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The News in Brief

Monday, October 17
Public Defender demands the allocation of a place for worship for the Muslim community

The Public Defender of Georgia has echoed Muslims’ right to pray in the village of Mokhe. According to the Public Defender’s Office, Ucha Nanuashvili has responded to media reports, according to which, in the village of Mokhe law enforcement officers blocked the entrance to a building where representatives of the Muslim community started to pray a few days ago.

"The Muslim community believes that the building is a mosque, however, no decision has yet been made on the ownership of the building by a commission that has been studying the issues of the disputed building for 2 years.

“The Public Defender notes that access to a place of worship is one of the expressions of the freedom of religion, although the Muslim community is being deprived of the right, which may be regarded as discrimination.

“Clashes took place between the locals of the village in 2014 with regards to the above-mentioned disputed building. However, since then the state could not have taken active measures to eliminate the cause for a conflict that may any moment escalate the situation,” says the statement of the Public Defender.

Six alleged election day troublemakers placed in pre-trial detention

Six people who were arrested for participating in an attack on an election precinct October 8 were placed in pre-trial detention by Rustavi City Court on Friday.

A crowd threw stones at and smashed windows at the 48th election precinct in the village of Kizilajo.

There were reports that they wanted to steal the ballot box, but law enforcement bodies were mobilized before the box could be removed.

A lawyer representing one of the accused said the six will appeal the court’s decision after they have studied the argumentation by the city court.

The court hearing will be held on December 6. The six were detained on October 13.

Meanwhile, the Regional Court of Zugdidi, a town in the northwest of Georgia, placed one of the accused for attacking an election precinct in Zugdidi on 10,000 lari bail.

The Prosecutor’s Office asked the court to place the accused in detention and plans to appeal this decision.

The attack happened at the 108th precinct in the village Jikhashkari.
(df watch)

Steinmeier: “Our relations with Georgia are constructive on visa waiver”

Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says his country's relations with Georgia regarding visa-free travel to the European Union (EU) are "constructive.”

Steinmeier made his remarks to the lawmakers of the Council of Europe (CoE) yesterday.

“Our relations with Georgia are constructive and I think this is recognised and acknowledged in Georgia,” Steinmeier said when answering a question on whether Germany was ready to support visa liberalisation for Georgia, Ukraine and Kosovo.

The German high official said Germany supported democratic reforms in Georgia and he and other German officials were in Georgia to promote Georgia’s visa liberalisation in the EU’s passport-free Schengen Zone.

This mont,h the CoE agreed it was time to begin negotiating with the European Parliament about the right to grant Georgian citizens a visa waiver and allow Georgian citizens to travel to the EU without a visa.

Discussing and voting on Georgia’s visa liberalisation in the European Parliament is the final step before the country can be granted the right to visa-free travel.

Several months ago in summer Germany blocked Georgia’s bid for a visa waiver. At the time Berlin officials said the German public was worried about a recent spate of home burglaries by Georgian criminal groups in Germany, diplomatic sources said.

However, since then a range of meetings have been held between German and Georgian officials andGermany said it supported Georgia’s visa waiver.

Russia considers expansion of the Upper Larsi checkpoint

Russia is considering expanding the Upper Larsi checkpoint, Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said at the Russian-Armenian interregional forum.

"Measures have been taken to simplify transportation of goods for the businesses of the Eurasian economic union at the only checkpoint which connects Russia and Armenia through Georgian territory. The issue of expanding the checkpoint is now being considered," said Sokolov.

A total of 5 checkpoints currently operate in Upper Larsi according to the Russian Transport Ministry.