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The News in Brief

Monday, February 6
Russian Troops Put on ‘Highest Level of Combat Readiness’ in Breakaway S. Ossetia

Russian troops in breakaway South Ossetia were put on “highest level of combat readiness” on February 2, as part of the “combat readiness inspection” by Colonel General Alexander Dvornikov, Commander of Russia’s Southern Military District.

“Duty officers were instructed to put the motorized, tank and artillery divisions, as well as air defense and material-technical units, to highest level of combat readiness,” the Russian Defense Ministry reported.

“Certain subdivisions of the [Russian] military base [in South Ossetia] organized a march to designated areas using military equipment. Firing took place at Dzartsemi (north of Tskhinvali) shooting range using T-72A battle tanks, BMP-2 infantry combat vehicles, self-propelled howitzers "Gvozdika," mortars "Sani," automatic and manual grenade launchers AGS-17 and RPG-7, as well as small firearms,” the Defense Ministry statement reads.

“In addition, the units conducted maneuvers of mobile defense in the mountains and repelled conditional enemy attack by inflicting maximum damage,” the statement added.

The military exercise involved more than 500 servicemen and about 100 items of armament and military equipment, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

Imedi-GDS merger heralds further consolidation in Georgian TV

Imedi TV, one of Georgia’s largest TV stations, has bought GDS, a smaller company linked with billionaire and former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Imedi confirmed that it had purchased 100 percent of shares in the broadcasting company GDS, until now owned by Bera Ivanishvili, the Georgian tycoon’s wannabe rapper son.

The deal will concentrate more media power in the Imedi company, which was founded by the late billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili and is owned by his widow today.

Imedi’s owner company, Georgian Media Production Group Ltd, signed a deal with GDS TV on January 27 to purshase 100 percent of Imedi TV.

The acquisition is confirmed in a document published on the website of the Public Registry.

A spokesperson for Imedi told DF Watch that at this moment they can’t comment on what changes the merger will lead to, but it is expected that GDS will be made into a pure entertainment channel. Maestro TV’s management reassured its staff that it will not scale down its news reporting.

GDS currently has a strong entertainment profile while its news division has been scaling back its activities.

Last December, Georgian Media Production Group successfully concluded negotiations to merge Imedi with another TV channel, Maestro, which was a voice of independent journalism through the latter years of the Saakashvili presidency. Imedi, on the other hand, is seen by many as supportive of Georgian Dream, the current ruling party.

Ina Gudavadze, owner of Georgian Media Production Group and widow of Imedi TV’s former owner deceased billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili, announced in a statement that from January Maestro and GDS will become ‘an integral part of Imedi Media Holding.’

The merger of the country’s major mainstream TV companies in January caused GDS TV to close down the daily news show 2030 with the channel’s highest-profiled anchor Maka Tsintsadze and other political programming and it has since become a pure entertainment channel.
(DF watch)

Patriarchate: Our people should feel more responsibility with visa liberalisation

“We are glad that the citizens of Georgia were given an opportunity to travel visa-free in the EU,” says the statement of the Patriarchate of Georgia.

The Patriarchate claims that the EU's visa liberalisation is a sign of Bussels' appreciation and recognition of Georgia, but it is also a test.

"Our people should feel more responsibility and commitment to represent themselves in a worthy manner in Europe. Each of our actions speaks for us, for our country. It is our duty to try not only to try and make profits, but also to contribute to the process of development. This will be possible if we share our culture, our history and our traditions with Europe. So, the arena is large and we need to take prudent steps. I congratulate on this achievement to everyone and we ask God to give us faith, strength, peace and prosperity," says the statement.