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The News in Brief

Tuesday, April 12
Another Georgian citizen reportedly killed in Syria

According to reports, another Georgian citizen has been killed in Syria.

According to Rustavi 2, locals in Pankisi Gorge say that 39-year-old Vakha Bugiev was killed in an air strike. According to them, Bugiev had been fighting in a terrorist group.

Vakha Bugiev lived in the village of Tsinaubani. He had a wife and three children.

According to the Pankisi residents, he went to Syria in 2015, though they claim to be unaware of how he crossed the border.

12 Babushara victims buried in Tbilisi

A total of 12 more bodies have been identified from the Babushara airport disaster during the 1992-1993 Abkhazian war. The bodies were buried at the Brothers’ Cemetery in Tbilisi on Saturday April 9, when Georgia commemorates the victims of the tragedy of 9 April 1989.

Public funerals were held at Sameba Cathedral in Tbilisi on April 8-9, where family members, relatives and others paid tribute to the victims of the tragedy in Abkhazia.

Saturday began with a public funeral at Sameba, where politicians from both the government and the opposition came to express their condolences to the families of victims.

Nine victims were buried with a military guard of honour at the Brothers’ Cemetery in Dighomi in northern Tbilisi. Three were buried at ancestral cemeteries. The burials were attended by the Minister of Refugees, the Mayor of Tbilisi, the Deputy Defence Minister and other politicians.

Refugee Minister Sozar Subari said that 208 bodies, which have been transferred from Abkhazia, are currently being identified.

Through the facilitation of the Red Cross, a bilateral coordination group was created to study the issue of missing people during the conflict in 1992-1993. Within the negotiations, it was decided to identify the bodies of those buried on Babushara Brothers’ Cemetery.

43 bodies were identified by DNA. The Refugee Ministry said two more cemeteries will be established and more than 100 bodies will be transferred in 2016.

September 22, 1993, employees of the Security Ministry left for Sukhumi to participate in the evacuation of then President Eduard Shevardnadze, but the plane exploded at Babushara Airport in Sukhumi. 92 people died.

According to official figures, more than 2,000 people are still missing from the Georgia-Abkhazia conflict of the 1990s.
(DF watch)

Sergei Lavrov to discuss the issue of Georgia with his Swiss counterpart

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Swiss counterpart will discuss the issue of Georgia. As reported by the Russian media, the ministry's spokesman Maria Zakharova made the above-mentioned announcement.

"The Foreign Ministers will discuss a number of issues related to the implementation of the mandate given to the Swiss representations of interests of Russia in Georgia and of Georgia in the Russian Federation,” Zakharova said.

Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter arrived in Moscow for a working visit on April 11.

Pope Francis to Visit Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan

Pope Francis will visit Georgia in late September before traveling to Azerbaijan, the Vatican press office said on April 9.

Before visiting Georgia and Azerbaijan, Pope Francis will also visit Armenia, scheduled for June 24-26, according to the Holy See press office.

“Accepting the invitations from His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II, Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia, and the civil and religious authorities of Georgia and Azerbaijan, the Holy Father will complete his apostolic trip in the Caucasus, visiting the latter two countries from 30 September to 2 October, 2016,” the Vatican press office said.

It will be the second time a pope has visited Georgia. Pope John Paul II visitedTbilisi in November 1999.

Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili visited the Vatican and met Pope Francis in April, 2015.

In September 2014, then-Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See Archbishop Dominique Mamberti visited Tbilisi – the first visit Vatican foreign minister to visit Georgia in eleven years.

Before that, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States, a post which at the time was held by Jean-Louis Tauran, visited Tbilisi in September 2003, to sign an interstate agreement giving the Catholic Church in Georgia legal status. But in a last-minute discussion, yielding to pressure from the Georgian Orthodox Church, the Georgian authorities made a U-turn and refused to sign the agreement. In 2011, despite protests from the Georgian Orthodox Church, the Georgian authorities adopted a law allowing religious minority groups to be registered as legal entities under public law, which, among others, was also used by several branches of the Roman Catholic Church in Georgia. The adoption of the legislation was welcomed by the Vatican.