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The News in Brief

Tuesday, February 11
Georgian PM: Russian activities conflict with our constructive steps

Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili said Russia’s activities near the occupation line were contrary to the "constructive steps” of Georgia’s new government. He voiced his opinion about Georgia-Russia relations in an interview with French media outlet France 24.

Garibashvili said the new government had changed its attitude towards Russia and had attempted to normalize relations with the country, and this had resulted in the Russian market opening to Georgian goods. Despite Georgia’s positive intentions, Garibashvili said last year there were "a number of provocations and problems alongside the occupation lines”.

"Russia started to install barbed wire fences and artificial barriers, which have caused problems for our population. The 45 kilometer barriers force people to stay behind those fences [and this is] what causes a lot of difficulties,” Garibashvili said.

On the other hand, he admitted that the Georgian Government had observed some positive statements and messages from Russian leaders.

"However it should be also mentioned that their activities alongside the occupation line are contrary to our constructive steps and this is a huge problem which has to be solved. This is unlawful occupation of our territories,” Garibashvili said.

"Of course we do attach a great importance to our relations with EU and the US. We think that EU’s role in this process is extremely important,” Garibashvili added.

PM Garibashvili was interviewed by France 24 when he was on an official visit in Brussels last week.

Injured prisoners treated and returned to Geguti Prison

17 inmates with self-inflicted injuries have been treated in hospital, are now in good health and were returned to prison, officials say.

The inmates from Prison No. 14, located in western Georgia, are believed to have injured themselves by cutting their own legs and hands at night. They were provided with the necessary medical assistance and were returned to prison, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Corrections said.

"On February 10, 17 inmates were taken to hospitals and after receiving medical assistance, all of them were taken back to prison. The prisoners are in a good health condition and their lives are not in danger,” the ministry’s statement reads.

Representatives of the Public Defender’s Office have met the inmates. It is believed the prisoners hurt themselves after four days on a hunger strike after their demands of resignation of prison authorities went unanswered. However, the inmates accused the prison administration of beating them.

Government creates strategy for human rights protection

A state strategy and action plan for protection of human rights for 2014-2020 will be created. Government and civil society sector representatives discussed the draft of the document.

The European Union Delegation in Georgia and other international organizations worked on the document initiated by the Government of Georgia, which will highlight state priorities and strategies regarding the protection of human rights.

When the final version of the document is completed, it will be discussed and approved by Parliament.

The strategy will be laid out according to the recommendations of Thomas Hammarberg, who was appointed by the European Commission as the EU's Special Adviser for Legal and Constitutional Reform and Human Rights in Georgia. It will be designed to adhere to EU standards aimed to strengthen democratic institutions in Georgia.

The Government's action plan will also focus on physical and personal liberty as well as political and social-economic rights.

Government focuses on football development

Developing Georgia's national sports, particularly football, is something the Government wishes to focus on this year.

Ways to develop the sport was discussed at a meeting between Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and representatives of the Georgian Football Federation held at the State Chancellery Office on February 8.

President of the Georgian Football Federation Zviad Sichinava believed the sport would develop immensely if international practice and standards were shared and implemented in the country.

Veteran football players Murtaz Khurtsilava and Aleksandre Chivadze, the Executive Director of the Football Federation Revaz Arveladze and the Minister of Youth and Sports Affairs Levan Kipiani also attended the meeting.

The Government and sportsmen stressed that children’s football development and support showed there was hope and a bright future for the nation’s soccer.

Georgian wins judo gold at Grand Slam Paris

Georgia’s Avtandil Chrikashvili won a gold medal at the Judo Grand Slam Paris 2014 tournament. Two other Georgians, Amiran Papinashvili and Varlam Liparteliani, won silver medals.

Chrikashvili defeated competitors from Netherlands, France, Japan and South Korea in the men’s 81kg category.

Varlam Liparteliani suffered a leg injury before his final round with a South Korean competitor and didn’t fight. He won silver medal in the men’s 90 kg category. Liparteliani won gold in the same weight category in 2013.

Amiran Papinashvili was defeated in the final against a Mongolian opponent. He won silver medal in the men’s 60kg category.

Georgia’s national men’s team is in second place among teams from 68 countries. 9 athletes from Georgia participated in the Judo Grand Slam tournament in Paris.
(Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Pink cherry blossoms to bloom in Batumi

A piece of Japanese culture will bloom in Batumi this spring and engulf a section of the seaside town in pink.

An alley of Sakura, or Japanese cherry blossom, will be planted in the Black Sea town and will bloom pink, Batumi’s Greenery and Landscape Planning Service announced.

Japanese dwarf trees will be planted alongside the Sakura plants.

The area where the Japanese flora will be planted will be named "Love square”, said Eter Macutadze, chief of Batumi’s Greenery and Landscape Planning Service.

"This year we will create such a place which becomes a calling card for Batumi and foreigners come to see it,” Machutadze said.

The exact location of where the foreign plants will be established remained a surprise, she added.

A tender to purchase 50 young Sakura saplings has been announced by Batumi’s Greenery and Landscape Planning Service.