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The News in Brief

Wednesday, July 31
Saakashvili says Georgia must continue development

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said during his visit to Singapore, that everyone “must think how to improve the situation, stop the economic downturn, and strengthen the economic growth and development of Georgia."

Saakashvili recalled that this country was the poorest when it started its development; however, “the country just believed that everything can be achieved by making efforts and through discipline," he stressed. Talking of Georgia’s internal and external problems, he said “the economy was rapidly growing annually."

"If this development continues for 20-30 years, we will live better than Singapore. Perhaps, we will fail to catch up them in income, but it is possible in the general level of development. We must believe,” Saakashvili said, stressing that the country must continue development. (Trend)

Bedukadze sues Saakashvili

Former employ of the Gldani prison, Vladimer Bedukadze, whose name is tied with the unveiling of the torture and sexual abuse of prisoners by releasing videos, sued the President of Georgia. Bedukadze and his attorney have already filed a lawsuit against President Mikheil Saakashvili at Tbilisi City Court. The scandalous figure says he will demand redress of moral abuse from the president, who called him a criminal during one of his speeches.

Bedukadze obtained videos of prisoners` torture, fled to Europe and released them in September 2012. The prison scandal ruined the ratings of the National Movement Party, assisting the Georgian Dream in defeating the UNM. Bedukadze was arrested after his return, but a few months ago he was freed of all charges under the decision of Chief Prosecutor. (Rustavi 2)

Georgia’s ambassador to US meets Committee of NATO PA

Georgia's ambassador to the US, Archil Gegeshidze, took part in an event organized by the Defense and Security Committee of the NATO Parliament Assembly initiated by the Congressman Michael Turner. Georgia's Foreign Ministry reported that Gegeshidze talked about NATO's expansion, the prospects of Georgia joining the alliance, the priorities of Georgia's foreign policy course and internal processes in the country, during his speech at the event.

As the chairman of NATO's Defense and Security Committee, Hiver Meserau noted that the information provided by the ambassador was extremely useful for the members of the Committee. (Trend)

Minister Subari comments on the recent hunger strike at jail

Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance of Georgia, Sozar Subari, said the implementation of the demands of prisoners on hunger strike is beyond the ministry’s authority.

“Their demands concern the principle of accumulating sentences, this is the prerogative of the court and we cannot interfere in it. They demand to meet with MPs. As far as I know, MPs are going to meet with them, therefore, this demand is being considered. In addition, they have claims regarding the early conditional release. The Early Release Board is an independent body, which includes the self-government body, representative of the council of Justice, representatives of NGOs and they have clear criteria that they follow in making decisions,” said the minister, stressing that they control each prisoner’s health condition. Subari asked the lawyers and parents of those prisoners who are on hunger strike to call on the inmates, especially those whose health condition is poor, to stop the hunger strike, as this action may follow severe results.

About 30 prisoners are on hunger strike in Rustavi # 17 Penitentiary facilities; however, the minister says that the number on hunger strike in penitentiary facilities has reduced. (Front News)

Georgia’s Minister of Health to conduct number of meetings in USA

Georgian Minister of Labor, Health and Social Affairs David Sergeenko has left for the USA on a three-day official visit. Sergeenko will meet with American congressmen, the heads of the National Health Institute, the National Cancer Institute, the Food and Drug Administration, as well as Johns Hopkins University, Emory University and the Pittsburgh School of Medicine, the Ministry reported on Tuesday.

In particular, the minister will meet with Congressman Ami Bera, who has worked on health care access issues and the improvement of health care quality for over 20 years.

During the meetings, prospects for development of concrete directions of Georgian-American relations will be discussed. The consultations on holding a national oncology conference in Georgia are being conducted at the US National Cancer Institute. The Institute is ready to provide technical assistance to Georgia to assess the situation in the place in accordance to modern standards. During the visit, Sergeenko will conduct consultations on issues related to health service management and the control of medicine quality. (Trend)

Parliament moves to further tighten agriculture land regulations

Less than a month after imposing a temporary ban on the sale of agricultural land to foreigners for the next seventeen months, the Parliament passed on July 29 with its first reading a bill suspending change of status of agriculture land plots to non-agriculture for the same period of time.

Change of status till December 31, 2014 will only be possible in case of “urgent necessity” after proper evaluation and decision by the government, according to the bill, sponsored by two Georgian Dream lawmakers Gigla Agulashvili and Zurab Tkemaladze.

These two MPs were also behind the proposal imposing a ban on sale of agriculture land plots to foreign nationals and foreign companies until December 31, 2014.

One of the major goals of this recent bill, according to its sponsors, is to close loophole which allows bypassing temporary ban of sale of agriculture land to foreigners by changing status of such land plots to non-agricultural.

MP Agulashvili, who chairs parliamentary committee for agriculture, said number of applications from citizens requesting change of status of agricultural land increased after the temporary ban on sale of agriculture land to foreigners was enforced on July 17.

Like imposing moratorium on the sale of agriculture land to foreigners, the UNM also condemned this recent bill as a populist move, which would harm the economy and investment climate of the country. (Civil.Ge)