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The News in Brief

Thursday, May 8
Speaker calls for Georgia's 'faster' EU, NATO integration

Georgian parliament speaker, Davit Usupashvili, said in Paris on May 6 that “faster” integration into EU and NATO is the only viable option for Georgia to secure its independence and security.

Addressing an audience at the Academie Diplomatique Internationale in Paris, Usupashvili said that sometimes “European friends” are asking question whether it is a “viable” option for Georgia to become a NATO member as it “irritates Russia too much” causing Moscow’s aggressive stance towards Georgia.

“But our analysis leads us to a different conclusion – it’s just vice versa. We are trying to become NATO member because this is the only available tool at the moment for [preventing] our country from becoming… part of empire or Customs Union or whatever it [may] be called,” Usupashvili said, adding that although NATO integration was not Ukraine’s goal, Russia anyway moved in to stop even economic integration of Ukraine with the EU.

“For us the next step should be even faster integration [to] the European Union and NATO,” he said.

Usupashvili’s visit to Paris comes a week ahead of French President Francois Hollande’s visit to Georgia as part of his trip to three South Caucasus states. In Paris Usupashvili met French National Assembly speaker Claude Bartolone and will also hold talks with speaker of the Senate Jean-Pierre Bel.

The Georgian parliament speaker also said that after Russia’s military aggression against Georgia in August, 2008 “uncertainty” increased among NATO members about what “to do with the promise” they made at the summit in Bucharest in April, 2008 that Georgia will join the Alliance. Usupashvili said this “uncertainty” should not last forever. (Civil.Ge)

Three Georgian citizens detained by Russian border guards

Russian border guards have detained three more Georgian citizens for allegedly crossing the South Ossetia occupation line.

The detained citizens were from the Gorisa and Korbouli villages, in the Sachkhere province in the Imereti region.

The Georgian locals, who have not been named, were picking capers in the rural outskirt of their villages when they were picked up by Russian soldiers.

The border guards claimed the trio were "illegally crossing” the border, and detained them.

The de-facto government of South Ossetia confirmed three Georgian citizens had been detained.

Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said this news was confirmed though the EU Monitoring Mission hotline.

They are now in custody in de-facto South Ossetia.

Meanwhile other local Georgian citizens believed the detention took place on Georgian-controlled territory. (Agenda.Ge)

Man who attacked ex-MIA official’s brother behind bars as investigation continues

The man who attacked the brother of a former Interior Ministry official and then handed himself in is being held in detention while the investigation continues.

The outcome of today’s hearing in Tbilisi City Court reflected the wishes of the Chief Prosecutor Office however the defence said they would appeal the decision.

Noshrevan Namoradze’s lawyers believed the penalty was too harsh for the charges against him.

Namoradze, a local businessman and founder of the Tiflis Development Company, confessed to attacking businessman Davit Kodua on May 3. Davit Kodua is the brother of former Ministry of Internal Affairs high official, Erekle Kodua, who is currently wanted by Interpol.

In court the Prosecutor’s Office said the attack against David Kodua was "a premeditated group attack motivated by revenge”.

An investigation into the assault of Davit Kodua related to Article 125 of the Criminal Code could result in Namoradze being sentenced to three to five-year imprisonment. (Agenda.Ge)

Georgia’s former ruling party loses its trademark ‘number 5?

The Central Election Commission has rejected the United National Movement’s request to use the number 5 on the ballot-papers in the local elections in June.

The UNM, which is running alongside the Christian Conservative Party, said in a statement May 5 that its application to use the number 5 was rejected by the CEC.

“Government and other public agencies are mobilized to restrict conditions of conducting election campaign for UNM. UNM has to face lots of barriers, like pressure on UNM candidates, their interrogations and arrests,” the UNM writes in a statement.

CEC explains that the election code requires that all parties in an election bloc participated in the previous parliamentary election, and this is the reason why UNM was not given number 5 on the ballot as they requested.

But in 2010, there were three blocks that included at least one party which had not participated in the previous parliamentary election, but they were allowed to have the ballot numbers they wanted. These blocs were Alliance for Georgia, National Council and Christian Democratic Movement.

“UNM will appeal to court and complain about this decision. We hope the government will stop its illegal activities against the UNM and the court will be able to stand the pressure and make a legal and fair decision,” UNM spokesperson David Bakradze said at a press conference on May 5. (Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Streets near US Embassy get new name: Georgian-American Friendship Ave

The area surrounding the American Embassy will now be called Georgian-American Friendship Avenue.

Tbilisi City Council decided to give names to some of Tbilisi’s unnamed streets, including the section surrounding the US Embassy.

City Council chairman Irakli Shikhiashvili said the new name demonstrated the friendship between the two countries.

He said the United States was "the greatest guarantor for Georgia's sovereignty” and the Council thought it was necessary to recognize their support so decided to name the area Georgian-American Friendship Avenue

"Diplomatic and friendly relations established between Georgia and the USA 22 years ago on April 23, 1992. The past years have clearly demonstrated that the US is a great contributor in building the state of Georgia,” he said.

"The United States provides a great political, military, financial and humanitarian assistance to Georgia. The American Government and people have repeatedly confirmed its strong support towards Georgia's territorial integrity and its Euro-integration process.”

The non-governmental organization American Friendship Club ( President Ilia Zukakishvili) applied to the City Council with the relevant initiative, which endorsed the idea. (Agenda.Ge)