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The News in Brief

Tuesday, September 13
Georgian citizen arrested by occupants

The Russian occupants have arrested Valiko Khizanishvili, a resident of the village of Koshka. The Georgian citizen has been accused of crossing the so-called border illegally.

As reported, he has been transported to a Tbilisi remand center.

The State Security Service of Georgia has confirmed the detention. No other details are available at the moment.


Supreme Court Finds Rustavi 2 TV’s Appeal in Ownership Dispute Admissible

A three-judge panel of the Supreme Court found an appeal from Rustavi 2 TV, which is disputing the lower courts’ rulings ordering the transfer of ownership of the broadcaster to its former co-owner, admissible.

The decision of admissibility by the panel, which includes judges Ekaterine Gasitashvili, Paata Katamadze and Besarion Alavidze, was posted on the Supreme Court’s website on Friday evening.

It says that the appeal will be considered on its merits by the same panel of three judges without an oral hearing.

The Tbilisi Court of Appeals upheld on June 10 the ruling of the lower court in favor of Kibar Khalvashi, who seeks to reclaim his shares in Rustavi 2 TV, which he owned about a decade ago.

The current owners of the broadcaster, who claim that Khalvashi’sdrive to regain Rustavi 2 TV is being orchestrated by the authorities to silence a television station critical of the government, took the case to the Supreme Court.

On the eve of Supreme Court’s decision on admissibility, Rustavi 2 TV’s head Nika Gvaramia alleged that pressure was exerted on the judges from the authorities to dismiss the appeal and not to proceed with its consideration on the merits. The panel of three judges denied the allegation in a brief written statement few hours before their decision finding the appeal admissible was made public on September 9.

After the Supreme Court decision was announced, Gvaramia thanked the judges for their “brave decision”, but complained about the part of the decision which says that the appeal will be considered without an oral hearing.

3.5 million have registered to vote in Georgia’s elections

More than 3.5 million voters had registered in Georgia by August 12; eight weeks before the election for parliament.

Ana Mikeladze, Speaker for the Central Election Commission, said on Wednesday that between June 10 and today, more than 715,000 people checked their information in the online voters’ list.

September 8 is the deadline to register majoritarian candidates and party lists. So far, 24 parties and six election blocs have registered.

The number of registered voters is two hundred thousand short of the total population of Georgia according to the 2014 population census of 3.7 million.

I had an idea not to admit locals in casinos – Bidzina Ivanishvili

“I remember when meeting Erdogan, he asked me to close down casinos,” former PM BidzinaIvanishvili said in Imereti at a meeting with regional media.

According to him, serious restrictions should be imposed on underage people to prevent them from gambling.

“Speaking frankly, I would ban the casinos with great pleasure but this is an economic issue and it’s impossible to have a categorical attitude towards it. Especially in Adjara; this business has a serious position in Batumi and contributes to the country’s development. But underage people should be barred from entry,”

According to him many tourists arrive in Georgia and presence of casinos also increases the tourist influx.

ISFED: 2016 pre-election campaign features less physical confrontation than 2012

One of the country’s leading non-governmental organisations says the current pre-election period leading up to next month's Parliamentary Elections is more peaceful and less violent than the 2012 pre-election period.

The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) published its third interim report following its pre-election monitoring ahead of the October 8 vote.

The NGO’s executive director MikheilBenidze said there were "obvious better practices" in this year’s pre-election campaign environment where fewer violations had been reported than during the pre-election period of the 2012 Parliamentary Elections.

Benidze, however, said the improvement wasn’t hugely obvious compared to the 2014 Municipal Elections, which he believed could be explained by the idea that Parliamentary Elections were much important than regional elections.

“In comparison with the 2012 pre-election campaigning period, there is an obvious tendency of general improvement now, but certain cases of violations are increasing as the election campaign progresses and becomes more active,” he noted.

Benidze stressed even though this pre-election campaign period was generally peaceful, it was still important to adequately react to individual cases of violations.

During the reporting period (August 8 - September 1) ISFED identified:
• Eleven cases of intimidation/harassment allegedly based on political affiliation
• Two cases of physical confrontation
• One cases of possible vote buying
• Five cases of participation of unauthorised individuals in canvassing
• Four cases of unlawful use of administrative resources
• Seven cases of obstruction of pre-election campaigning
• Five cases of damaging campaigning materials

The ISFED said these alleged violations were committed either by supporters of the ruling party and oppositional parties.

The ISFED is carrying out pre-election monitoring in all electoral districts of Georgia through 68 long-term observers.