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The News in Brief

Wednesday, May 7
Georgian Church leader: 'Believers will not accept' anti-discrimination law

Head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, said of the anti-discrimination legislation, adopted by the Parliament last week, that legalization of “illegality is a huge sin” and it will not be accepted by believers.

“Georgia is such a country, which has never discriminated anyone, and where everyone has felt free. But there are issues, which should not be admissible,” he said during a sermon, marking St. George’s Day in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi on May 6.

“How can illegality be legalized? Legalizing illegality is a huge sin and that is exactly what I have spoken out about,” the Patriarch said referring to his written statement against the anti-discrimination bill released on April 28.

“It would have been surprising if I had not spoken out about it. It was my obligation to say it. Not a single believer will accept such law. I want to say that after some time we will be surprised about adoption of this law; I asked for God’s forgiveness of our sins,” he added.

Legislation on “Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination” was adopted by the Parliament on May 2; it will go into force after President Giorgi Margvelashvili signs it into law. (Civil.Ge)

US Ambassador praises Georgia’s European aspirations

Georgia is taking leading steps towards European integration, the United States Ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland said.

During his visit to Zugdidi Norland met with the representatives of non-governmental organizations and spoke about Georgia’s European integration.

The Ambassador noted the aspiration of Georgian people towards integrating with the European Union (EU) and wider European region had been strong for "quite a long time”.

"Georgia tries to meet the criteria for integrating in Euro-Atlantic structures and displays considerable progress, so these figures are not at all surprising for me,” US Ambassador said.

The US official also commented on the recently adopted Anti-Discrimination law and said Georgian Parliament "reflected the will of voters” by approving the law.

In addition, Norland spoke about the upcoming municipal elections and expressed his hope that it would be held in a calm atmosphere.

"I was here in October and observed the election environment, which was very peaceful. We hope that the current elections will also be held in a calm atmosphere and the same environment will be provided for all political players,” he said. (Agenda.Ge)

Panjikidze participates in Council of Europe ministerial session

Georgia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Maia Panjikidze is taking part in the 124th Session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

The annual meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the member states of the Council of Europe is taking place at the Hofburg in Vienna.

The official agenda stated within this session, participants would discuss the ongoing developments in Ukraine as well as Georgia being a potential object of threats from Russia.

Before the session began Georgia’s Foreign Minister met Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz and the officials discussed a wide range of issues of mutual co-operation.

Panjikidze and Kurz focused on Georgia's European aspirations, the current situation in Georgia’s occupied territories and the issue of regional security, including the crisis in Ukraine.

The Austrian Minister reaffirmed his Government's strong support for Georgia's European aspirations and the country's territorial integrity. (Agenda.Ge)

Families of WW2 victims will get 200 GEL, veterans – 400 GEL

Within a festive ceremony dedicated to 69th anniversary of the victory over fascism, the Government of Georgia has introduced a one-time financial social benefit.

According to the Ministry of Health, World War II veterans will receive 400 GEL and those who lost the head of the family in the war will get 200 laris.

One time financial aid will be given out by the Social Service Agency throughout Georgia, as for the capital, here Tbilisi City Hall will assume this responsibility. The veterans and the families of WWII victims will be able to get this assistance from May 6, via Liberty Bank.

The Ministry of Health congratulates the veterans on the landmark day marking the victory over Fascism. (InterPressNews)

Police destroy 35kg synthetic cannabis

Local authorities have seized and destroyed 35kg of synthetic cannabis in the outskirts of Tbilisi.

The Interior Ministry of Georgia said over the past 18 months (2013-2014), Georgian police identified 317 cases where people had purchased synthetic cannabis online and had the bio-drugs sent to Georgia though the postal service.

Police also identified several cases where passengers had tried to smuggle the drugs into Georgia when crossing the country’s borders.

The Georgian law on "new psychoactive substances” came into effect on May 1, 2014. Since then it has been illegal to manufacture, purchase, store, sell and ship newly-restricted bio-drugs.

According to the new law, which was developed by the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs, trafficking of substances which belong to the class of criminalized chemical compounds is now a criminal offence.

The sentence for illegally manufacturing, producing, purchasing, storing, transporting, sending or selling, shipping into the country, exporting or transiting the psychoactive substances through Georgia can be anywhere up to five years imprisonment.

The Ministry stated the new law identified nine chemical compounds as illegal substances as well as some newly identified psychoactive substances that do not belong to these classes.

The Ministry has been working on amending the law to enforce a tougher stance against psychoactive drugs since November 2013. According to the Ministry's information, the law was based on the new approach of four countries – Austria, Cyprus, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. (Agenda.Ge)