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The News in Brief

Tuesday, March 21
Three Candidates to Run for S. Ossetia Leadership

Three candidates will run in the South Ossetian presidential elections scheduled for April 9, the local election administration reported.

Among them are incumbent leader of the breakaway region, Leonid Tibilov, Parliamentary Chairman Anatoly Bibilov, and State Security Committee officer Alan Gagloev.

On March 14, the breakaway region’s Supreme Court rejected former South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity’s challenge against the local election administration, which earlier turned down Kokoity’s application to run.

Kokoity held series of protest rallies before and after the Supreme Court decision, accusing the breakaway region’s government of acting under the guidance of “external forces,” referring to the recent visit of Vladislav Surkov, Russian President’s aide overseeing Moscow’s relations with breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“We support Russia; we support Putin and we will not allow people like Surkov to discredit Putin in Donetsk, Lugansk and especially in South Ossetia,” Kokoity told his supporters in Tskhinvali.

“We are the masters at home, but it appears that Surkov, Filatov and a few others [Oleg Govorun, Kremlin official, who heads the unit for social and economic cooperation with the CIS-member countries, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Also a pun on his last name “talker”] think otherwise. They think that we are the tenants and they are the owners of this house as they arrive and tell us who will run in the elections and who will not,” Kokoity said.

The region’s election administration rejected the presidential bids of two more applicants: Alan Kozonov and Amiran Bagaev, citing problems with voter signatures required for registration.

Simultaneously with the presidential elections, Tskhinvali will also hold a referendum on renaming the region to “the South Ossetia – the State of Alania.”

Elections in the region are denounced as illegitimate by Tbilisi and the international community, except for Russia and three other countries (Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru), which have recognized the region as an independent state.

Eight more detained as blame game continues after ‘parking fine riot’

Police detained eight more people on criminal charges on Saturday as the blame game continues for last weekend’s violent riot in Batumi.

Altogether, the number of detainees has now reached 100, all of them men, the local newspaper Batumelebi reports.

Most of the detainees have been charged with administrative offenses and released from custody. But the city court in Batumi placed six in pre-trial detention, and has still to decide on the fate of two.

Meanwhile, politicians are blaming each other. The ruling Georgian Dream has not let go of its theory that the largest opposition party UNM was behind the unrest. Irakli Chkhvirkia, an activist from the UNM-linked youth group Free Zone (Tavisupali Zona), was expelled from that party a week ago after appearing on TV among the crowd of rioters and demanding the police chief’s resignation within half an hour.

But although some UNM members and others expressing solidarity with the protest early on, they distanced themselves from the riot when it turned violent. The UNM denied the accusations of having organized the protest and in turn blamed the authorities for mismanaging the problem.
(DF watch)

Head of Georgian Dream faction denies PM has said goodbye to team

Georgian Dream faction head Mamuka Mdinaradze has denied information spread in the media that the Prime Minister has 'said goodbye' to his team during a meeting held at the Kachreti Ambassador hotel on March 19.

As Mamuka Mdinaradze has told IPN, unofficial reports which state that the PM has informed his team members of his resignation are not true.

According to him, this issue has not been discussed by the government at all.