Georgian MPs approve end to emergency rule

Georgia`s parliament has formally approved the lifting of the country’s state of emergency on Friday. The international community had pressured them to lift the emergency rule, imposed on November 7, to ensure free and fair elections.

Georgia`s parliament is also meeting to discuss electoral changes to allow an early presidential election in January.

President Mikhail Saakashvili called for an early presidential election after last week`s opposition protests.

Russia's Foreign Ministry calls early elections in Georgia “a farce” – designed to keep the current leadership in power.

The Ministry says the opposition has not been given enough time to prepare for the January 5 election.

“The Georgian election campaign is beginning under strange circumstances. A state of emergency is in affect. Media outlets are shut down. Freedom of expression and assembly are limited. The opposition is being persecuted,” Ministry Spokesman Boris Malakhov says.

“Russia considers the political situation in Georgia an internal matter, and we don’t believe it would be correct to interfere,” he underscores.

Opposition TV off air

On Wednesday, the opposition supportive Imedi TV station, operated by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, had its broadcasting license revoked and its assets seized.

The Chairman of News Corp Europe has described as 'ludicrous' government claims that it broadcast an interview calling for a coup.

The station was taken off the air on November 7 when Georgian President Mikhal Saakashvili imposed the state of emergency.

Georgia’s rebel minister back on wanted list

Irakli Okruashvili may find himself  
            behind bars – again
Irakli Okruashvili may find himself behind bars – again

Meanwhile, Georgian prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant against former Defence Minister Irakly Okruashvili for breaching bail.

“We applied to the court today to change Okruashvili's administrative punishment from bail to pre-trial detention. The court satisfied our request. Irakly Okruashvili will be declared wanted, according to the decision of the court,” said Ketevan Chomakhashvili, the Georgian State Prosecutor.

Irakly Okruashvili has refused to return from Germany to attend his trial on corruption charges, which is due to begin on Friday.

Okruashvili was arrested in late September after he made the corruption allegations against President Mikhail Saakashvili.

He was later released on a $US 6 million bail and left the country, saying he would return when summoned by the court.