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The News in Brief

Tuesday, May 10
No-one has been charged in Georgian sex tape scandal

Georgia’s top prosecutor says no one has been charged in the case of four compromising sex videos of politicians which were posted on the Internet.

Speaking at a conference about juvenile justice reform on Friday, Chief Prosecutor Irakli Shotadze told journalists that the investigation into the videos is still in progress. He added that Georgia has asked its partner countries for legal assistance.

On March 11, March 14 and March 31, video clips showing politicians engaging in sex acts were uploaded to Youtube, and many people received a link to the video through Facebook. A fourth sex tape was posted on April 12.

Five people were arrested on April 8 in connection with the videos that were uploaded on March 11 and 14.

The Prosecutor General’s Office says the videos were not uploaded from Georgia and that none of them were made after the change of government on October 1, 2012.
(DF watch)

C.Bank Buys USD 20mln amid GEL Appreciation

The National Bank of Georgia (NBG) bought USD 20 million at a foreign currency auction on May 5 as lari (GEL) continued strengthening against U.S. dollar.

GEL was trading at 2.214 per U.S. dollar by late Thursday afternoon, almost 8% stronger since the beginning of the year and 4.6% stronger compared to early May, 2015.

It was NBG’s sixth intervention on the purchasing side. The central bank bought total of USD 75 million in these six interventions in a period between March 17 and May 5.

GEL started depreciation in November 2014, weakening from about 1.75 per U.S. dollar to its all-time low of 2.4985 by late January, 2016.

Amid lari’s depreciation, the central bank made three interventions in January by selling total of USD 60 million. A total of USD 286.96 million was sold in nine separate interventions throughout 2015 to support the GEL.

Gross international reserves stood at USD 2.456 billion as of end-March 2016, up from USD 2.425 billion a month earlier, and slightly more than a year earlier of USD 2.452 billion.

Recent treaty signed between Moscow and South Ossetia was an act of provocation - British Ambassador

“I am very proud that the UK government decided to send 150 troops to participate in the exercises in Georgia,” British Ambassador Alexandra Hall Hall said when commenting on the Russian Foreign Ministry's statement, according to which the planned Georgian-American military exercise Noble Partner 2016 is highly provocative.

"We are very proud of participating in Noble Partner. We believe that this is not a provocation, but another example of our friendship and relationship in terms of security, which is deepening over time. In terms of provocations, in my opinion, the recent treaty signed between Moscow and South Ossetia was a provocation,” the Ambassador said.

She praised the Georgian contingent’s contribution to the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan together with NATO soldiers.

"We appreciate our military partnership with Georgia,” said the Ambassador. "We share the Georgian people's sacrifices on the battlefield together with British, American and other soldiers," said Alexandra Hall Hall.

Alasania issues ultimatum, vows to fight Ivanishvili’s informal power

Irakli Alasania, the former Defence Minister who was fired after some of his staff were detained for embezzlement, issued an ultimatum on Friday: if the court finds the detainees guilty, he will mobilize people and launch protest rallies against the ‘informal rule’ of Bidzina Ivanishvili, the godfather of the Georgian Dream coalition.

“This will be the last straw for the events to move to a new stage. Namely, I will start to mobilize people and supporters for street rallies and call on the public to directly, even physically, start fighting against Ivanishvili’s informal government,” Alasania said on Friday, appearing on Pirveli TV.

The statement made by the Chief Prosecutor amounted to pressure on the judge, the Free Democrats leader continued.

“If the judge makes a biased verdict of guilty, this will only prove that the judges of Georgia do what Ivanishvili orders them to,” he added.

Tbilisi City Court is going through the final session of the case concerning officials of the Defence Ministry, known as the ‘Cable Case’.

Five Defence Ministry officials were arrested on October 28, 2014. Four of them were charged with embezzlement of public money and placed in preliminary detention, but after eight months the Prosecutor General’s Office asked a judge to release them on 10,000 lari bail. The judge, Davit Jugheli, then released the officials on bail.

The controversy surrounding the case led to Alasania’s dismissal as Defence Minister and his party’s withdrawal from the coalition. The Free Democrats have since been a vocal critic of the government.
(DF watch)