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The News in Brief

Monday, August 15
Ex-Defense Minister Okruashvili to Stand for Majoritarian MP in Gori

Former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili said he will run for MP in the town of Gori in the October 8 parliamentary elections.

One of his competitors in this main town of the Shida Kartli region will be Irakli Alasania, who was also Defense Minister before his Free Democrats (FD) party broke from the Georgian Dream coalition in 2014.

Alasania, who initially was not going to stand as a majoritarian MP, announced his intention to run in Gori on August 10 after the FD’s candidate in Gori, MP Tamaz Shioshvili, decided to quit the race.

“I do not perceive Irakli Alasania as a competitor – not because I do not consider him a heavyweight [political figure], but because I have no idea what’s behind his decision to run in Gori,” Okruashvili said on August 12 when announcing his intention to run as a majoritarian MP. “I can in advance express condolences over [Alasania’s decision] to enter this race in which he is doomed to fail.”

The ruling party, the Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG), nominated Ioseb Makrakhidze, a co-owner and chief executive of a Gori-based asphalt manufacturing and road construction company, Ibolia, as its majoritarian MP candidate in the town of Gori.

The UNM opposition party has named as its majoritarian MP candidate in Gori a former senior law enforcement official in the Shida Kartli region, Alexandre Goglidze.

Other candidates, who have so far been named in Gori, are National Forum’s Guram Mchedlidze and State for People’s Shota Tskrialashvili.

In local elections in 2014, Okruashvili wanted to run for Gori's mayoral office, but he was barred from participation on the grounds of failure to meet the two-year residency requirement. After that, Okruashvili named a close friend as a mayoral candidate, who garnered up to 30% of votes, pushing the race into a runoff in which he was defeated by Georgian Dream’s candidate.

Okruashvili, who was an influential government member in President Saakashvili’s administration before quitting the cabinet in November 2006, was arrested in September, 2007 just two days after launching an opposition party and voicing allegations against his former ally, Mikheil Saakashvili. At that time, he was charged with extortion; less than two weeks after he was arrested, Okruashvili pleaded guilty, retracted his allegations leveled against Saakashvili and was released on bail; he then left the country in what his supporters said was in fact expulsion. He had lived in France, where he was granted asylum, before returning back to Georgia in November, 2012 after change of government. While remaining in France, Okruashvili re-emerged briefly in Georgia’s political developments in spring 2011 when his party joined ex-parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze-backed street protest rallies but the alliance was short-lived. After he returned back in Georgia some of the charges brought against him by the p

revious authorities were dropped by the prosecution and he was cleared of some other charges by the court in January, 2013.

In March 2016, Okruashvili was appointed as an aide to the chairman of Gori City Council (Sakrebulo) – the chairmanship is currently held by Okruashvili’s close ally from his Georgian Party, which garnered over 28% of votes in the 2014 local elections.

Georgia has a mixed electoral system in which 73 lawmakers in 150-seat Parliament are elected in 73 single-member constituencies, known in Georgia as “majoritarian” mandates.

A majoritarian MP candidate has to win over 50% of the votes in order to be an outright winner, otherwise a second round should be held.

The remaining 77 seats in Parliament are allocated proportionally under the party-list contest among political parties, which clear a 5% threshold in nationwide popular vote.

Murder of American tourist solved

Officers of the Kakheti Police Department have arrested M.Ch. for premeditated murder.

According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the investigation established that on August 12 the defendant wounded a US citizen, born in 1975, after having a verbal conflict with him when they were traveling from the village of Lechuri to Tusheti; the offender fled the crime scene, though was arrested in a few hours. The wounded man died at the scene of the crime.

The detainee has pleaded guilty.

The investigation remains underway.

Census shows only 7% of Georgians living in South Ossetia

Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia has published the results of a census showing that only 7 percent of the population there are ethnic Georgians.

The region, from which tens of thousands fled in the 2008 war, today has only 3,966 Georgian residents out of a total population of 53,532, according to the report published by breakaway authorities on Thursday.

A total of 48,146 of residents are Ossetians and 610 are Russians. There are 26,707 men and 27,825 women in the region, while most of the people (30,432) live in Tskhinvali, according to the census, which was conducted from October 15 till October 30, 2015.

The territory controlled by Tskhinvali includes two towns and four districts. There are 40 village administrations and 330 villages, out of which 40 are deserted.

The average age of the population is 40.1 years.

According to Georgia’s 2014 census, there 30,000 refugees from South Ossetia living in other parts of Georgia.