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The News in Brief

Tuesday, June 27
Moscow Cuts ‘Investment’ Funding for Tskhinvali

Erik Pukhaev, head of the Tskhinvali government, said on June 20 that Moscow’s financial support “for budgetary investments” in the region would amount to a total of three billion Russian rubles (USD 51 million as of June 22) in 2018 and 2019.

The announcement came at a meeting of “part of the South Ossetian intergovernmental commission for the socio-economic cooperation” in Tskhinvali, which was also attended by the region’s leader Anatoly Bibilov.

According to Pukhaev, Tskhinvali initially requested 5 billion rubles from Russia, but priority areas had to be “selected” in cooperation with Russia’s Ministry for North Caucasus “considering the limited funding availability.”

As a result, 1.5 billion Russian rubles will be allocated to Tskhinvali in each of the upcoming two years, that is twice as less as Moscow’s funding in 2017.

The region’s budget for 2017 amounts to 8.1 billion (USD 135 million) rubles, of which 7.3 billion (USD 121 million) was transferred from Russia.

4.2 billion (USD 70 million) in Russian subsidies is to be spent for the region’s “socio economic development,” while the remaining 3 billion (USD 51 million) will be used for implementing “budgetary investments.”

Georgian president slams blueprint for new Constitution

President Giorgi Margvelashvili rejects a draft new Constitution presented by the ruling GD government because it is not based on a consensus.

“The entire Georgian society believes we need a consensus document, but Georgian Dream thinks consensus means dialogue with themselves,” President Giorgi Margvelashvili said on Friday.

The president’s rejection was not unexpected as there has been longstanding friction between him and the ruling party, but is nonetheless a blow to the government, which has meticulously conducted public hearings around the country and talked with other political parties about their planned changes to the Constitution.

He recalled how even under difficult conditions in 1995, when Georgia drafted its first constitution after independence, the country’s leadership found a way to reach consensus.

“Even in 1995, when there were 23 parties in parliament and Georgia’s democracy was still only in its infancy, consensus could be reached,” he said.

Earlier, on Thursday, he said that the draft constitution has ‘zero’ consensus support.

“I reminded Georgians about 6 months ago that such a spirit does not create a document of national unity[…] We got [a draft constitution] that has zero consensus [support]. This document is being backed by only one party,” Giorgi Margvelashvili said at the embassy of Germany, where he was visiting to express his condolences in connection with the passing away of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

Margvelashvili called upon MPs not to support the draft.

“Adopting the Constitution by force, without consent, is not the right step. Do not abuse the political process,” he said.

The draft Constitution has been prepared by a commission which consisted of MPs, members of government, opposition and civic groups. However, the ruling party enjoyed the upper hand in the commission, and the president whose relationship with Georgian Dream has been testy the last three years boycotted its work right from the start.

The draft has been criticized by the entire spectrum of opposition groups and most nongovernmental organizations.
(DF watch)

Human rights situation in Georgia's occupied territories to be discussed at PACE session

The human rights situation in Georgia's occupied territories will be discussed at the spring session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

A Georgian parliamentary delegation is currently in Strasbourg.

The main topic of discussion at the Assembly session will be the situation in Europe and the issue of migration. Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland, Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks and Swedish Minister for Justice and Migration Morgan Johansson will participate in the debates.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will discuss the success and challenges in the fight against terrorism in Europe.

Members of the Assembly will discuss the political and humanitarian steps that are to be taken in response to the migration crisis and integration of migrants.