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The News in Brief

Monday, June 20
'Republican ministers will leave posts either by our or by PM’s decision' – Republican MP

“The incumbent Republican ministers will leave their posts either due to a party decision or by the Prime Minister’s order. But we plan to keep our ministers in their posts until the end,” one of the leaders of the Republican Party, Levan Berdzenishvili, told IPN after a special session of the Republican Party.

As Levan Berdzenishvili said, they discussed the Republican Party's activities in Georgia's regions.

"We think that ministers should remain in their posts until the end. We said on March 27, from the very beginning, the Republican ministers will leave their posts either due to a party decision or by the Prime Minister’s order,” Levan Berdzenishvili said.

Gazprom says it reached a deal with a Georgian company on gas supplies

Russia’s state energy giant Gazprom said it has signed a contract with a Georgian company, Gasko+, on the supply of 100 million cubic meters of gas from July until the end of this year.

Gazprom said on June 16 that the contract was signed by its CEO Alexei Miller and the commercial director director of Gasko+, Giorgi Mamaladze, on the sideline of the annual St Petersburg International Economic Forum.

Mamaladze, a Russian citizen, is a 10% shareholder in Gasko+; the rest of the shares are owned by Irakli Bitsadze, who has dual Russian-Georgian citizenship.

Gasko+ is better known in Georgia for its operations in the small town of Senaki in the western region of Samegrelo, where has supplied gas to households and other customers since 2007.

The company distributed a total of 3.5 million cubic meters of gas in Senaki in 2015, according to the Georgian Energy and Water Supply Regulatory Commission’s data.

Chief Executive of Gasko+ Davit Bagaturia declined to comment on the deal with Gazprom when contacted by on June 17.

Roman Gotsiridze, who runs in the upcoming elections as an MP candidate from opposition UNM party, said that the government is trying to bring more Gazprom gas into Georgia via “bypass” routes using private companies.

The allegation has been denied by the authorities, who say that they have nothing to do with this reported deal and they would take “appropriate measure” if the share of Russian gas on the Georgian market reaches a “risk level”.

“These are relatively small volumes, but if the volumes increase and consequently if the risk parameters increase too, we will take appropriate measures,” Mariam Valishvili, the Deputy Energy Minister, said on June 17.

“As far as I know the deal is not yet closed,” Dimitri Kumsishvili, Minister of Economics and First Deputy PM, told journalists on June 17. “As far as the threats are concerned, it is premature to speak about it given that it is impossible to analyze what the contract is actually about…we have not seen the contract and we don’t know where this volume of gas will be directed if such a contract is at all finalized.”

According to Gazprom, it supplied 300 million cubic meters of gas to Geotransgas, a company operating a chain of gas filling stations in Georgia.

Georgia protests against planned Abkhaz Cultural Institute in Italy

Georgia’s ambassador to Italy, Kakha Sikharulidze, says the Georgian breakaway region Abkhazia will not be allowed to open a cultural institute in Rome.

The planned Abkhaz Cultural Institute in Rome is an initiative of the de facto Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia, a region that broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s but is struggling to achieve international recognition.

The official opening is planned for 17 June, but Georgia’s ambassador to Italy says he has been in touch with Italian authorities and believe they will not allow the center to open.

“This initiative has no official status at all. We have already addressed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy, the City Hall of Rome and very soon they will react properly. This is an initiative of several individuals which is in no way connected to any entity with an official status and the Italian government put an end to it in due time, as it usually did,” Sikharulidze said.

“According to the [Abkhazia] MFA, the minister of foreign affairs of Abkhazia, Viacheslav Chirikba will participate at the opening ceremony together with the deputy minister Kan Tania and the head of the information department, Tengiz Tarba. A press conference and the inauguration of the office of the Europe–Abkhazia Association will be held,” Sputnik Abkhazia reported.

According to Sputnik, guests from Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Italy were invited to participate in the event. The ceremony will also feature a presentation of a new quarterly journal called Abkhazia Today.

Earlier this year, Georgia forced the Abkhazian exhibition at a tourism fair in Montenegro to shut downbecause it presented Abkhazia as an independent state. The de facto Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemnedGeorgia for alleged attempts at isolating Abkhazia internationally.

In October 2015, after an intervention on behalf of Georgia’s MFA, Abkhazian athletes were prevented from participating in an international freestyle wrestling tournament in Yerevan.

In April 2013, the Abkhazian children’s ensemble Abaza refused to participate in the International Children’s Festival in Turkey after organizers altered the programme in a way which said that Abkhazia was an autonomous republic in Georgia, an official request from the Georgian government.

In June 2013, Poland refused to grant visas to members of the ensemble. According to the statement by Poland’s MFA, Russian passports issued in Abkhazia were not valid documents for applying for visas.
(DF watch)