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The News in Brief

Monday, March 23
Rugby triumph: Georgia wins European Nations Cup

Georgia's national rugby team are the 2015 European Nations Cup champions.

The team defeated Romania 15-6 in Bucharest on March 21.

The tough game saw the lead change numerous times but the Georgian side came out on top and won the trophy, for the eighth time.

Today’s result saw the Georgians win all of their five games in this championship.

The winner of this match, apart from being this year's European Nations Cup champion, gained theAntim Cup. This cup is annually contested between the rugby union teams of Romania and Georgia. It is named after the Romanian Orthodox Metropolitan Anthim the Iberian, who came from Georgia.

The Antim Cup is contested each time Georgia and Romania meet in a senior international match other than World Cup matches or qualifiers. The holder retains the cup unless the challenger wins the match in normal time.

The current holder was Georgia, who defeated Romania 22-9 on March 15, 2014 in Tbilisi.

NBA record: Georgian player Pachulia grabs 18 offensive rebounds

The captain of Georgia’s national basketball team, Zaza Pachulia, has cemented a name for himself in world basketball history after he grabbed 21 rebounds in an NBA match on Friday.

Pachulia, who plays centre for Milwaukee Bucks, grabbed a phenomenal 18 offensive rebounds against the Brooklyn Nets, adding three defensive rebounds, 22 points, seven assists and one steal in 40 minutes.

His efforts were tied for the third most offensive rebounds since the NBA kept track of that statistic, and was the most offensive rebounds any player had grabbed in a game in the league history in the 21st century.

Moreover, this game was first time a player had more than 20 points and 20 boards with at least seven dimes since 2004 (Kevin Garnett).

Pachulia, 31, has played at the NBA, the world’s premier men's professional basketball league, since 2003.

Latvian Foreign Ministry responds to signing of agreement between Russia and South Ossetia

The Latvian Foreign Ministry has responded to the recent signing of the so-called agreement on alliance and integration between Russia and South Ossetia by releasing a statement.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs regards the so-called “Treaty on Alliance and Integration” which was signed on 18 March between the Russian Federation and Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia following the previous “Agreement on Alliance and Strategic Partnership” as yet another destructive step that has a negative impact both on finding a solution to the conflict, regional security and stability in general.

Russia is yet again refusing to abide by its international commitments and violating international law. The sides should refrain from unilateral and provocative actions of this kind and go forward with discussions in the Geneva format to seek sustainable solutions.

Latvia will continue supporting Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders,”- reads the statement.

Tbilisi City Court Acquits UNM MP

The Tbilisi City Court acquitted on Friday opposition UNM lawmaker, Roland Akhalaia, of exceeding official powers charges stemming from two separate cases from the time when he served as chief prosecutor in western Georgian region of Samegrelo in 2009.

Prosecutor’s office filed charges against MP Akhalaia last year, claiming that he forced relatives of an accused persons transfer on an account of a private firm GEL 150,000 in one case and GEL 60,000 in another case in exchange of plea bargaining deals when serving as chief prosecutor in Samegrelo.

When announcing acquittal verdict on March 20, judge Davit Mgeliashvili said that during the trial a person, who was regarded by the prosecution as a “victim”, told the court that she was not forced by Akhalaia to transfer money and did it upon her own will. The judge also said that the prosecution failed to present any evidence backing its allegation that the “state interests were infringed” in these cases.

“It was a political persecution by the current authorities. I knew that not guilty verdict was inevitable in case of a fair trial. Although there possibly was a pressure, the judge resist it,” MP Akhalaia told journalists after the verdict was delivered.

Prosecutor Archil Tkeshelashvili said that the verdict will be appealed in the higher court.

Roland Akhalaia, a majoritarian MP from the Zugdidi single-mandate constituency, is father of former prison chief and ex-defense minister Bacho Akhalaia, who was sentenced to 7.5 years in jail last year; Roland Akhalaia’s other son, former senior interior ministry official, Data Akhalaia, is wanted by the Georgian law enforcement agencies.