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The News in Brief

Friday, May 9
Georgian president signs anti-discrimination law

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili has signed an anti-discrimination law.

"Georgia's law 'On elimination of all forms of discrimination' was published in the Legislative Herald on May 7 and correspondingly, entered into force.

The anti-discrimination law was adopted on May 2. The law prohibits discrimination against persons on any grounds, including age, health, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, profession and others. The law prohibits discrimination both in the public and private sectors.

The Georgian Church is against this law, claiming that it legitimizes the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, condoning sexual minorities. (Trend)

Two dead in building accident in Georgia

Two workers died after the dome of a half-finished church collapsed in a small village in the Adjara region in the south western part of Georgia.

The accident happened as five construction workers under the age of 30 were working on a new church in the village Akhalsopeli.

According to Mamuka Turmanidze, acting head of Adjara’s Emergency Service, the dome was about 50 tons and four of the workers were under it when it collapsed. The fifth managed to jump away. After rescue work which lasted for two hours, two of the workers were dead.

Interpressnews quotes Tamaz Gogitidze, a Akhalsopeli resident, who says he thinks the reason for the collapse might have been columns were removed. Another cause might have been defective construction material, he believes.

Archil Khabadze, head of the Adjara government, came at the site of the accident and said medical personnel are doing their best to save the lives of the two survivors.

Priests were also present but didn’t give comment to the media.

Locals say the construction of the church has been going on for about four years. (Democracy & Freedom Watch)

New charge against ex-Defence Minister

Georgia’s ex-Defence Minister David Kezerashvili, who is internationally wanted by Interpol, is facing a new charge of embezzling more than ˆ5 million (12 million GEL).

The statement by the Chief Prosecutor’s Office revealed in 2008 Kezerashvili, then Defence Minister, signed a contract with "Girwood Business Corporation,” which was registered at the Virgin Islands in an offshore zone. The contract targeted at conducting combat trainings to the relevant sub-units of the Ministry of Defence of Georgia.

The Ministry paid ˆ5,060,000 to the company but the latter never provide the agreed training. The company did not even have any experience of conducting military trainings, the Chief Prosecutor’s Office claimed.

Former head the State Procurement Department of the Defence Ministry, Alexandre Ninua, was also involved in the case, the Prosecutor’s Office said.

Kezerashvili and Ninua have been charged under Article 182 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which could result in seven to 11 years imprisonment if the men are found guilty.

Georgian prosecutors earlier accused Kezerashvili of bribe-taking, smuggling and money laundering. He is also facing charges of alienating Georgian TV station Imedi in 2008. (Agenda.Ge)

OSCE continues to reduce risk of armed violence in Georgia

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is continuing to reduce the risk of armed violence in Georgia.

OSCE said it was ready to remedy the effects of military activity in Georgia within the framework of Ammunition Demilitarization and Community Security programme.

OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Georgia to continue the project on April 30, OSCE reported.

The project was established by the OSCE in partnership with the UNDP (the UN’s global development network) in response to requests for assistance from the government of Georgia since 2007.

The project will be implemented by the state military scientific-technical centre Delta with cooperation of Ministry of Defence and OSCE, Georgia’s Defence Ministry reported.

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Georgia inherited substantial stockpiles of Soviet-era (including Russian Federation), conventional ammunition manufactured from 1950, the Ministry said.

In addition, ammunition was also abandoned as the Russian Armed Forces pulled out of their military bases in Georgia.

Considerable amounts of out-dated and unstable ammunition stockpiled in inadequate storing conditions continued to pose high risks to people, the physical environment and security, the Defence Ministry said.

Zannier believed the project had already resulted in a safer environment for Georgia’s citizens and the whole region. (Agenda.Ge)

Missing remains of Georgian WWII soldier return home

The remains of a Georgian man who died overseas while serving his country in World War II has returned home.

The final resting place of Mamia Tabatadze were unknown until his remains were discovered during excavations in the Russian city of Smolensk

A mirror belonging to the soldier, some of his personal documents and a medallion were also found at the site.

The Investigative Committee of Smolensk said on November 16, 1941, about 200 soldiers of the 17th Division were killed in Moscow oblast. About 40 of them are believed to be on a mission from Georgia.

It is possible Tabatadze was one of these soldiers.

Earlier this week Tabatadze’s body was given to representatives of the Union of Georgians in Russia. The organization helped cover the costs necessary to bring the body home to Georgia.

Relatives of the WWII soldier gathered at the airport and took Tabatadze's body to his native village Korbouli. (Agenda.Ge)

U.S. navy frigate makes port visit to Batumi

U.S. Navy frigate USS Taylor arrived in Georgia’s Black Sea port of Batumi on May 8 for a three-day port visit.

“Taylor’s presence in Georgia reaffirms the United States’ commitment to strengthening ties with NATO allies and partners like Georgia, while working toward mutual goals of promoting peace and stability in the region,” the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi said.

It is USS Taylor’s second visit to Georgia; the first time when the frigate made a port visit in Georgia was in December, 2008, when it arrived in the port of Poti.

The last time when U.S. warship visited Georgia was in November, 2013, when the U.S. 6th Fleet flagship, USS Mount Whitney, made a three-day port call in Batumi and conducted combined training exercises with the Georgian coast guard.

USS Taylor, which returned in the Black Sea late last month, completed on May 6 joint live-fire exercise and an anti-submarine warfare scenario along with four Romanian ships. (Civil.Ge)

Sokhumi on Georgia's NATO Integration

Breakaway Abkhazia’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday that Georgia’s NATO integration would have extremely negative consequences on regional security.

The breakaway region’s foreign ministry released the statement in response to remarks by Georgian Foreign Minister, Maia Panjikidze, who said that a visit of British Foreign Secretary William Hague to Tbilisi is important for number of reasons, including in the context of NATO summit in Wales in September. Hague arrived in Tbilisi from Ukraine on Wednesday evening and will hold talks with the Georgian leadership on May 8.

Abkhaz foreign ministry said in its statement that topics of discussions of Georgian officials with the British Foreign Secretary cause “our concern” because they are directly related to “Abkhazia’s national interests, first and foremost its security.”

“There is every reason to believe that the West is seriously intending to take revenge against Russia and its allies for their unwillingness to accept its [Western] dictates in Ukraine,” the breakaway region’s foreign ministry said.

Russia announced on May 6 about its intention to send over 80 new, upgraded armored personnel carriers to its military base in Abkhazia this summer. (Civil.Ge)