Entries in Georgia (4)


Russia Accuses Neighbor of Pig Sabotage

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A top Russian health official has accused neighboring Georgia of launching a devastating biological war... against Russian pigs.

Gennady Onishchenko, the Kremlin’s chief “sanitary doctor,” said that Georgia was the source of what appeared to be an “artificially created” outbreak of African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) that has spread through southern Russia and caused the deaths of nearly half a million pigs — either by direct infection or by farmers “culling” the pigs in an attempt to keep the disease from spreading, according to Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti.

“ASFV came to us from Georgia,” Onishchenko said. “[The outbreak] shows signs of being an artificially created situation. This is an act of economic subversion that the [south Russian] Krasnodar Territory has been unable to tackle for three years.”

The American Centers for Disease Control describes ASFV as “highly contagious” and “one of the most feared diseases in pigs.” The deadly strain was introduced to the Caucasus in 2007 and has had a “devastating” effect there since, the CDC said in a 2011 report.

For a herd in which ASFV has been discovered, morbidity rates reach nearly 100 percent and there is no treatment or vaccine, according to the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University. Humans, however, are not susceptible.

In August 2008, Georgia drew the ire and might of Russian military when it invaded South Ossetia, a breakaway region of Georgia supported by Russia. The resulting conflict lasted only days and ended after Russian troops invaded Georgia.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US May Explore Free Trade Deal With Georgia

Mike Theiler-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Marking the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United States and the Republic of Georgia, President Obama on Monday announced the U.S. is willing to explore the “possibility” of a free trade agreement with Georgia.

Following an Oval Office meeting with President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia, President Obama said the two leaders agreed to “a high-level dialogue between our two countries about how we can continue to strengthen trade relations between our two countries, including the possibility of a free trade agreement.”

“Obviously, there’s a lot of work to be done and there are going to be a lot of options that are going to be explored,” Obama added. “The key point, though, is we think it’s a win-win for the United States and for Georgia as we continue to find opportunities for businesses to invest in Georgia, for us to be able to sell Georgia our goods and services, and Georgia to be able to sell theirs as well.”

While there is no timetable yet for working on a free-trade deal, Saakashvili said that such an agreement would “attract lots of additional activity to my country” and help “our nation-building process.”

Obama said Georgia should be proud of the progress it’s made in building a sovereign and democratic country and assured Saakashvili that the U.S. will continue to support Georgia’s aspirations to join NATO.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Unemployment Rampant, Georgia Turns to...Reality TV?

Hemera/Thinkstock(TBILISI, Georgia) -- Governments worldwide are working to create jobs and the Georgian government has a new approach: reality television.

Literally titled “Employ and Get Employed,” the reality TV show is fast becoming a primetime favorite in the ex-Soviet country, the Wall Street Journal reports. American Idol meets The Apprentice as unemployed workers and aspiring entrepreneurs pitch business plans to a panel of judges which includes bank executives and political players.

Georgia's official unemployment rate in September stood at 15.5 percent.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Georgian Presidential Photographer Arrested on Espionage Charges

VANO SHLAMOV/AFP/Getty Images(TBILISI) -- The man responsible for photographing the President of Georgia has been arrested by Georgian authorities along with three others on charges of espionage.

The president's photographer, Irakli Gedenidze, and his wife Natia were taken into custody, accused of "operating under the cover of one of the foreign country's special service, with various information, against the interests of Georgia," the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs announced Thursday.

Along with the Gedenidzes, police detained Giorgi Abdaladze, the photographer for Georgia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as Zurab Qurtsikidze, a photographer for the European PressPhoto Agency. The statement did not name which foreign country the Georgian authorities believe to be involved, but Qurtsikidze's employer told ABC News he had been told his arrest was connected to Russia.

"They say he sent pictures to Moscow," EPA editor-in-chief Cengiz Serem said in a phone interview. "These were pool pictures and were given to all agencies... The pictures are even vetted by the President before they're sent out."

Audibly exasperated, Serem said Qurtsikidze is "absolutely not" a spy and the charges against him were "crazy."

A fifth photojournalist, working for The Associated Press, was also reportedly detained but released hours later.

According to the BBC, it's the first time in the history of Georgia that journalists have been arrested on suspicion of spying. In a separate case, a Russian state newspaper reported nine other people had been jailed in Georgia Wednesday, including four Russians, accused of spying for Moscow.

While a group of journalists reportedly protested the arrests from outside the prison where the photographers and their wives are being held, one of the detained, Abdaladze, protested on the inside by going on a hunger strike, Russia's RIA Novosti reported.

Serem said Qurtsikidze has never had trouble with authorities before.

"[Qurtsikidze] only covers what he's officially invited to and authorized to do," he said. "We do not have that sort of investigative journalism there."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio