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The News in Brief

Friday, August 9
Five years since the August War: torch rally at Gori Fortress

A torch rally took place at Gori fortress on the evening of August 7th. The rally was organized through Facebook and the participants protested against Russian occupation on the fifth year anniversary of the Russia-Georgia war. Representatives of the parliamentary minority, including MP Giorgi Vashadze, attended the event.

Giorgi Vashadze (United National Movement party member): "This is a symbolic event, which was organized by Facebook. The main purpose is to remember those heroes who sacrificed their lives for the territorial integrity of Georgia. We should remember that Georgian territories are occupied. Each of us here represents a symbol of respect for those heroes who have done everything for Georgia’s independence and freedom not only in 2008, but also before."

Rally participant: "Tonight we are here to respect the souls of fallen soldiers for our country and also to protest against the occupation of Georgian territories by Russia." (Georgian News)

Justice Minister to chair election inter-agency group

Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani will chair an inter-agency commission in charge of monitoring for potential violations during election campaigns, which up until now operated under the chairmanship of Secretary of the National Security Council Giga Bokeria.

Last month Parliament passed amendments to the election code, which, among other issues, also envisaged moving the Inter-Agency Task Force for Free and Fair Elections (IATF) from the National Security Council to the Ministry of Justice.

IATF, according to the election code, is mandated with "preventing and reacting to violations of electoral legislature by public officials." Political parties have the right to take part in IATF’s sittings and representatives from local and international election observer organizations can also be invited to commission meetings. In case of violations, the inter-agency task force will "recommend" state agencies or the Central Election Commission (CEC) to take "relevant actions in a reasonable timeframe" according to the election code.

The new 10-member IATF, which includes senior officials from various ministries and state agencies, will also be joined by representatives from the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Prisons, the Justice Ministry said on August 8th. (Civil.Ge)

Law on establishment of agricultural cooperatives enters force

The draft law on consolidation of collective family enterprises, which was adopted by the Georgian parliament, has entered into force. The draft law on agricultural cooperatives was signed by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on Wednesday.

In accordance with the law, an agency for the development of agricultural cooperatives will be established in Georgia. Its power will include the assignment and the suspension of agricultural cooperatives' status and carrying out monitoring in this sphere. The agency will also carry out activities for state support of agricultural cooperatives.

The draft law was prepared by the Agricultural Committee of Georgian Parliament with the participation of experts from the EU and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). (Trend)

Georgian PM, US ambassador discuss attracting foreign investment

Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili met with the U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland at Ivanishvili's summer residence in Ureki on Wednesday where they discussed the Georgian government's plans to promote the inflow of foreign investment into the country as well as economic growth. (Trend)

Russian patriarchate rejects puppet regime appeal

The Russian patriarchate has rejected the Abkhazian government's request to discuss the issue of granting autocephaly to Abkhazia’s Orthodox Church. "The Russian Orthodox Church respects the freedom of faith of each people as well as the religious traditions of the Abkhazian people. However, the norms of confessions do not allow us to discuss the domestic problems of the church with the people, who stand beyond the church and do not share a Christian vision." the statement of the Russian patriarchate reads.

"The Patriarch of Russia treats the difficulties inside the Abkhazian Church sensitively and tries to normalize them within the canonic framework of the holy Orthodox faith. There are no grounds for discussing the issue raised by them with the Patriarch of Russia." the statement adds. (Rustavi 2)

Inmates go on a hunger strike at Rustavi women’s prison

45 inmates are on hunger strike at the women’s prison in Rustavi. The hunger strikers are demanding the return of the recently fired director of the facility.

80 other prisoners have signed an issue of solidarity by refusing to eat bread. They demand that Salome Janelidze and her deputy Nino Maisuradze are restored to their positions.

The prisoners also demand a meeting with Eka Beselia, chair of the human rights committee in Parliament.

Relatives who arrived at the prison with food for prisoners were barred from entering and had their parcels returned.

Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance Sozar Subari said it is the prerogative of the ministry to fire or appoint directors of prisons, and that a hunger strike cannot affect this decision.

He said every decision to hire or dismiss an employee might be followed by dissatisfaction or resistance, and some may protest a firing, while others will be opposed to an appointment.

"This is understandable and is an ordinary situation for a locked system." he said.

Subari did not specify the reason for firing Janelidze, the former director of Prison No. 5, but said she has not been appointed to another position.

Janelidze was appointed in April, after having worked at Gldani prison in Tbilisi. Her appointment followed a scandal about drugs being smuggled into Rustavi women’s prison. (RFWatch)

Georgian president congratulates country’s Muslims on the end of Ramadan

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has congratulated the country's Muslims on the occasion of the end of Ramadan. As stated on Saakashvili's Facebook page, Ramadan is the special holiday for the Muslim world.

"On this day, Muslims around the world complete their month of sating and pray for a better future. I join this significant celebration and congratulate all the Muslims of Georgia, who are an integral and precious part of our society. On this occasion I wish peace and prosperity to your families for the good of our country." the Georgian president said. (Trend)

Minor earthquake hits Georgia

A minor earthquake struck Georgia on Thursday.

The Armenian National Seismic Protection Service registered a 3.2 magnitude tremor 11 kilometers to the west of the Georgian town of Dmanisi.

The tremor measured magnitude 4 at the epicenter area. No casualties or damage have been reported. (News.Am)