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The Week in Brief

Friday, April 4
NATO is keeping Georgia and Ukraine at arm’s length for now, but promised that the two would join the alliance eventually [see article].

Abkhaz separatist leaders rejected President Mikheil Saakashvili’s offer of ‘unlimited autonomy’ within Georgia and a jointly-managed free trade zone. The proposals were part of Tbilisi’s promised radical new plan for conflict settlement.

Imedi TV, off-air for more than three months, missed an expected return to the airwaves. The station’s indomitable director general said old debts and technical problems are to blame, but Imedi is also caught up in an ownership dispute between the family of its deceased founder and a self-declared heir.

The president announced a high-level election task force to serve as a rapid responder for election snafus. Parliament has also made a handful of OSCE-recommended changes to election law; opposition campaigners say they still have little faith in the conduct of the next poll.

The Labor Party may compete against others in the opposition for the 75 majoritarian seats in parliament. If opposition parties split the vote in the first-past-the-post districts, their electoral hopes in the May elections dim dramatically.

Georgia’s first president, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, would have turned 69 this week. A Soviet dissident, he was overthrown shortly after leading the country into a fractious independence. He died in unclear circumstances after a failed campaign to retake the capital.