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The News in Brief

Thursday, January 26
CDM leader urges int. community to save Georgian churches

One of the leaders of the Christian Democratic Movement of Georgia and a member of the Georgian delegation to the Council of Europe, Magda Anikashvili, has urged UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the international community at large to take action on the issue of destruction of Georgian churches in the breakaway region of Abkhazia.

In a speech to the Parliament of the Council of Europe, Anikashvili claimed that Georgian churches and other types of cultural heritage are being lost due to the Russian presence in former Georgian territories. She cited video evidence that the restoration efforts underway in the region are erasing Georgian frescos, icons, and other cultural artifacts.

"The best example of the violence is the so-called restoration conducted in the twelfth century Saint George Church in Ilori; the original face of the church is completely affected. This is an act against the Georgian and Abkhazian peoples. I hope you will make your efforts to save Georgia's unique cultural heritage, which is being sacrificed to Russia's imperial and political ambitions," Anikashvili said to an audience that included the Director General of UNESCO.

The issue of Georgian churches in Abkhazia was raised after cameraman from Georgian television station Rustavi2 captured film of the eight-hundred-year-old Ilori church, the original architecture of which has been altered. Damages to the Bedia Monastery have also been reported, including the loss of a fresco of King Bagrat III, along with ancient inscriptions. (Rustavi 2)

First phase of primary healthcare reform over

The first phase of a primary healthcare reform program in Georgia is complete. The project, funded by the European Union, ran from February 1, 2008 through the end of 2011. European organizations spent five million euro on health care system improvement, including investments in the development and modernization of laboratory infrastructure, the purchasing of modern equipment, and improved qualifications for medical personnel in the field of infectious diseases.

The Georgian government hopes to continue the work of the EU program. "Our goal is to construct a health care system similar to the European one - to make it of high quality and available for everyone. Therefore, cooperation with the European Union is of utmost importance for us," Minister of Health, Andria Urushadze, said. (Rustavi 2)

New prosecutorís office opened in Tbilisi

A new prosecutorís office opened in Tbilisi Wednesday. Chair of Parliament David Bakradze, Minister of Justice Zurab Adeishvili and Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava took part in the opening ceremony.

The ceremony was attended by the Moldovan Prosecutor General and Deputy Attorney General of Ukraine.

Among the invited guests were representatives of the executive and legislative branches of the central government, diplomatic missions to Georgia, and non-governmental organizations.

Bakradze congratulated the staff of the Tbilisi prosecutor's office on the opening of their new building, noting that 2011 had been a very important year for the agency.

The prosecutor's offices of Moldova and Georgia also signed a memorandum of cooperation. The document was signed by Georgian Chief Prosecutor, Murtaz Zodeleva, and the Prosecutor General of Moldova, Valery Zubko. The memorandum aims to enhance cooperation among prosecutors in the two countries. (Interpressnews)

Ten veteran pilots on hunger strike in front of presidential residence

Ten veteran pilots have gone on a hunger strike in front of the presidential residence.

They are demanding that the government adopt into law guaranteed pensions for pilots, as well as release veteransí compensation that has not been paid for years. According to the protestors, the Supreme Court of Georgia has ordered the current government to pay the above-mentioned compensation.

"We are not getting pensions. We are getting only compensation, which is not enough even for medicine. We are demanding that the government adopt a pension law for former pilots. We are not beggars; we are not begging for anything from the president. We are just demanding that the government care of us," one of the protestors told InterpressNews.

MP Dimitri Lortkipanidze and activist Lasha Chkhartishvili arrived in front of the presidential residence and expressed support for the veterans.

In response, Lortkipanidze demanded a meeting with representatives of the Presidentís Chancellery, a request that was granted Wednesday. (Interpressnews)

Caucasian Group of Helsinki restored

Anzor Abralava, Sandro Bregadze, Shalva Khachapuridze and 32 other politicians in power during the 1990s have announced a restoration of the Caucasian Group of Helsinki. The Helsinki Group is an international human rights organization, and its local office operated in Georgia during the national movement of the early nineties, under the leadership of Merab Kostava and Zviad Gamsakhurdia.

The group declared that within three months they will begin a new national liberalization movement, and intend to use "all methods" of political activity approved by the constitution. They say they are prepared to cooperate with any organization except the government. (Rustavi 2)