Posts by Rusiko Machaidze:

Politics

Georgian Dream ramping up for the parliamentary election

by | Aug 4

TBILISI, DFWatch--As Bidzina Ivanishvili’s party is ramping up for the 2016 parliamentary election, it is still unknown whether Georgian Dream will run as a coalition, as in previous elections. The political council of Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia

News

EU representative’s car hits and kills 15 year old in Georgia

by | Jul 28

TBILISI, DFWatch--A car belonging to the European Union Delegation to Georgia ran into a 15 year old boy on Sunday causing his death. The accident happened 30km away from the capital Tbilisi. An EU delegation spokesperson confirmed to DF Watch

Politics

Georgian MP confused EBRD with a brothel

by | Jul 23

TBILISI, DFWatch--A member of parliament from the governing coalition on Wednesday defended himself against what he thought was innuendo implying that he had visited a brothel. The speech by Soso Jachvliani, an armwrestler, actor and film director who is also

News

Who wants to use Tbilisi’s Atoneli residence?

by | Jul 19

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s National Security Council (NSC) has turned down an offer to use the residence on Atoneli Street as office. The residence used to house the U.S. embassy, but was refurbished to be used for the president’s office. This, however,

News

Russia to ease visa rules for Georgians

by | Jul 17

TBILISI, DFWatch--Russia promises to ease visa rules for Georgian citizens. The news of this came after talks in Prague between a Georgian and a Russian diplomat. The Abashidze-Karasin talks were launched after Georgian Dream came to power in 2012.

News

Former defense minister charged with appropriation of property

by | Jul 3

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s Prosecutor  General’s Office on Thursday charged a former defense minister with appropriation of property from private persons during his time in office. The Prosecutor General’s Office said Davit Kezerashvili in August, 2010,

News

Georgia’s National Bank raises refinancing rate to 5.5%

by | Jul 2

TBILISI, DFWatch--The National Bank of Georgia is increasing the refinancing rate because of an expected increase in inflation, which means that loans for a certain category of clients will get more expensive. The explanation given for the National

News, Society

Thousands of Georgians despair as Greece halts money transfers

by | Jun 30

TBILISI, DFWatch--The crisis in Greece has also hit hard for as many as 200,000 Georgians who are living and working in the country, and their families back home in Georgia. Money transfers are currently halted, as well as trailer transport. The crisis in Greece

Politics

Judicial committee joins president in resisting National Bank bill

by | Jun 26

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian parliament’s judiciary committee agree with the president about a proposed bill to strip away the bank supervisory function from the National Bank, claiming that it violates the constitution. Committee chair Vakhtang Khmaladze said on Friday

Politics

Georgian president to veto National Bank bill

by | Jun 25

TBILISI, DFWatch--For at least the second time, the situation between the Georgian parliament and the president has become tense. Now the president plans to veto an initiative concerning the president of the National Bank. Since the president and non-governmental

Environment, News

Explanations differ about what caused disastrous flood in Tbilisi

by | Jun 16

TBILISI, DFWatch--The clean-up effort continues after Sunday’s flood, which left at least 17 dead, as attention turns to what might have caused such a disaster. A handful of reasons have been given, which all may be grouped according to political affiliation. Some people blame

News

Four people detained in Georgia for links to ISIS

by | Jun 16

TBILISI, DFWatch--Four people were detained in Tbilisi and Kakheti, accused of joining the terrorist organization ISIS and recruiting Georgians to fight in Syria. One of the detainees is a local from Pankisi Gorge, father of 9 Ayuf (Gaioz) Borchashvil. The Ministry of Internal Affairs

News

‘We’ll cancel Saakashvili’s citizenship when we want’

by | Jun 2

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian government is not in a hurry to go through with the formal procedures that will strip ex-President Mikheil Saakashvilli of his native citizenship after being appointed governor of Odessa and acquiring Ukrainian citizenship. “Let this issue hang over his head like

News

Saakashvili loses Georgian citizenship to become Odessa governor

by | May 30

TBILISI, DFWatch--Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has given up his citizenship of his own country in order to assume the post as governor of Odessa in Ukraine. The former president was appointed head of a reform council in Ukraine earlier this year.

News

Defectors from Saakashvili’s party plan to start new movement

by | May 26

TBILISI, DFWatch--Four prominent members of Saakashvili’s National Movement who recently left the party are planning to start a new movement. DF Watch spoke with Mikheil Machavariani, who is one of the most high profile members

News

Saakashvili’s National Movement loses four prominent party members

by | May 25

TBILISI, DFWatch--The party secretary and three prominent members abandoned the National Movement on Monday. There has not yet been official confirmation that the four have left Georgia’s former ruling party, but party members have confirmed it in private

Politics

Georgia strips bank supervision authority from the National Bank

by | May 23

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in Georgia has decided to strip the National Bank of responsibility for supervising banks and transfer this mechanism to the prime minister. The decision follows months of criticism by the government against the head of the National

News

Public defender demands investigation of ‘selective justice’

by | May 22

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's public defender demands an investigation into ‘selective justice’ toward former government officials, but the government is still not planning to do this. Parliament has now started going through the public defender’s recently published report

Politics

Georgian government draws up plan for breakup of Interior Ministry

by | May 17

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in Georgia has drawn up a plan to split the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) into two units, with counterintelligence kept separately and under parliamentary control. Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili announced the revived

News

Georgians disappointed with the govt, but don’t trust the opposition

by | May 14

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgians are disappointed with the government, lack confidence in the opposition and are worried about the situation in the country - these are the main findings of a recent poll published by the National Democratic Institute (NDI). Judging

News

Government reform of Prosecutor General’s Office met with skepticism

by | May 8

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian government plans to change the procedure for appointing a chief prosecutor. Instead of letting the prime minister do the selection, parliament will have the power to do this. According to Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani, this will

Politics

New ministers begin working before approval in parliament

by | May 4

TBILISI, DFWatch--Three new ministers Monday started working, even though they haven't been approved by parliament yet. Constitutional experts say it is unlikely that they have a right to function as ministers. The three new appointees arrived at their respective

News

Georgia’s defense minister confirms controversial call to predecessor

by | Apr 2

TBILISI, DFWatch--Defense Minister Mindia Janelidze has confirmed after five months that he talked on the phone with his predecessor Irakli Alasania, who was then visiting France. But he denies what Alasania claims he told him on phone in that conversation.

News

Georgian president rejects Putin’s invitation to May 9 celebration

by | Mar 30

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian president has declined an invitation to participate in the traditional May 9 celebration in Moscow of the 70th anniversary of victory in World War 2. The reason is that Russia signed ‘integration agreements’ with South Ossetia

News

Georgian PM’s visit to Ukraine delayed without explanation

by | Mar 24

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian PM's visit to Ukraine is being delayed for unknown reasons. Early this year, government members indicated that such a visit would take place soon. Officials only say that they are preparing for the visit, but offer no information

Politics

Head of Georgia’s National Bank may be impeached for ‘inaction’

by | Feb 28

TBILISI, DFWatch--The president of Georgia’s National Bank may be impeached after former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili on Thursday accused him of inaction in the face of a sudden thirty percent drop in the lari. The National Bank is an independent body whose

Economy

Georgian lari stabilizes at record low level

by | Feb 26

TBILISI, DFWatch--The lari, Georgia’s embattled national currency, showed signs of recovery on Thursday after both the National Bank and the government announced that they are taking measures to stop it from further depreciation. In recent days, the national

Minorities, News

Discussion: Reasons for instances of religious intolerance

by | Sep 15

TBILISI, DFWatch--A few days ago, in a town on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, local Orthodox Christians hung a pig’s head on the entrance to a Muslim madrasa school which was to be opened in few days, insulting the religious feelings of Muslims. What are the reasons

News, Security

U.S. to strengthen its military cooperation with Georgia

by | Sep 12

TBILISI, DFWatch--The United States is strengthening its military cooperation with Georgia and several non NATO-member states on the background of events in Ukraine. US is a strategic partner of Georgia and supports its North-Atlantic integration, US Secretary

News, Youth

Discussion: Youth unemployment in Georgia – causes and solutions

by | Sep 7

TBILISI, DFWatch--On September 6, DF Watch organized a discussion about the difficulties youth are having finding employment. We invited students from three different universities to share their views on youth unemployment. They agree that there are problems,

Interviews

German film director Stefan Tolz on living in Georgia

by | Aug 15

TBILISI, DFWatch--"Full Speed Westward" (Vollgas gen Westen) – this is the title of a new movie by German film director Stefan Tolz.  The movie opened in Georgia a few months ago and was well received. It is a documentary about Georgian reality, which shows

News, Youth

Cramped student houses in Tbilisi

by | Jul 22

TBILISI, DFWatch--At the end of Kekelidze Street, in Vake, one of Tbilisi’s most prestigious districts, there is a lane with small houses with tiny rooms. Mostly students are living here, usually those who were born outside the capital. They had to come here

News

Georgian president calls ex-ambassador’s death a murder

by | Jul 16

TBILISI, DFWatch--Former candidate for Rustavi mayor Erosi Kitsmarishvili was found dead in his car on Kipshidze Street in a prestigious district of Tbilisi. The car was at an underground parking in the building where he was residing. According to the Interior

News

Many reactions to Shevardnadze’s passing away

by | Jul 8

TBILISI, DFWatch--As former Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze died on Monday, aged 86, the same day several people organized a demonstration outside his residence in Krtsanisi, Tbilisi, where he lived in his final years. A group of several people

News, Politics

Georgian president will not attend signing of EU treaty

by | Jun 23

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian president, whose authority includes signing international treaties and who delegated the right to sign the Association Agreement with EU to the prime minister, won’t be in the Georgian delegation. Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze

News, Politics

Two of Georgian president’s top people left

by | Jun 14

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian president's foreign policy adviser Vano Machavariani left his job on Friday. The head of the president’s administration, Lasha Abashidze, also resigned. Both delivered a written resignation, but Machavariani told

News

One more brutal murder case from 2008 reopened

by | Jun 12

TBILISI, DFWatch--A few days before the local elections, the Interior Ministry in Georgia has gone public with details of yet one more crime conducted by Saakashvili’s government in which opponents were treated with a brutality reminiscent of Scorsese movies.

News

Saakashvili offers to help Georgian government

by | Jun 9

TBILISI, DFWatch--Former President Mikheil Saakashvili continues to offer his assistance. On Sunday, after instructing Ukraine’s new president, Petro Poroshenko, to under no circumstance weaken the military operation against pro-Moscow separatists in the east,

News, Security

Georgia doesn’t know what Obama’s military assistance means

by | Jun 6

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian government is unable to say specifically what Barack Obama’s initiative to boost the military capacity of non-NATO partner countries will mean and how the US will assist Georgia, but they welcome the initiative. Georgia’s defense

News, Politics

Continued speculation about who should sign Georgia’s EU treaty

by | May 23

TBILISI, DFWatch--When Georgia signs an association agreement with the European Union in late June, it will be Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili who will do the signing. This is despite it clearly being stated in the constitution that the president is the one who signs

Minorities, News

Anti-discrimination law needs effective enforcement

by | May 18

TBILISI, DFWatch--Representatives of NGOs say a new law recently introduced by Georgia to eliminate all forms of discrimination lacks an enforcement mechanism, and question whether it will be effective. DF Watch recently brought together Lina Ghvinianidze,

News

Surveillance bill review postponed

by | May 17

TBILISI, DFWatch--Parliament in Georgia Friday postponed the review of a much-debated bill proposed by civil rights groups aimed at preventing illegal surveillance, a practice still rife in the country. The review was postponed because parliament was unable to reach a quorum.

News

Former Georgian intelligence chief detained in Greece

by | Apr 27

TBILISI, DFWatch--A former head of Georgia’s domestic intelligence service has been detained in Greece as he tried to cross the border into Italy using a fake passport. Data Akhalaia, the former head of the Constitutional Security Department, among Georgians known

News

Politician who was beaten in 2005 holds Saakashvili responsible

by | Apr 25

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s Prosecutor’s Office has opened an investigation against former Interior Ministry officials Erekle Kodua and Gia Siradze for the beating of MP Valeri Gelashvili in 2005. The Prosecutor’s Office made a statement about this issue on Thursday.

News, Politics

Why did Georgia declare a ‘moratorium’ on ex-officials?

by | Apr 18

TBILISI, DFWatch--After the government Monday announced a 'moratorium' on prosecuting politicians, the National Movement criticizes it for misleading people by not fulfilling its promise. On Monday, Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili in a statement called on

Minorities, News

What can be done to improve integration of minorities?

by | Apr 17

TBILISI, DFWatch--DFWatch organized a discussion about the problem minorities are experiencing with getting involved in politics and state affairs. A representative of a minority diaspora and a spokesperson for an opposition party participated in our discussion.

Interviews

David Lidington explains the UK’s view on the Ukraine crisis

by | Apr 12

TBILISI, DFWatch--We sat down with David Lidington, UK Minister for Europe, who visited on April 1-2, and asked him about Georgia's association agreement with the EU and whether NATO should set it on course for membership. Is it possible that Russia will bring pressure

News

Saakashvili’s party said to be preparing Kiev style protests

by | Apr 8

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's Interior Minister says the National Movement is preparing a Euromaidan scenario in Georgia and that he has information that they have already started collecting tires. Interior Minister Alexandre Chikaidze said in an interview with the

Minorities, News

Discussion: Ethnic minorities and language skills

by | Mar 31

TBILISI, DFWatch--Representatives of NGOs working with minority issues took part in a discussion organized by DFWatch.net about how ethnic minorities often lack skills in Georgia's only official language - Georgian. Agit Mirzoev, Executive Director of Analytical

News

Saakashvili offers to give testimony, but only during trial

by | Mar 30

TBILISI, DFWatch--Former President Mikheil Saakashvili offers the current government his own rules of the game; rules which are against Georgian legislation. The rules in question are about how to question witnesses in criminal cases. This issue has been a source

News

Zhvania family accuses Saakashvili of lying

by | Mar 27

TBILISI, DFWatch--The family of former Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania accuses ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili of lying. Saakashvili said in a recent interview on Rustavi 2 that during the investigation of Zhvania’s death, his widow was only interested in money which

News, Politics

What did Ivanishvili criticize the Georgian president for?

by | Mar 20

TBILISI, DFWatch--President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili refrained from commenting on criticism from ex-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili beyond saying it is ‘painful’. In a TV interview, Ivanishvili said Margvelashvili revealed completely different features after the

News, Security

Georgian president visited soldiers in Afghanistan

by | Mar 18

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili has paid a visit to Afghanistan and met with Georgian soldiers participating in the ISAF mission. Supporters of former President Saakashvili have criticized Margvelashvili for not being active, even though

Media, News

NGO founded by former Georgian PM to offer media training

by | Mar 18

TBILISI, DFWatch--A non-governmental organization founded by former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili is to offer training courses for journalists who work for Georgian media outlets. In a statement on Monday, the organization, called Citizen, explained the

News

Georgian president holds first event at disputed residence

by | Mar 15

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Giorgi Margvelashvili met with ambassadors at the president’s residence in Tbilisi, which has been nonoperational after Saakashvili left office in October, 2013. In a ceremony in the Avlabari residence, President Margvelashvili received

News

Georgian parliament to consider prosecution of one of their own

by | Mar 15

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Prosecutor’s Office in Georgia has asked parliament for its consent to start a criminal prosecution against one  parliamentarian, Roland Akhalaia. Parliament will announce its decision on Monday. MP Roland Akhalaia is father of Data

News

Two former counterintelligence officials arrested in Georgia

by | Mar 14

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Chief Prosecutor in Georgia has ordered the arrest of former officials at the Constitutional Security Department (CSD), after they were questioned about the cases against Bacho and Data Akhalaia. Former CSD head Levan Kardava and Giorgi

NGO news

Campaign asks people to turn off mobile phones in protest

by | Mar 11

TBILISI, DFWatch--Several Georgian NGOs that are involved in the campaign 'This Affects You Too-They Still Listen to Us' call on citizens to turn off their mobile phones for two hours and protest against the government's illegal wiretapping. Nino Lomjaria, head

News, Politics

Georgian opposition parties call ruling coalition undemocratic

by | Mar 10

TBILISI, DFWatch--Political parties not represented in parliament accuse the government of making one-sided decisions in relation to the Election Code. The opposition parties accuse the governing Georgian Dream coalition of anti-democratic actions when it last week

News

Georgian Lawyer’s Association chair attacked by rebel members

by | Feb 28

TBILISI, DFWatch--In Georgian Lawyer’s Association, some of the members have started procedures to dismiss their chairman. The rebel members claim the reason is that Zaza Khatiashvili is a supporter of the former ruling party, the National Movement, and also that he

News

Georgian president meets locals near contested border

by | Feb 27

TBILISI, DFWatch--President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili says he hopes that the barbed wire which Russian soldiers are installing at the so-called border with two breakaway territories will eventually be sent away peacefully as scrap metal. Margvelashvili

Elections, News

Georgian gov’t updating legislation ahead of local election

by | Feb 10

TBILISI, DFWatch--In a week the government in Georgia will decide whether to follow recommendations and proposals made by the non-parliamentary opposition and non-governmental organizations about amendments to the Election Code. Speaker of Parliament Davit Usupashvili

News

Georgian wine may be marketed at Sochi Olympics

by | Feb 1

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian wine may be presented at the Sochi Winter Olympics. Levan Davitashvili, head of the Georgian National Wine Agency, on Friday told journalists that Georgian wine is successfully sold in the Russian market and it is up to distributors

News, Security

What Georgia can expect from the Munich Security Conference

by | Jan 30

TBILISI, DFWatch--When the annual Munich Security Conference opens in a few days, it will be the first time Georgia's delegation is headed by the prime minister and not the president. The reason for the change is partly that a constitutional amendment came into force

News

Video shows Merabishvili promising reward for ‘two corpses’

by | Jan 30

TBILISI, DFWatch--There may be added new charges against former Prime Minister and Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili, according to the head of parliament's defense and security committee. Wednesday, a 4-minute long video was posted on Youtube,

News

Georgia listed as world’s fifth best tourism country

by | Jan 7

TBILISI, DFWatch--Rough Guides has listed Georgia as number five among the world's top countries for tourism. Rough Guide is a travel guidebook owned by Penguin Random House. The publication has selected the best tourist countries for 2014, and Ethiopia is

News

Saakashvili era official charged with Abu Ghraib-style abuse

by | Dec 27

TBILISI, DFWatch--A former official in the Saakashvili regime has been charged in a case involving Abu Ghraib-style sexually degrading treatment of detainees. Megis Kardava, who has held several positions at law enforcement bodies in Georgia, has been out of the country

Interviews

What is being discussed at the Geneva talks?

by | Dec 20

TBILISI, DFWatch--The talks between the parties in the 2008 Georgia-Russia war will meet in Geneva for another round of talks on March 25-26. It is known that the OSCE heads of the meeting this time will be from Switzerland. The last round of Geneva talks was held

Environment, News

NGOs call for new impact assessment of gigantic power dam

by | Dec 9

TBILISI, DFWatch--Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Georgia ask the government for answers about the construction of Khudoni hydro power station. There are many questions regarding environmental and social issues. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and an

News, Politics

New Georgian government approved by parliament

by | Nov 21

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian president Giorgi Margvelashvili has signed a document which appoints former interior minister Irakli Gharibsahvili as prime minister. The new president also has been asked to sign a document by which parliament declares its trust in the new

News

South Ossetia blocks Georgians from crossing in order to vote

by | Oct 26

TBILISI, DFWatch--The de facto South Ossetian government has imposed restrictions for Georgian citizens along the demarcation line. The Interior Ministry on Saturday issued a statement expressing concern about the de facto government's decision. The Ministry recalls

Elections '12-'13, News

Georgian candidates confront each other in two TV debates

by | Oct 19

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s Public Broadcaster October 17 and 18 hosted two TV debates between presidential candidates. Only qualified subjects participated in the debates, those who were presented by the political parties, which receive state funding. There are

Elections '12-'13, News

Saakashvili’s party leaves the inter-agency commission

by | Oct 14

TBILISI, DFWatch--The National Movement party has left the inter-agency commission, which controls election processes in the country, as a sign of protest. UNM members claim the commission chairman, Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani, said at a closed session meeting

News

No confirmation of claim Adeishvili is in Hungary

by | Oct 14

TBILISI, DFWatch--It is unknown in Georgia whether former Justice Minister Zurab Adeishvili is in Hungary and whether he was appointed as advisor to the Hungarian president. What is known is that Giorgi Sabanadze, the former chairman of Tbilisi Development Fund,

News

Ivanishvili turns down request for Security Council session

by | Oct 9

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s prime minister has refused to participate in a session of the country's National Security Council. In a written statement the PM and the speaker of parliament write that they believe attending the session will be like ‘participation

News, Security

One man is detained for ‘jihad videos’ against Georgia

by | Oct 2

TBILISI, DFWatch--Interior Minister Irakli Gharibashvili on Tuesday provided details about a several month long investigation into two jihad videos posted on Youtube a few months ago with threats against Georgian soldiers in Afghanistan. His comments were a response

News

Ivanishvili asks economic experts for advice

by | Sep 27

TBILISI, DFWatch--Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili Wednesday sat down with a group of economic analysts to find out more about how they view the situation. The PM had brought along quotes from newspapers with statements made by the assembled experts to different

Economy, News

Georgia’s economy is on the right track, says economy minister

by | Sep 21

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's economy is growing and will grow faster after the presidential election, the country's economy minister said before the opening of a business forum on Friday. Saakashvili's party, the National Movement, has frequently criticized the

Elections '12-'13, News

How the role of the president will change in Georgia

by | Aug 25

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia will change from a presidential republic into a parliamentary one after the election on October 27. We give you the details. The new president will start fulfilling his duties as soon as he has been sworn in, and after this ceremony, the

Elections '12-'13, News

Georgia’s election system: Improvements and pitfalls

by | Aug 20

TBILISI, DFWatch--DF Watch organized a round table on election issues with representatives of two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and an MP from the ruling Georgian Dream coalition. They discussed amendments to the election legislation and also problems which

News

Why were youth fighting in Georgia’s Pankisi Valley?

by | Aug 19

TBILISI, DFWatch--A conflict of unknown nature has developed between Kists and local Georgian youth in Pankisi Valley, which lies in the northeast of Georgia, at the foot of the Caucasus mountains. No-one is injured, but the situation is tense and the Interior

News

Saakashvili writes address to Abkhazians on anniversary of war

by | Aug 15

TBILISI, DFWatch--“The war didn't start between Georgians and Abkhazians – this war was imposed on our people, that’s why we will win together – Georgians and Abkhazians,” President Mikheil Saakashvili said 21 years after the Abkhazian War started. The war

News

Ex minister submits US Justice Department report in own defense

by | Aug 13

TBILISI, DFWatch--The lawyer of the detained former prime minister Vano Merabishvili demands to stop the criminal prosecution against his client, or at least release him on bail, after the publication of a report commissioned by the US Justice Department.

News, Security

Five years since the Russia-Georgia war

by | Aug 8

TBILISI, DFWatch--The situation is still tense in the conflict region five years after the Russia-Georgia war, which resulted in hundreds of deaths and the occupation of two Georgian breakaway territories by Russia. The recent tension was caused by Russian soldiers

News

Stalin statue to be restored at the museum in his hometown

by | Aug 3

TBILISI, DFWatch--The monument of Stalin, which was removed from the pedestal in the central square in his hometown Gori in 2010, will be restored in the Stalin Museum in the same town. Georgian government officials deny any notion of rehabilitation of Stalin’s

Elections '12-'13, News

New party financing model to include small parties

by | Aug 2

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in Georgia has presented figures for how political parties are to receive state funding in this year's election campaign. 2 100 000 lari (USD 1 300 000) will be allocated for the seven parties that are represented in parliament; 1 050

Economy, News

Georgia’s new government criticized for economic policy

by | Aug 2

TBILISI, DFWatch--The new government in Georgia is coming under fire for its economic policy. Figures from the National Statistics Department, GeoStat, show that GDP in June was negative -0.8 percent compared to same period last year. President Saakashvili’s party

Elections '12-'13, News

ISFED: No violations so far in Georgia’s election campaign

by | Jul 23

TBILISI, DFWatch--There has so far not been been observed any violations in the election campaign for the presidential election on October 27. International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), a non-governmental organization which specializes in election

News

UNM lawmaker may face 11 years in jail for ponzi scheme

by | Jul 12

TBILISI, DFWatch--A former member of parliament from the National Movement and her sister are accused of fraud in connection with a construction company they own and if convicted may face up to 11 years in jail. Thursday they were summoned to the Prosecutor’s Office

Elections '12-'13, News

Georgia’s presidential election to be held October 31

by | Jul 2

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian president has decided to set October 31, 2013, as the date of the presidential election. A few hours before this became known, October 27 was named as Election Day, but the head of the president's administration held a briefing to say

News

Comprehensive healthcare program begins in Georgia

by | Jul 2

TBILISI, DFWatch--In Georgia a comprehensive healthcare program began from July 1. Socially vulnerable will get double allowances, and the number of state financed healthcare programs has been increased. It has been a priority of the Georgian Dream coalition to

News, Prisoner abuse

Sixteen convicted of prisoner torture in Georgia

by | Jun 16

TBILISI, DFWatch--A court in Tbilisi determined sixteen persons as guilty of torture of prisoners, humiliation and mistreatment, but recognized Vladmier Bedukadze, the person who released the video footage documenting it, as innocent. He was freed from criminal

Economy, News

Georgia’s foreign trade turnover fell 4 % Jan-Apr

by | May 27

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s foreign trade turnover in January-April 2013 fell by 4 percent compared to the same period in 2012. The trade turnover with EU was reduced by 13 percent, while the negative net trade balance with CIS countries went down 57 percent.

News

Georgian Railway director charged with embezzlement of USD 40 mill

by | May 22

TBILISI, DFWatch--The unit to combat financial fraud in Georgia has charged Irakli Ezugbaia, the former head of Georgian Railway, of appropriation and embezzlement of state money. He is not in Georgia but has been sentenced in absentia to pretrial detention. His

News, Politics

Controversial head of party finance watchdog resigns

by | May 9

TBILISI, DFWatch--Natia Mogeladze, head of the Financial Monitoring Service for political parties, resigned on Wednesday. According to the State Audit Office, a body subordinate to the Financial Monitoring Service, it was Mogeladze's own decision to resign.

Legal reform, News

Court reform set to be enforced against Saakashvili’s veto

by | May 2

TBILISI, DFWatch--Parliament in Georgia has overturned President Saakashvili’s veto against legislative amendments about judicial reform. Those behind the amendments claim that they serve to depolarize the court system. According to the draft, which has been passed

News

Visa rules topic for next Georgia-Russia meeting

by | Apr 24

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia is hoping for an easing of visa rules for those of its citizens who plan to visit Russia. This was one of the things that came out of a phone conversation between the two diplomats who are handling the political contact between

News

Saakashvili’s party urges president to block three bills

by | Apr 10

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Mikheil Saakashvili’s party members demand that the he uses his right to veto three important drafts which parliament currently is reviewing, one of which has already been passed. The draft bill about court reform was adopted on Thursday.

News

Georgian villagers want to stop land sale to Indians

by | Apr 5

TBILISI, DFWatch--The population in the village Ditsi, which is located close to Georgia’s occupied Tskhinvali region, are protesting against the sale of their land to Indians and refuse to let them cultivate it. Even though the farmers in the village are left without pasture,

News

Saakashvili dragging out approval of ambassadors

by | Mar 18

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Mikheil Saakashvili has postponed for a month the signing of a document passed by parliament about confirming the country’s new ambassadors. Foreign Affairs Minister Maia Panjikidze claims in an interview with DF Watch that the president

Elections '12-'13, News

Pro-Russia party to be founded by former Georgian minister

by | Mar 12

TBILISI, DFWatch--A former security minister who was fired by President Mikheil Saakashvili after the Rose Revolution in 2003 is to found a new political party with a pro-Russian orientation. Valeri Khaburdzania, who has lived in Russia for the last two years and just

News

Saakashvili offers opponent to sign common foreign policy statement

by | Mar 6

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Saakashvili offers Prime Minister Ivanishvili to sign a common statement to NATO and the EU confirming their allegiance to a European and Euro-Atlantic political course. A spokesperson for the prime minister told DF Watch that Ivanishvili has

News

Saakashvili refuses to use the security service

by | Feb 27

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Mikheil Saakashvili refuses to use the Special State Protection Service service after bitter negotiations with the government about the size and financing of the unit. Saakashvili said during a press conference on Tuesday evening

Society

200 children in Tbilisi suffered food poisoning

by | Feb 14

TBILISI, DFWatch--Nearly 200 children were poisoned at Tbilisi kindergartens in November, 2012. According to the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), the reason was bad quality products. Representatives of the National Food Agency say that sanctions have

News

Where did Shashkin earn his fortune?

by | Feb 6

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Ex Defense Minister Dimitry Shashkin lives in the United States in a luxurious $4000/month house and claims to have earned his fortune while working for an American corporation. But what corporation does he mean? The former prison, defense and education

Elections '12-'13, News

Ivanishvili government overhauling election legislation

by | Jan 25

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The new government has started an overhaul of the election legislation. A group in parliament will prepare a draft of amendments, but some experts argue that the non-governmental sector and parties outside parliament should also be involved in the

News

Georgia TV channel hyped crisis over Karabakh comment

by | Jan 16

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian TV channel Rustavi 2 claimed there was a crisis between Georgia and Armenia after the Georgian Foreign Minister was misquoted regarding Nagorno-Karabakh. The comment fell during a visit to Lithuania. Mrs Panjikidze was asked by

Interviews

Georgia received complaint from another country about corruption

by | Jan 4

Foreign Affairs Minister Maia Panjikidze confirms in an interview with DF Watch that she has received a two page letter from a foreign country complaining about one of its citizens having been subjected to pressure from the previous Georgian government. She said a high

News

Olympic champion’s house riddled with bullets

by | Jan 3

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The house of an Olympic champion who represents the Georgian Dream coalition in parliament was riddled with automatic rifle fire the early morning on New Year's Day. The shooting happened at 1 am on Tuesday in Akhmeta, a town about 150

Interviews

How Ivanishvili will reform Georgia’s courts

by | Jan 2

Deputy Minister of Justice Alexandre Baramidze says that there are many regulations in the current judicial system which contradict the Georgian constitution and international human rights principles. The reform of the court system which the Ministry of Justice has

News

Witness confirms Cartu Bank bankruptcy plot

by | Dec 28

The leader of a business chamber in Georgia says he helped the previous government try to bankrupt Cartu Bank, which was owned by current Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. Giorgi Isakadze, Chair of Georgia’s Small and Medium Enterprises Association,

News

Vera Kobalia questioned about Cartu Bank bankruptcy scheme

by | Dec 22

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Former Economy Minister Vera Kobalia was Friday evening questioned regarding the bankruptcy of a bank connected to Prime Minister Ivanishvili. Former Justice Minister Zurab Adeisvhili was also called in for questioning in the same case,

Elections '12-'13, News

80 % of Georgians like Ivanishvili

by | Dec 18

TBILISI, DFWatch -- 80 percent of the Georgian population likes the new Prime Minister, while only 29 percent likes the president. 63 percent support the Georgian Dream coalition, while 10 percent support the former ruling party. Those are the results of a survey

Media, News

Experts ask for legal reform to improve media freedom

by | Dec 17

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A handful of media experts are calling for legislative reforms to address problems with media freedom in Georgia, and have prepared a draft bill as a first step. The bill would amend the law on broadcasting, and was presented by its authors

Society

Two thirds still without a job in Georgia

by | Dec 13

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Two thirds still consider themselves unemployed in Georgia, a new survey shows. 67 percent say they are without a job in the latest survey of public attitudes by the National Democratic Institute (NDI). The number has not significantly

Interviews

Interview with Irakli Alasania

by | Dec 7

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s Defense Minister Irakli Alasania sat down with DF Watch to talk about the bilateral security and defense cooperation with the US which he said has already started. A few days ago bilateral consultations were held in Tbilisi

News

UN vote on Palestine causes controversy in Georgia

by | Dec 3

TBILISI, DFWatch -- It has caused great controversy in Georgia that its representatives at a session of the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of Palestine being given observer status in the world organization. The vote comes amidst a time of criticism

News

6 500 prisoners to be released in Georgia

by | Nov 28

TBILISI, DFWatch -- According to preliminary estimates by the Prison Ministry, about 6 500 prisoners will leave prison in Georgia soon. Prison Minister Sozar Subari said this in an interview on one of the local TV channels Wednesday. A day earlier, his deputy Giga

News

Amnesty plan modified out of concern for consequences

by | Nov 28

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The planned mass amnesty in Georgia may apply to eight thousand prisoners and 19 000 on probation. Giga Giorgadze, Deputy Prison Minister, said this Tuesday at a session of parliament's committee of human rights during review of a draft bill.

News, Politics

Why Ivanishvili cut 93% of Security Council’s funding

by | Nov 20

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s Security Council, which is a body subordinate to the president, cannot prove what it has spent USD 13.8 million on. This is why new the government cut its financing by the same amount in next year's draft budget. Georgia’s 2013 draft

News

Georgian intelligence accused of political interference

by | Nov 16

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Intelligence officers detained yesterday are accused of using computer viruses to record audio and video of opposition groups, and blackmailing a man to record a prepared statement on video and upload it to Youtube. Former officials of the

News, Politics

2013 budget to focus on the social dimension

by | Nov 15

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s new government has now detailed what its priorities are by presenting a budget for next year of 7.34 billion lari, or USD 4.42 billion, which is USD 335 million more than this year’s budget. According to the 2013 budget bill, the

News

Courts in Georgia to finally become independent

by | Nov 11

TBILISI, DFWatch – The court system will be depoliticized, cumulative sentencing will be abolished and video recording at trials will be allowed under certain conditions. This is the decision of te new government. An appropriate bill has been prepared. The

News, Politics

Mayor’s surprise visit at government may be investigated

by | Nov 10

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The prosecutor’s office is considering to investigate the mayor of Tbilisi who feels offended that he wasn’t allowed to attend the government session on Friday, even though he didn’t have a right to attend. Georgia’s finance minister Friday

News

Georgian minister wants to reopen land connection with Russia

by | Nov 6

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s State Minister for Reintegration Issues says that the government should support restoring overland transportation with Russia through breakaway Abkhazia. Minister Paata Zakareishvili said this in an interview with the newspaper

Economy, News

Interest rates will drop, says Bank Association

by | Nov 2

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The president of the Georgian Bank Association says the interest rate on loans will go down. Zurab Gvasalia said there is already a trend of falling interest rates on loans, but he thinks it is impossible to decrease the rates immediately. In

In brief, News

Ivanishvili unveils deputy ministers

by | Nov 1

TBILISI, DFWatch -- New candidates have been unveiled for deputy ministers in the new government. Despite an offer from Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili to previous deputy ministers that they may remain in their positions, only a few of them have stayed. Those

News

Georgia may release ten thousand prisoners in mass amnesty

by | Oct 24

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s new government plans to give thousands of prisoner amnesty, but has not yet specific what categories of prisoners will be released. The most recent figures, from July 1, 2012, show that there were 23 406 prisoners in Georgia at the

News

Georgia parliament gathering in Kutaisi Sunday

by | Oct 20

Georgia’s Central Election commission Friday approved the protocol of the October 1, 2012, parliamentary election. The first session of the new parliament will be held on Sunday. Recently, the constitution was changed, so parliament sessions can only be held in Kutaisi

News, Politics

Ivanishvili completes his list of government ministers

by | Oct 16

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian Dream on Tuesday named the rest of its candidates for new government ministers. Bidzina Ivanishivli, Georgian Dream coalition leader, said the Ministry of Economy will be given certain new functions because of upcoming reforms. New economy

News, Politics

Close Saakashvili ally met Ivanishvili

by | Oct 13

TBILISI, DFWatch -- President Mikheil Saakashvili promises Bidzina Ivanishvili to help in keeping the new government safe and to retain the direction of Georgia’s foreign policy. This was made clear by Giga Bokeria, Secretary of Georgia's National Security Council, after

News

Government backtracks on seized property

by | Oct 10

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Property seized in the heat of the election campaign is to be returned, even though the new government is not yet in place. New stricter legislation was used by authorities in spring to fine tens of individuals, including election winner Bidzina Ivansivhili,

Economy, News

Saakashvili hands over record state coffers

by | Oct 9

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia's state accounts by are by September 2012 at one of the highest levels during the past few years at more than two billion, nearly USD 1.22 billion. The state budget for 2013 is 9 billion lari, USD 5.5 billion, which is more than half a billion

Economy, News

High expectations about low prices

by | Oct 7

TBILISI, DFWatch -- One of the largest petrol companies reduced the price of petrol by 8 tetris. A spokesman for the new government believes it is possible to decrease the price by 20 tetris, or about USD 0.13. This comes soon after the leader of a coalition which won the

News, Politics

Negotiations between Saakashvili’s and Ivanishvili’s people

by | Oct 5

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The winner of the aryparliament election, Georgian Dream, will from October 8 send representatives to each state body to start a  'peaceful transfer of government' until a new government is formed. This was one of the major decisions made at a meeting between

News

Georgian colonel arrested

by | Oct 5

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A colonel in Georgia’s armed forces who recently chaired Georgian peace divisions in Afghanistan has been arrested. His arrest was announced 45 days after it happened, 15 days earlier than his punishment was to end. Opposition channel TV9 reported

News

Ivanishvili prepares for tough negotiations

by | Oct 3

TBILISI, DFWatch – The coalition that won the parliament election is putting together a working group to handle relations with the president and the current government. The group will hold consultations in the name of the Georgian Dream coalition. The Georgian Dream

In brief, News

NDI to hold election monitoring

by | Sep 29

TBILISI, DFWatch – The U.S. National Democratic Institute will observe Georgia’s parliamentary election on October 1. According to NDI’s Georgia office, the observer mission contains seven persons, out of which are current and former members of the US Congress,

News

Bokeria says he wants lighter punishment

by | Sep 27

TBILISI, DFWatch – The secretary of Georgia’s National Security Council calls on law enforcement bodies to use lighter forms of punishment. Giga Bokeria, who is also chair of the inter-agency commission established by the government to monitor the election process,

News, Prisoner abuse

Call for Georgian leaders to be banned in the West

by | Sep 24

TBILISI, DFWatch – Groups in Georgia demands that the former prison minister, former interior minister, current justice minister and current chief prosecutor are banned from civilized countries because of their cruel and inhuman treatment of citizens. The appeal

News

Ivanishvili’s campaign surges after abuse scandal

by | Sep 23

TBILISI, DFWatch – The leader of the government’s main competitor in the election in just over a week says that he has plans to solve the conflicts of Georgia’s breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvili says first, rail and road

News, Prisoner abuse

Prisoner said he was beaten after shakeup

by | Sep 22

TBILISI, DFWatch – The first new story of prisoner abuse has surfaced after President Saakashvili began a major shakeup of Georgia's prison system. The attempt at “resetting” the prison reform comes after a wave of criticism following several videos showing

News, Prisoner abuse

Georgia’s interior minister resigns over abuse scandal

by | Sep 21

TBILISI, DFWatch - After releasing the scandalous footage of prisoner abuse, Georgia's powerful interior minister, who is suspected to be behind these incidents, has been forced to leave his post. For three days people all over Georgia have been demanding that Bacho

News

Georgian elite dancers support opposition

by | Sep 21

TBILISI, DFWatch - Five members of the Georgian president's favorite dance troupe, the National Ballet, say they support his main opponent. Georgian National Ballet – founded at the end of the Second World War -- is the country's most famous dance ensemble and its

News, Prisoner abuse

Harassed for trying to leave the ruling party

by | Sep 20

TBILISI, DFWatch - Members of the ruling National Movement party who have left the party as sign of a protest against prisoner abuse revealed by the release of several videos say the government is harasses them and their family member and trying to stop them from

News, Politics

Satellite dishes will not be distributed after all

by | Sep 19

TBILISI, DFWatch - Negotiations a TV company and the government about installing satellite receivers have failed. The director of Maestro TV claims the government's offer to negotiate about the distribution of the equipment was just a ruse, and that it never planned

Elections, News

Ivanishvili denies rumours of Brussels meeting

by | Sep 15

TBILISI, DFWatch – The largest opposition bloc in Georgia refuses to sign a code of conduct signed by other political parties, because signing it would force it to recognize the election results if the international community does so. Friday Georgian media reported that

News

Maestro gets back its satellite receivers

by | Sep 11

TBILISI, DFWatch – The government in Georgia has agreed to distribute satellite dishes it confiscated from Maestro TV. The equipment will be distributed to the population by the Georgian Post. Maestro has not yet decided whether to accept the offer, but mediators

News

Tbilisi treaty, part 2 – 35 years later

by | Sep 10

TBILISI, DFWatch - In Tbilisi on Friday, representatives of 103 countries adopted an agreement on environmental protection education. The treaty outlines what both countries and international organizations can do. It is a continuation of a treaty also signed in

News

Saakashvili’s party winning the war for ad spaces

by | Sep 10

TBILISI, DFWatch – In most cities in Georgia, almost all billboards, minibuses and buses are covered by commercials for the National Movement party. Other parties lack the money for such commercials, besides, the ruling party has already booked all available ad

Elections, News

NDI report highlights bias in application of law

by | Sep 4

TBILISI, DFWatch - The seizing of the bank accounts of an opposition figure and his partner, a former AC Milan player, has strengthened the perception of a selective and disproportionate application of the law, according to a new report by National Democratic Institute.

News

Former AC Milan player may become parliament speaker

by | Sep 1

TBILISI, DFWatch – The opposition in Georgia considers to make the former AC Milan player Kakhi Kaladze speaker of parliament if they win the election on October 1. Georgian Dream has nominated the footballer on first place on its party list, which might mean that

News

Ivanishvili calls for non-confrontational election campaign

by | Aug 31

TBILISI, DFWatch – Bidzina Ivanishvili, leader of the largest opposition bloc in Georgia, promises that he will defend people's vote solely by peaceful means and not call for a confrontation. But he also says that there are several measures that need to be taken

Media, News

Georgian voters to get political debates

by | Aug 30

TBILISI, DFWatch - The ruling party says the current parliamentary speaker and the prime minister will represent it in election debates. Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili is the National Movement's candidate for prime minister in the election. The chair of the public

News, Politics

Audit body brings up more cases related to ruling party

by | Aug 29

TBILISI, DFWatch – The audit body in Georgia, which for several months has been busy fining the largest opposition bloc, now wants to fine five persons for donating to the ruling party. In contrast to the opposition related cases, the identity of the people in

News

Village head murdered by friend

by | Aug 28

TBILISI, DFWatch – The head of a village near Tbilisi has been shot to death. A friend of the victim has admitted to have carried out the crime. The body was found in a forest Monday morning. The suspect says he was drunk and had a quarrel with the victim. After

News

Assessment of the election campaign so far

by | Aug 27

TBILISI, DFWatch – The international community has begun to assess the election period in Georgia. Their comments focuse on the government's fining of Georgian Dream coalition members and seizing their bank accounts. As they see it, such actions restrict

News, Politics

Government claims opposition is trying to discredit authorities

by | Aug 23

TBILISI, DFWatch – The government in Georgia accuses the opposition bloc Georgian Dream of attempting to discredit government bodies. Two officials in the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly expressed concern about the seizing of bank accounts of parties

Economy, News

SGS to monitor goods across Russia-Georgia border

by | Aug 23

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Swiss company SGS will monitor the movement of goods on Russian-Georgian border from September 1, 2012. November 9, 2011, the governments of Georgia and Russia signed a deal which paved the way for Russia’s WTO membership, with Switzerland as

Elections, News

Ivanishvili names Irakli Alasania as candidate for Samegrelo

by | Aug 15

TBILISI, DFWatch - Bidzina Ivanishvili, the Georgian president’s main competitor, plans to win in the western Samegrelo region by having the country's former UN ambassador run there. The region borders on Russian controlled Abkhazia and is that part of the country where Mikheil Saakashvili’s government has the largest influence. Bidzina Ivanishvili named Irakli Alasania as majoritarian candidate in Zugdidi on Wednesday while meeting with the local population. Georgia has an election system with some districts using the proportional system and some the first-past-the-post system, called majoritarian candidates. 73 of the latter must be elected, and the deadline for naming candidates is September 1, one month before the election on October 1. Georgian Dream has already named 68 candidates. Those districts that are left are those that have a minority population. Forming the pillar of Saakashvili's power grip in Samegrelo is the Akhalaia family, which wields large influence in the area. One of the family is a former defense minister, who currently is interior minister – Bacho Akhalaia – while his brother, Data Akhalaia, today is defense minister, but until recently headed the feared secret ...

News, Politics

Ivanishvhili and Kaladze lost their appeal

by | Aug 15

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Appeals Court in Tbilisi rejected an appeal by the leader of the opposition Georgian Dream coalition and a former AC Milan player. This means that the decision by Tbilisi City Court to fine them stands. Bidzina Ivanishvili was fined USD 12.3

News

Energy and finance get new ministers in Georgia

by | Aug 14

TBILISI, DFWatch - Two ministers have been changed after the new Georgian government was approved. No reason was given for suddenly making the energy minister finance minister, and the head of the local government committee of parliament, energy minister. Prime

News, Politics

Former AC Milan player Kakhi Kaladze fined USD 10 million

by | Aug 11

TBILISI, DFWatch – A well-known football player who left his career to join the opposition Georgian Dream coalition was on Friday fined 17 million lari for not doing as he was told by the State Audit Office. Kakhi Kaladze’s property was also seized, but he doesn’t

News, Politics

Takeover of Ivanishvili company runs its course

by | Aug 8

TBILISI, DFWatch – A lawyer for a company affiliated with the largest opposition bloc in Georgia has been sentenced to twenty days administrative detention for resisting police. His lawyers say Tbilisi City Court's decision was illegal and are going to appeal.

News

Four years since the war between Russia and Georgia

by | Aug 8

TBILISI, DFWatch - Four years after the war between Russia and Georgia, which led to hundreds of deaths, occupation of Georgian lands and Russia's recognition of two separatist regions, flags are lowered on all government buildings. Davit Bakradze, Speaker of

News, Politics

Speaker of Parliament is abusing his position

by | Aug 7

TBILISI, DFWatch – Now that the date of Georgia's parliamentary elections has been set to October 1, political parties are under certain restrictions set by law, that last until Election Day. One restriction is that it is prohibited to use administrative resources for campaigning.

News

Seized property sold at public auction

by | Aug 5

TBILISI, DFWatch - An auction is in progress to sell property seized from 17 people who donated money to political parties. A land plot with a dwelling belonging to Giga Bukia, a member of the Georgian Dream coalition, has already been sold. The State Audit Service

In brief, News

Policeman threatens cousin with gun over politics

by | Aug 4

TBILISI, DFWatch – A police employee threatened his cousin with a gun because he was a member of the opposition Georgian Dream coalition. Georgian Dream representatives told DF Watch that the incident took place in the village Orulu near the town Zugdidi in the

News

Saakashvili supporters prevent Ivanishvili from addressing crowd

by | Aug 4

TBILISI, DFWatch - Activists for the governing party Saturday prevented President Saakashvili's main opponent, Bidzina Ivanishvili, from meeting with the population in a small mountain village in the Adjara region, in the southwest of Georgia. Journalists are reporting

News

Election campaign starts in Georgia, with strict rules

by | Aug 2

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia will hold parliamentary elections on October 1. The announcement marks the beginning of the election campaign and political parties are now subject to a special set of rules. Whereas, the Georgian constitution says that parliamentary

News

Georgia’s voters roll is still source of controversy

by | Aug 2

TBILISI, DFWatch - 291 471 voters registered in Georgia are currently living abroad, while 26 000 are dead. These are the main corrections which the state commission working with the voter's lists have found by going door-to-door and checking 3 483 142 voters.

News

Georgia nationalizes geological information

by | Jul 30

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian state takes over ownership of information about fossil and mineral resources in the country. Before, this information was the private property of the company that did the geological survey. The government explains this with a need

News

Prisoners to go on hunger strike before election

by | Jul 28

TBILISI, DFWatch – Human rights campaigners in Georgia are organizing a hungerstrike among prisoners in connection with the election for parliament. Organizers are the groups 'Political Prisoners against the Dictate of Five', 'For Protection of Human Rights'

News

Burjanadze supporter detained by police

by | Jul 27

TBILISI, DFWatch – A supporter of a former government top who is now in the opposition was arrested Friday morning. For unknown reasons, Interior Ministry gave explanations for the arrest instead of Prosecutor’s office. Those two are different bodies,

News

Communications commission is violating the law

by | Jul 26

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's National Communications Commission (GNCC) is violating a recently amended law obliging it to inform the public as well as cable companies and TV channels directly, within one week of the must-carry and must-offer principles coming

News

Georgian Dream supports non-use of violence declaration

by | Jul 24

TBILISI, DFWatch – The opposition Georgian Dream coalition is ready to join a declaration asking for a competitive, fair and peaceful election. Maia Panjikidze, spokesperson for the coalition, said Monday that the coalition supports a document published July 16

In brief, News

Increasing oil import to Georgia due to tourism

by | Jul 23

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia increased its import of oil by 8.5 percent in the first half of 2012 compared to last year and is now at 378 323 764 kg. Analysts say the increasing import is related to larger numbers of tourists visiting the country. The figure was

News

Ivanishvili offers to cover population’s losses after storm

by | Jul 21

TBILISI, DFWatch - Saakashvili’s main competitor, who accuses the government of abusing the legal system to intervene in his party's election campaign, offers the government 10 million lari, or USD 6.1 million, as assistance to people affected by the recent storm.

News

Government rules out extending media diversity law

by | Jul 20

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian government does not intend to change its position in regards of to implementing the must-carry and must-offer principles. This means that it does not go along with the recommendation of foreign ambassadors in Georgia. These asked

News

Ivanishvili offers to help flood victims, Saakashvili considers

by | Jul 20

Georgia's Speaker of Parliament says the prime minister should decide whether opposition billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili may be allowed to help reimburse losses suffered after yesterday’s storm. Ivanishvili's opposition Georgian Dream coalition has offered to help

News

Georgian opposition announces candidates for Tbilisi

by | Jul 19

TBILISI, DFWatch - Bidzina Ivanishvili Thursday announced the names of all ten majoritarian candidates for Tbilisi and several candidates in the regions. This time his opposition Georgian Dream coalition brings forth many popular names. Some of the candidates

In brief, News

Georgia sees 8 percent growth so far in ’12

by | Jul 18

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia’s GDP grew 1.3 percent in second quarter of 2012, compared to the first quarter and is now at 8.1 percent, according to official statistics. Georgia’s National Statistics Department points out that these are preliminary figures,

News

Surveys differing wildly ahead of Georgian election

by | Jul 17

TBILISI, DFWatch – The opposition Georgian Dream party does not trust the results of a survey conducted by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), which shows that the governing party of President Saakashvili has twice as much support as Georgian Dream.

News

Georgian opposition is closing the gap on Saakashvili

by | Jul 16

TBILISI, DFWatch – A new poll shows that the opposition Georgian Dream movement has nearly doubled its support in the last six months. But it still has a long way to go to match the ruling National Movement party, if the poll is correct. The ruling party has

News

Government proposes non-use of violence in election campaign

by | Jul 16

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian government calls for political parties to commit to not use or incite violence during this year's election process. The declaration submitted for parties to sign commits them to not use violence, nor call for violence or voice

News

Ivanishvili company’s assets seized, but must pay fine

by | Jul 15

TBILISI – Authorities in Georgia have issued a 2 million dollar fine to one of opposition financier Bidzina Ivanishvili's companies, and at the same time seized all its assets. The reason for both decisions is that according to the State Audit Service,

News

Less Georgians want NATO membership

by | Jul 11

TBILISI, DFWatch – There is a significant drop in support among Georgians for their country being integrated in NATO. In six months, the level of support has fallen from 70 to 62 percent. Also the support for Georgia being integrated with the EU has dropped since

News

Russian military presence called occupation

by | Jul 10

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Russian military presence in Georgia's breakaway regions are increasingly being called an occupation. The first to use the term was U.S. representatives. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used the term during a visit to Tbilisi in 2010.

News

Prime mimister’s powers are increased

by | Jul 5

TBILISI, DFWatch – At a time when Vano Merbaishvili was not yet confirmed as Prime Minister, a bill was brought to parliament to increase the authority of the prime minister. Parliament passed it at the first hearing. According to the bill, which was proposed by the

News

Petre Tsiskarishvili explains Merabishvili’s promotion

by | Jul 3

President Mikheil Saakashvili Saturday appointed interior minister Vano Merabishvili as prime minister. DF Watch spoke to Petre Tsiskarishvili about the surprise announcement. Tsiskarishvili is parliamentary leader of the majority National Movement party. He says that

News

Saakashvili may have violated constitution

by | Jul 2

TBILISI, DFWatch - President Mikheil Saakashvili's appointment of a former interior minister as prime minister may have been in violation of the constitution, and therefore invalid. One of Georgia's most experienced constitutional experts, Vakhtang Khmaladze, says

News

Georgia woos Circassians, gains support in North Caucasus

by | Jul 2

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian parliament on Friday approved the country’s strategy on relations with North Caucasus people. At the beginning, the strategy had status as a concept, but when it finally was passed its status had been raised and it needed a

News

Georgia’s new prime minister has a controversial past

by | Jul 1

TBILISI, DFWatch - The goal of appointing Ivane Merabishvili, the powerful Interior Minister, to the post of Prime Minister is to solve problems in health care and agriculture – this is what Merabishvili said on Saturday, after being appointed to this post. He

News

Media diversity law could lead to social turmoil

by | Jun 29

TBILISI, DFWatch – An opposion party in Georgia warns that a law meant to create diversity in media will lead to social turmoil after the election in October. Levan Vepkhvadze, one of the leaders of the opposition Christian Democrats, says introducing so-called must-carry

News

Georgia seizes Cartu Bank and Progress Bank

by | Jun 27

TBILISI, DFWatch - National Bureau of Enforcement has seized Bidzina Ivanishvili’s 100 percent share in Cartu Group and Cartu Bank and a 21.7 percent share he has in Progress Bank because of failure to pay a USD 45 million fine. The businessman claims that he only

News

Georgian opposition’s bank accounts may be seized

by | Jun 26

TBILISI, DFWatch – Parties in Bidzina Ivanishvili's opposition bloc may have their bank accounts seized. Tina Khidasheli, one of the Georgian Dream coalition leaders, says if their bank accounts are seized, it will mean they will have to stop campaigning. The Chamber of Control has

News

Saakashvili promises Georgians NATO membership in 2014

by | Jun 26

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili has renewed his old election pledge about getting his country into NATO, as he is facing parliamentary and presidential elections. The promise has been a mainstay of Saakashvili's election campaigning since the

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Georgia bans mobile phones inside court rooms

by | Jun 24

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia has enforced new tough rules that make it prohibited to bring cell phones and other recording devices into court rooms. Also prohibited are photo and video equipment. The government does not comment on the issue.

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Georgian government gives in to democracy campaign’s demand

by | Jun 22

TBILISI, DFWatch – A leading lawmaker in Georgia says he is positive to a new law proposal that would diversify access to the media. Speaker of Parliament Davit Bakradze said Friday that he supports the introduction of the principles must-carry and must-offer.

News

The rebranding of the Georgian opposition

by | Jun 22

TBILISI, DFWatch – What is the Georgian opposition? We give you the facts about what groups Bidzina Ivanishvili has recruited to his Georgian Dream coalition. The Georgian Dream coalition currently consists of the Republicans, the Free Democrats, the National Forum,

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