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The News in Brief

Monday, April 2
Agreements to be signed between Georgia and Bulgaria

Several agreements were signed between Georgia and Bulgaria during a two-day Bulgarian visit to Tbilisi this weekend.

According to the Chancellery, a memorandum on cooperation in European and Euro-Atlantic integration was signed between the two governments, represented by their Prime Ministers, Nika Gilauri and Boyko Borisov.

An implementation protocol of the agreement on readmission of persons residing without authorization was signed by Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Ekaterine Zghuladze and Chair of the Bulgarian State Commission on Information Security, Tsveta Markova. They also signed an agreement on the exchange of clandestine information, regarding amendments to a unilateral non-disclosure agreement.

In addition, a memorandum of mutual understanding was signed between Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University and Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, represented by TSU professor Levan Aleksidze and the rector of Sofia University, Ivan Ilchev.

A meeting between the delegation and President Mikheil Saakashvili is also scheduled for the visit.

Talks over Georgian detainees in Malaysia underway

Talks over the case of Georgian citizen Babutsa Gordadze, who was detained by Malaysian police on charges of drug smuggling, are currently underway in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

Representatives of the Prosecutor General's Office of Georgia and other experts are working to make an agreement with the Malaysian government, in order to avoid the death penalty for Gordadze.

The Georgian side has met with Gordadze's attorney, and hopes the Malaysian Court's decision will be similar to one made for another Georgian citizen, Darejan Kokhtashvili. Kokhtashvili avoided the death penalty, sentenced instead six years' imprisonment, two of which she has already served.

The two Georgian citizens were detained by Malaysian police on October 25, 2010. Ten kilograms of amphetamine were found in their luggage when they attempted to enter the country.
(Rustavi 2)

Former Ambassador to Uzbekistan confirmed as new envoy to Tbilisi

Richard Norland, the former American ambassador to Uzbekistan and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, has been confirmed as the new Ambassador to Georgia.

Norland is expected to replace John Bass in this fall.

President Barack Obama announced his intention to nominate Norland as Ambassador in February.

Amid recent confirmation delays, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had urged ambassadors, who traditionally step down with the end of an administration, to stay until their replacements are in place.

The U.S. Senate has confirmed new ambassadors to 16 countries.
(Rustavi 2)

Road problems in Adjaran high mountainous region despite warm weather

Up to 100 families in the villages of Tchakhauri and Merchkheti, Khulo, have been cut off from the outside world thanks to snow. Snow cover has reached two metres, making transportation impossible.

Tchakhauri resident Merab Artmeladze says that they need the roads clear in order to bring meat and potatoes to the market, and return with flour and food for livestock. He said that representatives of the government promised to clean the roads, though this has yet to happen. “They told us that the roads could not be cleared until the weather brightened up. We have had warm weather for 15 days, but nobody came. We addressed the local government, they promised to clear the roads. Winter has ended and we're still without a road,” he stated.

Khulo governor Temur Bolkvadze told InterPressNews that a tractor was damaged during clearing efforts, but work should be complete within two days in the two worst-hit villages, and by the end of the week in all villages.

Tchakhauri and Merchkheti are 1400 metres above sea level.

Georgian citizen killed on sailboat in Canada identified

Family of the Georgian national who died on a yacht that sank off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada Monday night are asking the authorities for help in transporting the dead man's body back to Georgia.

Forty-two-year-old Tengiz Motsonelidze was removed from the boat during a rescue operation, but died while being transported to hospital.

Family members said the man left for Canada to find a job there. According to reports, he was suffering from leg pain and so was unable to get to rescuers before his body was exposed to excessive cold, causing death.

Nine men were on the SV Tabasco 2 yacht when it floundered about 150 kilometers from Cape Sable Island. Of the nine people who were onboard, five were rescued, one died, and three remain unaccounted for.

A large-scale search was carried out Tuesday involving planes, helicopters and a ship. Canadian Forces search-and-rescue technicians, the Canadian Coast Guard, and the U.S. Coast Guard were all involved, but none of the missing men were located.
(Rustavi 2)