Posts by DFWatch staff:

Conflict news

256 Gali youth tried to enroll at Georgian universities, 130 passed exams

by | Sep 20

GALI, DFWatch - 130 residents of breakaway Abkhazia's Gali district enrolled at universities in Georgia proper this year, the head of Gali Educational Resource Center said to DFWatch.

News

Editor violently attacked by half dozen men in Tbilisi

by | Sep 18

TBILISI, DFWatch--An editor of a popular Georgian magazine was assaulted and beaten by half a dozen men Saturday evening. The attack on Zurab Vardiashvili, editor of Liberali magazine, took place in the southern Varketili district of Tbilisi. Two SUVs stopped

News

Young men are leaving Gali en masse to seek work abroad

by | Sep 12

GALI, DFWatch--Young people are leaving their homes here in Gali, Abkhazia, to seek work opportunities abroad. In the last month, about 50 young people, most of them men, have left for Poland from one of the villages in the district, DFWatch was told by locals.

Conflict news

Abkhazia’s de facto prime minister killed in car accident

by | Sep 9

The prime minister of Sokhumi regime was killed in a car accident on the road connecting the capital of breakaway Abkhazia with Russia’s Sochi on Saturday, when he was returning from his trip to Syria.

News

German MEP voices solidarity to Georgia’s embattled university

by | Sep 7

German politician and Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Germany has expressed her solidarity to an embattled university in Georgia, which is under fire for its alleged links to U.S.-based Turkish cleric and a personal foe of President Erdogan.

Conflict news

Breakaway authorities step up Russification at schools, kindergartens in predominantly Georgian Akhalgori

by | Sep 4

Akhalgori, DFWatch - The 2018-19 academic year in Akhalgori schools and kindergartens starts on September 5 instead of September 1 and poses dire problems for ethnic Georgian kids and their parents. Despite the fact that ethnic Georgians compose over 55 percent of Akhalgori population, the Tskhinvali regime disbanded the sole Georgian kindergarten in the district in May.

News

Margvelashvili won’t run for president again, slams GD for animosity

by | Aug 31

President Giorgi Margvelashvili has announced his decision not to run for the presidential seat in the fall and slammed Georgia's ruling party for attempts to 'discredit' him.

News

Prosecutor suspended after alleged armed assault

by | Aug 28

TBILISI, DFWatch--A prosecutor at the west Georgia branch of the Prosecutor's Office has been suspended and is being evaluated following an alleged armed assault, the POG said in a statement released Monday evening.

Conflict news

Sokhumi regime vice president resigns, declares vendetta to punish offender

by | Aug 22

Vice president of breakaway Abkhazia has stepped down after an incident when he was hit by a glass to his head, saying that plans to retaliate in "Abkhazian spirit".

Education, News

Georgia bows to Turkey’s Erdogan again, cracks down on Gulen-linked university in Tbilisi

by | Aug 21

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia keeps on cracking down on educational institutions linked to the Turkish Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom Ankara has accused of masterminding the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Conflict news

Abkhazia declares Soviet passports invalid

by | Aug 18

GALI, DFWatch--Sokhumi has declared as invalid passports issued during the Soviet Union, which will cause problems for Georgians living in Abkhazia, many of whom rely on the documents for traveling in and out of the breakaway republic, locals told DFWatch.

News

New Russian surveillance position spotted at Koda as South Ossetia prepares to redraw de facto border

by | Aug 13

TBILISI, DFWatch--Locals have discovered a new surveillance post near Koda, a village along the perimeter of South Ossetia, where Georgia and Russia fought a brief war ten years ago. The observation post near the village of Koda, which likely includes

News

Russian bases in Abkhazia have mushroomed since 2008 war

by | Aug 12

TBILISI, DFWatch--Since the 2008 war, Russia has expanded its military infrastructure in the breakaway republic Abkhazia dramatically. There are currently Russian military facilities in Sokhumi, Ochamchire, Gudauta and Gali, as well as the villages Tagiloni, Nabakevi, Pichori, Otobaia,

News

Strong rain and flooding of houses and streets in Gali, Abkhazia

by | Aug 10

TBILISI, DFWatch--Strong rain caused flooding of streets and houses in the southern Gali district of Abkhazia on Friday. The exact scale of the damage is not yet known, but the head of the local de facto administration claims the consequences would have been worse

News

Fire breaks out in South Ossetian de facto president’s building

by | Aug 8

TBILISI, DFWatch--The building of de facto president’s administration in South Ossetia caught fire on Wednesday, destroying about 140 square meters. The fire took place on August 8, on the 10th anniversary of the five day Russo-Georgian war, which claimed hundreds of lives from both sides.

News

Separatist politician claims US strong-armed Latin American countries to not recognize Abkhazia

by | Aug 7

TBILISI, DFWatch--Several Latin American countries that considered recognizing Abkhazia as an independent country refrained from doing so after the personal intervention by US and UK leaders, a former Sokhumi politician has claimed in an interview with Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

Politics

Former Georgian foreign minister Zourabichvili declares presidential run

by | Aug 7

TBILISI, DFWatch--Former Georgian Foreign Minister Salome Zourabichvili has declared her intention to run for president of Georgia, and the ruling GD party appears to be ready to back her candidacy. Zourabichvili, who is of of Georgian origin but was born in France, served as French ambassador

News

Georgia triple murder suspect placed under psychiatric evaluation

by | Aug 4

TBILISI, DFWatch--A 19 year old shepherd charged with murdering an American family of three is undergoing psychiatric evaluation, his lawyer said on Monday. Malkhaz Kobauri, who faces life sentence for the savage killing of Ryan and Lora Smith and their 4 year old son Caleb, is being examined

News

1,137 students from breakaway region enrolled at universities since 2005

by | Aug 3

TBILISI, DFWatch--4,237 students have graduated from the schools in Abkhazia since 2005, out of which 2,458 registered for the National Assessment and Examinations Center exams. According to Gali Educational Resource Center,

News

Three Georgian soldiers in hospital after knife fight at military training center

by | Aug 2

TBILISI, DFWatch--Three members of the Georgian military were wounded, and two slightly injured after a physical confrontation at the Kojori military base in the vicinity of Tbilisi overnight. The three received stab wounds with knives that were not military issue, MoD said.

News

Abkhazia steps up fight against drug crimes with draconian measures

by | Jul 28

TBILISI, DFWatch--Sokhumi responds to the mass outcry over the growing problem of drug addiction by introducing draconian new measures, including capital punishment. Abkhazia's de facto parliament has adopted

News

Villagers clash with riot police over illegal logging in Svaneti, Georgia

by | Jul 27

TBILISI, DFWatch--Villagers clashed with police in the highland Svaneti region of Georgia on Thursday. The unrest was triggered by the arrival of the finance police. The confrontation lasted throughout the day during which locals blocked the only road connecting

News

South Ossetia’s leader visits Bashar al-Assad in Damascus

by | Jul 24

TBILISI, DFWatch--The leader of South Ossetia, a breakaway republic within Georgian territory, visited Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Monday. During the meeting, South Ossetia’s de facto president Anatoly Bibilov pledged to help the Syrian regime ‘fight terrorism’,

News

Gali residents urged to renounced Georgian ethnicity to acquire Abkhazian passport

by | Jul 21

GALI, DFWatch--July 19, a ceremony was held here in Gali to award 'Abkhaz passports' to 139 residents who listened to an appeal by something called the Mirzakan Abkhaz Council. This was was only the latest event organized by the Council in an effort backed by Sokhumi

News

Abkhazia resumes issuing of ‘visas’ as FIFA World Cup ends

by | Jul 18

GALI, DFWatch--Sokhumi has resumed the issuing of ‘visas’ used by many Georgians to visit family and do business here in the Gali region in the southeast of the breakaway republic Abkhazia. The issuing of ‘visas’ was suspended about two months ago and locals in this predominantly

News

Four die in coal mine explosion in Tkibuli, Georgia

by | Jul 16

TBILISI, DFWatch--Four miners died after a methane gas explosion in a coal mine in Tkibuli, Georgia, Monday morning, prompting the temporary closure of the mine. A further six were injured and brought to hospital. Two of them are still in a serious condition,

News

After years of crime rule, number of robberies finally drops in Gali

by | Jul 12

GALI, DFWatch--In the past, robberies were rife here in Abkhazia’s easternmost region Gali, which is predominantly inhabited by ethnic Georgians. But recently, the crime situation has noticeably improved. DFWatch talked to people in Gali about how their situation has changed the last few years.

Politics

New Georgian PM unveils cabinet with three new names

by | Jul 12

TBILISI, DFWatch--New Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze unveiled his cabinet on Thursday. The list contains three new names, among them proposed Finance Minister Ivane Machavariani (pictured), while the embattled justice minister gets to keep her seat.

In brief

Five injured as helicopter crash lands in eastern Georgia

by | Jul 12

TBILISI, DFWatch--Five people were injured as a helicopter crash landed in eastern Georgia on Thursday. Three pilots, a border guard and a police officer were injured as the helicopter belonging to the Border Police had a hard touchdown near the village of Artana in Kakheti.

News

New hurdles for Gali residents as breakaway Abkhazia ends use of ‘passports’

by | Jul 9

GALI, DFWatch--As Abkhazia’s breakaway authorities are planning to end the use of specially issued ‘passports’ by the end of 2018, the Georgian minority here are facing new bureaucratic hurdles and further discrimination.

Crime

19 y/o shepherd charged with murdering American family of three in Dusheti

by | Jul 9

TBILISI, DFWatch--A 19 year old shepherd from Georgia's mountain region Dusheti was charged Monday with the cold blooded murder of an American family of three. The shepherd, whose identity is being withheld by authorities, has confessed to the killing of Ryan Smith, 43, an entrepreneur,

News

More people detained for trying to leave South Ossetia than for trying to enter

by | Jul 8

TBILISI, DFWatch--South Ossetia's KGB has published data which reveals that more people have been punished for trying to leave the breakaway region than for crossing into the territory. As DFWatch reported early on, people living near the de facto border are frequently being detained

Politics

Georgian PM Kvirikashvili stricken from GD political council member list

by | Jul 6

TBILISI, DFWatch--Former Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has mysteriously been removed from the political council of Georgia's ruling party. As PM, Kvirikashvili had a leading role in the advisory body of the ruling party. But he resigned his position abruptly on June 13,

News

Georgia charges one person with terrorism for posting threat on Facebook

by | Jul 6

TBILISI, DFWatch--One person has been charged with terrorism in Georgia for allegedly using social media to advocate the hostage taking of the Armenian ambassador.

Environment

Landslide triggers flooding, evacuation in Svaneti

by | Jul 6

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfRVhSBLGGc TBILISI, DFWatch--A landslide triggered a flood wave carrying large amounts of mud and debris down the Nenskra river in Svaneti, western Georgia on Thursday. Dozens of people fled their homes or were evacuated, as at least four bridges

Politics

Georgia’s ruling party to strip president of powers to grant citizenship

by | Jul 4

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's ruling party prepares to take away the president’s power to grant people citizenship. According to a bill presented Tuesday, the president will no longer be entitled to appoint the head of the commission which reviews applications for citizenship.

NGO news

NGO coalition in Georgia proposes new procedure for selecting chief prosecutor

by | Jun 29

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's largest NGO coalition proposes an overhaul of the existing system for selecting a chief prosecutor in order to minimize the risk that one party takes the decision unilaterally. The proposed bill comes in the wake of a two-week-long series of rallies in Tbilisi

News

Saakashvili convicted of ordering parliamentarian’s beating in 2005

by | Jun 29

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court on Thursday found former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili guilty of ordering the beating of a parliamentarian in 2005. Saakashvili was sentenced to six years in prison and stripped of his right to hold government

Crime

Two women arrested, suspected of stabbing Georgian singer

by | Jun 27

TBILISI, DFWatch--Police in Georgia have arrested two young women implicated in the near fatal stabbing of a popular crooner. Irakli Nozadze, nicknamed 'Picasso', was in a critical condition after major loss of blood after being stabbed multiple times in the chest and neck on Monday.

Crime

Popular Georgian crooner ‘stabbed by two girls’ in Tbilisi

by | Jun 26

TBILISI, DFWatch--One of Georgia’s most popular singers was stabbed in Tbilisi Monday evening. Two girls are suspected of carrying out the crime. Irakli “Picasso” Nozadze of the popular quartet Street Boys ("ქუჩის ბიჭები") is in a critical condition after being stabbed in the chest.

News

Breakaway South Ossetia asks Georgia for 11th Century icon

by | Jun 22

TBILISI, DFWatch--Separatists in South Ossetia have repeated a call to Georgia to hand over an 11th Century icon currently being kept in the National Museum in Tbilisi. Representatives of the breakaway republic raised the issue during

In brief

US to sell Stinger missiles to Russia’s neighbor Georgia

by | Jun 21

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia will probably receive American-made Stinger MANPADs, the defense minister has revealed. Defense Minister Levan Izoria mentioned the new weapons acquisition during a confirmation hearing in parliament on Tuesday. "Georgia will get, along with the Javelins,

News

Georgian asylum seekers to Europe down 13% in April

by | Jun 20

  TBILISI, DFWatch--The number of Georgians who sought asylum in Schengen countries dropped 13 percent in April, compared to the month before, but the small Caucasus nation is still over-represented. Despite a modest population of 3.7 million, Georgia still ranks among

News

Abkhazia halts issuing of ‘visas’ during FIFA World Cup

by | Jun 16

GALI, DFWatch--Sokhumi has suspended the issuing of ‘visas’ which is needed by many Georgians to visit family and do business here in the southern Gali region of the breakaway republic.

News

Georgia indicts two South Ossetian officials for Tatunashvili’s torture and murder

by | Jun 15

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian Prosecutor’s Office has indicted two South Ossetian officials for involvement in the abduction and torture of a Georgian former soldier in Akhalgori, an enclave under control of the breakaway region. Davit Gurtsiev, the head of de facto security body in Akhalgori,

News

Breakaway Sokhumi plans to import Abkhazians from Middle East to shift demographics

by | Jun 14

GALI, DFWatch--Breakaway authorities in Sokhumi plan to invite ethnic Abkhazians in the Middle East to come and settle in the southern Gali and northern Gagra districts. The scheme will shift the demographics in parts of the disputed territory where the Abkhazians are not

Society

Georgia on its way to less punitive, more human drug policy?

by | Jun 13

Two commissioners visiting Tbilisi urge the government of Georgia to go ahead with bold reform of drug policies, insisting that ending punishment does not mean encouraging or condoning the use of drugs, but rather it empowers individuals and communities

Politics

Georgian PM Kvirikashvili resigns, citing disagreement with Ivanishvili

by | Jun 13

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili resigned on Wednesday, citing disagreement with the head of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Bidzina Ivanishvili. According to the Constitution, the PM’s resignation also means that the entire government resigns.

News

19 detained in Tbilisi as protests resume in wake of controversial teen murder investigation

by | Jun 12

TBILISI, DFWatch--The leader of Georgia’s largest opposition party UNM was among 19 people detained on Monday as street protests resumed against a murder investigation. Authorities came down hard on organizers as the rallies resumed Monday as a deadline set by protesters

News

Outrage in Georgia over Ossetian officer’s hospital treatment

by | Jun 10

AKHALGORI, DFWatch--Georgians took to social media to express their outrage on Friday after it emerged that a South Ossetian officer was receiving treatment at a Tbilisi hospital. It is being speculated that he might be implicated in the murder of Archil Tatunashvili,

News

Four killed as minivan full of schoolchildren plunges into ravine

by | Jun 9

TBILISI, DFWatch--Four died, and 21 were reportedly injured when a minivan full of schoolchildren rolled into a ravine near Tbilisi Saturday. One child and three adults were killed, the latter reportedly parents of schoolchildren. 21 people were injured, including 12 children.

News

One man arrested for witness tampering in Tbilisi school murder case

by | Jun 8

TBILISI, DFWatch--One person was arrested for witness tampering on Friday in connection with the new investigation into the Khorava Street murders. Merab Morchadze, 45, was detained under Article 372 of the Criminal Code on the basis of new evidence obtained in the course of the new

News

Tbilisi City Court hears Igor Giorgadze’s lawsuit against DFWatch

by | Jun 7

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court has started reviewing a lawsuit against DFWatch filed by Igor Giorgadze, a former head of Georgia's State Security Ministry who is wanted by Georgia for a failed assassination attempt

News

Forensic examination shows that Archil Tatunashvili was tortured before he died

by | Jun 6

TBILISI, DFWatch--A new forensic examination carried out in Georgia concludes that Archil Tatunashvili, a former soldier who died in a prison in South Ossetia February 23, was most likely killed. The body had nearly a hundred different injuries and signs that indicate he was tortured.

News

Father of murdered teenager rejects government’s offer of protection

by | Jun 2

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs on Friday offered the father of a murdered teenager who is leading a street protest to enroll in a witness protection program, claiming his life may be in danger. Zaza Saralidze has been at the front of an ongoing street protest

News

Suspicion that the murderers of two teenagers are protected sparks outrage in Georgia

by | May 31

TBILISI, DFWatch--A furious crowd of demonstrators converged on parliament Thursday evening in response to the controversial verdict in the trial of two slayed teenagers. Many in Georgia believe law enforcers granted impunity to one or more persons implicated in the crime and that the real murderers still haven't been charged. The murder of high schoolers Levan Dadunashvili and Davit Saralidze shocked Georgia and the trial has attracted intense public interest.

News

Syria recognizes two Russia-backed Georgian breakaway regions as independent states

by | May 29

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Syrian government on Tuesday recognized the two Georgian breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. In response, Tbilisi severed diplomatic relations with Damascus.

News

Georgia’s Orthodox Church asks priests to stay away from ‘blasphemous’ Rustavi 2

by | May 25

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's Orthodox Church on Thursday denounced the largest private TV channel in the country, and asked its clergy to stop giving interviews to or participate in any of its programs. The reason for the unprecedented step was that Rustavi 2 has engaged in 'blasphemy'

News

In Gali, Abkhazia, people wait in vain for a new border crossing to open

by | May 24

GALI, DFWatch--For almost a year and a half, people in Gali, in the south of breakaway Abkhazia, have been waiting for a new checkpoint to open on the administrative border line to Georgia proper, so far in vain.

News

Moscow approves Abkhazia, South Ossetia cargo monitoring scheme by Swiss company SGS

by | May 21

TBILISI, DFWatch--After seven years of delay, Russia has finally inked an agreement with the Swiss company SGS to carry out monitoring of goods passing through the border with Georgia. SGS will carry out customs monitoring

In brief

New flights connect Kutaisi to Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Athens and Prague

by | May 17

TBILISI, DFWatcch--Kutaisi in central Georgia will be connected by direct flights to some of Europe's biggest cities this week for as little as 25 euros. Hungarian budget airline Wizzair is launching new flights out of Kutaisi International Airport. Already from Thursday, there are new connections

Minorities

Gay rights rally canceled in Tbilisi following pressure from far-right groups

by | May 17

TBILISI, DFWatch--Organizers have called off a gay rights rally in Tbilisi out of security concerns. The rally should have been held in front of the government building in Tbilisi to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). "Considering all existing

Youth

Georgian clubbers call off protest after interior minister promises investigation of police brutality

by | May 14

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi youth outraged by police raids of two night clubs called off their two day long protest Sunday night after the interior minister publicly apologized for police brutality and promised an investigation.

News

Georgia raises bar for obtaining residency permit

by | May 12

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia is bringing in stricter rules for acquiring permanent residency, in order to stem the tide of irregular immigration, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has said. According to the amendments submitted by the government, foreign nationals

Politics

Ivanishvili elected leader of Georgia’s ruling party at grandiose meeting

by | May 12

TBILISI, DFWatch--Billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili was formally elected head of the ruling Georgian Dream party on Friday, at a grandiose party convention resembling those held by the Communist party during the Soviet Union. Ivanishvili retired from politics in 2013,

News

South Ossetia blocks Georgian bishop from entering border chapel on St George’s Day

by | May 7

TBILISI, DFWatch--Separatists prevented a Georgian bishop from conducting St George’s Day mass on Sunday in a chapel on the administrative border line between the disputed territory South Ossetia and Georgia proper. Guards have allowed archbishop Andria to conduct the important mass

News

Massive delays on Enguri bridge

by | May 6

TBILISI, DFWatch--Long queues on the Enguri bridge has caused major interruptions for people wanting to cross the de facto border between Abkhazia and Georgia proper. Locals told DFWatch the immediate reason for the traffic jam is that only one out of four passport counters is operational on the Abkhaz side,

News

Georgian court bans condoms depicting Queen Tamar

by | May 5

TBILISI, DFWatch--A court in Georgia has banned three types of condoms because the packaging was found to be unethical. Human rights groups see the ruling as an attack on freedom of expression. Tbilisi City Court’s decision bans the sale and promotion of three types of condoms sold by the company Aiisa.

Society

Smoking ban comes into effect in Georgia

by | May 1

TBILISI, DFWatch--A blanket ban on smoking indoors came into power in Georgia on Tuesday. People caught smoking on public transport now risk a fine of 50 lari (20 USD) or twice as much for repeated violations. Smoking is now banned inside all kinds of buildings,

Politics

Ivanishvili to make political comeback, will head Georgia’s ruling GD

by | Apr 26

TBILISI, DFWatch--Billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili is making a comeback in politics and will head Georgia’s ruling party, Georgian Dream. The move comes amid ongoing tension within the party’s ranks. "On behalf of myself and my team, I personally asked the party's founder to lead the party.

News

Lawmaker in Georgia suggests making it a crime to cause offense to religious feelings

by | Apr 26

TBILISI, DFWatch--A conservative MP in Georgia has presented a bill that would prescribe punishment of up to one year in jail for 'offending someone's religious feelings'. The human rights committee in parliament agrees with the bill 'in principle'. "I'm ready to take part in and make

News

Alania diocese facing uncertain future as South Ossetia confiscates bishop’s ‘passport’

by | Apr 20

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Alania diocese, which covers the area of the separatist region South Ossetia, is facing an uncertain future after law enforcers for the breakaway republic confiscated the ‘passport’ of the head of the diocese. The ‘passport’, which is required

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 violently 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.

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