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The News in Brief

Monday, April 10
EU ‘Does Not Recognize’ S. Ossetia Polls, Referendum

“The European Union does not recognize the framework in which the so-called Presidential elections and the referendum on amending the name of the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia on 9 April,” Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, said in a statement on April 8.

“The European Union reaffirms its commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Georgia, including through its co-chairmanship of the Geneva International Discussions and the EU Monitoring Mission,” she added.

The European Union also reiterates its “firm support” for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders.

Voters in South Ossetia went to polls on April 9 to elect their new leader. Simultaneously with presidential polls, Tskhinvali holds a referendum on renaming the region to “the South Ossetia – the State of Alania,” which drew wide criticism in Tbilisi.

The polls have already been rejected by the United States Embassy in Georgia, Japan, Poland and Ukraine.

Georgia bans smoking indoors and at sports arenas

Georgia will introduce a blanket ban on smoking indoors, after Parliament approved a bill proposed in February.

The ban covers smoking in buildings and includes a tough package of fines to ensure that it is followed, prescribing fines of up to 5,000 lari (over USD 2,000).

The bill is an amendment to the Tobacco Control Act was passed at the first hearing and will be brought into force gradually in steps by 2020.

Smoking will be banned in all kinds of buildings except private homes and in the penitentiary system. As previously reported by DFWatch, sport arenas will also become no-smoking areas. Furthermore, people may no longer light up aboard all types of public transport, except taxis and ‘cutters’ (boats); in educational facilities and facilities for children and youth; inside medical and pharmaceutical facilities and elsewhere on their premises.

Although tough fines are to force proprietors to follow the strict rules, the fines for individuals who break the rules are not so tough. The fine for violating the ban on smoking aboard public transport is 50 laris the first time and 100 laris for repeated offenses. Drivers will also be fined if they violate the ban.

The bill will strengthen the rules for restaurants and cafes. Starting from January 1, they must allocate a separate smoking area which is ventilated and may constitute up to 50 percent of the overall space of the facility.

The same rules apply to all other kinds of facility servicing the public, such as parlours, stores and markets, as well as private firms and warehouses. In such places, the smoking section must not exceed 5 percent of overall space.

The bill was prepared by several non-governmental organizations and initiated in the parliament by Guguli Maghradze from Georgian Dream.
(DF watch)

US condemns illegitimate elections and referenda in Georgia's occupied territories

The United States condemns the decision to hold a referendum in Georgia's occupied South Ossetia.

The US Department of State released a statement with regard to the abovementioned.

“The United States condemns the decision to hold a referendum on April 9 regarding the amendment of South Ossetia’s constitutional name to the Republic of South Ossetia-Alania. We also condemn and do not recognize the results of the illegitimate elections conducted in Abkhazia on March 12 and March 26 or the election on April 9 in South Ossetia.

“These illegitimate elections and referenda are being conducted in Georgian territory without the consent of the government of Georgia. The United States fully supports the territorial integrity of Georgia and its sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders. Our position on Abkhazia and South Ossetia is clear and consistent. These regions are integral parts of Georgia,” says the statement.