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The News in Brief

Thursday, February 16
Dozens of weather-related injuries reported

Thirty-two patients from rural areas were transferred to Tbilisi hospitals late last night – 30 suffered fractures, while two had frost-related injuries. Emergency centres are reporting that the fractures were caused by slips and falls on ice.

Two men were taken to hospitals from Kharagauli and Chumateleti. Their conditions are both critical, doctors say.

Twelve patients have been hospitalized for frostbite so far this year, and two have died. However, the number of frost-related injuries appears to be slowing, with no cases registered this week.

Those who cannot afford treatment or are homeless are able to spend the night at municipal asylums opened by the Tbilisi mayor's office last week. The asylums offer heat and free dinner. Approximately twenty people have accepted the offer so far.

Tbilisi City Hall has also offered to cover the medical expenses of any residents who injure themselves on icy streets. (Rustavi 2)

Ship with Georgian sailors on board marooned in Azov Sea

Two Georgian sailors, whose identities are unknown, have contacted their relatives asking for help. The vessel on which they serve is reportedly stuck in the Sea of Azov due to a lack of fuel.

Turkish, Azeri, and Ukrainian sailors are also on board. Currently, a rescue operation is underway, with an ice-cutter sent to deliver fuel. (Rustavi 2)

Manjgaladze: Government concerned about attempted attack on Israeli embassy

The government of Georgia is extremely concerned about the attempted car bombing of an Israeli embassy employee, and views the incident as a significant challenge to the country.

Presidential spokesperson Manana Manjgalaze released a statement on the presidential website, stating that the government condemns terrorism and will "use all resources to properly investigate the [incident]".

An explosive device was found on a vehicle belonging to a Georgian employee of the Israeli embassy on Monday. Law enforcement was able to defuse it before it went off. The case is being investigated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. (Interpressnews)

Israel may abolish visa for Georgians

Two influential ministers of the Israeli government have voiced an interest in abolishing the visa requirement for Georgian citizens.

The idea was floated at a meeting with Georgia's Minister of Sustainable Development and Economics, Vera Kobalia. The ministers agreed that establishing a visa-free regime would provide a stimulus for businesses in both countries to cooperate on joint projects, as well as facilitate tourism.

Kobalia also met with the Minister of Transport and Road Security, Israel Katz, to discuss growing competition in the aviation sector. (Rustavi 2)

Mandatory vaccination of domestic animals in Kakheti

The National Service for Food Safety, Veterinary and Plant Protection has begun mandatory vaccination of domestic animals in Kakheti region.

Due to cases of rabies reported in the villages of Chaduniani and Gurjaani, the Lagodekhi municipality has decided to vaccinate 750 cows, dogs, and cats. The vaccination will be conducted as part of a government anti-epizooty program.

The Service recommends that people vaccinate their domestic animals before they are infected. (Rustavi 2)

Samegrelo governor received largest bonus in 2011

Former Governor of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Zaza Gorozia, received the largest bonus of all the regional governors last year.

The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) reports that in the first two quarters of 2011, Gorozia received 22 125 GEL. The governors of Guria, Kakheti, Samtskhe-Javakheti, and Shida Kartli also received bonuses during that time, each amounting to 17 700 GEL.

In the same period, the Governor of Racha Lechkhumi received 11 800 GEL.

The administrations of Imereti, Mtskheta-Mtianeti, and Kvemo Kartli did not respond to requests from the IDFI to release financial information.

IDFI published publicly-available government information through their online project, “Public Information Database". (Interpressnews)

Minister for Diaspora to meet with heads of diplomatic missions

Georgian Minister for Diaspora Issues, Mirza (Papuna) Davitaia, will meet with representatives of various European missions in the State Chancellery Thursday.

Diplomats from Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Greece, as well as the head of the International Organization for Migration, have been invited to the meeting.

The Minister's goal is to introduce the government's priorities and plans for 2012, and to deepen cooperation with diplomatic missions in the area of migration and Diaspora. (Interpressnews)

Igrika accuses customs officers of damaging equipment

Representatives of the Igrika Television Company have accused Batumi customs officials of damaging their television equipment.

Igrika's Vladimir Khunadze says that their mobile television station arrived from Lithuania a week ago, but was held at customs for a few hours. After it was returned, they found the equipment had been damaged.

Igrika television is owned by the wife of opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili. (Rustavi 2)