The messenger logo

The News in Brief

Monday, July 25
PM says consultations still ongoing on appointment of next Defence Minister

PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili has denied media speculation that MP Irakli Sesiashvili and prison system minister Kakha Kakhishvili are being considered among possible candidates for defense minister’s position to replace Tina Khidasheli.

It was announced last week that two cabinet members from the Republican Party – Defence Minister Tina Khidasheli and State Minister for Reconciliation Paata Zakareishvili – would resign.

An MP from the ruling GDDG party, Irakli Sesiashvili - who chairs the parliamentary committee for defence and security - and prison system minister Kakha Kakhishvili were rumoured to be among potential candidates to replace Khidasheli.

“I cannot confirm these reports,” PM Kvirikashvili told journalists on July 20.

“Consultations are underway, but not with these two people. Sesiashvili is very valuable where he is now; he will probably be a majoritarian MP candidate [in one of the single-mandate constituencies]. Kakha Kakhishvili is a very good prison system minister and his experience is also valuable where he is now,” the PM said, but declined to name potential candidates he is considering for the defense minister’s position.

After the decision of the Republican cabinet members to resign, one of the leaders of the party, Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili, said on July 12 that although the parties of the GD ruling coalition decided to part ways and will run separately in the October 8 parliamentary elections, the Republican Party was ready to remain in the coalition government with the ruling GDDG party before the end of the elections. However, according to Usupashvili, this was not acceptable for the GDDG party and told the Republican Party cabinet members to either quit the Republican Party and remain in the government or resign from their cabinet posts. Unlike Khidasheli and Zakareishvili, the third Republican cabinet member, Minister of Environment Gigla Agulashvili, opted in favour of staying in the cabinet and subsequently quit the Republican Party.

Outgoing Defence Minister Khidasheli is expected to step down after her next official visit to the United States.

In Washington, where a meeting of working group on defence and security in frames of U.S.-Georgian strategic partnership was held on July 20, Khidasheli met officials from the Pentagon and the Department of State.

She said that terms of a memorandum signed between the U.S. and Georgia on July 6 during Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Tbilisi, were “discussed in detail.”

According to the memorandum on “deepening the defence and security partnership”, the U.S. pledges to support Georgia in its self-defence capabilities, including in areas ranging from defence acquisitions to enhanced information sharing.

“The Readiness Programme of Georgian Armed Forces will be a turning point, and the beginning of a fundamentally new era for the Georgian Armed Forces,” Khidasheli said, adding that the program would be fully active before the end of this year and its implementation would start from the beginning of next year.

Two rugby players among injured in deadly car crash in western Georgia

Two Georgian rugby players are among the injured after a deadly car crash in western Georgia in which three people died and four were injured.

The accident happened last night when a BMW and a Nissan Tiida crashed on the Kutaisi-Samtredia bypass road.

A young married couple and their child were killed, as was another person traveling in the car with the couple.

The injured were brought to hospital. Among them are rugby players Giorgi Lominadze and Merab Kvirikashvili, who were travelling with their wives in the other car.

Doctor Davit Tsulaia told Rustavi 2 that Kvirikashvili is conscious. His lungs are damaged, but his condition is not life-threatening. Lominadze has femoral and tibial fracture, traumatic shock and closed craniocerebral trauma. He has lost a lot of blood.

Kvirikashvili’s wife is in serious condition and was transferred from Samtredia to Kutaisi hospital. She is on life support in the intensive care unit. Lominadze’s wife is in a referral hospital in a critical condition.

Member of Tbilisi City Council Shalva Obgaidze writes on his Facebook page that a section of the Kutaisi-Samtredia road is ‘particularly dangerous’, where the one-way traffic unexpectedly ends and two-way traffic starts. He also published an accompanying photo, showing the road section in question.

“A driver can’t manage to suddenly slow down, and cars traveling at high speed come toward each other. This is a very dangerous area which needs quick intervention. Otherwise the number of accidents will increase.”

As DFWatch previously reported, according to the latest data, 284 people died in car accidents during the six months from January to June of 2015, while 4,130 were injured.
(DF watch)

New regulations to be imposed on taxis next year

As Deputy Tbilisi Mayor Irakli Lekvinadze has declared, new regulations will be implemented for taxis starting from September next year. He made his comments to reporters at Tbilisi City Hall today where the new head of the Tbilisi Transport Service was appointed.

According to Lekvinadze, the issue of the regulation of taxis is of the utmost importance. Tbilisi City Hall has conducted consultations with specialists and representatives of society.

“We have been working on documents and from my point of view, new regulations will be implemented for taxis in Tbilisi from September, next year…Those self-employed in this field will be able to pass the procedures very simply and without any charges. The program is aimed at two main goals: security of vehicles and security of a driver,” he has said.