The messenger logo

The News in Brief

Thursday, March 7
Ivanishvili against scrapping directly elected President

PM Ivanishvili said he was in favor of having the president's post decided by the people through direct elections. “I like it very much,” he said in an interview with Imedi TV aired on March 5.

The idea has been floated by some of the Georgian Dream (GD) lawmakers in January to launch discussions on whether to keep the president’s post directly elected or to make it elected by the parliament. They argued that eliminating direct elections and having parliament choose the president might be more appropriate under the constitutional system in which Georgia plans to move after the October, 2013 presidential elections when the powers of the president will be significantly reduced.

“We should not excessively diminish the role of the president by making it an indirectly elected post," PM Ivanishvili said. (

Georgia will take part in Sochi Olympics– Bidzina Ivanishvili

Georgia will take part in the Sochi Olympics, Georgian PM Bidzina Ivanishvili said on Imedi TV. He also made a comment regarding Georgian ensemble Erisioni’s concert due to be held in Moscow, saying it is a pity if some people think it is wrong. “How can we restore relations otherwise? First steps should be taken in culture and sport,” he said.

He also commented on the Georgian Patriarch’s visit to Moscow, saying he had a very warm meeting with Vladimir Putin, adding no political issues were discussed at the meeting.

“No political issues were discussed at the meeting. It is clear in the Russian side’s activities that they want to restore relations with us. The current relationship is unacceptable and it is uninteresting for them too,” Ivanishvili said. (IPN)

Prime Minister has no doubts in Tsulukiani`s competencies

The Prime Minister of Georgia has no questions about the competence and qualification of the Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani. Ivanishvili talked about the professionalism and education of the minister in an interview with Imedi TV yesterday. Ivanishvili said even the ambassador of France had a telephone conversation with him and expressed his concerns about the controversy around the diplomas and qualification of the justice minister.

“Tea has graduated from a university in France, where it is very difficult to study and graduate. No person in France can become a judge without the diplomas of this university. If the French diplomas are not accepted in Georgia, it`s very bad,” the Prime Minister said.

The prime minister praised the justice minister for her professionalism and recollected her successful work at the Strasburg Court of Human Rights. (Rustavi 2)

Former Defence Minister returns to Georgia

Former Defence Minister Dimitri Shashkin returned to Georgia from the USA early on Wednesday. Shashkin said at the airport that he was going to cooperate with the investigation.

“Everybody knew where I was. I am still a free man and I have the right to decide where to be. I am a Georgian citizen and I decided to return to my motherland,” Shashkin said, adding he had returned to Georgia along with his family. Dimitri Shashkin left Georgia for the USA after the October parliamentary elections. (IPN)

Akhalaia refuses trial by jury

Former Defense and Interior Minister Bacho Akhalaia charged with torture, exceeding his power and illegal imprisonment, has declined to be tried by jurors.

The rest of the co-defendants, among them the former Army Chief of Staff Giorgi Kalandadze, has also chosen trial by a judge.

A motion requesting a jury trial was filed by the prosecution.

In January, the parliament amended the criminal procedures code to allow jury trials for high-profile cases in which former officials face criminal charges.

Defense lawyers have cited high probability of jurors’ bias against the defendants as the reasons behind their clients’ decision to choose a trial by a judge.

Malkhaz Velijanashvili, a defense lawyer for Bacho Akhalaia, said that the authorities and the prosecution had contributed stirring negative public perception of his client.

“A public attitude has been created as if Bacho Akhalaia is guilty of not only of charges he is facing, but of other crimes as well; he has been portrayed as a very bad person, so every potential juror would have been biased with preconceived notions, so their verdict would not have been objective,” said Akhalaia’s lawyer. (Civil.Ge)

Gennady Onishchenko says 200 varieties of Georgian wine might be exported to Russia

200 varieties of Georgian wine might be exported to Russia, Russia's chief sanitary official Gennady Onishchenko told Russian media. He said that Georgian companies must submit samples for registration in Russia. "About 200 varieties of Georgian wine might be registered in Russia," Onishchenko said. After the first inspection, the Russian side has allowed 36 alcohol companies and 4 mineral water companies to register their products in Russia.

93 Georgian companies have expressed their desire to return to the Russian market in all. (IPN)

Specialists predict the number of H1N1 cases to decrease in April

Specialists predict that the number of H1N1 cases will decrease in April.

6 new cases have recently been reported, the National Center for Disease Control told InterpressNews. 269 cases have been reported in all, the center says. 19 out of them have died. Most of the victims were aged 30 to 64. Four children under the age of 4 died, one from the 5 to 14 age group. One death was recorded in the 15 to 29 age group. (InterpressNews)