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The News in Brief

Friday, May 17
UN Under-Secretary General holds meetings in Georgia

UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Sven Alkalaj arrived in Georgia on May 16. Alkalaj met Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia Tamar Beruchashvili, the Foreign Ministry of Georgia told Trend on Thursday. The parties discussed issues of cooperation between Georgia and the UNECE in the areas of sustainable economic development, ecology and transport.

Beruchashvili and Alkalaj also discussed the prospects for future cooperation in these areas and discussed Environmental Protection Project EAP GREEN, implemented as part of the European Neighborhood Policy which promotes regional cooperation.

As part of his two-day visit, the UN official will also meet with Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili, Economy Minister Irakli Kvirikashvili, Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze and Environment Minister Khatuna Gogaladze and hold a meeting with the Georgian Statistics Service. (Trend)

Commission assesses damage in Kakheti

A special commission has been working in the disaster affected villages of the Kakheti Region until late last night to calculate the damage caused by the hail and windstorm that stuck the area earlier this week. According to preliminary calculations, over 2000 hectares of vineyards have been damaged; agricultural lands, infrastructure and roads were also affected.

Members of the commission say at least 250,000 GEL should be allocated to repair road infrastructure. However, studies of the damage are still underway. (Rustavi 2)

Georgian Patriarch addresses Tbilisi government

The Patriarch of Georgia has asked the Tbilisi Mayor`s Office to annul the permit issued for the LGBT rally on May 17th. The demonstration is organized by Identity NGO and aims at protecting the rights of LGBT persons in Georgia.

A senior clergyman read the statement of His Holiness at a briefing on Thursday which said that such demonstrations aim at forcing the interests of a small minority onto the majority instead of solving the problem of protecting their rights.

"Our citizens see the rights of the majority being violated and an abuse of their traditions, faith and mentality in all this." the statement says.

In addition, the Patriarch emphasizes that holding rallies when the country is mourning the deaths of three Georgian soldiers killed in Afghanistan is entirely unacceptable. (Rustavi 2)

Nino Burjanadze back in politics

Nino Burjanadze, leader of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia, has reentered the political sphere. During a meeting with members of her party at the Ozurgeti Democratic Involvement Center Burjanadze said that her party is beginning to become more active in political life. "The moratorium is over and we will participate in the presidential elections by all means. We will try to make our commitment to the country’s political life." Burjanadze said. (Rustavi 2)

Russia's Defense Minister visits Russian military base in Abkhazia

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu was in the breakaway region of Abkhazia on May 14th, where he visited the Russian military base at Gudauta.

Shoygu toured military infrastructure facilities there and "paid special attention to the living conditions of the servicemen at the military base", the Russian Ministry of Defense said.

The Russian Defense Ministry statement reported that Shoygu also toured "a parking lot, which is now under construction, designed for the deployment of existing and future military hardware."

Shoigu also visited the Russian military sanatorium in Gudauta.

Brussels-based think tank International Crisis Group said in its April report on Abkhazia that the 2008 war with Georgia allowed Russia "to greatly enhance its already considerable military presence" in the region. The think tank added that Russian investment in the development of its military infrastructure, including residential compounds for Russian military personnel in the breakaway region, "are clear signs Moscow plans to stay in Abkhazia indefinitely." (Civil.Ge)

69 candidates competing for Kutaisi Mayor’s post

Netgazeti reports that the process of receiving applications for the position of Kutaisi Mayor is over. Of 69 registered candidates 26 are female. Head of the Kutaisi election commission Tamaz Margvelashvili said the majority of the candidates are not residents of Kutaisi, but come from Tbilisi and various other regions. He said after the candidates' applications are checked the second round of the election will begin. The list of participants is still confidential; however the list will become public after the first session of the seven member election commission. (Netgazeti)

Non-parliamentary opposition to name a joint candidate

Non-parliamentary opposition parties are holding consultations to nominate a joint candidate for the presidential election, one of the leaders of the Christian Democratic Movement Levan Vephkhvadze has confirmed. He said Georgian Dream Giorgi Margvelashvili's chances of winning are very low and a second round of voting is inevitable. Vepkkhvadze thinks an oppositional candidate has a serious chance of winning in the second round

At the same time, the leader of another non-parliamentary opposition party Free Georgia, Kakha Kukava, has already discussed the possibility of presenting a joint candidate with several other parties. However, Kukava did not rule out joining a coalition with partner parties to nominate a joint candidate. (Rustavi 2)

Davitaia calls on Prime Minister to boycott Sochi Olympics

Leader of the European Democrats Party Paata Davitaia has called on the Prime Minister of Georgia not to attend the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. Opposition party leaders thinks that standing beside the leaders of Russia and the puppet regimes of Abkhazia and South Ossetia would be equivalent to recognizing the independence of Georgia`s breakaway Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions.

Paata Davitaia has also commented on the upcoming presidential elections. He expressed his disapproval of Georgian Dream candidate Giorgi Margvelashvili and said he would consult with other opposition parties to nominate a joint candidate for president. (Rustavi 2)