The messenger logo

The News in Brief

Tuesday, September 8
Google Maps adds “Autonomous” before “Republic of Abkhazia” following Georgia’s request

Abkhazia – one of the Russian-occupied regions of Georgia – is now being referred to as the ‘Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia’ instead of ‘Republic of Abkhazia’ on Google Maps after one Georgian internet user challenged the online spelling.

The change, which the Google Maps administration has already approved, was initiated by Giorgi Balakhadze.

After adding the word "autonomous” in the name of the region, Google Maps also closed it for further corrections, meaning from now on Abkhazia will always be referred to as an autonomous part of Georgia and not an independent republic.

Earlier Balakhadze asked for another change on Google Maps, which also was approved. Upon his request, the capital city of Abkhazia was now being referred to as ‘Sokhumi’ instead of ‘Sukhumi’, using Georgian spelling.

Abkhazia is situated in the north-western corner of Georgia. Russia recognised it as an independent state in 2008, immediately after the five-day Russia-Georgia war over Georgia’s other breakaway region, Tskhinvali region (often incorrectly referred to as South Ossetia).

This move of Russia has been assessed numerous times as a "violation of international law” by the global community.

Parliament Prolongs Constitutional Reform Commission’s Mandate Again

Parliament extended on September 4 for third time already mandate of state commission on constitutional reform for another almost six months till February 29, 2015.

The decision means that adoption by the sitting Parliament of constitutional changes, which the commission has yet to draft, has now become less likely.

Previous time when the Parliament extended commission’s mandate for six months till September 15, parliament speaker and chairman of the commission Davit Usupashvili said in February that taking into view complicated and lengthy procedures for confirming a constitutional amendment, the sitting parliament would hardly be able to pass constitutional reform if amendments were not tabled before September 15.

The commission was established in late December, 2013 with the original mandate to table draft of constitutional amendments by September 1, 2014. The commission is made up of five working groups, addressing areas ranging from checks and balances between the branches of government to territorial-administrative arrangement and general constitutional provisions, as well as rules of making amendments to the constitution.

Passing of a constitutional amendment requires its adoption by the Parliament with three hearings during two separate sessions with an interval of at least three months. Support of at least 113 lawmakers in 150-member Parliament is needed for passing of a constitutional amendment.

Saakashvili, Kolomoisky exchanged bitter remarks

Georgia’s former President, Mikheil Saakashvili, who now serves as the governor of the strategic Odessa region, says oligarchs are the foremost obstacle for Ukraine’s nascent statehood.

“Ukrainian oligarchs, just like Putin, prevent the formation of the Ukrainian state, and represent a major breeding ground of political corruption. They have earned all the money due to the weakness of the state and will do their best in order to keep it weak forever,” Mikheil Saakashvili posted on Facebook on Sunday.

“(One) Oligarch offers to euthanize me like a dog… After unsuccessful attempts to bribe or discredit me, switched to the latter scenario, a well-known for oligarchs – direct threats. I think Ukraine’s people will soon point that utterly insolent remnants of bandit decades their place,” Saakashvili posted evidently in response of the earlier statement made by his bitter rival, one of Ukraine’s richest man, Igor Kolomoisky.

“When a dog without a muzzle bites someone, both, the dog and, importantly, its owner, should be punished. Dogs are euthanized in such cases. But in our case, you can send it by cash on delivery to Georgia, where it will be put responsible for bitten people there,” Igor Kolomoisky said on “1+1” TV channel, referring to the ongoing criminal investigation against the former president in Georgia.

The latter remark came as a response to the previous statements by Saakashvili regarding situation in the country’s air transportation.

Earlier, during the meeting at Ukraine’s Ministry of Infrastructure, Mikheil Saakashvili accused Ukraine International Airlines, owned by Kolomoisky, of corruption and illegally monopolizing Ukraine’s air transportation service. The accusations have been vehemently denied by Kolomoisky and he stated his intentions to sue Saakashvili in the courts.

Kolomoisky went further, calling Saakashvili “dirty snotty addict,” proposing him to “pass the courses of rehabilitation from drug addiction.”

Igor Kolomoisky, the second richest person in the country, is regarded as one of the most powerful person in Ukraine, effectively controlling scores of private security firms and having his people infiltrated into the state bodies. During military activities in Ukraine’s East, Kolomoisky formed and equipped several combat battalions, which played an important role in the hostilities.

Native of Denpropetrovsk, an industrial city in central Ukraine, Kolomoisky, 52, served as a governor of Dnepropetrovsk Oblast, but was sacked after his confrontation with President Poroshenko went out of control amidst scandal over Ukranafta.
(DF watch)