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The News in Brief

Thursday, June 16
Georgian Govt Extends Contract with Pillsbury Winthrop for U.S. Lobbying

The Georgian government has extended a contract with a law and lobbying firm, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, until the end of the year. The company has been providing its services to Georgian authorities since spring 2015.

Under the contract, valid from April 1 to December 31, the government is paying the firm 30,000 USD per month for its services, which include activities supporting “U.S.-Georgia bilateral relations and Georgia’s NATO aspirations, supporting relations with media and opinion makers, facilitate arrangement of relevant events and meetings, and educating U.S. leaders about developments in Georgia”.

Under the previous contract the Georgian government was paying Pillsbury USD 50,000 per month, but that deal also included the fee for a subcontractor for additional media services.

According to filings submitted by Pillsbury to the U.S. Department of Justice under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, services the firm is providing include assisting the Georgian government in “developing relationships with key groups” in the U.S., among them senior officials in the White House and Department of State, members of Congress, and “likely presidential candidates and their top advisors.”

The firm has is also assisting the government in “securing demonstrations of support for Georgia” from these “key groups” in the U.S.

In other services, the firm helps arrange the visits of the Georgian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to the United States, monitor developments in Washington related to Georgia, provide “strategic advice” on foreign policy, deepen NATO-Georgia relations, enhance defence cooperation with the U.S., as well as “provide advice” on drafts of op-eds, letters and speeches for the Georgian government officials. (

Irakli Okruashvili testifies against Vano Merasbishvili, Mikheil Saakashvili

Former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili has testified against former Interior Minister Vano Merasbishvili and former President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Irakli Okruashvili was questioned with regards to the beating of Valeri Gelashvili in July 2005.

According to Okruashvili, Saakashvili was furious at Valeri Gelashvili because of his statements on his family members.

"He asked me to take revenge on Gelashvili. I refused this request, but when I spoke with the President later, I was assured that his request had been fulfilled by Vano Merabishvili," Irakli Okruashvili said. (IPN)

Georgian ecological startup qualifies for Switzerland competition

A promising Georgian startup that encourages the planting of trees has won a national competition and will soon present the business to a global audience in Switzerland.

A new business, Treepex, won the Seedstars World competition in Tbilisi, Georgia. Seedstars is a global organisation based in Switzerland with activities in more than 50 countries. It offers a global seed-stage startup competition for emerging markets and fast-growing startup scenes.

For Treepex, winning the local competition was only the beginning of the race. The two young Georgian men behind the business will next year attend the Seedstars Summit in Switzerland and compete for up to $1 million USD in equity investment.

Who are the winners?

Treepex was co-founded by two young Georgian men and aims to involve private people and organisations in a green campaign that plants trees in Georgia’s Protected Areas.

If someone buys a product with Treepex logo it means a tree will be planted in their name somewhere in Georgia.

All items displaying a Treepex also features a unique QR code; entering this code in a Treepex free mobile application will mean a tree is planted and cared for at one of three Protected Areas in Georgia - the Tusheti Protected Landscape, Ajameti Managed Reserve or Borjomi Forest.

When a tree is planted on a person’s behalf, the donor is notified on the Treepex App and receives an email of a photo of the tree with their nameplate as well as its GPS coordinates. If donors ever travel to the Protected Areas of Georgia they can visit the tree they helped plant.

Organisters of the Seedstars’ Tbilisi competition said Treepex was selected as the best startup in Gerogia for "its unique approach to combine green incentive programs and corporate social responsibility”.

Treepex will participate at the global Seedstars Summit, taking place in Switzerland in March 2017. The event is a weeklong training program that gives participants the opportunity to meet the other 60 national winners, as well as investors and mentors from around the world.

Treepex was one of 12 startups that pitched their business ideas in front of an international jury in Tbilisi.

A startup named Lingwing, a self-learning system for languages to serve the annual $5 billion e-learning market, placed second in the Tbilisi competition. Third place went to Mosavali, which provides farmers in emerging markets with learning, decision support and interaction with the agricultural value chain.

The 12 startups chosen to compete in the final phase of the Tbilisi event were selected out of 50 initial startups applicants.

This was the first time Seedstars came to Georgia. (