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The News in Brief

Friday, February 12
Police arrest crime bosses

The Constitutional Security Department has arrested some so-called crime bosses. A special operation was conducted late on Wednesday night. According to the police Luka Megrelidze, Damir Kirtskhalia, Zura Gogia and Ioseb Sordia extorted 10,000 dollars from an enterpreneur.

They are reportedly associates of another crime boss, Davit Karseladze, nicknamed Kalatoza.

Davit Karseladze was a well-known racketeer in Tbilisi some years ago. He was arrested in 2004 for carrying illegal arms. He was also accused of racketeering on taxi routes. According to the Interior Ministry Kalatoza led a group of wrestlers which extorted money from small entrepreneurs and the owners of the Tbilisi mini-bus routes.

Davit Karseladze was released from prison on good behaviour. He then fled Georgia. (Rustavi 2)

CDM urges Parliament to summon Minister

The Christian Democratic Movement has urged lawmakers to summon the Prime Minister and other responsible authorities to Parliament to explain the failure of the Government to pay due compensation to IDPs. Giorgi Akhvlediani said at a briefing yesterday that over one thousand refugees from the conflict zones were living in unbearable social conditions and still waiting for the funds to buy apartments, while the Government was hesitating about giving them the promised $10,000.

According to Akhvlediani the argument put forward by the Government that the identification of IDP families has not been completed is unconvincing because more than 18 months is a sufficient period of time to find out who have fled their homes during conflict and who have not. Akhvlediani wants the PM, Finance and Refugee Ministers to explain the Government's actions and set dates at which these people will receive their funds. (Rustavi 2)

Nino Burjanadze names Georgian officials seeking contact with Moscow

Ex-Parliament Speaker Nino Burjanadze, who leads the Democratic Movement – United Georgia, published yesterday the names of Georgian officials she says are trying to establish contact with Moscow. She said that President Saakahvili sends emissaries to Moscow and Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava and Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili do the same.

She stated that Ugulava had said recently that Georgia may give up its ambition to join NATO if Russia treats Georgia well. She said that this was an open call for Moscow to support Ugulava’s Presidential ambitions. (Caucasus Press)

International Fund for Electoral Systems invites Mayoral candidates to conduct televised debates

The International Fund for Electoral Systems has invited candidates for the Tbilisi Mayor’s post to participate in televised debates. As of today, there are 8 candidates for the Tbilisi Mayor’s post.

Incumbent Mayor Gigi Ugulava, who will run for a second term as the ruling party’s candidate, has said that he is ready to participate in debates at the Georgian Public Broadcaster. All the other candidates, apart from Gogi Topadze, from Industry Saves Georgia, have said that such debates should be funded by the Government, not an international organisation, and refused to participate. (Caucasus Press)

Shota Khabareli to join Nika Ivanishvili’s party

Shota Khabareli, Olympic champion in Judo, will join Nika Ivanishvili’s party. Ivanishvili wants to be Tbilisi Mayor. Khabareli stated this at a meeting between Nika Ivanishvili and veteran sportsmen at the Dinamo club.

Khabareli is sure that Ivanishvili’s party will contribute significantly to Georgian sport and do good things in this field. "There are many problems in sport and they must be resolved," Khabareli added.

The launch of Nika Ivanishvili’s party is scheduled for the end of February. Its name will be announced then. (Interpressnews)

Students in Batumi protest against Noghaideli's pro-Russian policy

A message entitled 'A Letter to Judas' has been sent by students in Batumi to the leader of the Movement for Fair Georgia, Zurab Noghaideli, who signed a cooperation memorandum with Russia's ruling party a few days ago. The students have joined their colleagues from Tbilisi and Kutaisi in expressing their protest at Noghaideli's pro-Russian political course.

The students read the letter publicly yesterday. Over 500 students assembled outside the Batumi University to express their protest and urge other political parties not to cooperate with The Kremlin against the interests of Georgia. (Rustavi 2)

Labour Party rallies at the house of MP, accusing him of corruption

The Labour Party is continuing to hold protest rallies outside the houses of National Movement members whom they accuse of corruption and embezzlement. Yesterday the leader of the party and his allies assembled outside the house of MP Davit Bezhuashvili at 9 Kazbegi Avenue.

Shalva Natelashvili said that the land on which Bezhuashvili had built himself a fashionable house had been a schoolyard and he had thus misappropriated the people's property. "This is why we live like beggars, and why they destroy our country, to live in such palaces," Natelashvili said, accusing the brothers Bezhuashvili of misappropriating large factories, and running a gas and arms smuggling business with the support of President Saakashvili. (Rustavi 2)

Fruit storage facility opened in Guria

A refrigerated fruit storage facility was opened in the Guria region on Wednesday with support of the Czech Development Agency.

The refrigerator can hold 100 tonnes of fruit. Local farmers will have the opportunity to store their crops there at moderate prices. Its construction cost $190.000, the largest part of this allocated by the Czech Development Agency and the rest by the AgroBusinessCentre.

The Governor of Guria, the Czech Ambassador to Georgia and the Czech Development Agency head attended the opening ceremony. (Caucasus Press)