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Prepared by Diana Dundua
Friday, December 28

“Early presidential elections to be held in Upper Abkhazia”

Akhali Taoba reports that international observers will be on the ground in upper Kodori Gorge to monitor the presidential election on January 5.

The area in and around upper Kodori Gorge, also called Upper Abkhazia, is the only Georgian-controlled portion of secessionist Abkhazia.

Justice Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili said on December 26 that the observers would be reserve officers from NATO member states.

“They will observe the electoral process in Upper Abkhazia for several days. They will arrive in Georgia on December 28 and will remain until January 7,” the minister stated.

Tkeshelashvili added that since December 24, almost 5 000 citizens in Georgia have applied to receive free ID cards which will allow them to vote.

“Analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze thinks Imedi TV journalists’ decision to leave the channel is strange”

Political analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze, Rezonansi writes, found the publicly announced resignation of six Imedi TV journalists on December 26 to be a questionable move on their part.

He likened journalism to medicine, emphasizing the importance of professionalism in both fields.

“A surgeon that is afraid of blood is not a surgeon. A journalist that decides to give emotional coloring to the ‘war of compromises’ cannot be regarded as a professional,” Sakvarelidze said.

The “war of compromises” is a reference to the recent spate of allegedly incriminating tapes released both by the government and tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili, as each seeks to undermine opponents by divulging compromising material.

The six journalists, in a televised statement, said they were leaving the network due to “recent events” in the country.

“Their behavior was not a surprise, because awhile ago Imedi TV’s leading journalists, Inga Grigolia and Eka Khoperia, did the same thing—but that was really strange as well,” the analyst concluded.

“Amiran Robakidze’s mother supports Levan Gachechiladze in the presidential election”

Ia Metreveli, mother of police shooting victim Amiran Robakidze, is endorsing opposition coalition candidate Levan Gachechiladze, according to the newspaper Sakartvelos Respublika.

“I have been known Gachechiladze for a long time—we studied at the same school—and I’m sure that he will change the existing regime,” Metreveli said at a December 26 press conference.

“The opposition did a lot to support me after my son was murdered,” she added.

Metreveli criticized incumbent presidential candidate Mikheil Saakashvili for a “fake” election campaign.

“Saakashvili cries when he meets with pensioners, but why he doesn’t he care about those innocent boys who have been killed recently? This proves his tears are artificial and meaningless,” she said.

Robakidze’s father, Soso Robakidze, recently endorsed another presidential candidate, New Rights leader Davit Gamkrelidze.

“We have a common tragedy—the Saakashvili administration killed our only son. It doesn’t matter to me who Soso will vote for,” Metreveli explained.

“Abkhazia faces demographic problem”

Akhali Taoba reports that secessionist Abkhazia is facing a serious demographic problem.

Every year, the newspaper claims, the birthrate decreases by 47 babies on average. Births peaked in 1995, Akhali Taoba continues, at 2679 newborns registered.

Leader of the Abkhazian Economic Development Party Beslan Baratelia reportedly brought up the issue at a roundtable discussion dedicated to demographic concerns in the separatist region.

According to his data, in the first eleven months of 2007 just 848 boys and 811 girls were born in Abkhazia.

“If this trend continues, after 10–15 years only 1000 babies will be born per year,” Baratelia reportedly said.