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The News in Brief

Tuesday, June 3
Negotiations on selling Kartu Bank are underway

The President of the Kartu Bank, founded by the Georgian billionaire and the former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, has confirmed that the negotiations with potential investors on selling the bank are underway. According to Nodar Javakhishvili, the investors plan to purchase all 100% of shares of the bank; otherwise, they refuse to buy it if the current owner keeps even 20% of shares.

Nodar Javakhishvili was also asked about the reports by local media that Ivanishvili is selling off all his property in Georgia intending to leave the country. Bank president denied the reports.

“Why should Ivanishvili run away, from whom he should run away? Shall he run away from Saakashvili who has fled the country? Well, he did not run away when Saakashvili had power in Georgia,” Javakhishvili said.
(Rustavi 2)

Lithuanian President worried about Russia’s new doctrine

The new doctrine of the president of Russia Vladimir Putin - protection of the rights of Russian-speaking abroad - can become the prerequisite for intervention to the Baltic States, Minister of Defence of Lithuania Yuozas Olekas says.

"The new Putin doctrine: the obligation of the Kremlin to protect the rights of those abroad where they wouldn't otherwise be. For Putin it can become a reason for intervention and protection of the rights Russian-speaking in the Baltic States", - Olekas at a meeting of Committee on safety and defense of PAS of NATO in Vilnius told on Sunday.

He focused on the fact that the rules of the game changed, and all members of NATO are obliged to understand that NATO has to find suitable methods to deal with this new situation, otherwise "we will be destroyed". Olekas reminded that for many years the Baltic States, Poland were considered as paranoid, they urged "not to provoke Russia" as it is the normal country.

However, according to him, Russia violated the international obligations in 2008, having rushed into Georgia, and since 2007 it is visible that it increases military power and activity, especially in the Western region.

"Russia carries out a ten-year program for arms and army modernization, paying special attention North - to the western direction, and especially Kaliningrad which actually becomes the Russian military bastion", - the Minister of Defence said.

Gogi Gakharia appointed as the Penitentiary Department`s interim chief

The Penitentiary Department of the Ministry of Corrections has a new interim chief - Gogi Gakharia has been appointed as the chief`s designate today. He was one of the deputies of the previous head of the department, Dimitri Darbaiseli, who resigned after controversy around his person on May 23rd. Since his resignation, one of his deputies, Simon Machaidze was fulfilling his duties; however, the Ministry of Corrections has confirmed that Gogi Gakharia has been officially appointed as the interim chief of the penitentiary department.
(Rustavi 2)

Viral meningitis outbreak receding in Georgia

About 200 viral meningitis patients out of 400 have left hospital, according to Georgia’s Health Minister, Davit Sergeenko.

He says the number of cases of viral meningitis has gone down in the large cities, after the outbreak peaked on May 23.

Classes will resume in schools and kindergartens from Monday. Teaching was suspended May 21 due to an increase in the number viral meningitis cases.

Sergeenko said on Friday that in the regions, the number of cases has not yet been reduced, but failed to put specify exactly how many such cases are confirmed as of May 30. He said, ‘about 200 patients’ have been sent home from hospital in all of Georgia.

“[The number of] cases was reduced in Kutaisi and in Batumi, but in the regions there is no such trend yet. But the number of hospitalized patients are reduced there too,” he said.

According to the most recent data, there are 220 infected in Tbilisi, 63 in Kutaisi, 19 in Rustavi and 20 in Adjara.

Swiss President Visits Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia

Swiss President Didier Burkhalter, whose country holds the OSCE rotating chairmanship in 2014, will hold talks in Tbilisi on June 3 as part of his trip to three South Caucasus states.

Burkhalter, who also serves as Switzerland's foreign minister, will arrive in Tbilisi from Azerbaijani capital Baku, which he visits on June 2, and will then head to Armenian capital Yerevan.

Switzerland, which also acts as a diplomatic mediator between Russia and Georgia since the two countries have cut diplomatic relations after the August 2008 war, has identified the South Caucasus region, together with the Western Balkans, among its regional priority areas for its OSCE chairmanship this year.

In Tbilisi the Swiss President will meet Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili; PM Irakli Garibashvili; Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze, as well as lawmakers from ruling Georgian Dream coalition and UNM opposition party. He will also visit a project by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) which is providing support to families affected by the conflict, according to the Swiss Federal Department for Foreign Affairs.

Geneva talks, launched after the August 2008 war, will also be on the agenda of discussions in Tbilisi; together with the EU and UN, OSCE acts as a co-chair of these talks.