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The News in Brief

Friday, March 22
Constitutional Amendments Adopted

Later last evening the constitutional amendment initiated by the ruling Georgian Dream was adopted by the parliament with 135 votes by the first hearing. Prior to this voting a test voting took place which showed that the ruling force had only 93 votes while the amendment needed 100 votes. (The Messenger)

US Ambassador Meets Georgian Lawmakers

U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland spoke about US-Georgian relations during a closed-door meeting with lawmakers from the Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs and then also met separately with UNM leader Davit Bakradze and Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili on March 21st. The US diplomat said he was in Parliament upon the invitation of the Foreign Affairs Committee to discuss bilateral US-Georgian cooperation. Norland stressed in his remarks after the meetings with Georgian lawmakers that his main message was that U.S. cooperation with Georgia “is going to continue regardless of who is… in power either in the United States or in Georgia.” He also thanked Georgia for its "strong partnership" including in mission in Afghanistan. (Civil.Ge)

EU advises Georgia not to expect miracles from the Vilnius Summit - Philip Dimitrov

The EU advises Georgia not to expect miracles from the Vilnius summit, EU Ambassador to Georgia Philip Dimitrov said on Thursday adding this will be a good chance for making assessments of Georgia’s efforts for the last four years. "Such events pay more attention to drawbacks that need improvement. However, progress might also be noted at the event." Dimitrov said. He said these estimations are important in terms of future development in each country, which is treated and reviewed on an individual basis. According to Dimitrov, countries which are perceived as managing well and doing fine usually get an appraisal. (IPN)

Georgian-American joint defense exercise "Agile Spirit" in Vaziani

On March 20th participants of the Georgian-American joint defense exercise Agile Spirit 2013 underwent shooting preparation. This practical exercise involved automatic weapons, handheld anti-tank grenade launchers, machine guns, heavy machine gun-grenade launchers and mortars.

Shooting exercises are scheduled to be followed by tactical training; joint conclusive training will conclude the exercise. The tactical training will see service personnel carry out operations similar to those facing ISAF forces in Afghanistan.

The active phase of Agile Spirit 2013 began on March 18th and is scheduled to conclude on March 29th, while training will last until April 5. (Georgian News TV)

Gigi Ugulava: “I will be charged with some other offense”

"I will be charged with some other offense." Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava told "Pirveli Radio". Ugulava speculated that he will be charged with another offense before the UNM's rally in Tbilisi, scheduled for April 19th. "The government is in panic about this date. I will talk about these issues, when they charge me.” Ugulava said. (Front News)

Ghachava, Kodua and Chocheli to pay bail

Tbilisi Civil Court has given 600,000 GEL bail to businesswoman Laura Ghachava and her son Davit Kodua and given 300,000 GEL bail to Cezar Chocheli. All three individuals are suspected of supporting Cartu Bank's bankruptcy scheme. According to the Prosecutor's Office, Ghachava, Kodua and Chocheli all made and used false documents and misappropriated large amounts of money. A pretrial hearing will be held on May 2nd. (Front News)

Asian Development Bank to allocate 48 million dollars for Georgia

An agreement will be signed between the Asian Development Bank and Georgia today, the Finance Ministry told InterpressNews. The Bank will allocate the money for further development and improvement of electrical infrastructure. The document will be signed by Georgian Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri and the Vice President of the Asian Development Bank. (InterpressNews)

Political activist released under amnesty visits Parliament

Vahagan Chakhalyan, a political activist for the Javakhki organization, arrived at Parliament in Wednesday. Ruslan Pogosiyan, deputy chair of the Committee on Human Rights, said that Chakhaliyan arrived at Parliament to answer certain questions. Georgian Dream and UNM members on the Human Rights' Committee were aware of the Armenian activist's visit to the legislative body. Chakhaliyan, who is ethnically Armenian, was released on January 26, 2013 under the large-scale amnesty adopted by Parliament. He was sentenced in 2009 for illegal purchase of weapons and engagement in organized armed harassments. (Rustavi 2)