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The News in Brief

Monday, February 24
Elene Gedevanisvhili finishes in 19th place in Sochi Olympic Games

Georgian figure skater Elene Gedevanishvili finished 19th with147.15 points while competing at the Sochi Olympic Games on February 20. Russian athlete Adelina Sotnikova, 17, became the first Russian woman to win an individual figure skating Olympic gold medal, South Korean Kim Yuna, the 2010 Olympic champion, earned the silver medal and Italian Carolina Kostner won the bronze medal.
(Georgian News)

MFA publishes EU Association Agreement in Georgian

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia has published the text of the European Union Association Agreement in Georgian on its official website. The same document in Georgia will be also released by the NATO Information Center of Georgia.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Maia Panjikidze held the presentation of the document at the Ministry. She said the document will be attached with an annex, in which the points of the agreement will be defined.
(Rustavi 2)

OSCE representative visits villages surrounding Georgia’s breakaway regions

OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Astrid Thors accompanied by the representatives of the Information-Analytical Department of Georgia's Foreign Ministry visited the villages of Ditsi, Didi Khurvaleti and Ergneti surrounding Georgia's breakaway regions.

Thors inspected the barbed fences illegally constructed by Russian servicemen, met with the local population and familiarized with their problems. Following the meetings, Thors said that the situation is quite complicated and the population has to live under difficult conditions.

According to Thors the international community must be actively involved in the process of helping the population.

Candidates to GPB board of trustees membership lodge lawsuit against Parliament

Individuals who have participated in the selection competition to the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) Board of Trustees have lodged a lawsuit against Parliamentary majority MPs and MPs outside of Parliamentary majority. Kutaisi City Court accepted the lawsuit by Board of Trustees candidates on February 14.

The lawsuit was lodged at the same time by 8 candidates – Mikheil Mirziashvili, Nazi Janezashvili, Anna Jiapshipa, Ucha Seturi, David Mchedlidze, Joseph Salukvadze, Nugzar Suaridze and Konstantine Chlaidze. They believe that Parliamentary majority and MPs outside of Parliamentary majority should have used their quotas completely.

68 applications were received to the competition for GPB Board of Trustees membership announced 27 November 2013. Parliament-approved competition commission shortlisted 27 candidates from which Parliamentary majority, MPs outside of Parliamentary majority, Public Defender and Adjara Supreme Council were to nominate their candidates for approval.

Parliamentary majority did not use its quota fully and instead of 3 nominated to Parliament for approval only one candidate; MPs outside of Parliamentary majority nominated their candidate by violating procedures and Parliament did not approve one candidate nominated by Adjara Supreme Council and one candidate nominated by minority.

Currently, the GPB Board of Trustees formed by new rules has only 4 members; 5 positions still remain vacant. Members of the Board of Trustees are – parliamentary majority nominated Natela Sakhokia, parliamentary minority nominated Ketevan Mskhilade and candidates nominated by Public Defender - Lela Gaprindashvili and Marina Muskhelishvili.

In parallel, Georgian Constitutional Court accepted lawsuit lodged by the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) Board of Trustees against Georgian Parliament. By February 19 decision the Court suspended the norms of the Law on Broadcasting according to which the GPB Board of Trustees must be formed by new rules, until final verdict on the case is made.

Thousands attend Saint's tomb opening

Thousands of people are visiting Georgia’s historical city of Mtskheta this weekend to celebrate the opening of the tomb of St. Gabriel. Due to the high number of visitors, the roads heading to Mtskheta are closed to vehicles. Only special buses and cars with permits are allowed to enter the city.

The territory of the Monastery is being protected by soldiers and a large number of police and ambulances have also been deployed. Thousands of believers who wanted to come close to the Saint’s body gathered at the Samtavro Monastery but only people with special permits were able to enter the church territory. The tomb was also closed to media.

During his life, Monk Gabriel was renowned as a "Fool for Christ", which means 'Salos' in Greek. Georgian pilgrims also believed his miracles. Priest Gabriel was recognized as a saint by the Holy Synod on December 21 last year.

Saint Gabriel was a deeply eccentric character and to the Soviet authorities he was considered to be insane. Saint Gabriel was famed for his powers of prophecy during his life, as well as a fearless approach to denouncing Communism publicly. He was considered "sane” and executed by the authorities.

The sacred body of the Saint was carried to the Svetitskhoveli Church, where believes will be able to tribute him. Patriarch of Georgia and members of Holy Synod are also expected to visit the church. The body was brought to Svetitskhoveli from Transfiguration Cathedral of the Samtavro Monastery, where a solemn prayer was performed.

During the liturgy, the sacred body was carried outside and then brought back inside the church.

On February 24, the sacred body of St Gabriel will be transferred to Tbilisi Holy Trinity Church where the parish will be able to visit him for one week, the Georgian Orthodox Church reported.

Bus drivers on strike in Rustavi

Minibus drivers in Rustavi southeast of Tbilisi are on strike protesting against the competition for transport by City Council demanding to delay the competition for inner city and Tbilisi-Rustavi transport for three to five years.

According to the drivers, passengers will have to pay more to take minibuses both inside Rustavi and to Tbilisi. The drivers of these minibuses Friday refused to bring passengers. Rustavi City Hall asked for help from other cities’ transport services, but the drivers on strike did not let these minibuses enter Rustavi.

Rustavi City Hall denies the drivers’ claim about increasing prices. According to the Head of City Hall’s press office, Tamuna Akubardia, the issue of privatizing and having a competition for the transport is still being discussed and it may be approved or rejected.

“It is written clearly in the rule that the prices should not be raised, no matter which transport company wins,” Akubardia said, and added that the rules also guarantee that every driver will keep their job.

Rustavi Mayor David Jikia said the drivers have paralyzed the city and their strike was sabotage. The strike stopped after he met the protesters.

“The mayor promised that our demands will be fulfilled and asked for one day to solve the issue. We think the answer will be positive, so we decided to continue working, but if the answer is negative, we’ll continue the strike,” Zaza Chikhladze, one of the drivers said.
(Democracy & Freedom Watch)