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The News in Brief

Monday, November 25
Georgian soldiers celebrate Saint George’s Day in Afghanistan

Military servicemen participating in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan celebrated Saint George’s Day. According to the Ministry of Defence, the soldiers of the 31st and Batumi Separate Light Infantry Battalions of the Georgian Armed Forces held a ceremony on the base “Leatherneck”. Chaplain of the 31st Battalion, Father Avtandil conducted the liturgy. The chaplain also held a special prayer in the memory of Georgian soldiers fallen for Georgian territorial integrity and in the ISAF mission. Following the religious servicemen the reception was held among the staff of the 31st Battalion. Soldiers and Commanders of the coalition forces of the Regional Command South-West attended the ceremony. Georgian soldiers delivered a presentation on the importance of Saint George for the Georgian army to the foreign guests. During the event, the soldiers of different countries held a competition in wrestling, wheel rolling and lifting heavy things. The winning soldierswere awarded with symbolic presents and certificates.

151 prisoners let out early on Saint George’s Day

151 prisoners were let out of jail on Saturday, after a session of the prison ministry’s Pardon Commission held at the women’s facility in Rustavi, 20 km away from the capital.

The commission discussed 700 applications for reduced sentence or converting the sentence into community service.

The commission gave a positive recommendation in 151 of the cases, 13 out of whom are women and one is a minor. Seven prisoners had their sentence replaced by community service.

Deputy Prison Minister Giga Giorgadze told Interpressnews that the commission has taken into consideration the applicants’s family conditions and the risk of repeat violations.

Among the applications were some cases of prisoners who committed severe crimes. They were turned down after the commission investigated the conditions during which the crime was committed.

On Saturday, November 23, Georgia marked Saint George Day. It is a tradition to pardon prisoners on religious holidays or other special dates. Before leaving office, former President Mikheil Saakashvili pardoned more than 250 prisoners. Many of them are former government officials, including Bacho Akhalaia, a former defense minister, who remains in detention awaiting trial in another case.
(Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Georgia gets new military chairman

Vakhtang Kapanadze has been appointed as Chairman of the Joint Staff of Georgia’s armed forces, replacing Irakli Dzneladze. Who should take over as head of the Joint Staff was subject of a conflict between ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili and the new government after Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream coalition won the parliamentary election.

Georgian Dream formed a new government and soon detained Giorgi Kalandadze, the former head of the Joint Staff, a decision which the National Movement criticized the government for.

Saakashvili then appointed Colonel Irakli Dzneladze to the post, after agreeing with Defense Minister Irakli Alasania, although it was not strictly required to agree with the government the appointment.

The agreement was rather formal, and in fact was an example of the so-called cohabitation, a precarious cooperation between Saakashvili’s and Ivanishvili’s staunchly opposing political blocs. Alasania at the time supported the candidacy of General Vakhtang Kapanadze as head of the Joint Staff, a former deputy head of the body who served as head for six months in 2004.

On Friday, he was back in this post and was also promoted to the rank of Major General.

Former and new heads of the Joint Staff, together with defense minister, met with President Giorgi Margvelashvili and Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili. After meeting they visited the Fourth Brigade of Georgia’s armed forces at Vaziani military base.
(Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Turkish, Georgian presidents have telephone conversation

The presidents of Georgia and Turkey had a telephone conversation. Turkish President, Abdullah Gul congratulated his Georgian counterpart, Giorgi Margvelashvili on his victory in the presidential election.

The Georgian presidential administration said on November 22 that the sides discussed Georgian-Turkish relations and the prospects for their development.

Abdullah Gul invited Giorgi Margvelashvili to visit Ankara. The Georgian president welcomed the offer, noting that the visit will take place in the near future

Pshav-Khevsureti mountains to become protected area

The mountainous Pshav-Khevsureti region in the northeast of Georgia is to be made a protected area. This is a historical region and remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. The environment committee in parliament has proposed granting the region the status as protected area and will present a legislative draft about the issue in a week.

Committee Chair Giorgi Tsagareishvili said this Friday, and added that the area also is a strategically important zone, which borders with the Russian Federation.

He said that Georgia has received a 9 million Euro grant by the assistance of its German partners and after Pshav-Khevsureti is made into a protected area about 50 persons will get employment there.

Tsagareishvili said he thinks the decision is the perfect way to save Pshav-Khevsureti.
(Democracy & Freedom Watch)

UNESCO marks anniversary of Georgian poet Tsereteli

UNESCO has placed the 100 year anniversary of the death of Georgian poet Akaki Tsereteli on a list of important events in 2014-2015. Tsereteli was born in 1840 and died in 1915 and is considered the best Georgian poet of this period. He was also a writer, publicist and one of the leaders of the National Liberation Movement.

According to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, UNESCO’s 37th General Conference confirmed the strategy, program and budget of the organization for the period 2014-2021. During the election part of the conference, Georgia was selected as a member of the inter-governmental committee on bioethics for a second term for 2013-2017.

The General Conference approved a list of important dates which will be marked in 2014-2015 with the support and participation of UNESCO.
(Democracy & Freedom Watch)