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The News in Brief

Friday, June 8
Freedom House categorizes Georgia as "transitional"

A Freedom House report has categorized Georgia as a Transitional Government or Hybrid Regime.

The Nations in Transit 2012 report, published Wednesday, is Freedom House’s comprehensive, comparative study of democratic development in 29 countries across Eurasia.

The US-based organization found that those countries which achieved the greatest democratic success since the end of the Cold War "are now displaying serious vulnerabilities in their young democratic systems". Over the past five years, stagnation and backsliding has been evident in key governance indicators, particularly in new EU member states and the Balkans, the report says.

Georgia has an overall score of 4.82, on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being the most democratic).

It scores 5.00 in Electoral Process, 3.75 in Civil Society, 4.25 in Independent Media, 5.75 in National Democratic Governance, 5.50 in Local Democratic Governance, 5.00 in Judicial Framework and Independence, and 4.50 in Corruption.

Apart from Georgia, the group of Transitional Governments or Hybrid Regimes include Albania at 4.14, Bosnia and Herzegovina at 4.36, Ukraine at 4.82, and Moldova at 4.89. (IPN)

Saakashvili meets with Varketili residents

President Mikheil Saakashvili met with residents of Tbilisi's Varketili district Wednesday in order to sum up US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit and outline some of the government's upcoming plans.

Saakashvili said that the government is acting in accordance with the interests of Georgian society. He emphasized the importance of the new airport in Kutaisi, the construction of which will be concluded soon, as it will be able to offer flights to Europe at affordable prices.

The President discussed a new initiative regarding the Unified National Entrance Exams at the meeting, saying that students will no longer have to pass university entrance exams and they will be able to enroll in a institute of higher education with the marks they have after passing school certification tests.

Saakashvili also answered questions from the audience, most of which referred to reforms in the education sector and infrastructure projects for Varketili. (Rustavi 2)

Clinton emphasizes "strong institutions" over "strong people"

US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton spoke about the importance of the upcoming elections in Georgia and the need to establish strong institutions for democratic development, in an interview with the Georgian Public Broadcaster.

Journalist Eka Kvesitadze spoke with the Secretary about her impressions of the country during her visit.

"I have met a lot of people working in the Georgian government and they are terrific; they are working hard, producing results, they are changing the way things are done. I went to the public service hall here in Batumi. I was very impressed. So when [the government] is working that hard and [they] are seeing things change, [they] think, 'Well, people should vote for us and why is there any question in that?' But you can't ever think in a democracy that you have all the answers, that you are immune from either criticism or questions, which is why it is more important to establish strong institutions than strong people. What's most important in a sustainable democracy is that the institutions are strong. We want to see fair and free elections, where the Georgian people make the decision as to who they want to represent them. Then it's another step to build strong institutions that are going to carry Georgia into the future," Clinton said. (Rustavi 2)

Georgian delegation to take part in Asian investment forums

Starting tomorrow, a Georgian delegation is taking part in investment forums in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Seoul.

Investors from the three cities will attend a presentation about the investment and business climate in Georgia.

The Georgian delegation is led by the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Kakha Baindurashvili.

Representatives from Georgian companies will also have the opportunity to meet potential investors and partners. (IPN)

Georgians arrested in Spain on burglary charges

A gang of nine burglars has been detained by the Spainish police as a result of a dedicated sting, four of whom are Georgian nationals.

The suspects are accused of robbing fifty apartments in Cordoba.

The leader of the alleged gang, according to media reports, is a 29-year-old Georgian citizen.

Six members of the gang were responsible for burglaring homes, while the remaining three sold the stolen items. They are also accused of being involved in narco-trafficking. (Rustavi 2)

Worker dies in botched demolition

A tragic accident occurred in Tbilisi last night, when a construction worker carrying out the dismantling of a hospital died when a part of the building unexpectedly collapsed. Another worker was gravely injured in the accident.

Rescuers and patrol police arrived at the scene in time to transfer the second man to hospital (Rustavi 2)