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The News in Brief

Monday, February 29
Georgia still aspires to become a NATO – President

The National Security Council discussed the issues related to the new structure of the Armed Forces.

As InterpressNews was told by the presidential administration, reports were delivered at the session by Defence Minister Tina Khidasheli and Chief of the General Staff Vakhtang Kapanadze. `

“We talked about the country's important issues, such as the structure of the military. We have established a new structure, according to which there will be two commands divided into East and West. We also talked about the very clear and firm position that we have with respect to NATO's upcoming summit and Georgia’s integration with NATO.

“Our position and message are very clear. Georgia still aspires to become a NATO member and we are preparing for the forthcoming summit,” the President said after the meeting.

Georgian Islamic State suspect prevented from recruitment activity

Aiup Borchashvili admits links to Umar ash-Shishani, but denies direct involvement in recruiting people to fight in Syria and Iraq.

Telavi District Court heard Aiup Borchashvili in the case of providing support to the Islamic State.

36-years-old Mr Borchashvili is a former imam of the mosque in the village of Joqolo in Pankisi Gorge. Over the course of the investigation he admitted that he gave money to three young men, so that they could go to Turkey in order to finance their religious education — not so that they could travel to Syria. The men were arrested in Tbilisi before they managed to leave the country.

The three men’s names are Giorgi Khutunishvili, Davit Pirisebia, and Giorgi Kuprava. Like Mr Borchashvili, they are accused of breaching article 328 of the Criminal Code of Georgia: ‘Association with or assisting the activities of a foreign terrorist organisation of a terrorist organisation subjected to control of a foreign country’.

Mr Borchashvili again rejected claims that he had a connection with the departure of two young men to Syria. 16-years-old Muslim Kushtanashvili and 18-years-old Ramzan Baghakashvili have been reported to have joined the Islamic State in 2015. Mr Borchashvili explained that he refused to assist the men’s departure, yet he agreed to accept baya (‘pledge of alliance’) [to the Islamic State] from them.

Mr Borchashvili pointed out that at one point he visited Syria where he met his relative Tarkhan Batirashvili — a field commander at the Islamic State, widely known by his nom de guerre Abu Omar Shishani, or Abu Omar the Chechen.

‘Aiup said that he went to Syria in order to verify certain information about local groups that had been in circulation; who fought against whom, who had what kind of orientation. However, he doesn’t take responsibility for sending people to Syria,' Gela Nikoleishvili, the defendant’s lawyer told ICK.

The court will continue Mr Borchashvili’s hearing on 4 March.

Mr Borchashvili is accused of being a representative of the Islamic State in Georgia and assisting the departure of Georgian citizens to Syria and Iraq. He faces up to 17 years in prison.
(DF watch)

United National Movement party sends list of uninvestigated cases to PM

The United National Movement opposition party has sent a list of uninvestigated and high-profile cases to Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili.

As the party’s political secretary Akaki Minashvili stated at today's briefing, there a total of 56 such cases, including 10 cases of murder or suspicious death, 5 cases of torture and inhuman treatment, 9 cases of beating, 5 cases of blackmail using personal information, 5 cases of illegal deprivation of liberty, 17 politically motivated crimes, 26 offenses committed by law enforcement officers.

"Yesterday, an armed attack was carried out in daylight against a political figure, and, unfortunately, after the 2012 elections, this is not the first time. We’ve witnessed Erosi Kitsmarishvili’s murder, attacks on Nugzar Tsiklauri, Chiora Taktakishvili and Giorgi Ghviniashvili.

“It is regrettable that since 2012 Georgia has turned into a gangster state, where the safety of political figures is not protected and citizens are even in a worse situation. This is the result of the anti-state policy of the Georgian Dream,” said Minashvili.

"When Giorgi Kvirikashvili was approved as PM, he said he would pay attention to the dozens of unsolved cases, but Kvirikashvili continues the practice of cheating the population. That is why we are sending a list of all the unsolved and uninvestigated cases to him,"- he noted.