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The News in Brief

Thursday, January 14
Investigation launched into Van Dyck painting case

The Investigative Service of the Finance Ministry has launched an investigation into the Van Dyck painting case. As reported by the service, the investigation is in progress under article #214 that refers to illegally appropriating a cultural heritage item and crossing the state border.

Eka Abashidze, Malkhaz Makharadze and Zahir Huseynov have been question regarding the case. Eka Abashidze is the person declaring she sold the painting to Makharadze and Huseynov but they did not pay the agreed amount fully.

According to Eka Abashidze, she received only 7 000 USD. Huseynov and Makharadze have not paid the remaining 30 000 yet.

Makharadze and Huseynov confirm that the painting was taken to Turkey but they claimed that while being questioned, all their documents were in order and included the Culture Ministry’s corresponding permission.

Two people were detained in relation to the painting in Turkey.

Some of the media claim that the painting is worth 14 million. (IPN)

Central Bank Sells USD 20m to Support GEL

The National Bank of Georgia (NBG) sold USD 20 million at a foreign currency auction on January 12 to support the lari.

The lari was trading at about 2.415-2.42 per U.S. dollar on January 12, compared to 2.419-2.425 a day earlier.

GEL has lost 28.3% of its value against U.S. dollar since January 2015 and 0.8% since the beginning of this year.

It was the central bank’s first intervention this year and the second one in less than three weeks.

The NBG sold a total of USD 286.96 million in nine interventions last year.

An IMF mission said in early December that it “strongly supports the NBG’s policy to allow the lari to float and to limit foreign exchange interventions only to dampen excess exchange rate volatility.”

Gross international reserves stood at USD 2.52 billion as of the end of December 2015, up from USD 2.479 billion a month earlier and down from USD 2.699 billion a year earlier. (

Georgian Manganese halts mining work due to failing market demand

Georgian Manganese is temporarily shutting down its mines in western Georgia for four months due to a low demand for manganese.

GM owns the mines in Chiatura, a mountain town in the western province Imereti.

According to a statement issued by the company, the temporary halt in production will begin on January 20 and end on May 20.

During the suspension of operations, the employees will retain their jobs and receive 60 percent of their salary, along with medical insurance.

The company has enough resources for a four month shutdown, which is necessitated by a ‘deep stagnation processes’ on the world metallurgical market.

“It was a difficult decision to make and we share the concern of our employees, but we believe this is the only way to save the company,” GM director Velvel Lozinsky said on Monday.

Manganese has been extracted in Chiatura for more than 135 years. The town has a population of twenty thousand, four thousand out of whom are employed in the mining industry.

The company will sign contracts with the employees for the following four months.

Ore extracted in Chiatura is transferred to a smelter plant in Zestaponi, which exports ferroalloys abroad.

According to the National Statistics Department, ferroalloys are Georgia’s second most significant export product. From January to November 2015, Georgia exported ferroalloys worth USD 186 million. This is 9 percent of the country’s entire export. (DF watch)

United National movement demands to elaborate the anti-crisis plan

Members of the United National Movement opposition party don’t rule out the possibility that the devaluation of GEL may lead to inflation. They demand to elaborate the government’s anti-crisis plan.

"A total of 287 million dollars were spent from the reserves in 2015, so that the National Bank was not able to buy even a dollar, because it was not given a chance. Today the rate is 2.47. We demand to create an anti-crisis plan urgently,"- said Zurab Melikishvili, an UNM representative. (Rustavi2)