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The News in Brief

Monday, November 17
Former Georgian Economy Minister Bendukidze dies

Kakha Bendukidze, an influential Georgian businessman who was once the country’s Economy Minister, adviser to Ukraine’s current President and founder of Georgia’s Free University, has died.

He is believed to have passed away in London yesterday at age 58, only two weeks after undergoing major heart surgery in Switzerland.

After the surgery, Bendukidze travelled to London where he passed away in a hotel room. While the cause of death has not been confirmed, it is believed he died from heart failure.

Education was a large part of his life and in his time, the Georgian businessman was the chairman of the Supervisory Board of two Georgian universities – the Free University and the Georgian Agrarian University.

Last night Professors and students gathered to pay tribute to Bendukidze and lit candles in his memory. People at the gathering said Bendukidze made "a great contribution” to their education process.

Parliament Speaker David Usupashvili expressed his condolences to Bendukidze’s family and friends today.

"Bendukidze was a very extraordinary man and his merit will be even better evaluated in the future,” said Usupashvili at today’s plenary session, which opened with a minute of silence.

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili also mentioned Bendukidze when he visited Parliament on Friday.

"I would like to express my condolences to the family of Mr. Kakha and to his colleagues who have lost a friend," he said.

Meanwhile Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko expressed his sadness over the death of his adviser.

"I express my sincere condolences to the family of Kakha Bendukidze, and millions of those for whom he was and will remain the engine of a big change. R. I. P.,” he wrote on twitter.

Amendments to New Visa Regulations Adopted

Parliament passed on November 14 with its third and final reading amendments to ease some of the procedures of tightened new visa and migration regulations, which went into force from September.

In Georgia on a legal basis, can apply for a long-term immigration visa to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Georgia, no longer requiring going back to a home country to file an application with the Georgian diplomatic mission; an application should be filed with the Georgian MFA 45 days before expiration of valid visa; visa application fee will be set at GEL 100.

A foreign citizen, whose residence permit has already expired or who has entered into Georgia after March 17, 2014, can apply to the Public Service Development Agency for residence permit before March 1, 2015. If in this case a foreign citizen obtains a residence permit, this person will not be subject to a financial penalty, according to the amendment.

Those foreign citizens, who fall under the category of Georgian “compatriots” as defined by the law passed in 2011, will be eligible to obtain a long-term Georgian resident permits, according to the amendment. This amendment allows those individuals, who were Georgian citizens, but lost it because of obtaining citizenship of another country, to apply for a status of “compatriot” to then become eligible for a long-term residence permit in Georgia.

According to the amendment duration of transit visa will be increased from five to ten days.

The Georgian Justice Ministry said that after new visa and migration regulations were enforced in September, about 2,000 foreign citizens now residing in Georgia faced expulsion and the amendments aimed at giving more grace period to them for obtaining residence permits.

Although Georgia keeps visa-free rules with 104 countries and territories, down from 117, citizens from those countries are able to stay in Georgia starting from September 1 for a maximum of 90 days without visa, instead of previous 360. Under the new rules a long-term visa can only be obtained at Georgia’s diplomatic missions abroad, not in Georgia – the rule which has now been amended by the newly adopted bill; long-term visa is also a precondition for obtaining residence permit. There have also been numerous complaints about burdensome, ill-planned, and ambiguous procedures and bureaucratic barriers for obtaining residence permits.

Georgian soldiers in Afghanistan injured in suicide blast

Three Georgian soldiers serving in a peacekeeping mission in the Afghan province of Parwan were injured in a suicide bomb attack.

Georgia’s Ministry of Defence released a statement that said three members of the 5th Infantry Brigade of the 51st Battalion of the Georgian Armed Forces were patrolling the Bagram Air Base territory when a suicide bomber blew himself up.

It is not known if anyone, apart from the bomber, were killed in the blast.

Georgian soldier Giorgi Tusiashvili and Captain Mikheil Liparteliani received minor injuries in the blast and were taken to a nearby military hospital for treatment before returning to their duties. Major Zaza Turmanidze suffered more serious injuries to his leg and has since had surgery.

Georgia’s Ministry of Defence said all three men were now in a stable condition.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission is in its final stages and some military personnel from Georgia and the United States (US) remained in Afghanistan to complete their missions. Some Georgian troops have already returned home and the remaining were due to leave Afghanistan in the near future.

The main task of the Georgian and US peacekeeping unit was to carry out 24/7 patrolling of the airbase. The Georgian peacekeepers were also tasked with acquiring intelligence information, detecting and observing suspicious objects (such as landmines) and pass on their information to their superiors.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s Ministry of Defence today stated when the Georgian troops were on patrol, 5th Infantry Brigade personnel discovered a homemade explosive device and deactivated it.

The unit underwent six months of intensive preparation at the National Training Centre Krtsanisi ahead of their Afghanistan deployment.

The Georgian soldiers also underwent training in Hohenfels, Germany for a month-long stint at the US. Joint Multinational Readiness Centre (JMRC).

Information on the telephone conversation between the Georgian and Uzbek Foreign Ministers

On the 14th of November 2014, the Georgian Foreign Minister, Ms. Tamar Beruchashvili held a telephone conversation with her Uzbek counterpart, Mr. Abdulaziz Kamilov.

The two discussed a wide range of issues, including aspects of bilateral and multilateral relations; and focused on the issues connected with the Georgian Prime Minister's visit to Uzbekistan due to be paid in April 2015.
(Ministry of Foreign Affairs)