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The News in Brief

Monday, December 23
Georgian PM hails Putin's 'readiness to improve ties'

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili has hailed Russian President Vladimir Putin's "readiness to improve' ties" with Tbilisi.

In a statement issued on December 19, Gharibashvili commended Putin's comments on a possible return to visa-free travel between the two countries.

Putin said at his marathon press conference the same day that he saw "some signals coming from the new leadership of Georgia" that can help "normalize" Moscow-Tbilisi ties.

On December 20, Georgian State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Aleksi Petriashvili also welcomed Putin's statement.

But he added that possible visa-free travel to Russia for Georgians would not affect Georgia's strategic issues, which are, he told journalists, the "de-occupation of Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and Tbilisi's policy of integration with the European Union and NATO."
(Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Georgian journalist barred from entering Ukraine

Ukrainian authorities have refused entry to a Georgian journalist.

Davit Kakulia, a journalist from Georgia's Rustavi 2 television station, was briefly detained by border guards upon arrival in Kyiv airport and deported on December 20, according to Rustavi 2 director Nika Gvaramia.

Kakulia was also informed by Ukrainian border guards that he was banned by the security services from entering Ukraine for one year for "suspicious activities."

Kakulia was covering pro-EU demonstrations in Kyiv that started last month following the rejection of a key association deal by the Ukrainian government.

Last week, Ukraine's Security and Immigration Services ordered two Georgian journalists from the Tabula television channel to leave the country within 24 hours.

Tabula has been running live coverage from Kyiv of the standoff between police and pro-EU protesters.
(Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

European leaders boycotts Sochi Winter Olympics

The fourth European leader has announced the decision to boycott the winter Olympic opening ceremony in Sochi, Russia.

After the leaders of Germany and France, the President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite said she will boycott the Winter Olympics 2014, explaining her decision with the protest to the sanctions imposed by Russia to Lithuania, the policy of Russia towards the Eastern partnership policy and the numerous facts of human rights violation.

A while after this statement, the president of Moldova, Nikolae Timofti also joined the boycott of various leaders. The president says he will not be present at the ceremony.
(Rustavi 2)

Saakashvili to teach governance at Tufts University

The former president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili will join Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in the US from January.

According to a statement by Tufts University he will hold lectures about European governance and other contemporary international and regional issues.

The university quotes Admiral James Stavridis, who welcomed Saakashvili at the university, dean of The Fletcher School as an accomplished leader and statesman, renowned for changing the course of his country’s history and moving it strongly into the trans-Atlantic community, as well as for his impact on the region and indeed the world.

“I am back to my roots as my educational background has everything to do with law and diplomacy. I will also get a chance to share the practical experience I acquired throughout the last several years,” Saakashvili said adding that he is honored to work at the university.
(Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Tbilisi City Court restores ex-Director of GPB to his position

Tbilisi City Court fully upheld Giorgi Baratashvili’s suit and restored him to the position of General Director of Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB).

The sides will receive the court decision in 14 days after the announcement of the resolution. After that, the decision will come into force and Baratashvili will have the power to continue working as the Director of GPB.

Baratashvili addressed Tbilisi City Court to annul the September 6, 2013 decision, according to which GPB board distrusted him and dismissed him from the position. Baratashvili was also demanding compensation for his salary loss after September 6.

The Court upheld all his claims. GPB board dismissed Baratashvili from his position twice in a six month period and the Court has appointed him back on both cases.

Meanwhile, the selection for the committee of GPB is working on selecting 9 out of 35 candidates for the Public Broadcast Board. According to the new legislature, from January 1, 2014, the board will contain 9 members instead of current 15.

Charter of Journalistic Ethics Council has a new Chairperson

Executive Director of the Georgian Association of Regional Broadcasters, Natia Kuprashvili has been appointed to the position of Chairman of the Council of the Charter of Journalistic Ethics of Georgia. She replaced Giorgi Mgeladze at the given position.

Kuprashvili will head the Charter of Journalistic Ethics during next one year.

“Mandate of the Charter has extended this year. We will discuss cases submitted against Charter non-signee journalists so being on this position is especially responsible,” Kuprashvili stressed.

Charter Prize winners announced

Charter of Journalistic Ethics awarded winners of the Charter Prize. Prize for best article was awarded to Liberali magazine journalist Sopho Aptsiauri for the article – Life at the Dump; Studio Monitor journalist Nana Naskidashvili was awarded for best video-material – Tabatskuri Lake – Hardship of Fishermen; Ekho Kavkaza journalist Olesya Vartanyan received best radio-report prize.

Winners received certificates and tablets.

Other journalists have also been awarded for the loyalty to Charter principles. Certificates were given to following journalists – Salome Tsetskhladze (Studio Monitor), Nino Kharshiladze (Channel 25) for the materials on 18-years-old homeless children and David Kokoshvili (Netgazeti) for the report made in Chela village.

40 materials took part in the competition – 26 articles, 8 video-reports and 5 radio-reports. One material was submitted to media-critic nomination, although winner has not been chosen in the given nomination.

Georgian celebrities perform with disabled children at Bravo Records

The music project titled “I see the Sun” has come to a close with a CD album presented by Bravo Records on December 20. The project involving individuals with disabilities and public celebrities was initiated a month ago.

The CD included ten collaborations in which young performers sing Georgian and international pieces along well-known singers. The CD cover art design was done by young disabled painter Lekso Podiashvili alongside well-known painter Gia Gugushvili.

The project – carried out by Bravo Records with an initiative and support by the Sport and Youth Affairs Ministry - aimed to integrate disabled young people into public life and was sponsored by “Talizi” Clinic and KSB Bank.
(Georgian News)