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The News in Brief

Friday, March 14
UNM designates candidate for Tbilisi mayor

The United National Movement party has designated Nika Melia as its candidate for Tbilisi mayor by direct appointment. On Wednesday Giorgi Vashadze, former Foreign Minister and member of the UNM, withdrew his candidacy from the primary election in favor of Melia, and the primary was canceled.

Melia served for some time as governor of the old district of Tbilisi last year. He has been implicated in the investigation regarding a scheme to run an opposition-linked bank bankrupt while the National Movement was in power.

Melia also was involved in a late night brawl at a Tbilisi restaurant May 11, 2013, where former President Saakashvili was one of the guests. Melia was charged with hooliganism.

“Internal competition brought new people, new leaders, and Nika Melia among them,” Vashadze said, adding that Melia is his good friend. “This is really positive. That’s why I made this decision to withdraw my candidacy in his favor, and the most important thing is that we start a new phase of changes.”

Vashadze would have had to leave his post as Member of Parliament in order to take part in the local elections, because legislation prohibits an MP from participating in elections. If he had lost, he would not have been able to go back to being an MP.

Georgian Dream, the ruling coalition and majority in parliament, a few months ago named Davit Narmania as its candidate for Tbilisi mayor. He is Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure. (Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Theater play canceled in Georgia, actor listed as Putin supporter

A theater play featuring Russian actor Sergei Bezrukov has been canceled in Tbilisi, because of his support for Russia’s policy toward Crimea.

The background is a petition signed by artists living and working in Russia showing support of President Putin’s handling of the situation in Crimea, published on the website of Russian Ministry of Culture.

On Wednesday, the Georgian Chamber of Culture announced the cancellation of a theater play featuring Sergey Bezrukov that was planned for May in Tbilisi.

“Because of the public letter of artists who support Putin’s decision about the occupation of a neighboring country - Ukraine’s territory - the Georgian Chamber of Culture made a decision to cancel Sergey Bezrukov’s theater play in Tbilisi. Once more, we want to express our support for Ukraine, its sovereignty and territorial integrity and our friend and hero, the Ukrainian nation,” the Chamber of Culture’s statement says.

David Okitashvili, head of the chamber, said: “The worst thing is when artists are involved in political adventurism.”

He continued saying that they have already informed Bezrukov’s theater about the cancellation, but received no answer yet. He said the Russian actor has expressed interest in visiting Georgia and that the play was not an initiative from the Georgian Chamber. (Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Waiting period before abortion may be increased from three to five days

The waiting period before having an abortion may be increased from three to five days, chairperson of the Healthcare Committee of the Parliament of Georgia Dimitry Khundadze said during a press conference. The Minister said that the number of abortions in Georgia is very high. In 2012, there were 40,000 registered abortions. Khundadze thinks the number of abortions that are not registered is 4 times higher. He says that the birth rate has significantly declined.

Khundadze said that according to the UN data, Georgia faces a 28% reduction in the Georgian population by 2050, while in the same period, the Azerbaijani-language population increased by 34% and the Armenian population by 6%. As the healthcare committee chairperson said, an imbalance is expected in the Caucasus.

The chairperson of the healthcare committee of parliament spoke about the new initiative and said that in the regions where the death rate exceeds the birth rate, every third child will be funded, as the third child affects the number of the nation. Khundadze does not rule out to fund 4th and 5th children on the next stages. Every third newborn under 2-years-old will get 150 GEL monthly in the lowlands, and 200 GEL in the highlands. The six regions that will be considered in the first stage of the plan are: Racha-Lechkhumi-Kvemo Svaneti, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Guria, Imereti, Kakheti and Mtskheta-Mtianeti. (InterPressNews)

Man cured of cancer after visiting Father Gabriel’s holy remains in Tbilisi

Miracles connected to Father Gabriel’s holy remains are still much discussed by our society. A video has been released on the internet where the Chanturishvili family from Kobuleti speak about their miracle after they visited the saint’s holy remains at the Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi. As Nugzar Chanturihvili’s daughter Ana tells, her father was seriously ill with cancer. Though, after praying to Father Gabriel in Trinity Cathedral, he was miraculously healed. It was medically confirmed that the disease was cured. (Georgian News)

Georgia, Italy agree on intensification of military cooperation

Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania who is on a visit to Italy and Italian Minister of Defense Roberta Pinotti discussed the military cooperation between the two countries, the Georgian Defense Ministry told Trend on March 13.

The parties emphasized the current close contacts between the two countries' defense ministries and expressed their support for the intensification of cooperation in this sphere.

The Georgian minister briefed his counterpart about the reforms carried out in Georgia's defense sphere. Special attention was paid to participation of the Georgian contingent in the ISAF mission and the plans after the completion of the peacekeeping operation in Afghanistan.

The parties also discussed the issues of an intensification of Georgian-Italian cooperation in the military sphere.

Pinotti expressed satisfaction with the processes taking place in Georgia and pointed out that she is glad for the country's successes towards integration into NATO.

The delegation from the Georgian Defense Ministry will also visit the Italian Armed Forces Officers Club, the highest educational and scientific center for the Italian military, where it will meet with cadets and officers.

Alasania and the persons accompanying him will also visit the Italian Air Force Flight Center and become familiar with its work. (Trend)