The messenger logo

The News in Brief

Friday, May 31
New Parliamentary faction established

A new faction, called the Georgian Dream-Industrialists has been established within the Georgian Dream (GD) parliamentary majority group.

The new six-member faction is chaired by Gogi Topadze, founder of the Industrialist Party, which is part of the GD coalition. The faction also includes MPs Zurab Tkemaladze, Demur Basheleishvili, Tamaz Kacheishvili – all of whom became lawmakers on the GD party list; the new faction was also joined by two newly elected GD lawmakers, Paata Kiknavelidze and Giorgi Kakhiani, who won by-elections last month in Bagdati and Samtredia, both single-mandate constituencies.

The Industrialists faction is the sixth one within the GD parliamentary majority group meaning that each party of the coalition has its own faction in Parliament. Until now, the 86-member parliamentary majority group was represented by five factions: Georgian Dream; Georgian Dream-Free Democrats; Georgian Dream-Republicans; Georgian Dream-Conservatives and Georgian Dream-National Forum.

A parliamentary faction is a group of at least six MPs, which gives certain privileges to its members, including a seat and the right to vote in the Parliament’s Bureau (the body which determines the parliamentary sessions’ agenda), seats on committees, investigative and other ad hoc commissions and parliamentary delegations, as well as the allocation of more time during the debates and discussions in Parliament. (Civil.Ge)

Former police official detained on corruption charges

Georgia's former deputy chief of military police has been detained on corruption charges.

The Defense Ministry's press service said Malkhaz Bokhua was arrested on May 29th on suspicion of being involved in the misuse of some $300,000 of military police funds in 2012.

The Ministry's statement came hours after the prosecutor-general announced that additional charges against the former Prime Minister, Ivane Merabishvili had been filed. (RFE/RL)

President met with minority members in Kutaisi

The President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili met with the members of the parliamentary minority at the Kutaisi office of the United National Movement. The minority MPs said they discussed the situation in the country at the meeting, the issue of nominating a presidential candidate and the strategy of the party`s work in circumstances when the party’s Secretary General is arrested. (Rustavi 2)

Statement by Wilfried Martens

The signing of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement may be obstructed unless the situation in Georgia improves - the President of the European People’s Party, Wilfried Martens has posted on his micro-blog on Twitter. Wilfried Martens said the Ukraine might face the same problem if it fails to meet the requirements of the European Union, including the release of the former Prime Minister, Yulia Timoshenko. "Unless the EU conditions are met, including the release of Tymoshenko, the EU won’t show any last minute flexibility in signing the Association Agreement with the Ukraine," Wilfried Martens posted on Twitter. (Rustavi 2)

Georgia to host meeting of IMF, WB and Dutch Group Minance Ministers

From May 30th to June 1st, the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi, will host a meeting of finance ministers and heads of the central banks of member countries of the Dutch Group as well as representatives from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB), which includes Georgia. Delegations from 15 countries are expected to arrive in Georgia, the Minister for Finance Nodar Khaduri said on Thursday. "It will be a very important event which will show Georgia and the Georgian economy to the world," Khaduri explained. (Trend)

Minister Gharibashvili says the situation is under control in Georgia

Despite the prison amnesty, the situation is under control, Interior Minister, Irakli Gharibashvili said in Brussels. He explained that since January, the crime rate has dropped in the country. "We have heard a lot of speculation regarding the rise in crime. This is not the truth . The crime rate has dropped by 30%. Nobody was aware of this fact, because nobody was shouting it out. After we came to power, we carried out systematic changes, reorganized the system and employed new staff. Four new departments were established which took approximately 3-4 months. Since January, the rate of crime began to decline. I can say with pride that despite the amnesty, which saw the release of 11,000 prisoners, the situation remains under control".

In addition, the Interior Minister said that from October to December the crime rate increased slightly, but he said it was qualified by "a number of factors and causes".

"Firstly, the police and the Interior Ministry were highly politicized during the election campaign period. The police's main concern was the elections. The whole Interior Ministry was paralyzed and demoralized," said the Minister. (IPN)

Better Visa System for More Visitors

Last week, the Ambassador of Italy to Georgia, H.E. Mrs. Federica Favi held a press conference regarding the Embassy’s new visa issuing service. Between 2006 and 2013, the Italian Embassy faced a huge increase in the number of visa applications. Last year, there were about 8,000, and the latest figures show that in the first five months of 2013, visa requests from Georgian citizens increased by 106.7%. The Visa Management Service (VMS) located on Rustaveli 27, is a renowned Italian company, legally registered in Georgia. They manage a huge amount of Italian visas. They take care of all the procedures, but the decision to issue the visa remains the prerogative of the Italian Embassy. Within a maximum of ten days the applicant can obtain a visa. Of course, VMS charges a fee for its services (i.e. information, appointments, collecting documentation, returning passports, etc..), but it is not expensive – just 63 GEL – very affordable for travellers . The price of a short term visa does not change: it remains 77 GEL. (Georgian News TV)

Salome Korkotashvili impresses New Orleans festival

The singer, Salome Korkotashvili drew attention during a New Orleans festival in the United States, where she was among those listening to a Bolton Brothers gospel band show. One of the band members went down to the audience during the concert to ask listeners to sing, and Salome's rendition prompted the band member to ask her about her origins. (Georgian News TV)