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The News in Brief

Wednesday, April 3
Georgia changes laws for entering occupied territories

Georgia has changed its penalty for those who enter its breakaway regions without proper procedures prescribed by the law on occupied territories. Violating this law for the first time will entail administrative sanctions, not criminal persecution and imprisonment as it is now.

Parliament is currently reviewing amendments on the law on occupied territories adopted by Saakashvili government after the Russia-Georgia war of 2008. According the law, if a person enters Abkhazia or South Ossetia without formal permission from Georgian authorities they will be fined at least GEL 2,000 or imprisonment for up to 4 years. According to the amendments, if a person crosses the border illegally for the first time they will be fined GEL 400, while repeated violations are still a criminal offense posing up to 1 year of imprisonment or a minimum GEL 800 fine. There were multiple cases when people, mostly tourists, visiting Abkhazia or South Ossetia and when afterwards they arrived to Georgia proper, they were detained and sometimes jailed. (DFwatch)

Russian specialists to inspect 35 Georgian companies

The representatives of Russia`s Consumer Watchdog will start inspection at 35 Georgian companies that are producing wine and mineral waters. The monitoring will last a whole week and the experts will inspect the quality of the products and hygienic norms in all the companies on their list. While Russian experts are inspecting Georgian companies, Georgian experts will be holding meetings in Moscow. This time the negotiations will be held regarding the return of agriculture products to the Russian market. (Rustavi 2)

TI has different viewpoint on formation of GPB Board of Trustees

International Transparency Georgia (TI) believes that competition for membership of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) Board of Trustees must be announced by order from Chairman of Parliament instead of the President and candidates must submit applications to the permanent commission formed in Parliament.

Parliament is currently discussing the draft law on the given issue developed by the Coalition for Media Advocacy, according to which the composition of the Board changes completely. Despite the fact that TI is a member of the Coalition for Media Advocacy it does agree with certain articles of the draft law and publishes the new version.

TI states that the GPB has been underperforming in many aspects. The board has failed to exercise sufficient financial oversight; it has not been able to promote programming that would send a clear message that the GPB only serves the public and not political interests; and it has not ensured that its staff is protected from undue outside influence. (Media.Ge)

CIPDD Announces Grants Contest to Promote Media

On April 1 the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development (CIPDD), with GEL 800,000 received from the President’s reserve fund, announced another contest to Promote the Civil Sector and Independent Media in Georgia. The application deadline is April 12, 12:00 pm. For the new contest the fund allocated up to GEL 200,000. GEL 40,000 is the maximum the organizations can receive as a funding. The contest winner shall start the implementation of the project from May until December 31, 2013.

The key priorities for the selection of contest winners remain the same – the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development will give priority to the involvement of citizens and the development of online media when issuing grants. Ghia Nodia discussed the priorities of the organization in the course of the January 8, 2103 press conference. (Media.Ge)

Merabishvili: 'Political situation will drastically change'

UNM secretary general, Vano Merabishvili, said on April 1 that political situation in the country “will drastically change” on April 19 when the UNM plans to hold an outdoor rally on Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi.

“The United National Movement exists, it struggles and on April 19, the Georgian people will learn lots of news; April 19 will bring many people lots of surprises and news. Political situation will drastically change on April 19,” Merabishvili said without elaborating on the details.

Asked if the UNM would announce at the rally its presidential candidate for the October elections, Merabishvili responded: “You will learn more interesting news than that.”

He made the remarks in Bagdati, a town in Imereti region, where he campaigned on April 1 in support of the UNM’s candidate in MP by-elections scheduled for April 27. (

17, 781 families remain without social assistance

Head of Social Service Agency (SSA), Noe Kinkladze, said based on the information of the Revenue Service, that 17, 781 families had their social protection suspended. Kinkladze said 2, 721 families have addressed the SSA with the request to restore their assistance. Kinkladze said these families will be restored their status, but added that there are additional 30 families with suspiciously high scores to be included in the list of socially vulnerable. (IPN)

Population census to be conducted in Georgia in 2014

The Governmental Coordination Commission for Census led by the Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili discussed and approved the idea of conducting the general population census in Georgia in 2014. (IPN)

Tbilisi's young wine festival date announced

The fourth festival of young wine will take place in Tbilisi on May 11.

Wine companies and individual producers will contribute to the annual event, which last year attracted about 15, 000 visitors. Wine Club and the Municipality of Tbilisi are the organizers of the festival. According to them, in 2013 there will be more individual producers represented at the festival.

The usual site of the open-air festival is the Ethnographic Museum in Tbilisi. (Hvino News)