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The News in Brief

Thursday, May 26
Georgia should be more encouraged by NATO – Adam Kinzinger

“Georgia is a very strong ally of the West,” Republican Senator Adam Kinzinger told the Voice of America's Georgian office. He says Georgia should be more encouraged by NATO.

“Georgia has managed to eradicate corruption in the government but important problems are still ahead and it continues working on them. Besides which, Georgia is in a very sensitive position with regards to Russia as we saw when Russia almost reached its capital in 2008. The Russians only withdrew after President Bush sent warships to Georgia,” he said.

According to the Congressman, Putin should know that the United States will never again become involved in proxy wars, as Russia is attempting to drag Washington further into the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. Kinzinger also criticized the so-called ‘reloading policy’ launched by President Obama with Russia, adding that the White House Administration is weak enough in terms of external affairs.

“We all understand very well that the Russians only want to restore the Soviet Union, including Ukraine, Georgia, Baltic countries and every other former Soviet territory. They have been calculating how to implement this plan and how to increase pressure on their neighbours without prompting a NATO response,” the Congressman declared. (IPN)

Saakashvili announces his return to Georgia before the elections

The former president of Georgia and the current governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region, Mikheil Saakashvili, declared in aninterview for Rustavi 2 that he intends to return to Georgia and engage in the campaign before the parliamentary elections in October.

“No-one should doubt or see it as a threat what is a natural development. I’m planning to return to Georgia and I’m planning to be actively involved in the [political] process under the circumstances. We are doing a lot for Ukraine, which for me is another component of the same battle. I’m planning to continue my struggle both here in Ukraine and at home in Georgia’, Mr Saakashvili said.

He denied that there was a tension within the United National Movement and confirmed that he was the party’s primary leader by virtue of being the party’s founder.

The former president also criticised former prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili - who is believed to exercise major influence over Georgian politics despite having formally left the scene - for the way he handled the Batumi Institute of Technology project.

“One of the projects which I offered him [Mr Ivanishvili] very gently, yet firmly, was the University of Technology. He gave an aloof “no” for his answer. Later we found some 140 million dollars from the Americans after many conversations with my friend, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. We built this building which cost more than 100 million [dollars] and they sold it for 25 million — as flats. They ruined it. They had all the money and in September 2013 the university was supposed to receive its first Georgian students, when it had partners, teachers, accreditation, and money. Now he’s saying he’ll build it… Does he think we’re morons?” Mr Saakashvili said.

He also accused Mr Ivanishvili of causing the death of the former minister of economy, Kakha Bendukidze, by threatening to incarcerate him. Kakha Bendukidze died in 2014 due to heart failure.

“He [Mr Ivanishvili] personally killed Kakha Bendukidze. I kept in touch with him until his last breath and I know for sure that Ivanishvili was telling him “I’ll put you in prison”, “I’ll put you in a 4 m? cell and I won’t even let you wash yourself”. Ivanishvili said it to him personally. I know that Kakha didn’t take it well, his nerves weren’t as strong as mine are, and a great patriot, Kakha Bendukidze, who did everything for Georgia, was killed by Ivanishvili,” Mr Saakashvili said. (DF watch)

Venice Commission Looking into Georgia’s Controversial Bill on Constitutional Court

The Council of Europe’s advisory body for legal affairs, the Venice Commission, is expected to release its preliminary opinion over Georgia’s controversial bill on Constitutional Court on May 27, the Georgian President’s adviser for legal and human rights affairs said.

Kakha Kozhoridze told Georgian journalists in Strasbourg after meeting representatives from the Venice Commission on May 24 that the bill “poses serious risks to the smooth functioning of the Constitutional Court”.

The bill increases the quorum required for the Constitutional Court to decide cases and was rushed through Parliament by the GDDG ruling party, who adopted it with its third and final reading on May 14.

Kozhoridze also said that the President has objections over the bill and the Venice Commission’s opinion will help him in deciding whether to veto it or not. Deadline for the President to either sign the bill into law or to veto it will expire on June 3, according to the parliament speaker Davit Usupashvili.

The Venice Commission said on May 20 that it received two requests from Georgia for an opinion – one from the President’s Office and the other from the Parliament.

“In lieu of the urgency of the matter, the President [Giorgi Margvelashvili] requested an opinion to be prepared within 10 days,” the Venice Commission said.

On May 24 it also said that within the frames of preparation of an opinion on the bill - along with the meeting with the President’s representatives - information would also be provided from the Georgian Justice Ministry and Parliament’s human rights committee via Skype on the following day.

Although the chairperson of the human rights committee and co-sponsor of the bill, GDDG MP Eka Beselia, apparently told co-rapporteurs from the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE) when they visited Tbilisi earlier this month that the bill would have been sent to the Venice Commission before its adoption, the ruling GDDG party went ahead and passed the bill and sent it to the Venice Commission only after its adoption by the Parliament.

The monitoring co-rapporteurs for Georgia from the PACE expressed “regret at the hasty adoption in final reading” of the bill without it being first sent to the Venice Commission for review. (