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The News in Brief

Thursday, March 13
Margvelashvili calls for forceful consequences to Russia’s actions

Georgia’s President has drawn parallels between Russia’s current actions in Ukraine and its invasion of Georgia in 2008 in an interview with international news agency Agency France-Presse (AFP) on Tuesday.

Margvelashvili said the failure of the international community to punish Russia for its 2008 invasion of Georgia let Moscow think it can get away with seizing Ukraine's Crimea region.

"Today we can state with regret that we and the international community have failed to use these six years to force Russia to realize that actions like these are wrong and ineffective.”

Margvelashvili said Russian moves to give passports to people living in Crimea echoed tactics used in the run-up to the 2008 War and called for an international reaction this time, forceful enough to stop any future territorial aggression by the Kremlin.

"A strong and unequivocal response must be formulated. That means such scenarios can never be repeated and that the idea of a (Russian) sphere of influence is dropped," Margvelashvili said.

With regard to Georgia signing the Association Agreement with the European Union scheduled for this summer, the Georgian President said the Ukrainian example "forces us to be more vigilant”. (Agenda.Ge)

New competition announced to fill vacant seats on public TV's board

A new competition has been announced for the remaining five vacant seats on the Georgian Public Broadcaster’s board of trustees after the parliament failed twice to fully compose a new board since late December.

Georgian Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili announced the competition on March 11 with the deadline for submitting applications expiring on March 26.

Only four members on the nine-seat board were elected by the parliament as a result of two rounds of voting – first in late December and the second one on January 23. Lawmakers, mainly from the GD parliamentary majority group, rejected most of the 27 candidates vetted by an independent selection commission. The work of this selection commission, established by the Parliament itself and made up of media and civil society representatives, was widely hailed as transparent and professional and rejection of most of the candidates selected by this commission caused protest of many media and civil society groups.

Usupashvili, said in a written statement on March 11 that in order to give “clear and unambiguous response to some of the groundless question and suspicion”, he will offer the Parliament to compose the selection commission with those same 9 members, who were part of the previous selection process.

“I am confident that we all will take into consideration the experience gained at the first stage of competition and will successfully finalize the formation of the public TV’s board,” Usupashvili said. (Civil.Ge)

Georgian emergency service workers protest

Dozens of protesting employees from Georgia’s Emergency Situations Service gathered in front of Tbilisi City Hall on March 11.

The protesters, who have been on shifting hunger strikes for weeks, are demanding the resignation of the chief of the service,

Temur Giorgadze, and the reinstatement of previously dismissed colleagues.

The protesting firefighters and members of the rescue brigades insist that they have been forced to work at Giorgadze's summer house and share their financial bonuses with supervisors.

Giorgadze rejects the accusations, saying that he is ready for an open and transparent investigation into the striking workers' claims. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

EPP warns Georgia over criminal inadmissibility on political persecution

The continuation of selective justice by the current government as a means for political revenge, will surely endanger the signing of the Georgia-EU Association Agreement, was the statement made by President of the European People's Party, Joseph Daul.

The case of former Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava was an example of politically motivated selective justice, according to the party chairman.

Daul demands an end to the use of criminal justice with the purpose of political persecution.

"I express concern and indignation over the Georgian government’s evident intent to request the imprisonment of suspended mayor of Tbilisi and leading UNM personality, Gigi Ugulava, citing his presence at the recent EPP congress in Dublin, Ireland. The EPP Congress is a major European political event, bringing together leading European politicians. Citing Mr. Ugulava's presence in Dublin as a basis for putting a major political figure into pre-trial detention is not only ridiculous but also, it once again exposes the political motive behind the prosecution of Mr. Ugulava as well as other UNM leaders," President Daul underlined.

Today the prosecutor office intends to demand from the court a change to preventive measure against Ugulava`s arrest because he failed to appear for interrogation.

Ugulava himself said that he participated in the Dublin meeting of EPP leaders and was not able to come for interrogation, since the date for interrogation was appointed after his departure to the UK. (Trend)

Tina Khidasheli requests use of Council of Europe sanctions against Russia

Tinatin Khidasheli, the Vice-President of the ALDE faction of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, requested the institution of sanctions against Russia at the PACE political committee meeting. Khidasheli said in her speech that Russia’s intervention in an independent state was clear.

“This discussion should have been held in this committee 6 years ago, when Russia was occupying a part of my homeland, an independent state. Unfortunately, we could not stop Russia then. I hope we will manage to do it today, and I hope no one will share in this room the opinion of the Russian officials, who claim that Russian "liberators" are fighting for the liberation of Ukraine from fascists. We are witnessing Russia’s intervention in an independent state. The Council of Europe can prove to Russia that it is an organization of democratic countries and, consequently, it can use sanctions in full,” she said. (InterPressNews)