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The News in Brief

Friday, June 3
Tbilisi Zoo receives kangaroos and other new animal species

Tbilisi Zoo received 22 new animals on Monday. The animals were a gift from zoos in Germany and Belgium.

There are seven South American coatis, two Indian porcupines and ten striped mongoose from Germany, while three blue wildebeest were sent from Belgium.

The zoo’s management explained that the new arrivals are aid from the other zoos that was promised after the flood on June 13 2015, when almost half of Tbilisi’s zoo was devastated and many animals perished.

In March, the zoo received two parrots, three alpacas, one camel and one pack mule from Riga’s zoo.

Director Zurab Gurielidze earlier told DFWatch that they expect more than 100 animals in May and June, including mongoose, kangaroos, spotted deer and monkeys. Some species, like kangaroos, have never been in Tbilisi Zoo before.

The new animals will be sent from zoos in the United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, France, Turkey, Belgium, Israel and Latvia.

The management of the zoo told DFWatch that they now are expecting spotted deer, macaques, maned sheep and tapirs.

Many animals in Tbilisi Zoo died as a result of the flood in 2015. Some of the predators were shot in the streets. According to Gurielidze, the flood caused about USD 5 million worth of damage. (

Sophia Loren to visit Georgia on 13 June

A famous Georgian mezzo-soprano, Nino Surguladze, claims that legendary Italian actress Sophia Loren is coming to Georgia on 13 June.

The 81-year-old actress will join a charity event organized by Surguladze’s “Natvris Khe” (Wishing Tree) foundation.

“The event organized by our foundation will be attended by a world famous legend of cinema, Sophia Loren. She expressed her sincere desire to join and help us to save children’s lives,” Surguladze writes.

The “Natvris Khe” international charity foundation, established by Nino Surguladze in 2014, helps gravely ill children to receive proper treatment. To this end, the foundation organizes concerts with the participation of world-famous stars. (IPN)

Historic Atskuri fortress and church restored in Georgia’s south-west

Two medieval monuments in Georgia's south-west are undergoing extensive restoration in a bid to preserve their architectural and cultural legacy.

The Atskuri Fortress and Holy Trinity Cathedral, located in a village 100km west of Tbilisi, is being restored in large-scale works led by the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia and National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia.

The two-year project will see significant rehabilitation of the two monuments damaged over many years of neglect and at the mercy of Mother Nature.

Restored in the 14th Century AD after the monastery whichh initially stood there was destroyed by an earthquake, the Atskuri Cathedral represented "one of the most important monument of Georgian religious architecture", said the Culture Ministry while announcing the restoration works today.

Currently, only one third of the building remains intact and most of the monastery was in a dilapidated condition.

Along with the monastery itself, the monument's territory was also significant for scientists and historians, with archaeological work currently underway at the site.

With minor repair works currently underway at the Cathedral, a large-scale restoration project was expected to be launched next year following the conclusion of the archaeological excavation.

The other significant monument of the village – the Atskuri Fortress – was one of the most significant defensive structures of the Middle Ages in Georgia.

Built on high ground to control the Mtkvari River valley and a major road leading to Georgia's south, the Fortress was built in the 10th Century AD and used for this purpose for nine centuries.

The two state offices involved in rehabilitation works said their 2015 project involved restoration of damaged parts of the construction including its outer wall and main citadel.

Georgia's Culture Ministry and Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation have been involved in several projects to restore medieval and ancient monuments across Georgia in recent years.

Georgia's state program for Cultural Heritage Protection involved monuments such as the 13th Century Skuri church in Georgia's northwest and ancient cave city Vardzia in the country's south. (

Noisy discussions about so-called German Model

Discussions about the German model of election system proceeded in the form of harsh debates in the Parliamentary Law Committee. Verbal conflict took place between supporters of the project and representatives of the Georgian Dream faction. Six members voted for and two against.

Changes will be made to Article 125 of Election Code. Based on the draft project, the calculation system of election results and the rule of mandates’ distribution will change.

73 MPs will be elected through a majoritarian (single mandate) system, while 77 will be elected through a proportional variant. MPs of the Georgian Dream party do not support the draft-bill and claim that the proposed changes do not fit with the Constitution.

Vakhtang Khmaladze, a majority MP and a member of the Republican Party, is the initiator of the changes. (