The messenger logo

The News in Brief

Monday, February 20
Wizz Air launches low-cost flights between London and Kutaisi

Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air is launching cheap flights between London Luton and Kutaisi, a city in the western Imereti region of Georgia.

United Airports Georgia announced the direct flights Kutaisi-London-Kutaisi two times per week, on Thursdays and Sundays, starting from June 18.

The cost of a one-way ticket will start from £34.99 (105.99 GEL).

“ We take into the account our interest in the region and we will offer Georgian customers more interesting and affordable opportunities,” Sorina Ratz, Communications Manager in Wizz Air said.

Wizz Air opened its first base in the Caucasus at Kutaisi International Airport in September 2016.

On Thursday, Wizz Air announced that it is opening its first UK base at Luton airport, from where it served five million passengers last year.
(DF watch)

Man to Serve Conditional Sentence Over Alleged Links to MP Car Blast

Tbilisi City Court found a man guilty over alleged links to the car explosion on October 4 targeting MP Givi Targamadze, one of the leaders of the United National Movement (UNM), just days before Georgia’s parliamentary elections.

On February 9, the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia released a statement saying that Boris Chagunava, who was arrested soon after the accident, has been found guilty on charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Boris Chagunava pleaded guilty and admitted that Darcho Khechuashvili, Chagunava’s brother-in-law - who was charged in absentia for attempted murder - stored firearms, ammunition, explosive substances and equipment in his apartment.

Tbilisi City Court sentenced Chagunava to four years in prison, but changed it to six years’ conditional sentence.

The Prosecutor’s Office said that it “does not agree” with a non-custodial punishment and will challenge the ruling in the Court of Appeals.

MP Giorgi Kandelaki of the Movement for Liberty – European Georgia - the party Targamadze now belongs to - said at a special press briefing on February 14 that the release of Boris Chagunava is “shocking”, and that “it raises questions about the motives of the Prosecutor’s Office and the Government in general”.

“The Prosecutor’s Office finalized the case hastily; Chagunava was given a conditional sentence and released from jail, [despite the fact that] … he kept a great amount of explosives in his garage, including trinitrotoluene and hexogen, the particles of which were found in Targamadze’s car,” Kandelaki stated.

Giorgi Kandelaki added that even though Targamadze “expressed doubts concerning the involvement” of some senior officials in the State Security Service, “these persons have not been interrogated,” which, in the words of Kandelaki “adds to the doubts”.

He also added that the case “had not been transferred to court,” despite “the pledges of the Prosecutor’s Office that the court proceedings on Darcho Khechuashvili would begin in the first half of January.”

OSCE Permanent Council rules referendum in breakaway Tskhinvali illegal

The OSCE Permanent Council disapproves of the decision of de facto Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) authorities to hold a referendum in Georgia’s breakaway region.

Yesterday, the Georgian delegation to the OSCE headed by Ambassador Konstantine Zaldastanishvili initiated a discussion over the issue with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) permanent council.

The delegation believes conducting a referendum on the Russian-occupied territories is "yet another act of aggression” from Russia against Georgia’s peaceful policy that relies on the restoration of trust between the people split by the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL).

The delegation further urged the Russian Federation to refrain from provocative actions, to follow the August 12, 2008 Ceasefire Agreement and withdraw its troops from Georgian territory.

Since the Russia-Georgia war in August 2008, the Geneva International Discussions have been the only format of dialogue between Georgia and Russia.

The delegation also called upon the international community to take relevant measures against Russia’s "illegal” steps and avoid escalation of situation in the Tskhinvali region, which if not properly monitored may become "yet another precedent of annexation in Europe”.

Back in 2015, the de facto leader of Georgia’s breakaway region Leonid Tibilov proposed to rename the historic Georgian province after a similarly-named province in the Russian Federation.

Tibilov said South Ossetia should be called South Ossetia-Alania, in the style of North Ossetia-Alania, a part of the Russian Federation.

Earlier this February, he once again voiced his proposal saying the breakaway region will hold a plebiscite on this matter on the same day that it will hold its unrecognized presidential elections on April 9.

Composed of delegates of the participating States, "the Permanent Council is the principal decision-making body for regular political consultations and for governing the day-to-day operational work of the OSCE between the meetings of the Ministerial Council”.