Issue no: 872/41
• AUGUST 23 - 25, 2016
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... Temporary Administration at Georgian Branch of Bankrupt Azerbaijani Bank NEWS PAGE 3
Head of Environmental NGO on Hunger Strike in Tbilisi PAGE 4
ON SUCCESS IN INNOVATION Georgia ranked 64th of 128 countries PAGE in Global Innovation Index
Georgia and Turkey to Deepen Trade, Economic Relations
The Czech Diplomat A-Z of Georgian Memories PAGE 6
A View to the US: Third Party Rising POLITICS PAGE 8
4 Men Convicted of Bride Kidnapping in Georgia’s Adjara Region SOCIETY PAGE 10
BY THEA MORRISON
bilisi hosted the Georgia-Turkey Agricultural Business Forum on Thursday, where the two sides discussed agricultural, business and trade relations. The sides decided to boost meat, hazelnut, honey and grape exports and shared their experience in the agriculture field. Before opening the Forum, Georgia’s Agriculture Minister, Otar Danelia, met with his Turkish counterpart, Faruk Celik. The Turkish delegation also had a meeting with Georgia’s Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili. Continued on page 3
Georgia’s Khinchegashvili Wins Olympic Gold in Rio
SPORTS PAGE 11 Prepared for Georgia Today Business by
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AUGUST 23 - 25, 2016
Georgia Ranked 64th in Global Innovation Index BY THEA MORRISON
n this year’s annual Global Innovation Index (GII), published last week, Georgia gained nine places, to be ranked 64th out of 128 countries. The information was released by the head of Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency (GITA), Irakli Kashibadze, who says the better position was obtained due to the country’s recent push in innovation-oriented policies and opening of new facilities that support entrepreneurship and creativity. “Georgia joined the list of countries that have made rapid development in innovations and the country's data has improved in many directions,” he stated at the press-conference. Kashibadze noted that with its recent
development, Georgia left behind many countries- like Brazil, Kazakhstan and India. He also underlined that the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development founded GITA just two years ago and since then numerous interesting projects regarding the development of innovation infrastructure have been carried out. “Different laboratories have opened recently which promote innovative projects. As a result, Georgia can enjoy a better position in the international rankings than before,” Kashibadze said. The Global Innovation Index 2016 (GII), in its 9th edition this year, is co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO, a specialized agency of the United Nations). Published annually since 2007, the GII is now a leading benchmarking tool for
With its recent development, Georgia left behind many countries- like Brazil, Kazakhstan and India, says Head of GITA, Irakli Kashibadze.
business executives, policy makers and others seeking insight into the state of innovation around the world. The core of the GII Report consists of a ranking of world economies’ innovation capabilities and results. Recognizing the key role of innovation as a driver of economic growth and prosperity, and the need for a broad horizontal vision of innovation applicable to developed
and emerging economies, the GII includes indicators that go beyond the traditional measures of innovation such as the level of research and development. The GII 2016 was calculated as the average of two sub-indices. The Innovation Input Sub-Index gauges elements of the national economy which embody innovative activities grouped in five pillars: Institutions, Human capital and
research, Infrastructure, Market sophistication, and Business sophistication. The Innovation Output Sub-Index captures actual evidence of innovation results, divided into two pillars: Knowledge and Technology Outputs, and Creative Outputs. The top five countries of the GII 2016 are Switzerland, Sweden, the UK, the US and Finland.
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 23 - 25, 2016
Georgia and Turkey to Deepen Trade, Economic Relations Continued from page 1 "There is a great deal of trade potential between our respective countries, and we will spare no effort to maximize it," Kvirikashvili said. According to Danelia, Georgia and Turkey are moving to a new stage of economic cooperation. “We had one of the most result-oriented meetings with our Turkish counterpart,
and we made an agreement on strategically important issues,” Danelia stated at the Forum. Turkey’s Celik also said in a speech that despite good strategic partnership between Georgia and Turkey, cooperation in the agriculture and trade fields could be better. “We reached a consensus on all important issues. Private businessmen should then use the potential that exists,” the
Temporary Administration at Georgian Branch of Bankrupt Azerbaijani Bank
Turkish Minister said. Both sides also signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding plant production, animal health and agriculture management strategy. This year’s forum was attended by representatives of 43 Turkish companies, including 40 Turkish companies with a presence in Georgia. 25 Georgian companies that produce fish, milk, dried fruit, tea and wine participated in the event.
BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
he National Bank of Georgia (NBG) is appointing a temporary administration at Caucasus Development Bank – Georgia following the bankruptcy of its headquarters in Azerbaijan. The Caucasus Development Bank started operating in 1999, and was launched in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 2013. NBG say the sending of a Georgian expert to oversee Azeri operations is standard course for easing any existing challenges and is no cause for alarm: “The Caucasus Development Bank – Georgia, with assets amounting to 0.14 percent of the total banking assets of
Georgia, continues to serve its clients,” the NBG said. “The capital and liquidity levels of the bank are sufficiently high that the temporary administration will be fully able to meet the requirements of creditors, including depositors,” NBG representatives said, adding that they are confident in the health of the Georgian banking sector, which is “regulated in compliance with the best international practice… all decisions of the NBG aim at the sustainable and stable development of the banking sector.” This week two Azerbaijani banks, the Caucasus Development Bank and AtraBank, were declared bankrupt on a decision by Baku Administrative-Economical Court No 1. following the revocation of the licenses of both banks by the Central Bank of Azerbaijan (CBA) this January.
AUGUST 23 - 25, 2016
Head of Environmental NGO on Hunger Strike in Tbilisi BY THEA MORRISON
ata Peradze, the head of the Non-Governmental Organization Guerrilla Gardening Tbilisi, is on hunger strike in front of Tbilisi City Hall to protest the cutting down of trees at a future site for a block of flats. Peradze says she will continue her hunger strike until members of the Ecology and Landscaping Service Department are dismissed and replaced with qualified staff. “The only people who are guilty are those in the Mayor’s Office. They control the contractors and should be held accountable,” Peradze said as she called
on others to join her protest. Around 40 trees were cut down last Wednesday on Tbilisi’s Kazbegi Street, outside the city center, after an assessment company issued a report claiming the trees were diseased. The Mayor’s Office said their order to remove the trees was made by the report. Local environmentalists claim the report is false, and the trees were cut down because of lucrative construction contracts. On Thursday, the Tbilisi Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into the conduct of some individuals at the Mayor’s Office, after samples of the trees were taken to a lab for analysis. The Prosecutor’s Office says the results will be released in the coming days. Tbilisi Mayor David Narmania ordered a 10-day moratorium on the cutting down
Kazbegi Strret, Tbilisi
Nata Peradze, the head of the Non-Governmental Organization Guerrilla Gardening Tbilisi, is on hunger strike in front of Tbilisi City Hall to protest the cutting down of trees at a future site for a block of flats. Photo: Mariam Bakradze/Netgazeti
of trees in the city until the findings of the report are released. According to Narmania, the Mayor’s Office will once again review and discuss the issue of the removal of trees and green areas in the city. “We’ve made some changes and tightened the rules for removing trees or destroying green spaces, but it seems the issue needs more attention,” he noted. The Mayor's Office also noted that the
Supervision Department appears to be responsible for violating construction regulations and need to be investigated for their activities. An independent MP from Tbilisi’s City Council, Alexander Elisashvili, also joined the protesters, claiming that several City Hall officials should also be held responsible for the decision. “It’s quite obvious that due to the city government’s general indifference and
lack of oversight, the city’s green spaces are being destroyed,” said Elisashvili, who was also questioned by the City Prosecutor’s Office on August 19. Guerrilla Gardening said at the weekend that they hope to expand their activities beyond protests against urban planning in Tbilisi, and focus on creating a national dialogue about the overall environmental situation throughout the country.
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 23 - 25, 2016
New Ski Jumping Infrastructure to Be Built in Bakuriani BY THEA MORRISON
Georgian ski jumper Koba Tsakadze competed from 1955 to 1972 and now lives in Bakuriani. Source: www.si.com
ccording to the Georgian Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, new Olympic standard ski jumping infrastructure is to be built in the Bakuriani Mountainous resort. The issue was discussed at the meeting of Georgia’s Economy Minister and Deputy-Premier, Dimitry Kumsishvili, and the Director of the International Ski Federation (FIS) Ski Jumping Race, Walter Hofer, who arrived in Georgia upon the invitation of the Georgian Ski Federation on August 18. The meeting was held in Bakuriani and was also attended by the Head of the Mountain Resort Development Company, Aleksandre Onoprishvili, the President of the Georgia’s Ski Federation, Zurab Kostava, and representative of the Federation, Ekaterine Orjonikidze. According to Aleksandre Onoprishvili, Walter Hofer examined Bakuriani and the sides chose the perfect place for the construction of the ski jump facility of Olympic standards. “We are happy to host the high-representative of the FIS in Georgia… Walter Hofer provided us with a number of
The world-famous Bakuriani ski jump as it is today. Photo: TravelPod Member Sojourner
recommendations. We held working meetings and have come away sure that these will contribute greatly to the development of ski jumping in Georgia,” Onoprishvili said. Walter Hofer noted that Bakuriani was one of the most famous ski-jumping resorts in the world. He met legendary Georgian ski jumper Koba Tsakadze, who competed from 1955 to 1972 and now
lives in Bakuriani. “We visited the old facility and hope to convince the Georgian Government to renovate and build new ski jump infrastructure for our youth, for our jumpers – both men and women,” said Hofer while examining Bakuriani. The Director of FIS says the new facility should ideally be finished in 3-5 years.
AUGUST 23 - 25, 2016
The Czech Diplomat A-Z of Georgian Memories make society and the country they live in a better place.
From politics to community work to dollmaking, Policy Advisor at the Embassy of the Czech Republic to Georgia, Veronika Sido has a wealth of memories to take away
BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE
t’s not uncommon for foreign envoys to leave Georgia with cherished memories, but few have been so enamored with the country as one Czech diplomat who recently completed her term as the Policy Advisor at the Embassy of the Czech Republic to Georgia. For Mrs Veronika Sido, the Georgian adventure doesn’t end here as, for the time being,
she will be monitoring Georgian affairs for the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Prague. Before she goes, she was emphatic to share with us what she thought makes Georgia so special. And she even has her memories lined up in alphabetical order!
YOU HAVE SPENT MORE THAN THREE YEARS IN GEORGIA. WHAT OPINION HAVE YOU FORMED OF THE COUNTRY – RHYTHM, WAY OF LIFE; ITS PEOPLE?
WHAT MEMORIES ARE YOU LEAVING WITH? I’ve had the privilege to serve in Georgia as a Deputy Head of Mission for four years, which gave me a unique opportunity to get familiar with the country and its people. Of course, for a foreigner it’s always extremely difficult to get “under the surface,” however I’m sure I made the most of the chances I was given! That was possible only due to the willingness of the people I met to share their everyday lives. And it is of course the omnipresent and famous hospitality and friendliness of the Georgian people and their readiness to move forward, to
Georgia will forever stay deeply rooted in my heart, as it is not only my first posting abroad (and as we say the first love can be only one), but as I have already mentioned, it is the people who made me cherish my stay here, the beautiful memories of friendship that will last, the countryside I had a chance to tour, the extremely delicious cuisine… I can be singing odes to Georgia for hours, so just to keep it short I tried to summarize the memories I’m leaving with in alphabetical order!
VERONIKA SIDO’S GEORGIAN MEMORIES:
I will always remember: A- Argonauts – a band of heroes representing the ancient history of Georgia and referring to Colchis, Jason and the Golden Fleece; B- Borjomi – a beautiful city and my favorite mineral water (my God, what will I do without it?) C- Chavchavadze, Ilia - Georgian hero in memory of whom the street where the Embassy of the Czech Republic can be found which I called “home” for four years; D- Deda Kartlis – monument in Tbilisi and the symbol of the Georgian character showing me its hospitality all the time; E- Europe – Georgia as a member of the European family; F- Fireworks - a popular entertainment Continued on page 7
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 23 - 25, 2016
Continued from page 6 of Georgians for various sorts of parties, I will never forget the New Years Eves when the whole of Tbilisi suddenly turned into a “burning carpet”; G- Georgia - my love (no comment); H- Havel, Václav – the first president of the Czech Republic, philosopher and dissident in memory of whom a park in Vake district was named, which I am really proud of; I- Imereti cheese - apart from Sulguni, my favorite one; J- Jalaurta – the place of my first acquaintance with Georgian regions where I realized how little needs to be done to significantly improve the lives of local children (the CR reconstructed the local kindergarten); K- Kakheti – Georgia’s premier wine-producing region with beautiful scenery I admired so often over and over again; L- Lamazi – the best word to describe Georgia; M- Mama – an easy word in a big challenge of studying Georgian and only the most determined students can get over it; N- Nino and monastery Nino Bodbe in Sighnagi - my favourite place in Georgia, a sacred one for me where a feeling of total lightness overwhelmed me every time I stepped there; O- Omalo village - my biggest challenge - the CR is very active in Tusheti region, with various development aid projects trying to preserve the local culture, it remains my personal challenge as it was always a mudslide which prevented me from visiting this beautiful part of Georgia; P- Prometheus Cave - another place definitely worth a visit. I can’t even remember how many times I visited it, not only to do monitoring of the CZ cave management project. Do you realize how clean the air in those caves is? Q- Qvevri – I’ll never forget the taste of wine prepared by this unique Georgian technique of vine fermentation in large egg-shaped vessels buried below ground; R- Ratili – a Czech opera singer and leader of the first Georgian folk choir, Josef Navrátil (1840-1912), known in Georgia as Ratili; S- Saperavi, I will miss you! T- Tamar the Great, King of Georgia – in fact a queen addressed only as a king, but above all a strong and intelligent woman associated with the period of political and military successes and cultural achievements; U- Ushguli - a village in Svaneti, the traditions of which I will never stop being fascinated in. I’ll never forget my Svan friends; V- Vake Park –a favorite place in Tbilisi where I was enjoying my time playing with my daughter; W- Water - huge source of energy and enormous potential for Georgia; X- X-mas in Georgia, beautifully decorated Rustaveli Avenue; Y- Yezids – one of the many religious communities in Georgia I had the chance to meet while implementing one of the Czech development aid projects and symbolizing the religious tolerance typical of Georgia; Z- ZOO in Tbilisi which suffered in the tragic flood in the summer of 2015. The CR was one of the first countries to provide help to cope with the disaster.
technologies in Georgia are. I only had difficulties getting used to the fact that FB is in fact a working tool where even my counterparts and Georgian officials are easily accessible. So I was forced to turn my private FB into a working instrument and I find it very useful now.
TELL US ABOUT THE SPECIAL HOBBY WE HEARD YOU DISCOVERED DURING YOUR STAY IN GEORGIA To be more precise, I found that hobby before I came to Georgia. The hobby we are talking about is doll-making, the making of art dolls- unique collectables made in one exemplary. I was wondering how widespread it was in Georgia and I found out that there is even a Doll Museum in Tbilisi and plenty of talented doll-making masters who were unfortunately quite isolated and scattered. So I took the decision to organize a joint project of Czech-Georgian doll-making called Doll Days, which was a joint exhibition of the Prague Dollmaking club and the Tbilisi Doll Museum. Due to this event I managed to meet numerous Georgian doll-makers and decided to help them. I also met a very talented doll master, Keti Dzidziguri, with whom I was taking private lessons in doll-making for almost two years. The Embassy of the Czech Republic later organized two more exhibitions for the Georgian doll masters and facilitated their taking part in the international exhibition in Prague in November 2015. These events somehow united the Georgian doll-makers, so they decided to establish and register an association. The Association is very active now and preparing a huge cultural event – The Tbilisi International Doll Exhibition in which famous doll masters from abroad will take part. That’s something I’m extremely proud of, something I’m leaving here in Georgia with a feeling of great satisfaction. I would like to invite the readers of Georgia Today to that exhibition which will take place in Tbilisi in December this year. And I’m very happy I was invited by the organizers as a participant, too.
HOW WILL YOU BE INVOLVED IN GEORGIAN AFFAIRS IN YOUR FUTURE CAPACITY? I’m really very lucky as I’ll be dealing again with a bilateral CZ-GE agenda at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, which made my farewell to Georgia much easier, thank God! Otherwise it would be much more difficult to say goodbye to the country and all the friends I met. I will do my best to forward CZ-GE relations even further and deeper and make the most of the know-how I obtained while working with the Georgian agenda on the spot. I strongly believe that sooner or later I will have a chance to visit this beautiful country again.
WHAT WERE YOUR IMPRESSIONS WHEN YOU ARRIVED? ANY SURPRISES SINCE? I will not hide the fact that at the beginning of my stay here I was going through a kind of a cultural shock. It was my first posting, even though to a country of my preference, but a very turbulent country from the point of view of internal and external politics. As for surprises – I was first very much surprised how widespread the IT and mobile
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AUGUST 23 - 25, 2016
A View to the US: Third Party Rising BY GSR
s of mid-August, the 2016 US Presidential Election appears to be veering towards Hillary Clinton. Polls have indicated rising support for her candidacy since last month’s Democratic Party convention. Meantime, Donald Trump’s quest has been heading in the opposite direction. A series of controversial quotes have several officials within the Republican Party wondering whether Mr. Trump has the temperament and discipline to wage an effective campaign. Whereas Ms. Clinton has seemingly consolidated the Democrats intra-party differences (namely Bernie Sanders’ insurgency), Republicans are far from united. A significant group of party stalwarts have declared they won’t actively help Mr. Trump, essentially conceding Hillary Clinton will be America’s next President. Their focus is being directed towards “down ticket” legislative contests that seek to retain Republican control of the Congress and Senate. This has been a very unpredictable year however. Surveys show that a record percentage find Trump and Clinton untrustworthy and are looking at third party candidates as alternatives. In light of this sentiment, the Libertarian and Green Parties are attracting voter interest. Recent polling averages show nearly thirteen percent support for both of these parties. Given the tepid attitude towards Trump, Clinton and the overall Presidential nominating process, this figure will likely grow. In US political terms, voting third party is basically perceived as a protest and therefore wasted ballot. Nevertheless it has influenced the outcome of recent Presidential contests. Ross Perot (whose 1992 campaign somewhat resembles Mr. Trump’s run) garnered a significant percentage of votes that were a major factor in Bill Clinton’s victory. Then-Green Party candidate Ralph Nader’s 2.5 percent tally in the state of Florida was considered the key determinant which allowed George H.W. Bush to become President in the contentious 2000 general election. The 2016 race is potentially becoming another situation where the final outcome could be influenced by a non-major party’s performance.
In several respects, Mr. Johnson is a more amenable version of Donald Trump. Source: radio.wpsu.org
Surveys show that a record percentage find Trump and Clinton untrustworthy and are looking at third party candidates as alternatives. Source: www.politicususa.com
Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s candidate, has been receiving increased media scrutiny. His polling numbers average around nine percent. It’s widely assumed that Mr. Johnson is gaining votes at the expense of the Trump campaign. According to a July CNN survey, seventeen percent of Republican voters who didn’t support Mr. Trump during that party’s primaries will now back Mr. Johnson. In contrast, only four percent of the Democratic Party’s electorate reject Hillary Clinton’s nomination and will go Libertarian. In several respects, Mr. Johnson is a
more amenable version of Donald Trump. Their professional backgrounds are basically the same – successful businessmen who have personally dealt with a widening medley of governmental regulations and taxation (Mr. Johnson owned a construction company before entering politics). This shared experience accounts for the “common sense” solutions both men advocate to cure America’s economic problems. Messrs. Johnson and Trump are also outsiders to the political establishment. Before he became a Libertarian, Mr. Johnson served for eight years as the Republican Governor of
New Mexico, advocating socially liberal initiatives such as marijuana legalization which challenged party philosophy. There is a mutual wariness regarding overseas commitments and alliances, especially NATO. The two men noticeably differ on immigration. Mr. Johnson believes it helps the US economy, declaring that illegal aliens take jobs American citizens don’t want. He dismisses Mr. Trump’s plan to build a wall along the Mexican border, stating undocumented traffic has declined in proportion to America’s slower growth rate. There are also opposing viewpoints regarding commerce and defense. Mr. Johnson is a free trade proponent who believes in a smaller, less costly military. Mr. Trump’s “America First” outlook believes otherwise. The apparent hemorrhaging of Mr. Trump’s support to the Libertarian Party doesn’t necessarily work to Ms. Clinton’s advantage, however. The previously mentioned CNN survey also notes that a further six percent of the Democratic vote is going to the Green Party candidate Jill Stein. The Green Party’s attracting disgruntled followers of Bernie Sanders, angered by the revelation that senior Democratic officials deliberately prevented their can-
didate from becoming the party’s nominee. Even though the Greens are siphoning fewer major party votes than their Libertarian counterparts, the potential impact shouldn’t be discounted. Tallying approximately four percent of the national vote at this time, the Green Party can still play a pivotal role if the election reverts to being a closely contested race. (Note the party’s previously cited 2000 performance in the critically important state of Florida as reference.) The upcoming Presidential debates offer the third party nominees a major opportunity to present their perspectives nationwide. Regulations, however, restrict who can participate. A candidate needs to be receiving at least fifteen percent of the vote as “determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations.” Based on this criterion, the Greens will likely be excluded. The Libertarian Party has a realistic chance, given its growing attractiveness as an option to flawed Republican and Democratic candidacies. Will debate officials heed what’s occurring and allow an extra lectern on stage? GSR is a policy analyst who has worked with democratic development projects in Turkey and the Caucasus. © GSR 2016
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 23 - 25, 2016
Georgia’s Burchuladze Former First Forms Coalition with 3 Lady of Georgia Pro-Western Parties to Run as UNM Candidate
BY THEA MORRISON
ormer opera singer-turnedpolitician Paata Burchuladze’s State for the People party has merged with three other opposition parties to form the State for the People Movement, Burchuladze announced Thursday. The bloc includes the New Political Center Girchi, New Rights Party and New Georgia, all of whom made the decision after the four parties decided
to create a broader union of “pro-Western political forces.” Several members of Burchuladze’s party were against the creation of a coalition, with 10 State for the People officials from Batumi and two others based in Tbilisi quitting the party. “I call on our party members to leave it if they disagree with where the party is headed,” Burchuladze said. He went on to say the new staunchly pro-Western coalition has a fair chance of winning several seats in parliament in the upcoming October 8 elections. “We promise that we will change peo-
ple’s lives for the better just as soon as we come into government,” Burchuladze said at a press conference. “The reason of our unification is that our visions on main challenges coincided,” said Girchi party Chairman Zurab Japaridze. Party of Georgia leader Vashadze, who left the opposition United National Movement (UNM) in May, said he decided to join the bloc because he wants to win. Burchuladze’s party is currently polling third behind the ruling Georgian Dream and United National Movement.
Democratic Movement Party Leader Burjanadze Meets Russia’s Duma Speaker BY THEA MORRISON BY THEA MORRISON
ino Burjanadze, the leader of the pro-Russian Democratic Movement party, met with Russia’s State Duma Chairman Sergey Naryshkin in Moscow last week. “We had a very interesting and constructive conversation. The meeting once again revealed the importance for Georgia to have direct, immediate dialogue with Russia’s high-ranking officials,” said Burjanadze, who went on to state that after the parliamentary elections, she will meet Russian government officials to bring the two countries closer together. “This will help us to move to a new stage of closer relations and solve the problems which Georgia is facing,” she noted. Burjanadze said she discussed her nonaligned initiative with Naryshkin. According to Burjanadze’s plan, Georgia would be constitutionally bound to declaring itself neutral and would aban-
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S don its goal of joining the NATO alliance. Burjanadze said she and her supporters plan to collect the required 200,000 signatures to have the initiative debated in Parliament. “My Russian partners said that this (non-aligned) initiative would undoubtedly open new opportunities regarding relations between Georgia and Russia,” said Burjanadze. Russia’s State Duma, or parliament,
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said in a press release that Burjanadze’s visit was substantial and constructive. Burjanadze, who briefly served as acting president following the 2003 Rose Revolution, is regarded as one of Georgia’s staunchest pro-Russian politicians. She has repeatedly denounced the current government’s Russia policy, saying Georgian Dream has missed an opportunity to normalize relations with Moscow.
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andra Roelofs, the former First Lady of Georgia and estranged wife of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, announced that she will run as a parliamentary candidate in Samegrelo region capital Zugdidi for the opposition party United National Movement (UNM). Roelofs and the UNM leadership arrived in the Samegrelo region and held meetings with voters in Kortskheli and three other villages on Friday. Roelofs said Georgia “needs new leadership because everything in the country is on hold.” She called on voters to support the UNM during the upcoming October 8 parliamentary elections. “We should stop the confrontation and start building our country. Let us elect a new government and continue the development we need,” Roelofs said.
Roelofs also referenced an incident in May when the members of the UNM were brutally beaten by the supporters of the ruling party Georgian Dream (GD) during the May 22 by-elections. “Kortskheli is a symbol that we should respond to violence with peace,” she stated. The UNM’s top candidate, David Bakradze, said Roelofs’ participation in the elections is critical to the party’s success. “I am sure that a person like Sandra Roelofs will win the elections and will do everything for the better future of the country,” he noted. Roelofs, 47, was born in the Netherlands. She served as First Lady of Georgia from 2004 to 2013. She set up breast and cervical cancer screening programs in Georgia, as well as prenatal screening, and promoted palliative care and awareness about rare diseases, safety belts and healthy lifestyle.
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AUGUST 23 - 25, 2016
Georgian Intelligence Service Foils Terrorism Attack on Russia-Armenia Gas Pipeline
BY TAMAR SVANIDZE
eorgia’s State Intelligence Department on Saturday detained a group of Georgian citizens for an attempted terrorist act on the Russia-Armenia gas pipeline, passing near the river Aragvi. Savle Motiashvili, an investigator of the State Security Service, emphasized at the special briefing on Monday that a group of five illegally purchased and kept firearms and explosives utilities with the intention of bombing an open section of the gas pipeline which connects Russia and Armenia in the vicinity of Saguramo village, on the river Aragvi. An acting Patrol Police officer of Poti city, Levan
M., and citizen of Georgia, Irakli B, were also detained and are being accused of having links with a terrorist organization. According the investigator, on August 20 the members of the criminal group travelled to the forest near the Zhinvali-Shatili highway highway to collect explosives from the cache. At the scene, the Counterintelligence Department found four pieces of 200 gram coils of TNT, two types of fuse, five capsule-detonators and one Russian VZD charge in the car of the detainees. Motiashvili also emphasized that during an additional inspection, the officers seized three automatic weapons with cartridges and ammunition, and a map marked with targeted locations to attack. The investigation is being carried out by the State Intelligence Department of Georgia.
4 Men Convicted of Bride Kidnapping in Georgia’s Adjara Region BY NICHOLAS WALLER
court in Georgia’s Adjara region has convicted four men of bride kidnapping, according to court records. The four men were found guilty of depriving a person of their civil liberties and also of drug possession, the Batumi City Court said. Three of the defendants were given seven-year sentences, while a fourth given an eight-year prison term for having been found in possession of narcotics. According to the court’s records, the four men kidnapped a young woman in the region’s Black Sea resort of Kobuleti in November 2015. The victim said she was abducted at gunpoint by one of the defendants, but managed to send a mes-
sage from her mobile phone to her sister, REFE/ RL reported. Bride kidnapping cases continue to plague Georgia’s rural areas. Though exact numbers are hard to come by, non-governmental activists estimate that hundreds of women are kidnapped and forced to marry their abductors each year. The practice of bride snatching in the Caucasus dates back hundreds of years and remains common in certain communities throughout Georgia and is widespread in the North Caucasus republics of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia. In Georgia, bride kidnapping usually involves an abductor, often accompanied by friends, who accost a young girl and force her to enter a car. Once in the car, the victim may be taken to a remote area or her captor's home where she’s then forced to marry. Human Rights Watch has reported that victims often refuse to bring charges against their kidnappers because of social and family pressure.
GEORGIA TODAY AUGUST 23 - 25, 2016
Georgia’s Khinchegashvili Wins Olympic Gold in Rio
eorgian freestyle wrestler Vladimer Khinchegashvili won a gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games in the 57-kilogram category on Friday night, bringing home the country's second gold from the XXXI Olympiad.
The 25-year-old Khinchegashvili, who hasn’t lost since the 2014 World Championship final, defeated Japan’s Rei Higuchi in the gold medal match with a score of 4:3. Khinchegashvili represented Georgia at the 2012 Summer Olympics, where he won a silver medal in the 55-kilogram
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category. Georgia has so far won two golds, one silver and three bronze medals at the 2016 Olympics. Georgian weightlifter Lasha Talakhadze won the country's first gold medal on August 17, setting a new World Record in the over 105-kilogram category.
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