Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Georgian troupe's men generate sparks onstage

The fabled choreographer George Balanchine, whose ethnic roots were in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, famously proclaimed that "ballet is woman."

But it is the men who dominate the Georgian State Dance Company. And Saturday night at the Auditorium Theatre -- where the spectacular company of 70 dancers and 10 musicians put on one of the most thrilling, technically astonishing spectacles to come this way in a long time -- those men literally generated sparks.

Whether whirling on their knees at jet speed, spinning like gyroscopes on the curled toes of their sleek, leather-tipped black boots, or soaring through the air while engaging in death-defying combat (the clash of their knives and shields sending little bolts of lightning into the air), the troupe's male dancers brilliantly captured the wild, highly competitive nature of their country's alpha types. [More]

Georgia Ex-Minister Retracts Allegations

Georgia's former defense minister retracted allegations that the president of this former Soviet republic was involved in a murder plot and other corruption, prosecutors said Monday.

Opposition leaders and a lawyer for the former official accused authorities of coercing the retraction and promised to push for early elections over the case, which has touched off the country's worst political turmoil in years.

Irakly Okruashvili made his allegations against President Mikhail Saakashvili on Sept. 26. The president, who has sought to lessen the influence of neighboring Russia, called the charges "unpardonable lies" and the next day Okruashvili was charged with extortion, money laundering and abuse of power. [More]

UN chief recommends extension of UN mission in Georgia

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended on Monday to extend the mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) for six months.

In his report on the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia, unveiled on Monday, Ban noted that despite relative calm in recent months, the deadly clash that occurred on Sept. 20 is "the most serious incident involving the Georgian and Abkhaz sides in many years." [More]

Azerbaijan, Georgia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine to sign energy cooperation agreements

In the context of the forthcoming energy summit which will held on October 10 - 11 in Vilnius, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine are to sign energy cooperation agreements, said Lithuania Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Kestutis Kudsmanas. [More]

Monday, October 1, 2007

Toughest challenge for Georgian leader

This week, the former defence minister, Irakli Okruashvili, set in motion a dramatic chain of events when he accused his former ally, Mikhail Saakashvili, of leading a corrupt government and asking him to kill several potential opponents.

He offered no evidence, and his allegations were rejected as false and absurd.

But the former defence minister was arrested on corruption charges two days afterwards, and several thousand people took to the streets of the capital, Tbilisi, in protest.

It was one of the largest demonstrations in Georgia since the Rose Revolution four years ago which brought President Saakashvili to power. Some of the speakers vowed to overthrow Mr Saakashvili, as he once overthrew his predecessor, Eduard Shevardnadze. Leading opposition parties have now united to form what they call the "Salvation Front". [More]

Georgian President Returns Amid Turmoil

The pro-Western president of Georgia interrupted an overseas trip and returned to the ex-Soviet republic Saturday amid tensions over the arrest of a former ally who accused the leader of involvement in a murder plot.

Former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili was arrested Thursday on corruption charges after alleging that President Mikhail Saakashvili ordered the killing of a well-known businessman. "Okruashvili and everybody else knows that all the things he said about me and about the country's leadership are unpardonable lies," Saakashvili said in televised remarks. Saakashvili returned overnight from the UN. General Assembly in New York instead of traveling directly to Greece for a visit starting Monday.

Deputy administration chief Eka Dzhodzhua declined to comment on the reason for Saakashvili's return. But it came hours after thousands of opposition supporters rallied in the capital Friday, calling for Saakashvili's resignation and possibly signaling the start of Georgia's most serious political crisis since the 2003 Rose Revolution brought him to power. [More]

Georgia and Russia Clash at UN

Georgia's president told world leaders Wednesday that Russia continues to interfere in its domestic politics and engage in "reckless and dangerous" behavior, the latest in a series of conflicts between the two countries.

In his speech to the UN General Assembly, President Mikhail Saakashvili accused Russia of trying to skew reports of an incident last week in the breakaway region of Abkhazia in which Georgian forces killed two Russian military officials.

Saakashvili, who has vowed to bring the region back under Georgian control and accuses Russians of backing the separatists, said claims by a senior Russian official that the men killed were innocent were "unconstructive, unsubstantiated and wholly untrue." [More]