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The News in Brief

Monday, August 10
Ancient cave city Vardzia hit by two earthquakes in two days

A 3.4 magnitude earthquake has struck near Georgia’s ancient cave city Vardzia, the second time in two days.

No damage was recorded to the historic site in the last earthquake, which struck just before 4pm.

Official details from the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia said the 3.4 magnitude earthquake was recorded six kilometres from Vardzia at 3:56pm on August 6.

This was the second earthquake to hit the region in two days. On August 5 a 3.8 magnitude earthquake was recorded in Turkey and the shock was felt in Vardzia, located 30 kilometres away from the earthquake’s epicentre.

In both earthquakes vibrations were recorded by seismic equipment of Vardzia’s monitoring system at all of the system’s seven monitoring points.

The monitoring equipment, which included an ultra-modern radar system, had been installed at the site to record activity and prevent the city from further disrepair. In the past the ancient site was abandoned and partially damaged however a major project to restore the site was underway.

The radar system was extremely sensitive, with 2mm precision, and recorded any kind of deformation, cracks, internal movement as well as movement of rocky masses.

In the framework of the Save Vardzia program, Ilia State University scientists, who are partners of the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia, have already carried out an analysis of the radar recordings, which clearly identifies the impact of the earthquakes on the complex.

National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia said radar scanning of the facade showed no reports of damage to the ancient site. After initial observations, the site will continue to be examined for the next 10 days so expert can create a full analysis of the site and gain full results of the earthquake’s possible impact.

PM urges experts to solve problems in villages affected by Russian ‘borderisation’

Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili is calling on a temporary Governmental Commission to come up with a proper solution to address the problems that exist at the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) between breakaway Tskhinvali region (South Ossetia) and the rest of Georgia.

Garibashvili met with Commission members today and discussed ways to address educational and health problems as well as the vital services that are still greatly in need, including development of a reliable gas supply, water system and other basic infrastructure.

Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Georgia for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, Ketevan Tsikhelashvili attended today’s meeting and said the PM’s comments were valid.

"Prime Minister's involvement in the Commission emphasizes that responding to the needs of the population living in villages near the Administrative Boundary Line is one of the top priorities of the Government.”

Authorities had already taken action to address the needs of those living at the ABL but realised more needed to be done.

Earlier this month two Georgia villages located near the occupation line were supplied with natural gas for the first time.

SOCAR Georgia Gas built a 14km gas pipe allowing 510 families in the villages of Khurvaleti and Tsitelubani to connect to the main pipeline and access natural gas.

Typically once a central pipe was built in a village, families must pay up to 600 GEL to ensure their home was connected to the gas main. However thanks to a special Governmental project meant for villages near the occupation zone, people here can access gas for free.

When fully implemented, 58 villages in Georgia’s most troubled areas will have access to natural gas.

Between 2014 and now, the Government of Georgia carried out the following reforms in the affected villages:
• Free school transport in 22 villages;
• 2,335,400 GEL was allocated to 11,677 families;
• Schools and their libraries were renovated;
• Community centres opened; and
• A new medical clinic will serve 14,000 residents in Rukhisi village.

Georgia-Russia War photos Exhibition held in Iran

Georgian MPs, paying a visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran, have viewed a photo exhibition dedicated to the 7th anniversary of the Georgia-Russia War.

According to the Parliament’s press service, the exhibition was organized by the Embassy of Georgia to Iran and it was officially opened by Georgian Ambassador to Iran and Pakistan Ioseb Chakhvashvili. He talked about the results of the war and current situation in the occupied regions.

The Georgian parliamentary delegation, led by Gubaz Sanikidze, and the diplomatic corps were invited to the event.

Russia’s response was harsh, but adequate - Dmitry Medvedev

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has posted a comment about the seventh anniversary of the Russian-Georgian War on this Facebook page.

"Seven years have passed since the Georgian military’s aggression against South Ossetia. In the morning on August 8, 2008, the Georgian army attacked houses, hospitals and schools in Tskhinvali with tanks and planes. Thousands of people were killed and injured in a few hours, including Russian peacekeepers, whose mission was to protect peace in accordance with the UN mandate. Their murder was a gross violation of international law and a terrible crime.

“The Russian response was harsh but adequate, and it was in compliance with national and international law," Medvedev wrote.

According to him, Russia’s main objective was to avoid further casualties and a humanitarian catastrophe.

"Our country has always tried to achieve peace in the Caucasus region. Today we help Abkhazia and South Ossetia in constructing a stable and secure environment. The recent events have once again shown that peaceful settlement is the only method for conflict resolution and maintenance of nations and states,” writes Medvedev.