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News in Brief

Tuesday, January 8
“Alilo” march held in Tbilisi

The festive march “Alilo,” or Hallelujah, was held in Tbilisi on January 7 as part of Orthodox Christmas celebrations. Alilo is a centuries-old tradition in Georgia, which sees the faithful gather in temples and churches across the country before parading through the streets bearing icons and crucifixes.

In Tbilisi, the Alilo march began at noon from Rose Revolution square, and ended near Sameba Cathedral. Gifts taken on the parade were donated to children’s homes and orphanages. (Black Sea Press)

Russian Foreign Ministry speaks out on election

Ruling party leader Mikheil Saakashvili made wide use of “administrative resources” in his election campaign and international observers’ reports of a democratic election are superficial, according to a statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry on January 6.

The statement also claimed that opposition politicians came under political pressure, adding that the ministry had expected violations in the election.

“The media, NGOs and opposition representatives have told of numerous violations of election legislation by the authorities,” the statement reads.

“It was not unexpected if we take into consideration the character of the whole election campaign which could hardly be considered to be ‘free and fair.’ Actually, it began under the conditions of a state of emergency. The presidential race was characterized by the wide use of ‘administrative resources,’ pressure on opposition candidates, and strict restrictions on their access to financial and media resources,” the statement reads.

The Foreign Ministry also said that the indignation of opposition supporters after Saakashvili’s campaign team declared him the winner, before the release of preliminary official results, is understandable.

The statement also criticized American congressman Alcee Hastings, who led the OSCE monitoring team, for his “hasty” assessment of a “triumph of Georgian democracy.”

“We continue observing attentively the events taking place in Georgia,” the statement concludes. (Black Sea Press)

Georgia celebrates Christmas

Georgia celebrated Orthodox Christmas on January 7, a state holiday. Celebrations began at 11 p.m. on January 6 with an all-night ceremony held by Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II at the Sameba Cathedral in Tbilisi.

Acting president Nino Burjanadze, Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze, along with ruling party leader Mikheil Saakashvili and opposition coalition member Levan Gachechiladze were among those in the congregation. (Black Sea Press)