The messenger logo

The News in Brief

Wednesday, March 30
CEC approves referendum bid about same-sex marriage

The Central Election Commission (CEC) has approved a proposal to hold a referendum over the legalisation of same sex marriage in Georgia.

The proposal, which was submitted by a group of seven people, will not automatically be put to a referendum, but is past the first hurdle. Now, backers have to collect 200,000 signatures within three months. If they manage that, the President will decide whether to hold the referendum or not.

“Do you want or not [want] Georgia to allow same-sex marriage?” is the question of the referendum, proposed by Giorgi Korghanashvili, Zurab Toloraia, Kakha Nikabadze, Badri Kvirikashvili, Petre Gogosashvili, Teimuraz Tsiskarishvili and Davit Kuchava.

At its March 28 session, the CEC also considered other proposed referendum topics, which were rejected.

Among the other proposals was reducing the number of parliament members from 150 to 61, to move parliament back to Tbilisi and whether the Georgian Army should participate in international missions.

Parliament is currently considering a bill to amend the constitution so it defines marriage as a voluntary union of a man and woman. The bill is being discussed at public meetings in different regions of Georgia. (DF watch )

Seven TSU students go on hunger-strike demanding Principal to resign

Seven TSU students plan to start hunger-strike on 19:00 today. As one student Bakhva Kvirikashvili has told reporters, they demand TSU Principal Lado Papava to resign.

The students say law enforcers of the Shevardnadze era still work at the university.

They say Vladimer Papava caused the conflict among the students.

‘He must resign. This man does not take any responsibility for the institution at all,’ Bakhva Kvirikashvili said. (ipn)

Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine Davit Sakvarelidze dismissed

Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine Davit Sakvarelidze has been dismissed, Ukraine’s Prosecutor’s Office has said on its website.

As reported by the Prosecutor’s Office, the agency has received many addresses according to which Davit Sakvarelidze’s post and schedule were not compatible with the laws of the Prosecutor’s Office.

According to the statement, Davit Sakvarelidze has been dismissed due to a violation of the Prosecutor’s ethics and interference with other prosecutor’s activity. (IPN)

World Bank: 9 facts about wildfires in Georgia

As the season changes from winter to spring, the weather patterns change and the risk of fires breaking out increases, forest fires in particular, according to the World Bank.

The European Union (EU)-funded Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) II Program, which improves forest management in Georgia and other countries, has presented nine facts about forest fires.

1. In the past, forest fires occurred relatively seldom and on a smaller scale in Georgia, affecting a few hectares of forests per year. In recent years however, this problem has become more serious. At present, fires encompass hundreds of hectares of the country’s forests each year.

2. Climate change and associated weather patterns (prolonged draughts and increased average temperatures) have increased the probability of wild fires.

3. The fire season in Georgia (when the likelihood of fire occurrence is the highest) usually occurs in the summer months when the temperatures are highest.

4. One of the very common natural triggers of wildfires is lightning. This is especially true in dry areas where dry thunderstorms are common. This is when lightning strikes the ground but the precipitation evaporates before reaching the ground. Lightning can cause seven to 10 percent of wildfires.

5. Lightning is much more likely to cause a fire in an old forest with a lot of dry trees than in a young forest. For this reason fires caused by natural reasons play an important ecological function; they help the forest regenerate.

6. Coniferous forests (pine, spruce and fir) are more prone to fire than broadleaves.

7. Humans are the main cause of wildfires. The majority of forest fires occur on the weekends when people are more likely to spend time outside. A poorly extinguished campfire, a cigarette thrown on a nature trail, children playing with lighters – all this and more can cause a wildfire. If not occurring naturally, forest fires may change the direction of natural forest succession. This could delay the establishment of optimal (site-adapted) forest composition for decades.

8. Rubbish can also lead to a fire in a forest. Empty glass bottles are especially dangerous. When the sun is shining glass bottles act as a lens, which when hit by the suns’ rays, can cause a fire. For the same reason, any equipment with a strong lens is dangerous. Camera lens left lying for hours on the ground in sunny weather can also cause a fire. It is important to close the camera lens with a lid.

9. Often people burning grass in spring or autumn causes wildfires. It is a wide-spread myth that after burning old grass in spring, new grass grows faster. This is only partly true: initially grass starts to grow faster on the warmed-up soil but later its growth decreases because the fire has destroyed some of the soil’s nutritional value that makes it fertile.

The FLEG II Program, which was implemented by the World Bank, aimed to improve forest law enforcement and governance in seven countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine. Together these countries have more than 20 percent of the world's forests. (