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The News in Brief

Friday, February 15
PM Ivanishvili visits Turkey

Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili paid a one-day official visit to Turkey on February 14th.

During the visit Prime Minister Ivanishvili met with Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Cicek, Ivanishvili’s press office reports.

In Turkey the Georgian Prime Minister was accompanied by Economic Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze, Defense Minister Irakli Alasania, Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze, as well as Irakli Kovzanadze, head of the state-owned JSC Partnership Fund, and representatives of the Ministries of Finance and Culture.

PM Ivanishvili met Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 23rd.

The trip to Turkey follows Ivanishvili's visits to Azerbaijan in late December and Armenia in January. (Civil.Ge)

Physical confrontation between UNM and GD MPs

On Wednesday a live televised debate between Georgian Dream MP Koba Davitashvili and UNM MP Sergo Ratiani on Maestro TV descended into fisticuffs. During the debate Davitashvili and Ratiani's exchange became increasingly heated. Ratiani broke a cup in response to Davitashvili’s insults, and the Georgian Dream MP was struck by his UNM counterpart. After the scuffle security forced them to leave the studio. Ratiani apologized to TV viewers for the incident. Both UNM and Georgian Dream members criticized the incident, with UNM Davit Bakradze saying that MPs should be models of restraint.

GD member Zviad Dzidziguri said he understands why Davitashvili became irritated with Ratiani’s words. “I saw him [Davitashsvili] when he was almost dead after the crackdown of a rally,” Dzidziguri said referring to a protest rally in November 2007 before adding that no one responsible has apologized for the excessive use of force on that day.

Meanwhile Davitashsvili admitted on Thursday that he started the fight and thus takes responsibility for the incident but added that he does not regret it. Commenting over the issue Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili said "that violence in this setting is completely unacceptable". (The Messenger)

Tbilisi Mayor may be forced to undergo police questioning

Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava will have to appear for police questioning if a court issued warrant is granted, according to a statement released by the Georgian Ministry of the Internal Affairs (MIA).

"Despite multiple warnings from the MIA, Gigi Ugulava did not appear for police questioning when requested to as a witness. Thus compulsory measures will be exercised against him in accordance with the procedural legislation of the Criminal Code. The investigation appeals to the Civil Court for the relevant warrant on compulsory measures against Gigi Ugulava." the statement reads.

Ugulava also made a statement regarding the issue. "I call upon the investigation and reaffirm that I am prepared to give testimony to the investigation at my office. Article 175 of the criminal code of Georgia allows them [the police] to apply to the courts and if the court rules that it is necessary that I must appear for questioning at a police office, I pledge publicly that I will obey the court's decision. In addition, I demand that the Interior Minister and other officials who were responsible for the incidents of February 8th be questioned as well." the Mayor replied. (Rustavi 2)

“If something unexpected does take place, perhaps we will reach an agreement”

UNM leader Davit Bakradze has spoken about the ongoing dialogue between the opposition and the ruling Georgian Dream about the proposed constitutional amendments. "Against the backdrop of increasing tension in the country it is important to reach an agreement. If something unexpected does take place, perhaps we will reach a agreement after several days.” Davit Bakradze said. (Front News)

Gulf will finance three IDP students' education

The Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) has announced that three IDP students will not have to stop studying due to financial problems as the Gulf Company will help fund their education. The Deputy Minister of IDPs Mamuka Tsotniashvili said Gulf was among the companies which became interested in cooperating with the Ministry in funding IDPs' education. “Cooperation with Gulf will continue in the future. We agreed to sign a memorandum.” Tsotniashvili said.

Meeting with the students on Thursday, Vice President of Gulf Nino Jibladze said it is a great priority for Gulf to finance the education of students. “We do not make backward steps when it concerns IDPs,” Jibladze said adding that the scale of cooperation with the Ministry of IDPs will increase. (The Messenger)

Europol breaks up multi-million euro Internet fraud gang

A network of online fraudsters who masqueraded as European crime-fighting agency Europol and collected millions of euros in fake fines has been broken up - by Europol.

The group, which worked across 30 countries over the past two years, paralyzed computers with a virus and left messages purporting to be from organizations like Europol and the police, saying users could only regain access to their machines if they paid a fine.

The virus was known as "Ransomware" and had up to 48 different mutations to overcome anti-virus software.

The leader of the fraud network, a 27-year-old Russian citizen, was arrested in December in the United Arab Emirates, Spain's Secretary of State for Security Francisco Martinez said at the news conference.

Spanish police arrested 10 members of the group last week on the country's southern Costa del Sol, a popular tourist destination.

Six of the detainees were Russians, two were Ukrainian and two from Georgia. These members mostly took care of money laundering and sending cash electronically to Russia, while the head of the group was responsible for developing the virus. ($1 = 0.7442 euros) (Reuters)