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The News in Brief

Friday, November 20
Russia and EU disagree on issues of Georgia and human rights

Sweden's Prime Minister has expressed disquiet about Russia's human rights situation after an EU-Russia summit in Stockholm, the BBC reports.

Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country holds the EU's rotating Presidency, said: “We exchanged views on human rights, the rule of law in Russia and democracy. This is an increasing cause for concern,” he added.

Moscow and Brussels are still rebuilding relations after falling out over last year's Georgia-Russia war. EU leaders were also due to discuss key issues such as trade and energy with their Russian counterparts. Brussels was also enquiring whether Russia was still interested in joining the World Trade Organisation.

Dmitry Medvedev, who was attending the summit, stated that the EU and Russia have different opinions regarding the South Caucasus but Russia will continue negotiating in order to achieve compromises on ‘complicated issues’. As for Swedish Foreign Minister Karl Bildt’s statement which compared Russia’s activities in Georgia to Nazi German policy, the Russian President said: “What can I say … Karl Bildt got very furious then. There has been both a friendship and a war in the Russian-Swedish relationship. That’s why we are very sensitive regarding each indication.”

According to the Russian President there have been examples of positive agreements between Russia and the EU too, namely one concerning Karabakh conflict regulation. (Interpressnews)

Rustavi Metallurgical Factory given to Kolkhi Business Corporation

Georgian Steel and Cast Iron XXI, which are owned by British Company Thames Steel UK Limited, have been handed over to credit company Kolkhi Business Corporation, Thomas Blake, the Director of Thames Steel UK, stated at a press conference yesterday.

An auction of Cast Iron XXI and Georgian Steel was conducted on 2 November, but nobody expressed a wish to buy them. On 4 November it was announced that the assets of the companies would be handed over to a creditor.

“We have been deprived of our assets by criminals with the help of the Georgian court,” Thomas Blake stated, adding he will demand compensation through the international courts. “We have applied for help to the Georgian President and the Prime Minister, though in vain. It’s a pity the Georgian Government cares only about attracting investments and not protecting them,” he stated.

Blake said that the Rustavi Metallurgical Factory is being destroyed technically, meaning that equipment and parts are being sold off bit by bit. He hopes the British Government will help resolve the problem. Thomas Blake said that problems with the managers of the Rustavi Metallurgical Factory began when the British company told the supervisory board to dismiss Joseph Kay.

Thames Steel UK Limited is the owner of Energy and Industry Ltd, which in its turn is owner of Cast Iron XXI and Georgian Steel. Thames Steel UK Limited purchased Energy and Industry for 70 million USD in 2007. (Interpressnews)

Belarusian MPs hold meetings with separatists

A group of Belarusian MPs has been visiting breakaway Abkhazia since Wednesday. The three MPs summed up their visit to the occupied region of Georgia in an interview with Abkhazian television. The head of the delegation, Eugene Smirnov, said that Abkhazia had established an independent modern state. The Belarusian MP even thanked the separatists for their patience and added that the Belarusian Parliament had to take a decision on recognising Abkhazia as soon as possible.

The Belarusian MPs have been holding meetings with the separatist leaders since Wednesday. Yesterday they were planning to meet leader of the so-called Abkhazian Church Vissarion Aplia, who in his recent address to the Russian Patriarch asked for the ‘restoration of canonical status’ to the Abkhazian Orthodox Church. (Rustavi 2)

Korean scientists find easy way to kill H1N1 virus

Korean scientists have found a very easy method of killing the H1N1 virus, which has killed thousands of people around the world.

They have found that several grammes of ozonised hydrochloric acid solution kills the virus in five minutes. 22 grammes per tonne of water is sufficient for disinfection. The scientists have also found that a similar solution has a sterilisation effect and kills over 430 other viruses. (Rustavi 2)

Tsotne Gamsakhurdia demands unbiased investigation

The son of Georgia’s late President, Tsotne Gamsakhurdia, is demanding an unbiased investigation of his case. Tsotne Gamsakhurdia was arrested on October 27 and charged with attempted murder. Gamsakhurdia denies the charge and says he is a political prisoner.

His lawyer Keti Bekauri told the media yesterday that her client had been on hunger strike for 23 days and his health condition was very grave. She added that the investigation into this case has been carried out improperly because Bajelidze, whom Gamsakhurdia is accused of trying to murder, has been discharged from hospital and is quite healthy, but has not been questioned so far. (Rustavi 2)

Armenian church damaged in Tbilisi

A wall of the Armenian church on Abo Tbileli Street, in the Sololaki District of Tbilisi, collapsed on Wednesday night. The collapse damaged other nearby buildings, but luckily no one was injured.

The Armenian Church was already closed due to the critical state of the historic building. Locals say that recent rain has inflicted more damage on the structure and the wall was ruined by it.

The District Governor has viewed the damaged building and promised to allocate funds for rehabilitation. (Rustavi 2)