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The News in Brief

Monday, January 21
Ilia II leaves for Russia

At a morning sermon on Baptism Day on January 19, Georgian Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II asked the Georgian Orthodox parish to pray for the country. On January 21, the Georgian Patriarch will attend the 13th annual awards ceremony of the International Foundation of the Orthodox People’s Union, led by the Patriarch of Russia Kirill in Moscow. Ilia II will be awarded with the prize named after late Russian Patriarch Aleksey II for his outstanding efforts in strengthening the unity of the Orthodox people and the establishment and promotion of Christian values within society.

Leaving Georgia on January 20th His Holiness will return to Georgia on January 26th.
(The Messenger)

Vladimer Bedukadze released on bail

The author of the scandalous prison video footage, Vladimer Bedukadze, was released on GEL 2,000 bail. Denying accusations against him Bedukadze expressed his gratitude to the Justice Minister Thea Tsulukidze and General Prosecutor Archil Kbilashvili for giving him an opportunity to return to Georgia. He also expressed his readiness to cooperate with the investigation.

Having arrived to Georgia late on January 18 Bedukadze was detained at Tbilisi International Airport. The former staff member of Gldani N8 penitentiary facility was charged for his participation in the torture of inmates. Interpol stopped searching Bedukadze on January 16 (as he was recognized as a political refugee.)

Ex-head of Georgian Border Police returns to country after amnesty

Former Head of Georgian Border Police Badri Bitsadze returned to Georgia. Bitsadze is the husband of Nino Burjanadze, the leader of the Democratic Movement political party who was granted the status of a political refugee by the parliamentary commission on political prisoners and refugees. Charged with organizing resistance to police during the May 26 opposition rally, Bitsadze left Georgia shortly thereafter.
(Rustavi 2)

Georgian Foreign Minister meets with the Charge d’affaires ad interim of the UK and Northern Ireland to Georgia

Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze held an introductory meeting with the Charge d’affaires and interim of GB and Northern Ireland to Georgia, David John Moran on January 18.
(The Messenger)

Protest held outside presidential residence

A protest organized by Ertsulovneba (Unanimity) was held outside the presidential residence yesterday. Demanding the resignation of Mikheil Sakashvili, the protest organizers said that they will publicly announce the end of his constitutional presidential term. They say if Saakashvili remains as president, it will bring disorder in the country. They said according to the constitution of Georgia, Saakashvili’s presidential term expires on January 21. The authorized protest started in Avlabari. Over 1 million signatures have been gathered since January 5 when Unanimity delivered an ultimatum to the president demanding to resign by January 20.

Abkhaz Leader Comments on Railway

No one has approached Sokhumi yet with regard to reopening the railway via Abkhazia, but the Abkhaz side is ready to discuss the issue if there are concrete proposals, Abkhaz leader Alexander Ankvab said during a press conference on January 18.

Ankvab said that many countries were interested in the reopening of this railway, adding that this section of the railway was one of the most loaded railway routes in the South Caucasus during Soviet times. “Multi-billion investments are needed to have a proper railway,” he said.

Asked during the press conference in Yerevan on January 17 if restoration of the railway link via Abkhazia, which could also link Armenia to Russia, was possible, Georgian PM Ivanishvili responded: “It’s possible.”

Body of Georgian mafia boss sent back to Moscow

The body of a mafia boss who was killed in Moscow was on a plane to Georgia to be buried, but had to be sent back after Tbilisi refused to let it in. Aslan Usoyan, better known as Ded Hassan (Grandpa Hassan), a 76 year-old mafia boss was shot in the head by a sniper as he left a restaurant in Moscow on January 16. He had been the target of murder attempts twice before, in 1998 and 2010.

The niece of the deceased mafioso, Aslana Usoyana, told journalists January 18 that the body of Ded Hasan was being flown to Tbilisi to be buried. It was sent by special business class from Moscow to Tbilisi through Donetsk. The widow and daughter of Usoyan live in Georgia, and were planning to bury him at Kukia Cemetery in Tbilisi, next to his parents. However, the plane with the body of Ded Hassan turned back to Moscow in Donetsk, as Tbilisi refused to let it enter, the Russian media reported January 19. Despite the fact that body didn’t arrive in Georgia, a funeral procession was held in Tbilisi Saturday morning. A journalist for Interpressnews reports that relatives of the deceased had gathered at his house in Tbilisi. Relatives report that the widow and daughter have left for Moscow for the burial.
(Democracy & Freedom Watch)