Posts by Dominik K. Cagara:


In pictures: Pankisi valley celebrates Eid al-Fitr

by | Jul 8

Pankisi Valley, DFWatch - Eid al-Fitr, or the Feast of Breaking the Fast, is a major Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. This year, Eid al-Fitr was celebrated by Muslims worldwide on 6 July. In Pankisi valley, Georgia’s utmost


Protests resume against the Nenskra hydro power plant in Svaneti

by | Jul 6

TBILISI, DFWatch--Up to two hundred locals and environmental activists gathered in Chuberi in Upper Svaneti on Sunday as the protests against the planned Nenskra hydro power plant resumed. Activists argue that if built, the dam on the Nenskra river will deprive


Mshybzia! Futile activism serves the interests of elites

by | Jun 27

The new Georgian social media campaign aimed at reaching out to Abkhaz society is an example of a futile activism informed by nationalist narratives which are being used by Georgian political elites to distract society from the core issue of unresolved ethnic conflict


Interview: ‘Thinking Citizen’ and ethnic Azerbaijani activism in Georgia

by | Jun 17

Ruslan Asad is an Azerbaijani civil society activist and a co-founder of the Thinking Citizen (Düşünən Vətəndaş) project, which brings together young representatives of Georgia’s ethnic Azerbaijani community. He told DF Watch about the project’s aims, successes, and future plans in the context of issues faced by the community.


Svan council convenes to stop hydro power plants

by | Jun 15

TBILISI, DFWatch--Resistance against the Nenskra hydro power project in Georgia’s northern Svaneti region has caused locals to restore the traditional ruling body lalkhor in order to increase the community’s impact on the national decision-making process. A congress


Eight activists arrested in Nenskra power plant protests

by | May 26

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Svan campaigners declare that their protests will continue as long as no alternatives to the current project assuming flooding of their native valley are presented.


Anniversary of Circassian Genocide commemorated in Georgia

by | May 23

Tbilisi, DFWatch - A group of Georgian and Circassian activists commemorated the symbolic anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of Circassians by the Russian Empire in the 19th century, marked internationally on 21 May. The activists from the Circassian Cultural Centre in Tbilisi visited the monument dedicated to the victims of the Circassian Genocide in the village of Anaklia, right at the border with Abkhazia, where they laid wreaths.


Kist Salafi community joins debate on religion and radicalisation in Pankisi valley

by | May 18

Tbilisi, DFWatch - A Salafi imam from Pankisi valley met with Georgian public in order to explain the community’s views on religion, the role of the state, the role of media, sources of radicalism, and gender equality.


Svaneti gold rush from Saint Kitts and Nevis

by | May 13

Tbilisi, DFWatch - A wave of protests and civil activism erupted in Svaneti against a planned gold mining project, while the people behind it remain hidden in offshore shadows. The tiny village of Eli, more commonly known by its Svan name Ieli,


Offshore Leaks database premieres in Tbilisi

by | May 10

Global launch of the Offshore Leaks database revealed names of eighty-five Georgian citizens, some of who might potentially be implicated in illegal financial activities. On Monday, 9 May, an event organised by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) Caucasus celebrated the global launch of the Offshore Leaks database prepared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) based on data on almost 320 thousand offshore entities found in the Panama Papers. The database doesn’t give access to the actual documents, although it reveals names and ID numbers of people and their networks of connection to offshore entities. Earlier this year, DF Watch published reports based on information found in the Panama Papers which potentially implicates former politicians Bidzina Ivanishvili and Davit Kezerashvili in criminal activities. The latest release was accompanied by the publication of eighty-five Georgian names which figure in the database in connection to offshore companies. ‘It doesn’t necessarily mean that these people had anything to do with offshore’, Dave Bloss from OCCRP Caucasus explained. ‘If someone wants to open an offshore and they’re classified as a PEP — “politically exposed person”, which ...


Agency for Religious Issues: Civil society fosters Islamic terrorism

by | May 10

Tbilisi, DFWatch - NGO and Muslim activists slam the State Agency for Religious Issues for accusing the civil society of fostering Islamic terrorism and radicalism by pointing out structural violence on behalf of the state and the Georgian Orthodox Church.


Interview: Thomas de Waal on Georgia’s policy on Abkhazia

by | Apr 30

The senior associate with Carnegie Europe specialising in the Caucasus region, the author of books Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus, Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War and The Caucasus: An Introduction, Thomas de Waal discusses the need for nuanced approaches in Georgian policy towards Abkhazia and the future of Abkhaz–Georgian relations.


PM Kvirikashvili: Peace roadmap for Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the works

by | Apr 27

TBILISI, DFWatch--Giorgi Kvirikashvili announced the need for ‘decisive and brave’ steps in relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia and revealed that Georgia was working on a peace plan, which is to be consulted with Georgian public opinion and the de facto republics.


In pictures: Kist Cultural Evening in Tbilisi

by | Apr 26

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Cultural activists from Pankisi valley stress the importance of strong Chechen–Georgian relations and the need of challenging the existing negative stereotypes.


Abkhazian MFA slams Georgia for blocking Montenegro exposition

by | Apr 26

Abkhazia accuses Georgia of pursuing a policy of isolation and puts a question mark on the restitution of the IPRM, while Georgia points towards individual countries’ policies of non-recognition of Abkhazia.


Tbilisi City Hall refuses to guarantee security for members of Armenian Genocide rally

by | Apr 25

Members of Tbilisi’s Armenian community gathered in front of an Armenian church in Avlabari district following the authorities’ refusal to secure the annual rally in front of the Turkish Embassy demanding recognition of the Armenian Genocide.


In pictures: Tbilisi Armenians celebrate Palm Sunday

by | Apr 24

TBILISI, DFWatch--Although the Armenian Apostolic Church follows a different liturgical calendar, many Georgian Armenians mark religious holidays on the same days as the Georgian Orthodox. Armenians in Armenia already celebrated Palm Sunday (Tsaghkazard in


In pictures: Georgian Jews prepare for Passover

by | Apr 23

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Passover, also known by its Hebrew name, Pesach, is a major religious holiday celebrated by Jews across the world. It commemorates the liberation of Jews by God from the slavery in Egypt and the


Georgians mentioned in leaked Islamic State documents

by | Apr 21

Experts point out inconclusiveness of the analysis of a sample of leaked documents, which mention five Georgian fighters registered with the Islamic State.

Minorities, News

Family feud linked to Pankisi arson case

by | Apr 19

The victim’s family demands an urgent and comprehensive investigation into a suspected arson case, which will otherwise be solved through the application of traditional law. A family house in Pankisi valley was burnt

Caucasus region

Abkhazia’s parliament: MP’s car explosion was an ‘act of terrorism’

by | Apr 18

TBILISI, DFWatch--The opposition suggests that the explosion could be connected to the government’s plans to allow foreign nationals to buy property in Abkhazia, while major political actors call for cross-political solidarity. Members of Abkhazia’s de facto parliament,

Caucasus region

Putin gives yellow light to South Ossetian unification project

by | Apr 15

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia accuses Russia of instrumental use of a South Ossetian initiative to conduct a referendum on joining Russia, while Russia continues sending mixed signals to the Tskhinvali leadership. South Ossetian hopes for unification with the Russian Federation


MP’s call for formal recognition of Armenian Genocide reignites debate

by | Apr 14

TBILISI, DFWatch--A call to formally recognise the Armenian Genocide further strains interethnic relations in the context of recent hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh, upcoming annual genocide commemorations, and impending parliamentary elections.


Georgia strengthens economic ties with China

by | Apr 11

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian authorities are set to strengthen cooperation with China in the areas of trade, transit, and tourism. The Georgian government has expressed interest in making Georgia a part of China’s transit initiatives known colloquially as ‘New Silk


In pictures: Georgian Catholics mark Easter

by | Mar 27

Tbilisi, DFWatch - This year, a number of Christian minorities in Georgia, including the Catholics, Armenians, and Protestants observe Easter, the most important Christian holiday, more than one month before Orthodox Christians. Before Easter, Catholics observe a forty-day long fasting period known as the Great Lent. The last week immediately before Easter is known as the Holy Week, which includes Holy Thursday, commemorating the Last Supper, Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion, and Holy Saturday, when the faithful gather for an all-night vigil by the symbolic Lord’s tomb awaiting His resurrection. On Holy Saturday morning, some believers bring baskets with a sampling of Easter foods for a priest to bless. This custom is mostly associated with Georgia’s Polish community, among whom the custom is known as święconka. According to the most recent data, less than one percent of the population in Georgia are Catholics, about 10 percent are Muslims, and four percent Armenian Christians. More than 83 percent are adherents of the Georgian Orthodox Church. The majority of Georgia’s Catholics live in the southern district of Samtskhe–Javakheti, although there’s a small Catholic community in Tbilisi ...


Pankisi imams won’t endorse early marriages

by | Mar 25

The issue of early marriages highlights existing religious divisions in Pankisi valley and competing views on the community’s relation with the Georgian state. In a conversation with local Radio WAY (‘We’ in Chechen), member of Pankisi’s Council of Elders Khaso Khangoshvili declared that early marriages won’t be endorsed by Pankisi’s ‘traditional’ imams any more, Kakheti Information Centre (ICK) reported. ‘We decided that imams of the traditional mosque won’t solemnise early marriages any more. We took into account a couple of factors. Firstly, having a family is a burden too heavy for a girl younger than 18 who is still a school pupil. She should be able to finish her studies. Secondly, according to our tradition, the role of woman in the family is fairly important and it’s too big of a responsibility for a minor. And finally — our country’s legislation already forbids early marriages’, Mr Khangoshvili explained in a comment for InterPressNews. The majority of approximately 10 thousand Kists who inhabit Pankisi valley profess Islam. One part of the community, usually the older generation, identifies as ‘traditional’ Sufi Muslims, while the ...


In pictures: Nowruz celebrations in Marneuli

by | Mar 21

MARNEULI, DFWatch--Hundreds of people celebrated the coming of spring in the city of Marneuli, populated predominantly by ethnic Azerbaijanis. Nowruz (Novruz bayramı in Azerbaijani) is a major holiday of Persian and Zoroastrian origins, celebrated nowadays


Campaigners demand action against secret surveillance blackmail

by | Mar 19

TBILISI, DFWatch--Activists from campaign Es Shen Gekheba rallied against use of people’s private life for intimidation and blackmail and demanded concrete steps from the government. Up to one thousand activists walked through Tbilisi’s Rustaveli Avenue


LGBT rights activists protest against politicization of the definition of marriage

by | Mar 18

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian Dream MP slurs Identoba’s activists who stage a protest against proposed constitutional changes in the definition of marriage. A group of activists from NGO Identoba (‘Identity’) gathered today in front of the Parliament


In pictures: Yazidi cemetery in Tbilisi

by | Mar 16

The only Yazidi cemetery in Tbilisi is located on a hill overlooking the city in Upper Chughureti district. Until less than a year ago, the area around the cemetery used to be a site of illegal garbage disposal. It was finally rehabilitated in June 2015.


Armenian-language radio gains ground in Georgia

by | Mar 15

Director of Armenian-language radio Aliq Media, Arsen Kharatyan discusses challenges facing minority-language media in Georgia and the anti-Armenian sentiment in the country. DF Watch: Can you tell us about the history of the radio?


Students occupying university building in Tbilisi

by | Mar 11

TBILISI, DFWatch--Protesters continue to occupy a building at Tbilisi State University, demanding a transparent process for electing the university’s management amid allegations of interference by the State Security Agency. On the second day of protest,


Protest in Tbilisi University against ‘student government privileges’

by | Mar 8

TBILISI, DFWatch--Activists demand transparent funding mechanisms for student government’s projects over allegations of misspending. On Monday, 7 March, approximately 300 activists gathered in front of the administrative building


Georgian Islamic State suspect sentenced to 14 years

by | Mar 7

TBILISI, DFWatch--A court in Tbilisi sentenced three men to prison on Monday for associating with or assisting a foreign terrorist organization. Aiup Borchashvili, former imam of the mosque in the village of Jokolo in Pankisi valley, was sentenced to 14 years


Protesters support Tkibuli miners’ strike in Tbilisi

by | Feb 28

TBILISI, DFWatch--Activists demonstrated in front of the headquarters of Georgian Industrial Group in Tbilisi in solidarity with the miners who are on strike in Tkibuli. In the evening of 26 February, a group of up to 200 protesters


Georgia’s Vainakh community commemorates victims of Stalin’s deportations

by | Feb 23

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Kist, Chechen, Ingush activists and Georgian sympathisers commemorated victims of 1944 deportations with screening of a Chechen film depicting details of the tragedy.


Neighbours Struggle to Deal with Religious Tension in Tbilisi’s Muslim Settlement

by | Feb 22

Soghanlughi, DFWatch - Global Shia–Sunni conflict found its way into a small Azerbaijani community on the outskirts of Tbilisi.What started as a local tension in the predominantly Muslim settlement of Soghanlughi (Soğanlıq in Azerbaijani), which is a part of Ponichala district in the southeast of Tbilisi, escalated into a conflict informed by events in the Middle East, proving increasingly divisive for the community.


Georgia, Russia, South Ossetia react to international war crimes probe

by | Feb 17

Tbilisi, DFWatch - As allegations of ethnic cleansing emerge, Russia and South Ossetia back off from cooperating on August 2008 war crimes investigation by the International Criminal Court. Emotions in Tbilisi, Tskhinval (Tskhinvali),


Reintegration minister revives Russian-language TV channel debate

by | Feb 16

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Georgian experts focus on security aspects of countering Russian propaganda in the debate on reviving a Russian-language TV channel. An initiative to create a Russian-language TV channel in Georgia was voiced by Paata Zakareishvili, minister of reintegration and civic equality, during the cabinet meeting on 11 February, Novosti Gruziya reported.


Passportisation in Abkhazia, questions about Gali Georgians remain

by | Feb 8

Tbilisi, DFWatch - New legislation doesn’t solve the problems of Abkhazia’s Georgians, who still find themselves in limbo of no right to vote and own property. ‘Issuance of new passports for inhabitants of Abkhazia


Council of Europe report highlights marginalization of minorities

by | Jan 28

TBILISI, DFWatch--A new report by the Council of Europe (CoE) criticizes Georgia for not having done enough to protect minorities and prevent inter-faith tension. The report deals with the protection of minority rights in Georgia and assesses the legislative steps taken


Georgia’s Public Defender outlines problems on Human Rights Day

by | Dec 11

TBILISI, DFWatch--On December 10, the International Human Rights Day, the Public Defender as usual published a brief report about the situation in Georgia in terms of human rights. DF Watch compiled an overview of the most important issues discussed in the report.

Caucasus region

Armenian democracy in freefall after fraudulent referendum

by | Dec 9

Widespread electoral fraud allegations and the growing gap between the political élites and the society confirm worrying trends in Armenia’s democratic development. On Sunday, 6 December a nationwide constitutional referendum was held in Armenia.


Storm in a teacup: South Ossetian referendum on joining Russia

by | Nov 8

South Ossetia’s declaration of holding a referendum on joining Russia seems to have more to do with local power dynamics than regional geopolitics. The recent South Ossetian announcement of its intentions to hold a referendum on joining the Russian Federation came about suddenly. While announcing his decision,


International ‘pro-family’ congress to coincide with Day Against Homophobia

by | Nov 4

A major ‘family values’ conference will be held in Tbilisi on the 17 May amidst fears that it might be yet another attempt at silencing LGBT rights activism Georgia was chosen as the site for the tenth World Congress of Families, Christian News Wire reported.

Caucasus region

Support and resistance for Svan language activism

by | Nov 2

Mestia, DFWatch - Svan language activists explain why it’s necessary to stop the decline of the language amidst reluctance on behalf of the authorities and the Church.  ‘A language is a dialect with an army and navy’,


Cabinet reshuffle and looming political crisis hint Abkhazia–Russia tension

by | Oct 23

The postponement of the full implementation of the treaty on ‘Alliance and Strategic Partnership’, cabinet reshuffles, and demonstrations of opposition parties hint at Abkhazia’s increasingly knotty relation with Russia.

Caucasus region

‘Radicalisation’ obscures core issues faced by Pankisi inhabitants

by | Oct 21

Duisi, DFWatch - Counterextremism efforts in the Pankisi Valley fall short as they fail to address root causes of radicalisation processes in the region. Following the reporting on Georgian citizens leaving the country to join the ranks of foreign fighters in the civil war in Syria and Iraq, the question of religious radicalisation in the Pankisi Valley has become one of the most debated security issues in Georgia.


Unchallenged stereotypes blight Georgian–Armenian relations

by | Oct 18

DF Watch discusses roots and manifestations of the anti-Armenian sentiment in Georgia with director of Cultural, Educational and Youth Centre Hayartun, Levon Chidilyan. DF Watch: Mr Chidilyan, how representative is Hayartun for Georgia’s Armenian c


New Armenian church opens in Javakheti

by | Oct 16

Javakheti’s Armenian community celebrated the opening of a new church in the village of Didi Aragiali. A ceremony of opening a new church in the village of Didi Aragiali of Ninotsminda municipality inhabited by ethnic Armenian majority was held on 13 October, news portal reports.

Caucasus region

North Caucasus Watch (19 September – 1 October 2015)

by | Oct 8

Daghestan Bodies of five residents of Suleyman-Stalskiy district were found in local forests by power agents. According to the official information, the men had their hands tied and were killed by the insurgents as a retaliation for cooperating with the police. Authorities also announced that a


Sukhumi and Tbilisi commemorate war-related anniversaries

by | Oct 2

As the question of political status of Abkhazia remains a major challenge to peace and security in the region, the two societies commemorate the events of 1993 in radically different manners. As twenty-two years have passed since the end of the war in Abkhazia,


DF Talk: Being transgender in Georgia

by | Oct 1

Natia Gvianishvili, director of NGO Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group and Nika Ghviniashvili, manager of NGO LGBT Georgia Resource Centre talk about transgenderness and the issues faced by transgender people in Georgia. What is transgenderness? Natia Gvianishvili:

Caucasus region, News

North Caucasus Watch (5–18 September 2015)

by | Sep 22

DFWatch (5–18 September 2015) Daghestan On September 13 local elections took place in the republic. The Party of Russia’s Veterans earned 69% of votes in the city of Buynaksk, while United Russia earned 66%


Participatory budgeting gathers momentum in Marneuli

by | Sep 1

Tserakvi, DFWatch - A pilot project on participatory budgeting brings the population of Marneuli district closer to the decision-making process and brings democratic participation to a new level. One Caucasus Festival ended on Saturday, but the organizers took steps to secure its pro-democratic overtone in the long run.

Caucasus region

North Caucasus Watch (22–28 August 2015)

by | Aug 31

DFWatch (22–28 August 2015) Daghestan Former mayor of Makhachkala, Said Amirov, was sentenced to life by a court in Rostov-on-Don on 27 August. His relative Yusup Dzhaparov was sentenced to 18 years in penal colony.


One Caucasus Festival kicks off near Marneuli

by | Aug 28

Tserakvi, DFWatch - Festival brings south Georgia’s multi-ethnic community together with visitors from Armenia and Azerbaijan for music, art, sport, and activism. One Caucasus Festival kicked off yesterday in Tserakvi in Marneuli district, turning the tiny village into a lively melting pot of local and international guests. The festival will last for three days. While it certainly attracts many visitors for its musical programme, including artists from the South Caucasus, Poland, and Senegal, there is a strong family-friendly dimension to the festival, such as sport, dance, and art activities for children and teenagers, which proves very popular among the local community. The festival also includes participatory budget workshops aimed at increasing local participation and activism in the district. DF Watch talked to the festival’s cofounder and coordinator in Georgia Lado Mextiyev who explained the festival’s history and its raison d’être. ‘The idea for the festival was born in 2012 while working on our previous project “Art Zone” in Kakheti, which was aimed at spreading the Polish culture abroad. Within the project’s framework, we conducted meetings with representatives of intelligentsia from Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. ...


Youth of multiple ethnic backgrounds join forces for One Caucasus Festival

by | Aug 27

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Ethnic Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Georgian activists from Marneuli district take part in preparations for the One Caucasus Festival to be held on 27–29 August in the village of Tserakvi.


Tbilisi super cup heats up an old debate in Abkhazia

by | Aug 25

A group of Abkhaz football fans faced harsh criticism in Abkhazia for travelling to Tbilisi for  the UEFA Super Cup. The UEFA Super Cup football match between Spanish teams,

Caucasus region

North Caucasus Watch (15–21 August 2015)

by | Aug 24

DFWatch (15–21 August 2015) Dagestan According to National Antiterrorist Committee of Russia, the leader of the Vilayyat Daghestan Mountainous Sector of the Caucasian Emirate, Gadzhi Abdullayev (known as Abu Dujana), was killed in course of the


Combating transphobia through grassroots activism

by | Aug 17

TBILISI, DFWatch--While transphobia remains a societal and legal issue in Georgia, NGO activists try to raise awareness of the problem and exercise pressure on the authorities. As some in Georgia are still

Caucasus region

North Caucasus Watch (8–14 August 2015)

by | Aug 16

DFWatch (8–14 August 2015) Daghestan According to the Russian Investigative Committee, leader of the Caucasian Emirate, Magomed Suleymanov (A.K.A. Abu Usman Gimrinskiy),

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