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The News in Brief

Monday, July 21
South Ossetia Jails Georgian for Spying

A court in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia has sentenced a Georgian citizen to 10 years and two months in jail.

South Ossetia's Committee for State Security (KGB) said on July 18 that Guram Gegelashvili, 57, was found guilty of espionage and illegal weapon possession.

Investigators say Gegelashvili was providing Georgia’s secret services with "intelligence" information.

The region has enjoyed de facto independence from Georgia since August 2008, when Russia recognized South Ossetia and another Georgian breakaway territory, Abkhazia, as independent states after defeating Georgian troops in a short war.

Russia has been keeping military forces in both separatist regions since then.

Georgia considers the breakaway regions part of its territory.

Alternative investigation center involved in Erosi Kitsmarishvili’s death case

The alternative investigation center has been involved in Erosi Kitsmarishvili’s death case at the request of Erosi Kitsmarishvili’s family.

According to independent ballistics expert Zaza Altunashvili, the gun is being examined. “The Main Division of the Georgian Interior Ministry and we are working together. There are new details, but I cannot tell you at this moment”, Zaza Altunashvili said.

Erosi Kitsmarishvili’s brother Zurab Kitsmarishvili said that “the examination report is likely to be published in the coming days”.

Erosi Kitsmarishvili, the founder of the Rustavi 2 channel, was found shot to death on July 15 in his car at the Tbilisi apartment block where he lived. Investigators said a gun found next to Kitsmarishvili's body belonged to him. His family and friends insist that he was not suicidal.

Georgia prepares to tighten visa rules

Georgia’s open-door policy for foreigners is being reviewed and amended as the country prepares to implement a migration and visa policy for the first time.

From September 1, 2014, when new visa regulations come into effect, foreigner visitors wanting to spend time in Georgia will need to undergo additional procedures and provide additional documentation in order to enter the country.

Until now, Georgia has had an open-door policy. The government has decided to tighten visa rules and impose new visa regimes with additional countries.

"Georgia does not have any migration policy and we want to improve this,” said Georgia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Maia Panjikidze.

"Some things may become more strictly regulated but some of them may become even easier,” she added.

The new regulations are coming into play following Georgia’s signature of the Association Agreement (AA) with the European Union (EU). Minister Panjikidze said another reason for its implementation was because of the high numbers of migrants coming into Georgia.

According to existing legislation, citizens of almost every country can freely come to Georgia. Under the new rules, these countries will soon be limited and people who enter the country must apply and be given a pre-determined time period for how long they can stay in the country.

Minister Panjikidze said Georgia will work with several countries and local authorities had started working on the design of the visa, which is expected to look similar to the Schengen visa.

She said introducing a new migration and visa policy would mean there were the same rules for foreigners in Georgia as there were in other countries for Georgian citizens. By implementing the new visa changes, authorities will be able to easier prevent illegal migration into Georgia but also protect their rights appropriately.

Executive Secretary of the Governmental Commission on Migration Issues, Giorgi Jashi said the flow of foreigners to the country would be regulated through the new law, which is part of visa liberalization talks with the EU.

"The law will protect the rights of those people and if there will be decision about deportation of the illegal migrants, this will also happen according to the law,” he said.

The decision to deport illegal migrants from the country will be made by the court after the Ministry of Internal Affairs reveals such instances of possible overstaying. The Ministry will also be responsible for executing the court decision.

An Immigration Service will be created to take control over the time limits of foreigners’ stay in the country. The temporary shelter for foreigners will close. The centre, which has room to house 70 people, will be allocated for people who violate visa requirements and are then deported from the country.

There are no official statistics about the total number of migrants to Georgia but the International Organisation for Migration said the number of migrants from Iraq, China, India and Egypt had increased. The organization said Georgia was not only a transit country for foreign migrants but also a final destination.

Russian government is responsible for the plane crash that took place in Ukraine - Mikheil Saakashvili

The Russian government is responsible for the plane crash that took place in Ukraine, former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili told "Rustavi 2" from Zurich.

He said a great tragedy took place in Ukraine.

"This is for the first time that terrorists were given a formal Russian anti-aircraft complex. For the first time in the world history such a sophisticated complex was given to terrorist of another country. This is a legalized terrorism ", he said.

The former President also spoke about the sanctions against Russia and said that Europe could stop buying Russian oil.

"Europe can stop supply of technologies to oil and gas, because Russia is one big petrol station. If it cannot get the income, it will have problems. Europe can ultimately freeze exchange reserves. It will be interesting if the U.S. introduces sanctions against "Gazprom", shares of which have fallen to a historic low. You know who suffered most of all - Bidzina Ivanishvili. He is the main private shareholder of the Russian "Gazprom". It is a direct conflict of interest. It is in Georgian interests Russia to weaken, but Georgia’s actual ruler’s personal finances rely on strengthening of "Gazprom’’. This is a bad news for Ivanishvili. It hits hard his pocket. He has bank interests in an area, where the United States has imposed sanctions," he said.

The Malaysian airliner, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 283 passengers and 15 crew members, was shot down into rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine. All 298 people were killed.

President: How will Georgia prepare for NATO Summit?

The President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili is planning to host a meeting with the Security Council to discuss how the country will prepare for the upcoming NATO Summit.

Margvelashvili said the meeting was planned for next week, while speaking on Rustavi 2 television.

He said the sitting would be appointed to discuss Georgia's preparation process ahead of the NATO Summit in September.

"I hope we will prepare for the Summit as [thoroughly] as we did for the Association Agreement in order to make Georgia's security qualitatively better, on a higher level and for NATO to recognize the contribution we have made,” President Margvelashvili said.

In regards to security issues, Margvelashvili said he would actively work with executive and legislative authorities to ensure thorough preparation in this area.

According to the President, issues connected with Russia would not be discussed at the meeting however he pointed out that the Wales issue did include Russia-related topics.