hungary. Davit Usupashvili will arrive in Romania on February 10 and hold meetings with the speaker of Romania’s senate and parliament, as well as with the vice prime minister and foreign affairs minister.

Usupashvili will participate in a public discussion entitled ‘From Vilnius to Riga’. Members of Parliament Irakli Chikovani, Paata Baratashvili, both from Georgian Dream, and Gigi Tsereteli from National Movement, are traveling with him.

February 12, the delegation will arrive in Hungary to meet with the president, foreign minister, defense minister and other officials.

Usupashvili will stop by Central European University, meet with Georgian students there and also hold a public lecture. In Hungary he will be assisted by Tedo Japaridze, Ivane Kighuradze, Davit Onoprishvili, Irakli Chikovani, from Georgian Dream and Giorgi Kandelaki from UNM.

The roundtrip will end on February 14.
(Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Georgia to create state agency on religious issues

A State Agency on Religious Issues will be created under the prime minister of Georgia.

The decision was adopted at the government's meeting on February 7.

The agency is a legal entity of the public law. The provision about it has also been approved.

"Finally, the country will have a state structure that will pursue a policy in the sphere of religion. There was no such a structure until now," State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality Paata Zakareishvili explained.

One of the functions of the agency will be the disposal of those funds which have been allocated in accordance to the decision of the government to compensate for damage to religious denominations, according to Zakareishvili.

"The agency will also focus on education and property issues. It will work under the prime minister, because we want it to have a high status. It is unknown who will head the agency. The decision on this issue will be adopted by the prime minister," Zakareishvili said.

Illegal weapons and firearms seized by Police

Illegal firearms and ammunition have been seized by police officers of the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti Regional Main Division in Tkaia, a village in Zugdidi, a city near Abkhazia, the breakaway region of Georgia.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs said a BMW was driving suspiciously in the village of Tkaia and demanded it to stop. The police order was ignored by the driver and at this point the policemen started to pursue the vehicle.

Sometime during the pursuit, the driver of the BMW lost control of the vehicle and crashed. The driver and passenger abandoned the car and left the crime scene.

During an inspection of the abandoned car, law enforcement seized 2 AKC system automatic weapons with 17 magazines and 579 bullets, one hand grenade, five missiles, a rocket launcher and three vests for placing magazines.

The two offenders have been identified and operative-investigative activities are underway, the Ministry said.

The ongoing investigation falls under the law of illegal purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition, stated in Article 236, Part I of the Criminal Code.