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The News in Brief

Thursday, October 3
Catherine Ashton concerned over placement of obstacles along administrative boundary lines in Georgia

The spokesperson of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, Catherine Ashton, issued a statement on behalf of Ashton. "The High Representative notes with profound concern the continued and increasing activities by Russian security forces to erect fences and other obstacles along administrative boundary lines in Georgia between the territory administered by the government in Tbilisi and the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Such activities - which contravene Georgia's territorial integrity - create significant hardship for residents on either side of the administrative boundary lines and seriously challenge stability and security in these regions.

The High Representative calls on the Russian Federation to ensure that these barriers are removed. She recalls the European Union's support for Georgia's territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.

The EU's Political and Security Committee travelled to Georgia on 30 September 2013 and paid a visit to the administrative boundary of South Ossetia, and to the EU Monitoring Mission," the statement reads. (IPN)

Georgian MIA: Case of "jihad" video solved

The case of the "jihad" video spread on the internet was solved a month ago, Georgian Interior Minister Irakli Garibashvili said on Tuesday. A few months ago, a video named "Jihad against Georgian forces in Afghanistan" was posted on Youtube. The video contained threats against Georgian troops involved in the ISAF mission.

Narrated in English, spoken in the background of military scenes with Georgian soldiers and civilian victims, reported that Afghanistan declares jihad and that the Mujahideen will inevitably come to Georgia to punish the Georgian crusaders and avenge this country for murdering Afghan women and children. The Georgian Interior Ministry confirmed the detention of the video's authors and reported that they are already held in custody. (Trend)

New head of EUMM in Georgia speaks for resumption of meetings on incident prevention

It is hoped that the meetings on incident prevention and response mechanisms against these incidents will be restored in Gali, the new head of the EU Monitoring Mission Toivo Klaar said at the press conference on Tuesday.

According to him, the mission is ready to resume these meetings at any time, of course in accordance to the political will of all parties.

"There were certain reasons due to which these meetings were not continued, but I hope and believe that both the de facto government of Abkhazia and the Georgian government are ready to resume them," Klaar said.

According to Klaar, the co-chairs of the Geneva discussion are working to resume these meetings in Gali. It should be stressed that similar meetings were disrupted by the Abkhaz side, which was dissatisfied with the position of the former head of the EUMM Andrzej Tyszkiewicz. (Trend)

Ivanishvili: 'We should win with a convincing election victory'

PM Ivanishvili said on October 1 that a “convincing” victory is needed in the upcoming presidential elections in order to overcome many challenges the country is facing.

The PM said that his team is still facing a lot of work; there is a lot to be rebuilt. “And we have to win convincingly in order not to leave any doubt, and not to cause question marks,” the PM told the activists of the Georgian Dream coalition’s youth movement, gathered outside the GD headquarters in Tbilisi to mark the anniversary of the coalition’s victory in October 1, 2012 parliamentary elections.

“We will create a precedent of holding European elections in Georgia… and we should win a convincing victory,” he added.

GD’s presidential candidate, Giorgi Margvelashvili, who was also present at the rally, said that "this victory should be very convincing in order to make our momentum further convincing." (Civil.Ge)

PM meets Judicial Council Chair

PM Ivanishvili met Levan Murusidze, chairman of new High Council of Justice (HCoJ), which oversees the judicial system, and discussed, among other issues, possible pay raise for judges.

Finance Minister, Nodar Khaduri, also attended the meeting. PM Ivanishvili said after the meeting that Chairman of HCoJ “convinced” him and the Finance Minister in the need of increasing salaries of judges and judiciary system’s staff.

Last time when judges got pay rise was in late 2008 and now monthly salaries vary from GEL 2,300 (for judges of city courts) to GEL 5,650 (for Chairman of Supreme Court). Judges of courts of appeal receive GEL 2,500 per month and their chairpersons – GEL 4,200; judges of the Supreme Court have GEL 4,400 and the first deputy chairperson of the Supreme Court – GEL 5,100.

Praising new chairman of HCoJ PM said: “Like me, he is too disposed to completely set the judiciary free from any outside influence.”

“He assumes this responsibility; we talked about it and our views actually concur with each other,” the PM said, adding that HCoJ chairman “sincerely tries to take care” for each and every judge.

“The new government will not dare to try [to influence the judiciary]… But at the same time we should not forget that absolute majority of judges were appointed by the previous authorities and we should certain that the judiciary is also free from the influence of the previous authorities,” Ivanishvili said. (Civil.Ge)

Hometown to resurrect bronze of dictator

Gori, Georgia- Under cover of darkness here three years ago, municipal workers tore down a giant statue of this ramshackle town's most famous son: Joseph Stalin.

The 20-foot-high bronze sculpture of the former Soviet dictator, which stood on a 30-foot pedestal in Gori's central square for six decades, was dumped face down in an abandoned airfield 13 miles away. Georgia's government said the statue would be "consigned to the dustbin of history" and permanently removed from public display.

Now, "Uncle Joe" is poised for a controversial comeback.

Local officials this summer won approval from a Tbilisi court to resurrect the bronze ode to the man of steel, after petitioning Georgia's new government, which favors healing ruptured ties with Russia. The decision will see the statue restored on the grounds of Gori's Stalin Museum in time for his birthday on Dec. 21. The move has rekindled a decades-long debate about the legacy of a man whose name has become synonymous with institutionalized brutality and oppression.

Many people are horrified in Georgia, a former Soviet state turned U.S. ally. President Mikhail Saakashvili said the decision was "an unimaginably barbaric anti-Georgian, anti-national act," that would place Georgia "in international isolation." But the former dictator's resurrection has been welcomed by many other Georgians, where the Stalinist cult of personality remains intact.

"Stalin should be here. There's no debate. The government has made the right decision," said pensioner Giorgi Kabodze.

"It's a part of our history. There were bad things but also good things, and we should celebrate the achievements," said Nino Makishvili, a 23-year-old student, who said her parents would regale her with tales of Stalin's qualities when she was a girl.

In Gori, locals are hoping that the resurrection of the statue will boost the town's prospects for tourism. (Wall Street Journal)