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Compiled by Messenger Staff
Friday, August 30
Former prison minister: ‘I didn’t know about abuse until October 2012?

Former government minister Dimitry Shashkin returned to Georgia on Wednesday to answer questions about abuse that occurred in Georgian prisons.

Shashkin was among many officials in the former government who fled the country after the United National Movement’s election defeat in 2012. He served as prison minister from 2009 to 2010, and later as education minister and defense minister. On August 16th, the Georgian prosecutor's office requested that Shashkin return to Georgia for questioning about his role in the abuse of prisoners.

Arriving at Tbilisi Airport (some days ago), Shashkin said he was willing to go to the Prosecutor's Office and answer questions if asked. The Prosecutor’s Office has claimed that beating, torture and mistreatment of prisoners took place in almost every prison in Georgia during the previous government. According to the Prosecutor's Office, guards systematically tortured prisoners every day, using different means and methods, in cells and in open prison areas. The Prosecutor's Office has reported hundreds of cases of torture and found that abuse was not stopped by the authorities at the time, despite regular warnings in the annual ombudsman's reports, and by local and international organizations and the media. Shashkin has denied having had knowledge of prison abuse before a series of video clips were leaked by a former prison guard ahead last year's parliamentary elections. Shashkin has cited the resignation of two ministers shortly afterwards as evidence that the previous government took responsibility for what occurred. Shashkin’s successor, Khatuna Kalmakhelidze, has also denied having known about the widespread abuse in Georgian prisons under her watch.

The Council of Europe wrote after a visit in February 2010 that many inmates at Ksani prison reported being beaten by guards. The same was true about Geguti prison, where there also were many who said they had been beaten with truncheons, which Georgian prison guards are not supposed to carry. Prison officials at Geguti denied that presence and use of truncheons.

Georgia hosting conference on seismic activity in the Caucasus

Online media reads that an international conference opened in Tbilisi on Thursday. The conference is being organized by the Institute for the Study of Earth of Ilia Chavchavadze State University.

According to a university statement, the National University of Taiwan, the Department of Geological Sciences and Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation is carrying out an international scientific and practical conference called "Active Tectonics of the Caucasus, Magnetism and Natural Hazards and Resources" from August 29th to September 3rd.

The purpose of the event is the presentation of the latest research on tectonic activity in the region, including new methods for forecasting earthquakes.

The main conference sessions will be held at the University from August 29th to 31st. A scientific and practical field seminar will be organized in Stepantsminda on from September 1st-3rd.