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Compiled by Liana Bezhanishvili
Wednesday, February 3
Citizens of Gali and Akhalgori deny forced passportisation

Rezonansi writes that the Georgians of Gali and Akhalgori are categorically denying that people there are being forced to take Russian passports. “In general there is no talk about people taking Russian passports. We are very interested in why the Government needs these lies,” said a citizen of Akhalgori. The Georgians still living on the occupied territories say that such irresponsible statements from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs put them in danger.

Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Nino Kalandadze had said on Monday that the treaty signed between Moscow and the occupied regions on visa free travel between them was a cynical exercise. "The whole world knows that Moscow is giving Russian passports to people in the occupied territories. In some cases this is being done forcefully, against the will of the local population. This is one more piece of obvious evidence that Russia is violating international norms.” Rezonansi therefore decided to investigate this claim. It found that there was talk of Abkhazian passports being distributed but not Russian ones. A resident of the Gali region village of Otobaia said, "There are 3,000 citizens here and only 20 have Abkhazian passports. First people must get Abkhazian passports, then those who would wish can take Russian passports.”

The information that passports are being forced on people is false, the newspaper believes. On the contrary, the locals very much want Russian passports but have not been given them. The locals have not seen anyone being given a Russian passport or told they must take one. False information is being disseminated for the ears of foreigners, but the Government does not think that it could put the locals in danger.

Asanidze: I might go to Ukraine on 7 February

Kviris Palitra reports that National Movement MP Giorgi Asanidze has stated: "It was necessary for the Georgian observers to go to Ukraine. If it were not for the conflict between the candidates the Georgian observers in Ukraine would not have had any problems. It may be that on 7 February I will go to Ukraine too. We do not support a particular candidate, we support the Ukrainian people."

Remarking on other issues, Asanidze continued: "Russia has occupied Georgian territory and before it leaves it would be unacceptable for the Georgian public to make any concessions to Russia. However the opposition are so weak that they have chosen to collaborate with Russia because they see no other way of coming to power.

"The Mayor must use his resources to ensure that Tbilisi is well-constructed and comfortable. I want the Georgian President to be chosen by the Georgian people and if they choose Gigi Ugulava I will not be against this.”

David Zurabishvili – Elections are the only way the Government can be removed

‘The falsification of the elections was conditioned by the fact that the international community has closed its eyes to many things. Let’s remember the election of 2008, when Saakashvili was congratulated by the Presidents of various states before the polls closed. However today Saakashvili is almost out of the international political loop. There are certain international levers that can be used to influence him," Republican David Zurabishvili states in an interview with Akhali Taoba.

"Saakashvili has no hope that the people will elect his candidates and he does not care whether they support him. The final figures of the elections are essential for him. He needs foreign observers here to ‘justify’ the ones he presents. But it in the present international climate it is unlikely that they will do that. Therefore I believe that elections are the only way the Government can be removed. If Saakashvili uses the usual methods of falsification this will have serious consequences for both the country and himself," Zurabishvili says.

"The defeat of the Government is possible if there is a strong turnout. Otherwise it is practically impossible. If the opposition fail to mobilise people so that they go out and vote we will not be able to gain victory. If the public do not take part no one will come out into the streets if the results are falsified, but if the opposition manage to mobilise people and win the elections, people will certainly come out into the streets. Our goal is to persuade people that the elections are the way to remove the Government, so if they want the present Government to go they should participate in the elections," - David Zurabishvili states.

Asked whether it was not inevitable that the Government will win the elections with its colossal financial and administrative resources, Zurabishvili answers: "The Government will not be able to win Tbilisi. We do not mean we will win the whole of Georgia. The Government will fail to win Tbilisi due to the mood and high turnout of the Tbilisi electorate."