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The News in Brief

Thursday, February 26
Georgia marks 94th anniversary of Soviet Occupation battle

The Georgian national flag was being flown at half-mast at the country’s Government buildings yesterday in remembrance of the hundreds of thousands of young soldiers who died in the battle of the Soviet Occupation of Georgia 94 years ago.

Flags have been lowered at Tbilisi and Kutaisi Parliament buildings and the residence of the President today to mark the event where Georgia lost its independence when Bolshevik’s Red Army took over Tbilisi on February 25, 1921.

To mark the occasion, Georgian officials will lay a wreath at the memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives while fighting for Georgia’s independence.

Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said February 25 was one of the most "tragic days” in the history of the country.

The 70-year rule of the Soviet occupation regime had "devastating effects” on the country and the best part of our nation made a huge sacrifice to fight for Georgia’s freedom, he said.

"Despite the communist ideology and the regime the idea of freedom and striving for independence has never vanished in people; their struggle for freedom has never been suspended. Today Georgia is an independent country and it is the result of the devotion of many generations. Our responsibility is to protect this great legacy, maintain and strengthen our country,” Garibashvili said.

The Day of Soviet Occupation was first officially marked in Georgia by the former government in 2010. Parliament unanimously passed a resolution instructing the government to organize various memorial events each year on February 25 to commemorate the hundreds of thousands of victims of political repressions of the Communist occupational regime.

On this day 94 years ago Georgia lost its independence and became part of the Soviet Union. On February 25, Russian invaders took over Tbilisi and announced it had established power in Georgia. (

Georgia doubles funding for religious minorities

The government in Georgia plans to spend 3.5 million Laris on traditional religious groups and dedicate a new square to the idea of tolerance.

As reported by DF Watch, there have been growing friction in Georgian society in recent years between adherents of the Georgian Orthodox Church and other religious groups.

Muslims have in many places had problems establishing places of prayer, and members of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been physically attacked, with little reaction from law enforcement.

Against the background of these developments, the government established the State Agency for Religious Issues in February 2014.

Little has been known about the media shy body until now, except that it is an advisory body to the prime minister, supposed to conduct ‘informational, research, scientific-educational and recommendatory activities in the field of religion’, as the decree which established it says.

On Monday, agency head Zaza Vashakmadze explained that in 2014, there was handed out 1.75 million Laris from the state reserve to four minority religions as a partial compensation for the damage done by the Soviet Union. 1.1 million Laris was allocated to Muslims, 300,000 to Armenian Apostolics, 200,000 to the Catholic Church and 100,000 to the Jewish community.

In 2015, the agency is to improve relations between state and various religious institutions by offering compensation for religious oppression during Soviet times, he continued, by facilitating dialogue between different religious organizations and the state by creating several committees and commissions, and by raising public awareness about multi-religious and multicultural Georgia.

This year, the state is going to divide twice as much as last year – 3.5 million Laris – between these four religious minorities, which are considered ‘traditional religions’.

Other religious groups, such as for example Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pentecostals or Yazidis are not considered traditional and consequently not entitled to any financial support.

The Georgian Orthodox Church received 25 million Laris from the state both in 2014 and this year. According to the Constitutional Agreement between the State and the Church, the former should annually compensate the damage done to the Church by the Soviets in 1920s and 1930s.

Another measure is that the agency publishes a calendar, for the second year this year, which marks not only Georgian Orthodox, but also Islamic, Armenian Apostolic, Catholic and Jewish religious festivals.

The Agency together with Tbilisi City Hall is establishing Tolerance Square, which will be located next to Europe Square and have a sculpture celebrating religious tolerance in Georgia.

Religious minority leaders who attended the presentation congratulated the state’s initiative to reach out to religious minorities, but it also stressed that Georgia needs to come up with a single law defining state relationship with various religious organizations. (DF watch)

“The issue of early elections is not been discussed by the CEC”

The issue of early elections is not been discussed by the Central Election Commission (CEC), Chair of the Central Election Commission Tamar Zhvania said on Wednesday.

“This issue is not being discussed, therefore, any preparation in this regard is not underway, but the Central Election Commission is ready to hold elections. If there is made such a decision, it will be announced”, Tamar Zhvania said. (Frontnews)