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Archive for Georgia

Newsline: Tbilisi thief stole $160k from US embassy and got away with it

U.S. officials uncovered a fraud scheme that resulted in almost $160,000 being stolen from an embassy in eastern Europe over a five-year period, according to a new State Department report. The fraud was little more complicated than stealing from a cash register, but poor security controls at the U.S. Embassy in Georgia allowed it to continue from 2010 to 2014. In total, $159,700 was lost, “likely due to the misappropriation of cash” from the retail store safe by a former employee, according to an audit. The loss of funds was hidden for years because the thief deleted receipts from the accounting records in order to cover up the shortages. “The deleted transactions were cash sales, and the deletions often occurred many weeks or months after the dates of sale,” the State Department’s Office of Inspector General explained. The identity of the thief was obscured by the number of people who had access to the accounting software. The inspector general noted that the commissary employees, as well as the government employees who comprise a board that oversees the embassy employee association, all used the same administrator account to access the accounting software. The scam started small, with $8,700 stolen in 2010. That figure rose to $46,100 by 2012. Investigators “could not determine” who carried out the fraud, so the inspector general was confined to outlining proposals for preventing it from happening in the future, such as limiting the cash on hand at the commissary.



Newsline: Georgia decries Russian Foreign Minister’s visit to Abkhazia to open embassy

Georgian Prime Minister’s special envoy for relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze has described the forthcoming visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Abkhazia to open embassy as an “encroachment on Georgia’s sovereignty.” Deputy Foreign Minister David Jalaganiya told reporters on his part Lavrov’s trip meant disregard for international principles and law. In August 2008, Russia recognized independence of Abkhazia and Sourth Ossetia, formerly two regions of Georgia that had been seeking independence for themselves since the early 1990’s.


Newsline: Austrian Embassy opens in Tbilisi

Austria is opening its Embassy in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi. For this occasion, the Secretary General of Austria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Michael Linhart, pays an official visit to Georgia on September 21-22. “The opening of an Austrian Embassy is expected to strengthen relations between the two countries in political, economic and cultural fields,” the Embassy said in a statement. The opening ceremony of the new Austrian Embassy will take place on September 22, followed by speeches of Ambassador Linhart and the Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia Gigi Gigiadze, Agenda.ge reports.


Newsline: Belarus to open embassy in Georgia in 2016

Belarus will open an embassy in Georgia in 2016, reads Resolution No. 43 by the Council of Ministers as of 21 January 2016, BelTA cited the press service of the Belarusian government. The Finance Ministry shall finance the expenses on opening and maintenance of the embassy within the funds set aside in the national budget for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the opening and maintenance of diplomatic missions and consular offices abroad.


Newsline: Georgia Summons Armenian Diplomat

Georgian Foreign Ministry summoned Armenia’s ambassador to express its “extreme concern” over a meeting between speaker of Armenian parliament Galust Sahakyan and chairman of Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia Anatoly Bibilov. The meeting was held in breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. News about the meeting was first reported by a press office of breakaway South Ossetia’s parliament on May 1, saying that Bibilov was in Nagorno-Karabakh to “observe” May 3 parliamentary elections. The Georgian Foreign Ministry said on Monday evening that it summoned Armenia’s ambassador Yuri Vardanyan, who was told by Georgian deputy foreign minister Gigi Gigiadze that the meeting in question “runs counter to the spirit of traditionally friendly relations between Georgia and Armenia, and harms bilateral relations.” “The Armenian ambassador expressed regret over the case and said that he would immediately convey Georgia’s position to Yerevan,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry said.


Newsline: Belarus to open embassy in Georgia this year

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko assured that a Belarusian embassy will open in Georgia this year, Belta reports. Lukashenko noted that embassies would normally open in countries where Belarus had good trade-economic contacts. He added that Minsk and Tbilisi had signed an agreement during his visit to Georgia to raise the bilateral trade turnover to $200 million.


Newsline: ‘Secret recording’ in Georgia enrages US ambassador

Even skilled diplomats sometimes stumble, especially when they think the microphones are off. U.S. Ambassador Richard Norland in the former Soviet republic of Georgia found himself sputtering in outrage over comments he made earlier this month to students at Tbilisi State University in the capital of the Black Sea nation. “This was a discussion with students. Actually it was off the record, and it was [a] secret recording,” he said in remarks posted on the U.S. Embassy website. Mr. Norland suggested the quotes that appeared in the Georgian media were taken out of content, but the damage was done. In his Nov. 15 address at the university, he complained about how the Georgian government treated residents of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which have been restive since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. Responding to a student’s question about his opinion of the cauldron of tension in the region, Mr. Norland said: “If you ask me about my opinion, I can tell you that when I was in Georgia 20 years ago, I saw that Georgians were treating Abkhazians and Ossetians the same way as Russians were treating Georgians, and Georgia will have to apologize for mistakes of the past.” His remarks sparked protests from opposition politicians, while the government tried to play down the ambassador’s gaffe.