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The News in Brief

Monday, May 1
FH: Press Freedom Declines in Georgia

Georgia’s ranking in an annual survey of global press freedom by Freedom House has worsened for the third consecutive year, but the country still remains in the “Partly Free” category.

The Freedom of the Press 2017 survey released on April 28, which covers the developments in 2016 and assesses press freedom in 199 countries and territories, ranks Georgia 102nd with a score of 50.

Georgia’s ranking in similar surveys covering 2015 and 2014, was 96th (49 points) and 93rd (48 points), respectively.

The survey provides a numerical rating from 0 (the most free) to 100 (the least free) for each country, and categorizes their level of press freedom as “Free,” “Partly Free,” or “Not Free.” Countries scoring from 0 to 30 are given status of having “Free” media; from 31 to 60 “Partly Free” and 61 to 100 “Not Free.”

Three of the 12 former non-Baltic former Soviet states - Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine - are ranked as “Partly Free”; others have been assigned to the “Not Free” category.

Of all countries and territories assessed for 2016, a total of 61 (31%) were rated Free, 72 (36%) were rated Partly Free, and 66 (33%) were rated Not Free.

Georgian priest on trial for planning to murder patriarch’s adviser

A priest is being put on trial in Georgia for planning to use poison to murder a close adviser to Patriarch Ilia II, the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church.

As the case files were handed over to the court on Thursday, the Prosecutor General’s Office wrote in a statement that archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze is suspected of a premeditated homicide attempt motivated by greed, a crime which carries a sentence of 16 to 20 years in jail.

The trial starts on May 5 in Tbilisi City Court.

A substance found in the luggage of the archpriest was proved to be sodium cyanide, and the amount was enough to poison ‘several persons’, the statement reads.

The alleged target of the plot was Shorena Tetruashvili, Patriarch Ilia II’s personal secretary, who holds a strong informal power among the clergy.

“Giorgi Mamaladze considered Secretary of the Catholicos-Patriarch, Shorena Tetruashvili an obstacle,” the statement reads.

Mamaladze was dismissed as head of the Church’s property department in January, 2016 and appointed director of St Ioakime and St Ana Medical Center. The archpriest believed that Tetruashvili was behind his dismissal and considered his transfer a demotion, the POG states.

“In order to maintain the existing financial and hierarchical status and to ensure career advancement in the future, Giorgi Mamaladze decided to murder of Shorena Tetruashvili out of greed, using a potent poisonous substance.”

The archpriest maintains his innocence and said through his lawyer that he does not want his case to be reviewed by a jury.
(DF watch)

State Security Agency denies relocation of occupation line

According to the State Security Agency, the occupation line has not been moved closer to the village of Khurcha and the poles are placed at the occupation line.

As InterPressNews was told by the State Security Service, representatives of the EU Monitoring Mission are on the ground and the Georgian side will provide information to all international organizations.

"The occupation line has not been relocated. The poles are placed at the occupation line. This is the continuation of the borderization process and the State Security Service, as well as all relevant agencies, will react to this fact. Information has already been provided to the EU Monitoring Mission. Their observers are already in place. The central government of Georgia will provide information to all international organizations working on these issues," said the SSS.

According to reports, Russian soldiers moved the occupation border to the territory controlled by the central government in the village of Khurcha of Zugdidi district.