Posts by DFWatch staff:

News

Seven Georgian schools may be closed in the southern part of Abkhazia

by | Apr 16

TBILISI, DFWatch--Abkhazia’s breakaway authorities are planning to close seven Georgian schools in Gali, according to locals, who fear that such a decision, if taken, will cause the district to be depopulated. The school closures are being considered as part of an ‘optimization’ plan for the public schools in Abkhazia.

Politics

Georgian parliament speaker slams Freedom House report

by | Apr 12

TBILISI, DFWatch--The speaker of Georgia's parliament on Thursday slammed a report by the US based organization Freedom House, accusing its local contributors of being hostile to the Georgian government and the Trump administration. Using extraordinarily strong language

News

Violent attack on Nigerian students sparks racism debate in Tbilisi

by | Apr 10

TBILISI, DFWatch-A group of Nigerian students were physically assaulted in the Dighomi neighborhood of Tbilisi Sunday evening. They claim the attack was unprovoked and motivated by racism. The incident, which took place on a playground as the students were playing football,

News

Six killed as coal mine collapses in Tkibuli, Georgia

by | Apr 5

TBILISI, DFWatch--Six miners died when a coal mine collapsed in Tkibuli, Georgia Thursday morning. A further three were injured and brought to hospital, where they remained at press time. The immediate cause of the incident is still to be determined. According to a statement

Youth

GEM Fest 2018 thrown into doubt after application for permit rejected

by | Apr 4

TBILISI, DFWatch--GEM Fest may be canceled this year, after an agency of the Georgian government denied the festival a permit to rent a land plot. The fate of the annual electronic music festival, which is popular among youth in Georgia and neighboring countries, was thrown into doubt because the The National Agency of State Property (NASP)

News

Russia bans fruit and vegetables from Abkhazia, which in turn blocks same products from Georgia

by | Apr 1

TBILISI, DFWatch--From April 2, Moscow will prohibit the import of fruit, vegetables and herbs from breakaway Abkhazia, which heavily relies on selling agricultural commodities to Russia. Sokhumi responded by imposing an embargo

News

A shopping mall near the Abkhazian border offers services to people on both sides

by | Mar 31

ZUGDIDI, DFWatch--A five hectare shopping mall in Rukhi, only meters from the administrative border line (ABL) with breakaway Abkhazia, is doing good business, says its director David Machavariani, speaking to DFWatch. "Of course, the idea has justified itself, as [the mall] allows people to have more access to the services closer to their homes.

News

Georgia expels one Russian diplomat over UK spy poisoning

by | Mar 29

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi is expelling a Russian diplomat in solidarity with its western allies over the poisoning of the ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the UK. The decision was taken on Thursday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after strong pressure from the opposition.

News

Two women accuse the head of Georgia’s Public Registry of sexual harassment

by | Mar 27

TBILISI, DFWatch--The head of Georgia’s Public Registry has been accused of discrimination and sexual harassment by at least two of the agency's former female employees. Papuna Ugrekhelidze, the 43 year old chairman of the NAPR, who is currently on a business trip to the US, flatly denied the accusations

News

Georgia number two in Europe in incarceration rate, only surpassed by Russia

by | Mar 23

TBILISI, DFWatch--Only Russia has a higher percentage of its population behind bars among European countries. 256.3 persons per 100,000 inhabitants were incarcerated in Georgia in 2016, according to a new report by the Council of Europe. This means the small Caucasus nation

News

South Ossetia beginning strict control of ‘citizenship’ procedures

by | Mar 22

AKHALGORI, DFWatch--South Ossetia is creating a new body that will examine whether its 'nationals' comply with the procedures for obtaining 'citizenship' of the breakaway region. A civic activist from Akhalgori might become the first victim of the novelty.

News

South Ossetia hands over body of deceased detainee

by | Mar 21

TBILISI, DFWatch--South Ossetian de facto authorities late Tuesday evening handed over to Georgian law enforcers the body of a Georgian war veteran who died in Tskhinvali under suspicious circumstances. The release of Archil Tatunashvili’s body was facilitated by the Red Cross.

News

Putin received the highest percentage of votes in Georgia’s two breakaway regions

by | Mar 21

TBILISI, DFWatch--In two enclaves carved out of neighboring Georgia, Vladimir Putin received the highest percentage of votes in the Russian presidential election: 94 percent of votes in Abkhazia and 93 percent in South Ossetia. The two regions which both have a heavy Russian

News

Far-right activists violent assault TV journalists in Tbilisi, six detained

by | Mar 20

TBILISI, DFWatch--Six men were detained after a group of nationalists assaulted reporters working for the opposition leaning TV channel Rustavi 2 in Tbilisi on Monday. At least one journalist was injured. The TV channel’s sports reporter Davit Eradze was hospitalized

News

At least eight injured as ski lift fails in Gudauri, Georgia

by | Mar 16

TBILISI, DFWatch--At least eight people were injured in an accident in Georgia’s ski resort Gudauri Friday as after a ski lift failed. Two people - a Swedish and Ukrainian national - are in a serious but not life threatening condition, while the others suffered minor injuries, Minister of Health Davit Sergeenko said, speaking to Imedi TV. The police have opened an investigation into the case. The exact cause of the accident is still unknown. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ogdoUccoRI

News

Sokhumi’s lack of a heart clinic leads many to seek treatment in Georgia proper

by | Mar 13

GALI, DFWatch--Abkhazia’s de facto authorities have not managed to open a much needed heart clinic in Sokhumi due to the lack of qualified medical staff, a Georgian cardiologist who was involved in the process told DFWatch.

News

South Ossetia lets two Georgians go but still refuses to hand over body of deceased prisoner

by | Mar 11

TBILISI, DFWatch--Separatist authorities in control of the South Ossetia region Sunday released two Georgian men who were detained about three weeks ago, but still refused to hand over the body of a third detainee who died in detention.

Minorities

Rally for transgender rights thwarted by egg-throwing ‘family values’ activists

by | Mar 9

TBILISI, DFWatch--Anti-gay activists thwarted a demonstration for transgender rights in Tbilisi Thursday. Police detained one person for throwing a raw egg at the group of LGBTQ protesters who had gathered outside the House of Justice to demand smoother procedures

News

Far right group has patrolled Tbilisi streets for the last week

by | Mar 6

TBILISI, DFWatch--A far right group in Georgia has been patrolling the streets of Tbilisi for ‘over a week’, wearing armbands and T-shirts with its insignia, the group’s leader confirmed on Monday. Georgian March’s patrols covered an area in the city center including Leselidze Street,

In brief

Georgia’s ruling party allegedly preparing to pick justice minister as candidate for president

by | Mar 4

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's ruling party is going to pick Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani as a candidate for president, an opposition TV station claims. Rustavi 2 TV claimed Tsulukiani’s candidacy has been approved by former PM Bidzina Ivanishvili.

News

South Ossetia deploys security force to Akhalgori, conducting stop and search

by | Mar 4

TBILISI, DFWatch--South Ossetia has imposed strict security measures in Akhalgori, the only part of the breakaway republic inhabited predominantly by ethnic Georgians. Units of the region’s riot police have been deployed to the town of Akhalgori and its surroundings.

News

South Ossetia launches ‘genocide’ accusations as pressure builds to transfer deceased prisoner’s body

by | Mar 3

TBILISI, DFWatch--South Ossetia's de facto authorities still refuse to hand over the body of a former Georgian soldier who died after what appears to have been physical abuse by prison guards, and has instead repeated allegations that the 2008 war was a ‘genocide’ against Ossetians.

News

Gülen school manager offered state protection

by | Mar 1

TBILISI, DFWatch--The manager of a private school linked to the exiled Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen was included in the state protection program, his lawyer confirmed Thursday. Mustafa Emre Cabuk, quality manager at Demirel College, was released on bail on February 19

News

Abkhazian ‘residency permit’ enforced by threat of cutting off pensions

by | Feb 25

GALI, DFWatch--After requiring people to obtain a residency permit which costs almost USD 200, breakaway Abkhazia now threatens to cut off pensions and teachers' salaries of those who don’t comply. Locals in the Gali region consider the new regulation a form of blackmail.

News

Georgia demands investigation into death of war veteran in South Ossetia prison

by | Feb 23

TBILISI, DFWatch--A former Georgian military serviceman died Friday morning in South Ossetia after what appears to have been physical abuse by prison guards. Georgia demands an immediate and impartial investigation of the incident and access to the corpse for Georgian forensic experts. The breakaway region’s Security Ministry announced the death of Archil Tatunashvili Friday morning. According to the statement, he died 23 February at night from 'acute heart failure'. Tatunashvili, a retired member of the Georgian military, was detained with two other men in Akhalgori, or Leningor as it is called by de facto authorities, on Thursday. Tskhinvali referred to Tatunashvili as a person possibly implicated in 'the genocide against the Ossetian people', a label commonly applied to people who participated in the Russo-Georgian war in August, 2008. The de facto authorities in Tskhinvali claim Tatunashvili was injured when he tried to resist the guards. "During the transfer to the detention center, [Tatunashvili] resisted, snatched a pistol from the holster of the escort. In order to disarm Tatunashvili and neutralize his illegal actions, the KGB officers of the RSO applied physical strength, during which the detainee ...

News

South Ossetia hit by population crisis as birth rate drops 20% in five years

by | Feb 22

TBILISI, DFWatch--South Ossetia’s population is dwindling, and the de facto authorities will have to do something to address the problem, local media report. In 2017, there were born 513 babies in the breakaway region, which has experienced a 20% drop in its birth rate

News

Minibuses replacing horse carts at Enguri Bridge

by | Feb 21

GALI, DFWatch--Four-wheel horse carts (‘tachkas’) are still the main means of transport for crossing the Enguri Bridge, which separates breakaway Abkhazia from Georgia proper. However, recently three ‘marshrutkas’ have started competing for this profitable business,

News

Georgian president accuses Russia of running smear campaign in Europe

by | Feb 21

TBILISI, DFWatch--The president of Georgia has hinted that Russia may have manipulated media in Europe and made them focus on crime committed by Georgian nationals. "It may be the result of Russian propaganda when in the capitals of some European countries

News

Gulen-linked school manager released on bail by Tbilisi court

by | Feb 19

TBILISI, DFWatch--The manager of a private school linked to the exiled Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen was released on bail by a Tbilisi court on Monday. Mustafa Emre Cabuk, quality manager at Demirel College, was arrested in May, 2017 in what appeared to be a case of pressure

News

Police in Georgia warn far-right activists against forming vigilante groups

by | Feb 17

TBILISI, DFWatch--Police in Georgia on Friday warned far-right activists against forming vigilante groups to patrol Tbilisi streets. Any attempt by Georgian March to set up vigilante groups will be met with a ‘strict response’, the Ministry of Internal Affairs was quoted as saying

News

Renowned Abkhazian composer charged with sexual abuse of a minor

by | Feb 15

TBILISI, DFWatch--A renowned Abkhaz musician who wrote the anthem of the breakaway republic was arrested Wednesday in Sokhumi and charged with sexual abuse of a minor. The criminal prosecution against Valeri Chkadua, 70, was initiated after a complaint

News

Georgian far-right group plans to form new political party

by | Feb 15

TBILISI, DFWatch--A far right group in Georgia that is forming vigilante groups to patrol Tbilisi's streets looking for 'suspicious foreigners' is also planning to establish a new political party. Leaders of Georgian March confirmed this to different media outlets.

News

Ukraine detains Saakashvili and deports him to Poland

by | Feb 12

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s former president Mikheil Saakashvili has been deported from Ukraine. Saakashvili was detained in central Kyiv and deported to Poland by the border guard service. A statement on the service’s website says supporters of Saakashvili

News

CEO of Tbilisi clinic claims government of Azerbaijan intervened in his trial

by | Feb 10

TBILISI, DFWatch--The director of a Tbilisi hospital claims he was sentenced to prison on orders of the Azerbaijani government. Ferman Ceyranli, the director of Lancet Clinic, was sentenced to six years in jail by Tbilisi city court on Friday.

News

‘Anti-oligarchy’ revolution ‘imminent’ in Georgia: Saakashvili

by | Feb 9

TBILISI, DFWatch--Former Georgian president and ex-governor of Odessa Mikheil Saakashvili thinks an 'anti-oligarchy revolution' is ‘imminent’ in Georgia. "This post-Soviet quagmire will be swept away, because it is contrary to human instincts," Saakashvili said

News

Former high-ranking ‘Mkhedrioni’ paramilitary shot in Tbilisi

by | Feb 7

TBILISI, DFWatch--A woman who served in a banned paramilitary force in the 1990s and her son was shot in Tbilisi Wednesday morning. Dodo Gugeshashvili (59), a former high-ranking member of the Mkhedrioni paramilitary group, sustained a wound to her chest and was hospitalized. Her son, 32 year old Nodar Gusgeshashvili, was also shot in the attack and died on the spot. The shooting occurred at Gugeshashvili’s flat in Dighomi, an uptown neighborhood in the west of Tbilisi. No other details are available so far. Mkhedrioni, which literally means “cavalry” in English, was a paramilitary force established in late 1980s by former thief-in-law, Jaba Ioseliani. At its peak in 1992-93 the unit consisted of 7,000 fighters and associate members. It played a key role in ousting President Zviad Gamsakhurdia in 1992 and the subsequent civil war where it was notorious for war crimes and mass looting. Mkhedrioni fought both in the war in Abkhazia and the war in South Ossetia. Apart from fighting, it was also notorious for being involved in mafia-style business in Tbilisi and other parts of Georgia, as well as political assassinations.

News

Rare Georgian language memorial discovered in Abkhazia

by | Feb 2

TBILISI, DFWatch--A World War II memorial in Abkhazia has been found to bear an inscription in the Georgian language; a rarity after a recent wave of cultural cleansing. DFWatch’s reporter unexpectedly stumbled upon the memorial stone in Merkheuli,

News

How much do teachers in Gali actually earn?

by | Jan 30

GALI, DFWatch--Here in Gali, southeastern Abkhazia, the school teachers are the only group of ethnic Georgians that the breakaway authorities don’t demand formal documents from in order to be allowed to work, several teachers told DFWatch.

Sport

Georgian wins sumo wrestling championship in Japan

by | Jan 28

TBILISI, DFWatch--A 30-year-old Georgian unexpectedly won a sumo wrestling championship in Japan. Levan Gorgadze clinched his first ever victory in the highest division, Makuuchi. Gorgadze, who competes under the ring name (shikona) Tochinoshin,

News

Russia’s Duma approves merging South Ossetia militia with Russian army

by | Jan 26

TBILISI, DFWatch--Official Tbilisi condemns a decision by Russia to merge the armed forces in the breakaway territory South Ossetia with the Russian army. Russia’s State Duma ratified the move on Wednesday.

News

Abkhazia demands Georgians renounce citizenship before issuing passport

by | Jan 24

GALI, DFWatch--The breakaway region Abkhazia demands an official document issued by the Georgian Ministry of Justice proving that someone has renounced their Georgian citizenship in order to grant them an Abkhazian passport, Gali residents told DFWatch.

News

Georgian opera singer to perform in breakaway Abkhazia

by | Jan 22

GALI, DFWatch--Georgian opera singer Giorgi Todua will hold a concert in the breakaway region Abkhazia on Wednesday, for the first time after the bloody war in 1991-92, which killed tens and  displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

Interviews

Trump’s NSC advisor: We have to find ways to deal with new threat that Russia has perfected

by | Jan 20

VoA contributor Greta Van Susteren interviewed H.R. McMaster, 26th National Security Advisor, serving under President Donald Trump, at the White House. This is a transcript of a part of the interview pertaining to Russia.   

News

Local strongman assassinated in South Ossetia

by | Jan 17

TBILISI, DFWatch--A former militiaman was assassinated in South Ossetia on Tuesday. Breakaway   authorities claim the suspect fled to Georgian-controlled territory. Marek Dudayev was shot three times in Artsevi, his native village near the breakaway capital Tskhinvali, local media reports. His body was found in a building

News

Groups demand investigation into how anti-terror forces killed 19-year-old

by | Jan 12

TBILISI, DFWatch--The death of a young Chechen man who was shot in an anti-terror operation last month has sparked an outcry among locals in the Muslim-inhabited region he came from, while activists in Tbilisi rallied outside the government building.

News

Georgian volunteers in Ukraine war quit military unit after ‘provocations’

by | Jan 10

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian volunteers who have been fighting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine since 2014 accuse their commander of betrayal and have abandoned the brigade they belonged to in the Ukrainian military. All but three of the around 40 Georgian volunteers

News

Former President Saakashvili convicted of ‘abuse of power’ by Tbilisi court

by | Jan 5

TBILISI, DFWatch--A court in Georgia on Friday found the country’s former president Mikheil Saakashvili guilty of abuse of power and sentenced him to three years in jail. The sentence, which was passed in absentia, was initially four years, but the term was curtailed due to an amnesty law.

News

Ukraine detains ship carrying cigarettes from Abkhazia

by | Jan 5

TBILISI, DFWatch--On December 31, Ukrainian border guards fired warning shots at a ship off the coast of Odessa and took it into custody. The ship, which was flying a Tanzanian flag, was found to be carrying counterfeit cigarettes from Abkhazia, destined for Bulgaria.

News

Abkhazia demands extradition of Russian diplomat’s murderer

by | Jan 5

TBILISI, DFWatch--Authorities in breakaway Abkhazia demand the extradition of a Georgian prisoner suspected of assassinating a Russian diplomat and his wife in Abkhazia in 2013.

News

Obstacles hold South Ossetia residents back from seeking medical treatment in Georgia proper

by | Dec 29

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia blames a drop in the number medical visits from South Ossetia on obstacles imposed by Tskhinvali justified by claim Ossetians are being 'humiliated'. In 2017, there was a sharp drop in the number of people traveling from South Ossetia to Georgia proper to get medical treatment.

News

Five detained in Georgia for links to ISIS terror plot

by | Dec 27

TBILISI, DFWatch--Five men were detained in a counter-terrorism operation in Georgia Tuesday morning accused of links to a terror plot involving a senior ISIS operative who was killed in Tbilisi a month ago. The five, Zurab Gornakashvili, Ruslan Aldamov, Ramaz Margoshvili,

News

Killed ISIS operative Chatayev was planning attacks in Georgia and Turkey

by | Dec 26

TBILISI, DFWatch--A notorious ISIS fighter who was killed in Tbilisi a month ago was planning terror attacks against diplomatic missions in Georgia and Turkey, Georgian authorities said on Tuesday. The security police made the claim based on information

News

Georgian ex-soldier released by Abkhazia after 7 years imprisonment

by | Dec 25

TBILISI, DFWatch--Authorities in breakaway Abkhazia released a Georgian ex-soldier on Monday after serving seven years of a 20 year sentence. Giorgi Lukava, who was seized by Sokhumi in 2011, was handed over to Georgian authorities at Enguri bridge,

News

Abkhazian “visas” to be issued at Enguri border crossing

by | Dec 22

GALI, DFWatch--Breakaway Abkhazia will start issuing "visas" at the Enguri border crossing. Until now, these travel documents have only been issued in Sokhumi and Gali.

News

The moment Georgia’s PM told the opposition leader ‘f— you’

by | Dec 21

TBILISI, DFWatch--PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili swore several times at his counterpart during a debate with the acting head of the largest opposition party UNM on Wednesday.

News

Al-Qaeda commander from Pankisi reported dead in Syria

by | Dec 18

TBILISI, DFWatch--A high-profile al-Qaeda affiliated field commander of Georgian-Kist origin has been killed in the Syrian civil war. Reports by Syrian and Lebanese news agencies said Salahuddin al-Shishani, was killed during a Russian air raid near Hama province, in northern Syria.

News

Abkhazia plans to charge customs tax at checkpoint with Georgia proper

by | Dec 15

GALI, DWatch--Abkhazia plans to begin charging import tax at a checkpoint with Georgia proper and impose stricter regulations on what goods are allowed to bring across. The plans were aired by the head of Abkhazia's de facto customs service,

News

2,000 Russian troops conducting military drills in Georgian breakaway regions

by | Dec 15

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Russian soldiers are participating in military exercises in both Georgian breakaway territories, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Troops from all of Russia’s four military districts are taking part in the drills.

News

Man suspected of 2012 Abkhazia assassination attempt killed in shooting

by | Dec 14

TBILISI, DFWatch--The man accused of attempting to assassinate Abkhazia's former de facto president in 2012 was shot dead by strangers on Wednesday. Also his driver died in the attack. Pavel Ardzinba and his chauffeur were driving along the road connecting Sokhumi with Gudauta when their Mercedes-Benz was literally

Brief

Saakashvili supporters in Georgia demand his release from Kiev prison

by | Dec 11

Georgia’s former ruling party expresses solidarity against the “political persecution” of its leader, Mikheil Saakashvili, who is under arrest in Kiev, Ukraine.

News

Catastrophic mandarin harvest deals heavy blow to Abkhazia’s exports

by | Dec 6

TBILISI, DFWatch--Abkhazia’s export of mandarins and other produce has plummeted by 2.7 times, dealing a heavy blow to the breakaway republic’s economy. Local media blame the bad harvest on the spread of brown marmorated stink bug, which has devastated crops also in Georgia.

News

Complex prisoner exchange between Georgia and breakaway territories

by | Dec 5

TBILISI, DFWatch--At the 42nd round of the Geneva talks, 12-13 December, Abkhazia will probably demand that Tbilisi must release an Abkhazian militant from a Georgian prison, and in return, Giorgi Giunashvili will be released from a Tskhinvali prison.

Crime

Gang fight at Tbilisi school leaves two 16 year old boys dead

by | Dec 4

TBILISI, DFWatch--Crowds gathered outside a school in the center of Tbilisi Sunday evening to pay tribute to two teenage boys who were brutally murdered by their peers two days earlier. School students and teachers, as well as relatives of the victims,

News

Georgian authorities confirm Akhmed Chatayev died in Nov 22 Tbilisi siege

by | Dec 3

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's State Security Service (SUS) acknowledged Friday that one of the suspects killed in a counterterrorism operation Nov 22 was Akhmed Chatayev. Local media have speculated that the Chechnya-born ISIS member was among the dead.

Youth

Georgia moves toward legalizing marijuana with Constitutional Court ruling

by | Nov 30

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Constitutional Court on Thursday struck down a law requiring a doctor's prescription to use marijuana, scoring another victory for campaigners who want the soft drug fully decriminalized. An individual's right "to choose the desired kind of the relaxation [...] including marijuana,

News

Mastermind of Ataturk Airport attack may be among 3 suspects killed in Tbilisi siege

by | Nov 26

TBILISI, DFWatch--One of the three terrorism suspects killed in a shootout with police on November 22 might be a Chechen who oversaw the Ataturk Airport bombings in 2016 which claimed 45 lives. Vakhtang Gomelauri, head of the State Security Agency (SUS),

News

11 people dead in hotel fire in Batumi

by | Nov 25

TBILISI, DFWatch--11 people are confirmed dead, and an unknown number injured in a massive fire Friday night at a five-star hotel in Batumi which is hosting the Miss Georgia contest. More than a hundred firefighters and other personnel scrambled to the Leogrand Hotel & Casino

News

Tskhinvali regime closes single checkpoint with Georgia proper for two days

by | Nov 23

De facto authorities of South Ossetia shut down the single checkpoint connecting the breakaway republic with Georgia proper due to the recently introduced public holiday,

News

One policeman, three suspects killed in Tbilisi anti-terror operation

by | Nov 22

TBILISI, DFWatch--Three suspects and one police officer have been killed in a massive anti-terror operation in a Tbilisi suburb against suspected Chechens. Four police were also wounded in the standoff, which lasted over 20 hours, a spokesperson for the State Security Service of Georgia (SUS) said at a briefing Wednesday evening.

News

Memorial dedicated to the Abkhazian war to be restored in Scottish town

by | Nov 17

TBILISI, DFWatch--A memorial stone dedicated to victims of a separatist war in Georgia 1992-93 will be restored, the deputy the foreign minister of Georgia has said. The stone in the town of Kilmarnock was recently taken down

News

South Ossetia bars ambulances from leaving at night and during weekends

by | Nov 14

TBILISI, DFWatch--Breakaway South Ossetia is preventing ambulances from crossing the de facto border with Georgia proper on weekends and at nights from 8 pm till  8 am. Echo Kavkaza reports that the informal restrictions were introduced about a month ago,

News

Faced with new bureaucratic hurdles, Georgians in Abkhazia ponder leaving

by | Nov 11

Gali, DFWatch--The de facto authorities in Abkhazia are developing new ways to discriminate against the ethnic Georgian population in the region’s southeast Gali district. “We are absolutely deprived of any civil rights.

News

Burjanadze: Georgia needs a president like Vladimir Putin

by | Nov 10

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian opposition politician Nino Burjanadze expressed admiration for the Russian president in a new interview with German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle. "He brought Russia from its knees to its feet. You look at Russia,

News

Scottish town removes Abkhazian war memorial out of respect for Georgia

by | Nov 10

TBILISI, DFWatch--Authorities in the Scottish town of Kilmarnock have decided to dismantle a memorial stone dedicated to victims in separatist-held Sohumi during the 1992-93 Abkhazian war. The problem was that the memorial not only commemorated

News

One of 17 detained Saudi princes is honorary citizen of Georgia

by | Nov 7

TBILISI, DFWatch--One member the Saudi royal family who was arrested on Saturday night holds a title of honorary citizen of Georgia. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was arrested along with 16 other princes, four ministers and tens of other former or current high ranking officials.

News

South Ossetia plans to impose customs tax at checkpoint near Akhalgori

by | Nov 3

TBILISI, DFWatch--Breakaway South Ossetia plans to charge customs tax for goods to the region’s lower east corner, to the detriment of the Georgians living there who depend on the trade. A customs point will be opened at the Razdakhan checkpoint near Akhalgori,

News

Abkhazia calls Georgian PM’s language initiative ‘hypocritical’

by | Nov 1

TBILISI, DFWatch--An initiative by the prime minister of Georgia to protect the Abkhaz language has been rejected by Abkhazia’s de facto authorities as ‘Georgian populism’, ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘cynicism’.

News

Georgians in Abkhazia cancel harvest, claim pesticide withheld by regime

by | Nov 1

GALI, DFWatch--Georgian hazelnut farmer in Abkhazia canceled this year's harvest after de facto authorities failed to hand out vital pesticide to battle a bug. The bug has already ravaged farms in Western Georgia but the damage is even worse in the breakaway region

Sport

Six far right activists arrested during anti-gay protest at football federation

by | Nov 1

TBILISI, DFWatch--Six far right activists were arrested Tuesday night at the office of the Georgian Football Federation's (GFF) in Tbilisi, as they protested the wearing of a rainbow colored LGBT armband by one of the national team members. The right wing nationalists demand that the federation

News

Rally in Sokhumi to demand action against drug abuse epidemic

by | Oct 29

TBILISI, DFWatch--A campaign to demand action against drug addiction brought a large crowd out in the streets of Sokhumi on Thursday, under the slogan “Abkhazia without Drugs". The people who had gathered on Sergey Bagapsh

News

President Margvelashvili questions the benefits of total GD victory

by | Oct 26

TBILISI, DFWatch--The will of the Georgian people was expressed in the local elections, but it is questionable whether a total win by one political party will be beneficial for the country, President Giorgi Margvelashvili said in his first comments on the local elections, which were held on Saturday.

News

Georgia denies South Ossetia’s claim to have opened representation in Catalonia

by | Oct 25

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian breakaway region claims it opened an official representation in Catalonia during a visit by its unofficial foreign minister. Georgia rejects the claim and says the visit was purely private in nature.

News

Former AC Milan player elected Tbilisi mayor

by | Oct 22

TBILISI, DFWatch--Former AC Milan football player and Georgia’s current vice Prime Minister Kakha Kaladze has won a decisive victory in the election for Tbilisi mayor with 54 percent of the votes, according to an exit poll at 6pm. The exit polls was carried out by Edison Media Research.

News

Abkhazia shuts down elementary school in Georgian populated region

by | Oct 21

GALI, DFWatch--Breakaway authorities in Abkhazia have closed a public school in the region’s southern district which has a predominantly ethnic Georgian population. De facto authorities told school principals in Gali on Wednesday that the school in Tagiloni, a the village near Gali,

Crime

Gunman wounds four ahead of Georgia’s local elections

by | Oct 20

TBILISI, DFWatch--A gunman opened fire at a local office of Georgia’s ruling party Thursday night, wounding four people, two days before nationwide local elections that will gage the government’s hold on power. The attack, which wounded a candidate for Georgian Dream,

News

Georgian schools in Akhalgori facing a language dilemma

by | Oct 20

AKHALGORI, DFWatch--As eight Georgian schools in Akhalgori, South Ossetia have fully switched to Russian as the language of instruction, teachers find it hard to teach and are afraid of losing their jobs. As most pupils don’t know Russian, this may make their families leave Akhalgori and settle

Minorities

Either school or hijab – “my daughters will not go to school without hijab!”

by | Oct 18

“I want to learn and become a teacher. If I do not study, I know in future I will have hard life. I was not allowed into the school because I am wearing a hijab. I do not know what will happen now.

News

Circassians prevented from attending jailed activist’s court hearing

by | Oct 16

TBILISI, DFWatch--The regional court in Russia’s Krasnodar region upheld the decision made by the lower court to imprison a popular 67-year-old Circassian civic activist, while his supporters were barred from attending the trial on Monday.

Minorities

South Ossetia declares Jehovah’s Witnesses ‘extremists’

by | Oct 16

TBILISI, DFWatch--The supreme court in the breakaway region South Ossetia has ruled that Jehovah’s Witnesses is an extremist organization and banned its activities. When the ruling comes into force in a few days, Jehovah's Witnesses members will face up to 10 years

News

UNM mobilizes thousands against ‘oligarch’ Ivanishvili’s property takeover

by | Oct 16

TBILISI, DFWatch--Several thousand supporters of Georgia’s opposition National Movement party demonstrated Sunday outside the home of a former prime minister whom they call an oligarch and accuse of taking over valuable properties.

News

Opposition clash with police as Tbilisi assembly OKs Ivanishvili land deals

by | Oct 11

TBILISI, DFWatch--The city assembly in Tbilisi, the Sakrebulo, on Tuesday approved the handover of two land lots to former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili for the symbolic price of one Georgian lari. While the vote went ahead, a ruckus of shouting and pushing took place outside,

News

Circassians protesting against jailing of remembrance day organizer

by | Oct 10

TBILISI, DFWatch--In southern Russia’s Krasnodar region, Circassians, Abkhaz, Adyghe, Kabardians and Shapsughs continue to protest against the persecution of a 67-year-old activist regarded as a national hero and the most prominent civil rights worker.

News

PACE president resigns amid controversy about Syria trip

by | Oct 10

TBILISI, DFWatch--A Council of Europe official resigned on Monday after a controversial visit to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. Pedro Agramunt announced his resignation as president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in a letter on Monday.

News

Wizz Air launches flights from Kutaisi to Rome, Paris, Barcelona and Prague

by | Oct 6

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Hungarian low-cost airline which is already very popular in Georgia may see its popularity rise to new heights after it announced new routes to Paris, Barcelona, Rome and Prague. “We are truly delighted to announce that starting

News

Abkhazia appeals to UNESCO for help to save cultural monuments

by | Oct 5

TBILISI, DFWatch--The de facto authorities in Abkhazia have asked the United Nation’s agency for cultural heritage, UNESCO, help protect historic buildings within territory they control. In a video published a few days ago, Georgia is accused of having a "destructive" policy

News

Six opposition activists detained outside Tbilisi City Hall

by | Oct 3

TBILISI, DFWatch--Police in Georgia detained six opposition activists on Monday, as supporters of the National Movement rallied outside Tbilisi City Hall to demand an immediate halt in the handover of two prime land plots to a company owned

Minorities

Ethnic Armenians clash with police in south of Georgia

by | Oct 2

TBILISI, DFWatch--Ethnic Armenians clashed with police in a village in the south of Georgia on Saturday after locals attempted to place a religious stone in the yard of Kumurdo temple. The tense situation in the village Kumurdo calmed down on Sunday but the brief street

News

Police evict city assembly members as Tbilisi land plots handed to Ivanishvili

by | Sep 29

TBILISI, DFWatch--Two candidates for Tbilisi mayor were among opposition politicians and activists who were forcibly dragged out of the city council on Friday before a proposal was approved that will hand over two land plots to a company owned by former PM Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Politics

Georgian parliament passes new Constitution as opposition walks out in protest

by | Sep 26

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian parliament almost unanimously adopted a new constitution on Tuesday as opposition factions walked out and said the day will mark the establishment of one-party rule in the country.

Politics

Georgia’s president refuses to convene parliament to pass revamped Constitution

by | Sep 25

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Giorgi Margvelashvili has turned down a request by the ruling party to call an unscheduled session of parliament in order to adopt the new Constitution, citing the threat of one-party rule. “The president will not convene an extraordinary session,”

Politics

Georgia’s constitutional reform gets cautious thumbs up from CoE

by | Sep 23

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Venice Commission draws an overall positive conclusion about Georgia’s latest constitutional reform in an assessment published Friday, but the Council of Europe experts are still concerned about the lack of consensus among the country’s largest political parties.

News

Azerbaijani agents shadowing opposition journalists in Tbilisi

by | Sep 20

TBILISI, DFWatch--The exiled wife of jailed Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli says she fears there may be a new wave of harassment against herself and other critics of the regime of Ilham Aliyev. Mukhtarli was abducted in downtown Tbilisi on May 31 and taken across the border

News

David Lynch to found film festival and cinematography institute in Georgia

by | Sep 16

TBILISI, DFWatch--American film director David Lynch is coming to Georgia in November to launch a film festival and open a new institute of cinematography named after him. The iconic director, who is known for the films Blue Velvet, Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive,

News

Openly lesbian woman to run for public office in Georgia, a first

by | Sep 16

TBILISI, DFWatch--For the first time, an openly lesbian woman will run for political office in Georgia. Nino Bolkvadze, a professional lawyer, was nominated Friday by the Republican Party to compete for a seat in the Tbilisi city council, the Sakrebulo, this October.

News

Georgian PM denounces Saakashvili as a sad reminder of the past after Ukraine border stunt

by | Sep 13

TBILISI, DFWatch--Saakashvili is Georgia’s ‘very sad past’ says Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili while commenting recent developments in Ukraine. "Mikheil Saakashvili is the political past of our country, a very sad past, and it is very unfortunate,

News

Georgian ex-president burst through police block and into Ukraine

by | Sep 11

TBILISI, DFWatch--After trying for several hours, Mikheil Saakashvili finally managed to get into Ukraine Sunday evening, with the help of his supporters. Currently he is in Lviv and reportedly plans to travel to Kiev. “I don’t plan to oust anyone, I plan only to legally defend my interests,”

News

Saakashvili breaks through Ukraine border assisted by crowd of supporters

by | Sep 10

TBILISI, DFWatch--Former president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili broke through the border to Ukraine on Sunday, aided by a crowd of supporters. At first, the train he was riding from Poland, bound for the Ukrainian city of Lviv, was held at the border in Przemysl,

News

Saakashvili confirms pledge to enter Ukraine on September 10

by | Sep 7

TBILISI, DFWatch--Former president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili has repeated a pledge made three weeks ago to return to Ukraine on September 10, despite the risk of being detained and extradited to Georgia where he may face criminal charges and possible imprisonment.

Crime

Georgian priest sentenced to nine years in prison for murder attempt

by | Sep 5

TBILISI, DFWatch--A Tbilisi court on Tuesday sentenced a high ranking cleric to nine years in prison for trying to kill the patriarch’s personal secretary with poison. The case has sent shock waves through Georgian society and revealed divisions within one

News

CoE’s Buquicchio disappointed by Georgian stalemate on new constitution

by | Sep 5

TBILISI, DFWatch--The head of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission Gianni Buquicchio is disappointed by the lack of progress on Georgia’s constitutional reform. The commission president took to Twitter on Monday to react to a lack of agreement between

News

52 tourists rescued in Georgia’s mountains this summer

by | Sep 1

TBILISI, DFWatch--Fifty-two foreign tourists got lost in Georgia in the period from June 1 to August 17, according to figures published Friday by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and reported by Interpressnews. Everyone was rescued safe and sound except two German nationals,

News

Another forest fire breaks out in different part of Georgia’s Borjomi national park

by | Aug 30

TBILISI, DFWatch--Just days after a massive wildfire was contained inside one of Georgia’s national parks, another one has flared up in another area of the same park. This time, it’s the resort area of Abastumani which has been hit by forest fire. The affected site is not far from

News

Georgia national park forest fire reportedly contained

by | Aug 26

TBILISI, DFWatch--A wildfire which destroyed over 100 hectares of endemic forest in Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park ‘has almost been extinguished’, the Georgian prime minister said Friday evening. "In the evening, I personally visited all critical locations with ministers.

News

Wildfire has destroyed 100ha of forest in central Georgia

by | Aug 24

TBILISI, DFWatch--A wildland fire is still raging across a large nature park and key tourist destination in central Georgia, but authorities believe the main pockets will be contained by Friday unless their efforts are made difficult by strong wind. “We currently don’t have new

News

Massive wildfire in Georgia’s Borjomi National Park

by | Aug 22

TBILISI, DFWatch--A massive wildfire was raging on Monday in Borjomi, a forested nature park and important tourist destination in Georgia. The fire started Sunday in Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park but intensified Monday evening when it spread to over 6 hectares in the hills above

News

Saakashvili announces plan to return to Ukraine via Poland

by | Aug 17

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian-born former governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region Mikheil Saakashvili announced Wednesday the time and date of his return to Ukraine despite being stripped of that country’s citizenship. Saakashvili, who recently launched

News

Georgian minister rejects “offer” to extradite Saakashvili in apparent prank

by | Aug 14

TBILISI, DFWatch--A prank by two Russian pro-Kremlin bloggers has led to calls for the resignation of Georgia’s interior minister for rejecting a fake offer by Ukraine to extradite former President Mikheil Saakashvili. A voice sounding like Georgia’s minister of internal affairs

Society

Georgia to ban unhealthy food in its public schools

by | Aug 12

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia plans to ban unhealthy food in public schools, particularly sugary beverages and salty products, in an effort to promote healthier lifestyle among school children. “When children come to school in September they will see a different buffet,” Alexandre Jejelava,

News

Fire devastates mountain overlooking Tbilisi

by | Aug 9

A massive fire spread on the slopes of Mtatsminda, a mountain overlooking Tbilisi on Tuesday late evening.

Youth

22-year-old woman dies from suspected drug use at music festival

by | Aug 6

TBILISI, DFWatch--Police in Georgia have brought in stricter anti-drug measures at a youth festival after a 22 year old woman tragically died. The female bank employee became ill Friday after allegedly ingesting the drug ‘bio’. She was rushed to hospital but died 8 hours later.

Security

Georgian soldier killed in Afghanistan

by | Aug 4

TBILISI, DFWatch--A Georgian soldier has died in Afghanistan while out on patrol near Bagram Airbase, 60km north of Kabul. Lance sergeant Mdinari Bebiashvili (25) was killed as two suicide bombers attacked his convoy Thursday evening. The platoon that was hit consisted

Security

US Vice President Mike Pence visiting Georgia

by | Aug 1

TBILISI, DFWatch--US Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Tbilisi on Monday amid a US-led military exercise, which for a moment brought a US military convoy within close proximity of Russian troops stationed in the breakaway region South Ossetia.

News

Saakashvili threatens with new revolution in Ukraine

by | Jul 30

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s former president, who was recently stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship, vowed Saturday to return to Kyiv and oust President Poroshenko, his one-time ally. Mikheil Saakashvili was speaking to Georgian TV station Rustavi 2 from

News

Georgian MP fined for wearing pistol at rally against extremism

by | Jul 26

TBILISI, DFWatch--A Georgian opposition member of parliament was fined 200 USD on Wednesday for demonstratively wearing a pistol in his belt during a rally against far right extremists. Otar Kakhidze, a lawyer who represents European Georgia in the national assembly,

News

Former president of Georgia stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship

by | Jul 26

TBILISI, DFWatch--Ukraine has stripped former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili of his citizenship, shortly after a visit to Georgia by Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko. A Ukrainian member of parliament first reported it on Facebook, and the information

News

Nationalists hurl eggs and bottles at European Georgia march

by | Jul 23

TBILISI, DFWatch--Plastic bottles, eggs, brooms and other objects were hurled at people marching through the center of Tbilisi Sunday evening to protest against what they call ‘Russian fascism in Georgia’. The march was organized by political party European Georgia,

Media

Georgian opposition TV claims tax debt used to silence its voice

by | Jul 21

TBILISI, DFWatch--The director of Georgia’s biggest opposition TV company claims the government is using tax laws to to get it off air ahead of the local elections in October. “TV company Rustavi 2 is again under threat […] The state is seemingly preparing for a decisive blow

News

Independent candidate for mayor vows to halt Tbilisi building spree

by | Jul 21

TBILISI, DFWatch--The independent candidate for Tbilisi mayor Aleko Elisashvili vows to suspend all construction projects in Tbilisi until there have been carried out comprehensive studies into all the schemes to see whether they are compatible with the urban fabric of the Georgian capital.

Media

Georgia suspends two officials while investigating journalist’s abduction

by | Jul 21

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in Georgia has suspended two high ranking officials to ensure the impartiality of an investigation into the alleged abduction of an Azerbaijani investigative journalist. The decision comes after immense pressure from human rights groups,

News

German Greens MEP backs Gülen school official’s plea against extradition

by | Jul 17

TBILISI, DFWatch--The head of the Greens faction in the EU parliament calls on Georgia not to extradite a school manager to Turkey. “To be a teacher is not a crime,” said Rebecca Harms, a German politician who is current head of the Greens-European Free Alliance in the EU parliament.

Minorities

Rally in Tbilisi to demand ‘illegal’ immigrants kicked out

by | Jul 15

TBILISI, DFWatch--Nationalist groups in Georgia mobilized supporters Friday for an anti-immigration rally in the center of Tbilisi. Activists carrying flags and slogans for nationalist causes demanded ‘illegal’ immigrants kicked out of the country and called on authorities to bring

News

Anti-immigration activists plan rally in Tbilisi Friday evening

by | Jul 14

TBILISI, DFWatch--Nationalists in Georgia plan an anti-immigration rally in the center of Tbilisi Friday evening. The rally, which will take place on Aghmashenebeli Avenue at 8pm, will take aim at illegal immigration, especially from Muslim countries. One of their demands is to close down

Minorities

Constitutional Court overturns ban on gay men donating blood – again

by | Jul 13

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s Constitutional Court has overturned a ban on donation of blood by men who have had sex with other men. The lawsuit to lift the ban was filed by LGBT rights activists Gocha Gabodze and Levan Berianidze. The ban on donating blood for 'a man who has had a sexual

News

Detained Gülen school director to ask for asylum to avoid extradition

by | Jul 12

TBILISI, DFWatch--A detained Gülen school official is asking for asylum in Georgia in order to avoid extradition to Turkey, where he may face brutal and inhumane treatment, according to his lawyers. Georgia detained Mustafa Emre Cabuk in May. He is one of the managers of Demirel

News

Five foreign tourists rescued by helicopter in Caucasus mountain range

by | Jul 10

TBILISI, DFWatch--Five foreign tourists were rescued by helicopter from a mountain plateau in the main Caucasus range Saturday after being isolated by a flooded stream. Personnel from the Emergency Management Agency used helicopters belonging to the border

News

Separatists deny leader injured in car crash visiting other breakaway region

by | Jul 8

TBILISI, DFWatch--The separatists in one of Georgia’s two breakaway regions denied a report in Russian media that their leader was injured in a car crash Saturday while visiting another separatist region. Anatoly Bibilov, the de facto president of the tiny enclave South Ossetia,

News

Indian citizen refused entry to Georgia twice without being given a reason

by | Jul 6

TBILISI, DFWatch--An Indian businessman was refused entry to Georgia for the second time on Wednesday, after a similar incident two days earlier. A lawyer for Akbar Khan Qureshi said the young Indian entrepreneur again was turned away in the border control at Tbilisi airport

In brief

Two men rescued by helicopter from flooded river in Samegrelo

by | Jul 6

TBILISI, DFWatch--Two men were rescued by a police helicopter in Western Georgia on Wednesday. The two got stuck in the middle of a flooded river near the village Khabume in Samegrelo. Local rescue workers were unable to bring the two men out of the river Khobistskali,

News

2,500 sqm destroyed by fire at Tbilisi’s largest market

by | Jul 3

TBILISI, DFWatch--A fire tore through Georgia’s largest outdoors market Sunday evening, leaving at least four people hospitalized, including one firefighter, and devastating up to 2,500 square meters of commercial space, officials said. The fire at Eliava bazaar in Tbilisi

Europe

PACE to discuss dismissing its president in October

by | Jun 30

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will discuss a proposal to dismiss its chairperson in early October after a motion was tabled on Friday. The motion to dismiss PACE President Pedro Agramunt was backed by 158 out of the 636 member

Legal reform

CoE official dismayed over Georgia’s constitution ‘crisis’

by | Jun 30

TBILISI, DFWatch--A Council of Europe official is in despair over the way Georgian leaders have handled the drafting of a new constitution, calling the debacle a ‘crisis’. “I’m disappointed and become more and more disappointed for every hour,” head of the Venice Commission Gianni Buquicchio

Elections

Georgia’s local elections slated for end of October

by | Jun 27

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgians will go to the polls to elect new mayors and local governments in the end of October, President Giorgi Margvelashvili announced on Tuesday. The local elections will be held in the ‘end the third week of October’, the president said,

Politics

Popular TV host to represent opposition UNM in Tbilisi mayoral race

by | Jun 26

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s main opposition party is hoping that a popular news anchor will bring it back to power in the politically important position of Tbilisi mayor. The nomination of Zaal Udumashvili, host of the main news program on Georgia’s largest TV channel Rustavi 2,

Legal reform

Georgian president slams blueprint for new Constitution

by | Jun 24

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Giorgi Margvelashvili rejects a draft new Constitution presented by the ruling GD government because it is not based on a consensus. “The entire Georgian society believes we need a consensus document, but Georgian Dream

Media

Azerbaijani RFE/RL journalist detained, barred from leaving country

by | Jun 22

TBILISI, DFWatch--A journalist at Radio Free Europe’s now closed office in Azerbaijan was detained on Thursday and told that he cannot leave the country. Kamran Mahmudov, a former producer for RFE/RL, was detained at the border on the way into Georgia and taken to the

Legal reform

Georgia’s ruling GD party demurring on electoral reform

by | Jun 19

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s ruling party will defer until 2024 to fulfill one of its main promises: to overhaul an election system that has favored the incumbent force for decades. The system of single-mandate districts, so-called majoritarians, was supposed to have been phased out

Economy

Georgia’s parliament approves immediate halt in sale of farm land to foreigners

by | Jun 17

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian parliament decided Friday to declare a temporary ban on the sale of agricultural lands to aliens until a constitutional ban comes into force. 87 MPs voted in favor of the amendment to the Law on Ownership of Agricultural Land, amid fierce pressure

News

European Parliament calls on Georgia to investigate journalist’s disappearance

by | Jun 16

TBILISI, DFWatch--The EU Parliament calls on Georgia to thoroughly investigate the disappearance of an Azerbaijani investigative journalist in the center of Tbilisi two weeks ago. MEPs further urge Baku to immediately release Afgan Mukhtarli and drop all charges.

Youth

Rappers whose arrest sparked review of drug policy released on bail

by | Jun 13

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Appeals Court in Georgia released on bail two rappers whose controversial arrest on drug charges may have hastened a review of the drug policy. The court released the two on bail Monday after their arrest June 10 for possession of between 1.5 and 2.3 grams

Youth

PM responds to groundswell of support for Georgia’s jailed rappers

by | Jun 11

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's prime minister promised to soften the country's drug policy Saturday evening as a large crowd gathered in the capital Tbilisi in support of two detained rappers who claim drugs were planted on them by police as revenge for a music video.

Environment

Tbilisi on edge as strong rain brings fear of ‘another 2015’

by | Jun 11

TBILISI, DFWatch--Strong rain with hail hit Tbilisi and some other parts of Georgia on Saturday, causing damage to cars, infrastructure and crops. As some Tbilisians feared a repeat of the tragic flooding in 2015, the police blocked Vake-Saburtalo Road in Tbilisi following advice

News

Azerbaijani MP claims Georgian intel collaborated on journalist’s abduction

by | Jun 10

TBILISI, DFWatch--A member of Azerbaijan’s parliament claims Georgian and Azerbaijani intelligence agencies collaborated on abducting a journalist in Tbilisi and send him back to Baku to face jail. Elman Nasirov, a member of Azerbaijan’s national assembly Mili Meclis,

News

Two rappers caught with ecstasy claim police planted drugs on them

by | Jun 10

TBILISI, DFWatch--The arrest of two rappers for drug crime in Georgia on Friday adds fuel to criticism against the country’s law enforcement agencies, which are already under fire for suspected involvement in the mysterious abduction out of the country of an Azerbaijani journalist eleven days ago.

Media

CEO of Georgia’s embattled opposition television station resigns

by | Jun 9

TBILISI, DFWatch--Rustavi 2 director general Nika Gvaramia resigns. Gvaramia's resignation was reported yesterday by several Georgian media outlets and confirmed Friday morning by one of the TV company’s editors who spoke to DFWatch on condition of anonymity.

Legal reform

Georgia’s ruling party bans sale of agricultural land to foreigners

by | Jun 9

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s ruling party has decided to ban the sale of agricultural land to foreigners by adding a clause to the Constitution. PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili announced Thursday that a passage will be added to the Constitution to ban the sale of land

Sport

Georgian world boxing champion arrested in the US

by | Jun 9

TBILISI, DFWatch--A Georgian world boxing champion has been arrested in the United States along with a martial arts practicioner, also from Georgia, for alleged ties to a Russian crime syndicate. Avtandil Khurtsidze, who currently holds a World Boxing Organization middleweight title,

In brief

Earthquake of magnitude 5.1 in eastern Georgia

by | Jun 8

TBILISI, DFWatch--An earthquake of magnitude 5.1 rattled Georgia late Wednesday evening with only minor damage reported in one village. The quake occurred at about 10.30pm with the epicenter near Dedoplistskaro in Kakheti, 100km east of Tbilisi,

Politics

TV news anchor may join race for new Tbilisi mayor

by | Jun 7

TBILISI, DFWatch--A news anchor on Georgia’s biggest private television channel has confirmed that he may run for mayor of Tbilisi as a candidate for the biggest opposition party UNM. The entry of Zaal Udumashvili, host of the evening news on Rustavi 2,

Media

Protesters put bags over their heads as parliament silent on Mukhtarli case

by | Jun 6

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian journalists covered their heads with plastic sacks during a meeting of the parliament’s human rights committee on Tuesday to protest the abduction of an Azerbaijani investigative journalist in Tbilisi. But the committee did not discuss

Politics

Georgia’s ruling party to tap energy minister as new Tbilisi mayor

by | Jun 6

TBILISI, DFWatch--The ruling party in Georgia is expected to name Energy Minister Kakhi Kaladze as its candidate for new Tbilisi mayor, to replace the incumbent Davit Narmania. Georgian Dream MPs and members of government met on Sunday behind closed

News

Georgian leaders send condolences to victims of London attacks

by | Jun 4

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s president and prime minister have expressed their condolences to the families of victims of the recent London terror attack, which left seven dead and over 48 injured. “I am deeply outraged over the brutal terrorist incidents in #London.

News

Georgian authorities deny involvement in abduction of Azerbaijani journalist

by | Jun 1

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's head of government Thursday denied that his country's authorities had been involved when a journalist was abducted three days earlier in Tbilisi and delivered into the hands of Azerbaijani police for criminal prosecution.

Media

Abduction of Azerbaijani journalist sparks outrage in Tbilisi

by | May 31

TBILISI, DFWatch--Activists rallied in Tbilisi on Wednesday against the apparent abduction and return to Azerbaijan of an investigative journalist who had criticized the Aliyev regime. Journalists and rights activists rallied outside the government office

News

Journalist who sought refuge in Georgia abducted to Azerbaijan

by | May 31

TBILISI, DFWatch--An investigative journalist who fled Azerbaijan and sought asylum in neighboring Georgia was abducted by unknown men in Tbilisi on Monday and taken across the border to his home country. Journalist Afgan Mukhtali is now being held in Baku,

News

Murder plot against Georgian patriarch allegedly revealed

by | May 29

TBILISI, DFWatch--A lawyer for the Georgian church claimed on Monday that there is a plot to assassinate the head of the church, involving high-level clerics. One of the clerics implicated in the attempt on Patriarch’s life is Metropolitan Petre Tsaava, according to

News

Opposition candidates vying to unseat unpopular Tbilisi mayor

by | May 28

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s second largest opposition party named a woman as its candidate for Tbilisi Mayor on Saturday. The European Dream party congress nominated Elene Khoshtaria (37) as mayoral candidate as political parties are gearing up for the local elections.

News

Georgia detains school manager connected to Gülen network

by | May 26

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia has detained a manager of a private school in what appears to be a case of pressure exerted by Turkey on Georgian authorities to crack down on institutions associated with the exiled preacher Fethullah Gülen. Mustafa Emre Cabuk, quality manager

Crime

State auditor shown holding pistol in bar in new online video

by | May 24

TBILISI, DFWatch--A new video of a public auditor pointing a pistol in a bar last December further undermined his claim that a recent fight with an ex-prosecutor was corruption related. The video surfaced on the Internet on Wednesday, and shows state auditor Lasha Tordia

Crime

MIA presents video, auditor maintains bar fight was corruption related

by | May 23

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Ministry of Internal Affairs released a surveillance video and witness testimony on Monday which appeared to undermine claims by the country's top public auditor that a recent bar fight was connected to a corruption probe. But the low resolution

News

Prosecutors drop case against Georgian ECHR judge’s brother

by | May 21

TBILISI, DFWatch--Prosecutors in Georgia have dropped a case against the brother of a judge at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) who said the investigation was connected to her work. None Tsotsoria (center) is a judge currently serving at the European Court of Human Rights. The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia (POG) called off the probe

Crime

Georgian priest walks out on first day of his murder trial

by | May 20

TBILISI, DFWatch--A high profile trial of a Georgian priest accused of planning to murder the patriarch’s personal secretary got off to a dramatic start Friday as the defendant left the courtroom in protest and asked his lawyers to do the same. This was the first hearing

Minorities

Gay pride film screening canceled in Tbilisi after bomb threat

by | May 20

TBILISI, DFWatch--The screening of a gay pride film in a Tbilisi park had to be canceled Friday evening after someone called in a bomb threat. LGBT people, rights activists and others, mainly youth, had gathered in Mziuri Park for a screening of the British historical comedy

News

Georgian ECHR judge: ‘Raid of my brother’s flat was related to my job’

by | May 20

TBILISI, DFWatch--A Georgian judge at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) suspects that a police raid against her brother’s apartment was connected to her work. “I have reason to believe that [the police raid] is related to my work at the European Court of Human Rights.

News

Russia and Abkhazia establish joint center to combat organized crime

by | May 19

TBILISI, DFWatch--Separatist authorities in Georgia's breakaway region Abkhazia signed an agreement with Russia on Thursday, establishing a joint Russian-Abkhaz coordination center in Sokhumi to combat organized crime and other serious crimes. The joint

News

UNM claims police search of judge’s brother’s flat is political pressure

by | May 19

TBILISI, DFWatch--The opposition in Georgia claims the police raided the flat of a judge's brother to put pressure on the judge after an unfavorable decision in the ECHR. Police carried out a raid Thursday night in the flat of brother of a judge who currently represents Georgia

Politics

Public meeting about new constitution interrupted by protests

by | May 18

TBILISI, DFWatch--A public meeting in Tbilisi on Monday to discuss a set of constitutional amendments was interrupted by two different groups of protesters. The head of the organizing committee now says they will extend the hearing process with a number of extra

Minorities

Four years after violence, Tbilisi’s LGBT activists meet under tight security

by | May 18

TBILISI, DFWatch--Four years after a mob of thousands of people violently attacked them, Georgia’s LGBT community needed strict security to observe The International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) on Wednesday. Several

News

EU envoy sparks outrage in Tbilisi by congratulating Russia-backed separatist leader

by | May 17

TBILISI, DFWatch--A European Union official congratulating the leader of a Russian-backed breakaway republic on winning the election has caused a diplomatic scandal in Tbilisi. Herbert Salber, a German diplomat who is the EU’s special representative to South Caucasus

News

Court told ex-president Saakashvili protected Girgvliani’s murderers

by | May 16

TBILISI, DFWatch--A former minister claimed Georgian ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili protected several high ranking officials from prosecution as the high-profile trial about the murder of a young bank employee in Georgia eleven years ago continued in Tbilisi on Monday.

News

Top state auditor stays away from police questioning for health reasons

by | May 15

TBILISI, DFWatch--The head of Georgia’s state audit office refused to be questioned by police on Monday, after alleging that a former chief prosecutor attacked him at a bar Friday night. Lasha Tordia excused himself on the grounds of his poor health condition after Friday's incident

News

State auditor says former chief prosecutor assaulted him at bar

by | May 13

TBILISI, DFWatch--The head of Georgia’s State Audit Office claims an investigation into a land plot scheme was the reason he was physically assaulted by a former chief prosecutor and his associates at a bar in Tbilisi Friday night. General Auditor Lasha Tordia (37) said he was attacked

Minorities

Batumi City Hall turns down request to build second mosque

by | May 13

TBILISI, DFWatch--The city hall in Georgia's second largest city Batumi has rejected an application for permission to build a second mosque in the 150,000 strong city. In the largely Muslim city there has been a several decades long conflict about whether to allow a second mosque.

Prisoner abuse

Six former prison guards in Georgia will face trial for torture

by | May 12

TBILISI, DFWatch--Six former guards at the notorious Penitentiary No 8 in Tbilisi have been detained for alleged torture of prisoners during the presidency of Mikheil Saakashvili. Legal proceedings have been launched against former Head of Legal Regimen of the same facility,

In brief

Five villages cut off from the world after river thrashes road in Georgia

by | May 12

TBILISI, DFWatch--A rain-swelled river on Thursday cut off the only road to five villages in the northern part of Georgia, leaving the inhabitants isolated from the rest of the world. The river Vedura swelled after several days of hard rain in the Upper Svaneti region.

News

Georgia bars former Moscow mayor Luzhkov from entering

by | May 11

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia has placed the former mayor of Moscow on its 'black list' of people barred from entering the country. Yuri Luzhkov was briefly in Georgia last weekend and the opposition called for his prosecution for violating a 2008 law. When Luzhkov’s tourist trip became

News

Protesters demand safer workplaces after four die in coal mine

by | May 10

TBILISI, DFWatch--Three people were detained in Tbilisi on Tuesday during a protest in response to a mining accident that took four lives earlier the same day. The protesters from student group Auditorium #115 and trade union activists gathered in front of the

News

Two Russian bikers turn up at May 9 event in Georgia despite ban

by | May 9

TBILISI, DFWatch--Two members of the notorious Russian motorcycle gang Night Wolves turned up in Tbilisi’s Vake Park on Tuesday for the May 9 commemoration of victory over Nazism in World War II, despite the gang’s members being banned from entering Georgia.

News

Georgian opposition calls for former Moscow mayor to be punished

by | May 9

TBILISI, DFWatch--An otherwise uneventful tourist visit to Georgia by the former mayor of Moscow was interrupted by opposition calls for him to be 'punished'. Word spread of Yuri Luzhkov’s visit to Georgia after priest Serafim Bit-Kharibi posted photos

Crime

Georgian priest must remain in detention until beginning of murder trial

by | May 6

TBILISI, DFWatch--A Georgian priest accused of planning to poison an adviser to the patriarch is to remain in pre-trial detention. That was decided at a hearing in the Tbilisi City Court on Friday. The judge rejected all the around a dozen pleas by arch priest

News

Russian bikers denied entry to Georgia for WWII commemoration

by | May 4

TBILISI, DFWatch--Nearly 50 Russian pro-Kremlin bikers were stopped at the border on Wednesday as they were trying to enter Georgia in connection with an annual tour to commemorate the end of World War II. The bikers were not given an explanation for why they were denied entry,

Politics

Georgian opposition wants referendum about constitutional changes

by | May 2

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian opposition groups said Monday that the country’s democratic development is being reversed unless a set of constitutional amendments is stopped. The groups demand a referendum about the changes. In a declaration, the opposition listed eight

News

Russian biker gang Night Wolves plans Georgia trip

by | Apr 29

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Russian biker gang Night Wolves plans to visit Georgia to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the end of World War II. The gang is known for its support of the Kremlin and leader Alexander Zaldostanov (“the Surgeon”) has appeared at many

Crime

Georgian priest on trial for planning to murder patriarch’s adviser

by | Apr 28

TBILISI, DFWatch--A priest is being put on trial in Georgia for planning to use poison to murder a close adviser to Patriarch Ilia II, the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church. As the case files were handed over to the court on Thursday, the Prosecutor General’s Office wrote in a statement that

Crime

Woman found strangled, ex-husband arrested as suspect

by | Apr 26

TBILISI, DFWatch--A mother of four was found strangled in Tbilisi on Tuesday. Police suspect her ex-husband who was arrested soon after. Miranda Vacheishvili (40) was apparently strangled with a lead wire. She was living in an uptown district of the capital, and had complained

Economy

Georgia’s auto park continued 8% growth trend in 2016

by | Apr 24

TBILISi, DFWatch--The number of cars in Georgia grew 8 percent in 2016, continuing a trend of steady expansion of the nation’s auto park of mostly older vehicles. The growth in 2016 was to 1,125, which is 8 percent, with German carmakers retaining their leading positions.

News

Pregnant woman among five killed in car crash near Kutaisi, Georgia

by | Apr 23

TBILISI, DFWatch--A pregnant woman was among the five who were killed in a horrendous road accident along a highway in western Georgia on Sunday. The accident happened at night, along a highway near Kutaisi in the west of the country. First two cars collided head-on,

Politics

Georgia inches closer to one-party rule with new draft Constitution

by | Apr 23

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia is moving closer to one-party rule, opposition groups warn, as a new round of constitutional amendments was approved by a commission on Saturday. Georgians are no strangers to changing their Constitution, but the latest set of amendments 

Society

Dropping a cigarette butt in Tbilisi now costs you USD 33

by | Apr 21

TBILISI, DFWatch--Littering in the Georgian capital may now cost you a fine of 80 laris (USD 33). This includes dropping cigarette butts. 14 people were fined as the new regulation began being enforced on Thursday. 13 of them were fined for dropping cigarette butts in the streets.

Politics

Georgian MP injured after colleague throws ashtray, hits wrong person

by | Apr 19

TBILISI, DFWatch--A member of the Georgian parliament was lightly injured on Wednesday, after a verbal and physical confrontation that led to an ashtray being hurled at his face. Otar Kakhidze was accidentally hit by an ashtray during a confrontation

In brief

Iran’s FM Zarif visiting Georgia

by | Apr 17

TBILISI, DFWatch--Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif began a two day visit to Georgia on Monday. Zarif will meet with his Georgian counterpart as well as the president, the prime minister and the minister of economy and sustainable development.

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