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The News in Brief

Friday, November 2
South Ossetia increases fines for ‘border violations’ 250%

Authorities in the breakaway region South Ossetia have increased the fines for ‘illegal crossing of the state border’ by two and a half times; from 2,000 (USD 30) to 5,000 Russian rubles (USD 75).

This change in the size of fines is one of the reasons for why it took longer time than usual for two Georgians to be released after being detained for the violating the de facto border, Radio Liberty reports.

Two residents of Georgian villages adjacent to the conflict line were released by Tskhinvali regime on Thursday allegedly after paying the fine. The Russian border guards detained two residents of Okami on October 2 in the forests near their homes while they were out collecting firewood.

In many places, the borderline is not clearly marked, which renders locals vulnerable to detention by the Russian FSB soldiers that are patrolling the perimeter of the breakaway republic. The Ossetian side uses the old administrative borderline from the Soviet Union. At talks held regularly in Geneva, Ossetian negotiators have suggested working together to agree about where the demarcation line runs. (DF watch)

Georgian Dream Continues Talks on Runoff Strategy

The ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG) is continuing talks on formulating its runoff strategy, four days after the GDDG-backed candidate Salome Zurabishvili has failed to capture the support of the voters, finishing neck-in-neck with the opposition candidate Grigol Vashadze, of the UNM-led coalition.

Today, the ruling party leadership, including the GDDG leader Bidzina Ivanishvili, held a meeting with their parliamentary representation. Salome Zurabishvili was present at the gathering but did not engage with the media.

In her press remarks after the meeting, MP Eka Beselia said the ruling party “has received and acknowledged” the message that voters conveyed to the authorities in the presidential polls.

“All problems that have been accumulated, whether this concerns individual problems or more complex challenges affecting thousands [have to be addressed],” she said.

“Significant changes are necessary … [but] it requires two stages; the first, short-term step concerns our internal [party] management – the activities that have to be carried out before the runoffs or changed, verified and revised within the party,” Beselia noted.

The second step, according to the lawmaker, is to convince the GDDG electorate to vote for their favorite candidate.

“We all have to understand the threats that the revanchist political force can pose to the country; that this will be very dangerous not for the Georgian Dream, but for the entire country and for every citizen,” she noted, echoing the earlier remarks of GDDG lawmakers that Vashadze’s victory could trigger destabilization in the country.

“This election is dangerous because the [opposition] force is readying for a revenge… [Vashadze] is planning to pardon those convicted of gravest crimes and this may happen chaotically … this could lead to personal reprisals and we have to understand where this could lead us to,” the Georgian Dream lawmaker added.

“So, the choice is what do we want for the country – do we want peace or return of the past… today the choice is between Saakashvili and his group, the majority of whom is implicated and complicit in grave crimes, and Salome Zurabishvili, whose entire professional background is related to Europe,” she said.

MP Giorgi Volski commented on the GDDG meeting as well, saying talks would continue with GDDG members and activists across the country, including at the local level and with the ones who have previously partnered with the ruling party.

MP Zviad Kvachantiradze spoke with the media as well, telling reporters that there were “important mistakes” in GDDG government’s performance and that there will be “full mobilization” for addressing these problems. “I cannot promise this will happen in one month’s time, but that we have a desire and a political will, is a fact,” he noted. (