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The News in Brief

Friday, January 17
Prisoners to be pardoned for Epiphany

More than 60 prisoners will celebrate Epiphany with their families.

The State Pardon Commission has decided which inmates will be released.

The Head of the State Pardon Commission Alexander Elisashvili said among the 250 suitable applications for pardon, some were quite serious and included notorious cases where people were put in prison during the previous government. Some of these applications have been postponed for further discussion during the next stage of the pardon on March 3.

According to Public Defender and State Pardon Commission member Ucha Nanuashvili, some cases were so specific that the Commission was not able to make a decision. The commission considered every case individually.

"The majority of the discussed cases were regarding drugs,” Nanuashvili said. (Agneda.Ge)

Georgia denies claim Russian fighter jets flew over its territory

The government of Georgia rejects reports that Russian military jets recently violated Georgian airspace.

A few days ago, local media reported that five Russian SU-27s and one IL-76 crossed Georgia on January 10 and landed near the Armenian capital Yerevan.

Georgia’s Defense Ministry issued a short statement saying that it cannot confirm the case.

Russian military jets have never flown over Georgia since the war in 2008, but there have been cases when Russian transport planes have violated Georgia’s airspace.

The reports carried in the media claim that the Russian planes were on their way to Bahrain through Yerevan in order to participate in an air show, and after the show will return to a military airfield close to Moscow, allegedly returning again through Georgian airspace on January 20.

Giorgi Inauri, who works with military issues, tells daily newspaper Rezonansi that any violation of Georgian airspace must be followed by a reaction from the government. He says, in this specific situation, these jets cannot bring any harm, but the over flight is an insult.

“It turns out that Russia does not respect Georgia’s sovereignty even on the unoccupied 80 percent,” he says.

Giorgi Tavdgiridze, who also comments on military issues, thinks that these jets did not have any military goals and concerns about this case are groundless.

Russia used SU-27 jets during the 2008 war to control the airspace and deny the Georgian air force the use of its military jets. Su-27 were also used in 1992-1993 during military actions in Georgia’s breakaway region Abkhazia.

Russia has lost two such jets over Georgian territory: the first one crashed close to Sukhumi in March 1993, while the other one went down in the sea the same summer. (Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Secret letter: UNM expresses hope French government will release ex-Defense Minister

In a secret letter written by the members of United National Movement (UNM) expressed hope that French authorities would release for bail the ex-Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili, wanted in Georgia on multiple criminal charges including corruption and was detained in France on October 14 last year.

The letter was published in the Georgian newspaper Alia, the day after Alia released one more scandalous letter showed the former high official was the sole beneficial owner of the FPC Group, registered in an offshore zone. ( could not prove the authenticity of the letters.)

The letter reads that Kezerashvili’s current incarceration means, on a day to day basis, a significant disruption of the UNM’s ability to fund its political activities and to run for the upcoming local elections.

"Although we are hopeful that the French authorities will eventually deny the extradition request from Georgia as being politically grounded, we are concerned with Kezerashvili’s current incarceration and respectfully and adamantly submit that he should be set free, in accordance with French rule on bail, so as to allow the UNM to maintain its political activities,” reads the letter. (Agneda.Ge)

New restrictions on pharmaceutical medicines

Illegal abuse of pharmaceutical medicines has led to a major change in the health industry.

From January 24, new medicine restrictions will come into effect and certain over-the-counter drugs will only be sold with prescriptions.

The Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs released an updated list of restricted medicines, which are only available with a prescription.

Muscle relaxants and epileptic medicine are some of the drugs that were named on an updated list of restricted medicines. Narcotics, psychotropic substances, precursors and some psychoactive substances were already named as restricted substances.

Pharmaceutical drug abuse and inappropriate uses of medicines in non-therapy dozes was the reason behind the law change, the Ministry said.

"These illegal actions represent a serious threat to public health,” the Ministry said today.

The newly restricted drugs are already moderately controlled (classified in Group II) but will be reclassified into a group under strict control (Group I).

The changes will come into effect on January 24, 2014. (Agneda.Ge)

Body of Georgian ex-PM to be exhumed

The Prosecutor's Office of Georgia is to conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of the country's former Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili told journalists on January 16.

The Prosecutor's Office plans to exhume the body of the ex-premier and to use either a Swiss or Israeli laboratory to carry out a forensic medical examination, according to the prime minister.

"We have several variants both in Israel and Switzerland as alternatives," Garibashvili said.

It is planned to create a special commission on the circumstances of the case on the death of Zhvania, according to the prime minister.

After the Georgian Dream coalition came to power in Georgia in 2012, another investigation began into the death circumstances of Zhvania. His body was found on the night of February 3, 2005 at a secret address in Tbilisi. An accident was given as the cause of death. (Trend)