News

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

by | August 13, 2018

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

News

Russian bases in Abkhazia have mushroomed since 2008 war

by | August 12, 2018

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

News

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

by | August 10, 2018

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

News

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

by | August 8, 2018

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

News

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

by | August 7, 2018

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

Politics

Former Georgian foreign minister Zourabichvili declares presidential run

by | August 7, 2018

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

News

Officials from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Ukraine expected in Georgia for 10th anniversary of August War

by | August 6, 2018

TBILISI, DFWatch--The foreign ministers of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, and the deputy prime minister of Ukraine are among the foreign officials who will visit Georgia on Monday and Tuesday for the 10th anniversary of the Russo-Georgian war. During their visit,

News

Georgia triple murder suspect placed under psychiatric evaluation

by | August 4, 2018

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

News

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

by | August 3, 2018

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

News

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

by | August 2, 2018

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

News

Georgia’s ruling party vows to fill ‘legal vacuum’ after Constitutional Court abolished punishment for cannabis use

by | July 31, 2018

TBILISI, DFWatch--The ruling GD party in Georgia rejects a decision by the Constitutional Court to abolish punishment for marijuana use, arguing that the ruling creates a ‘legal vacuum’ that the government pledges to fill. The Constitutional Court on Monday

News

Abkhazia steps up fight against drug crimes with draconian measures

by | July 28, 2018

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

News

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

by | July 27, 2018

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

News

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

by | July 24, 2018

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

News

Gali residents urged to renounced Georgian ethnicity to acquire Abkhazian passport

by | July 21, 2018

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

News

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

by | July 18, 2018

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

News

Four die in coal mine explosion in Tkibuli, Georgia

by | July 16, 2018

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

News

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

by | July 12, 2018

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

Politics

New Georgian PM unveils cabinet with three new names

by | July 12, 2018

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

In brief

Five injured as helicopter crash lands in eastern Georgia

by | July 12, 2018

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

News

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

by | July 9, 2018

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

Crime

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

by | July 9, 2018

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

News

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

by | July 8, 2018

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

Politics

Georgian PM Kvirikashvili stricken from GD political council member list

by | July 6, 2018

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

News

Georgia charges one person with terrorism for posting threat on Facebook

by | July 6, 2018

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

Environment

Landslide triggers flooding, evacuation in Svaneti

by | July 6, 2018

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

Politics

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

by | July 4, 2018

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

News

Saakashvili convicted of ordering parliamentarian’s beating in 2005

by | June 29, 2018

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

Crime

Two women arrested, suspected of stabbing Georgian singer

by | June 27, 2018

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

Crime

Popular Georgian crooner ‘stabbed by two girls’ in Tbilisi

by | June 26, 2018

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

News

Breakaway South Ossetia asks Georgia for 11th Century icon

by | June 22, 2018

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

In brief

US to sell Stinger missiles to Russia’s neighbor Georgia

by | June 21, 2018

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

News

Georgian asylum seekers to Europe down 13% in April

by | June 20, 2018

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

News

Abkhazia halts issuing of ‘visas’ during FIFA World Cup

by | June 16, 2018

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

News

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

by | June 15, 2018

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

News

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

by | June 14, 2018

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

Politics

Georgian PM Kvirikashvili resigns, citing disagreement with Ivanishvili

by | June 13, 2018

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

News

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

by | June 12, 2018

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

News

Outrage in Georgia over Ossetian officer’s hospital treatment

by | June 10, 2018

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

News

Four killed as minivan full of schoolchildren plunges into ravine

by | June 9, 2018

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

News

One man arrested for witness tampering in Tbilisi school murder case

by | June 8, 2018

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

News

Tbilisi City Court hears Igor Giorgadze’s lawsuit against DFWatch

by | June 7, 2018

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

News

Forensic examination shows that Archil Tatunashvili was tortured before he died

by | June 6, 2018

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

News

Father of murdered teenager rejects government’s offer of protection

by | June 2, 2018

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

News

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

by | May 31, 2018

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

News

Feeling of insecurity grows among Azerbaijani activists in Georgia – the story of Khayal Azizov

by | May 29, 2018

Azerbaijani journalist Khayal Azizov, who has fled from his country, blames the Azerbaijani authorities in illegal persecution and psychological oppression in Georgia.

News

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

by | May 29, 2018

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

News

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

by | May 25, 2018

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

News

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

by | May 24, 2018

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

News

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

by | May 21, 2018

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

In brief

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

by | May 17, 2018

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

Minorities

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

by | May 17, 2018

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

Youth

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

by | May 14, 2018

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

News

Georgia raises bar for obtaining residency permit

by | May 12, 2018

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

Politics

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

by | May 12, 2018

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

News

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

by | May 7, 2018

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

News

Massive delays on Enguri bridge

by | May 6, 2018

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

News

Georgian court bans condoms depicting Queen Tamar

by | May 5, 2018

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

Politics

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

by | April 26, 2018

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

News

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

by | April 26, 2018

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

News

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

by | April 20, 2018

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

News

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

by | April 16, 2018

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

Politics

Georgian parliament speaker slams Freedom House report

by | April 12, 2018

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

News

Violent attack on Nigerian students sparks racism debate in Tbilisi

by | April 10, 2018

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

News

Six killed as coal mine collapses in Tkibuli, Georgia

by | April 5, 2018

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

Youth

GEM Fest 2018 thrown into doubt after application for permit rejected

by | April 4, 2018

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

News

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

by | April 1, 2018

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

News

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

by | March 31, 2018

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

News

Georgia expels one Russian diplomat over UK spy poisoning

by | March 29, 2018

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

News

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

by | March 27, 2018

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

Minorities

Integration of ethnic Azeris starts with language

by | March 24, 2018

The Constitution of Georgia stipulates that the state language of country is Georgian. The status of the official language creates grounds for, on the one hand, the social isolation and exclusion from economic and political spheres of people who do not speak Georgian and, on the other hand, the banning on the use of a minority language in administrative domains.

News

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

by | March 23, 2018

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

News

South Ossetia beginning strict control of ‘citizenship’ procedures

by | March 22, 2018

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

News

South Ossetia hands over body of deceased detainee

by | March 21, 2018

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

News

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

by | March 21, 2018

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

News

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

by | March 20, 2018

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

News

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

by | March 16, 2018

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

News

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

by | March 13, 2018

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

News

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

by | March 11, 2018

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

Minorities

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

by | March 9, 2018

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

News

Far right group has patrolled Tbilisi streets for the last week

by | March 6, 2018

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

In brief

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

by | March 4, 2018

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

News

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

by | March 4, 2018

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

News

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

by | March 3, 2018

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

News

Gülen school manager offered state protection

by | March 1, 2018

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

Minorities

Integration of ethnic Azeris starts with language: challenges in quality education and employment

by | February 27, 2018

In Soviet times, the great majority of the population of Georgia spoke Russian, which served as the language of inter-ethnic communication. 66 year old Bayram Abbasov, resident of Telaveri village of Bolnisi district, describes that since Russian was the common language, they had little or no knowledge of Georgian. “We did not feel disenfranchised if we did not know Georgian. Education at our school was provided only in Russian. Our teachers did not speak Georgian. As a result, we did not receive adequate Georgian language educational opportunities. After independence, Georgian became the only official language and Russian is no longer accepted for communication. The decline of Russian as the language of communication and poor command of the Georgian language has been a severe obstacle to quality education, employability and thereby our integration into the Georgian society.” A number of development challenges caused by the lack of knowledge of Georgian are pervasive in the today’s Georgian society. This is especially true for the Azeri communities living compactly in areas bordering their kin-states, with which they have closer ties than with the rest ...

News

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

by | February 25, 2018

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

News

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

by | February 23, 2018

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

News

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

by | February 22, 2018

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

News

Minibuses replacing horse carts at Enguri Bridge

by | February 21, 2018

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

News

Georgian president accuses Russia of running smear campaign in Europe

by | February 21, 2018

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

News

Gulen-linked school manager released on bail by Tbilisi court

by | February 19, 2018

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

News

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

by | February 17, 2018

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

News

Renowned Abkhazian composer charged with sexual abuse of a minor

by | February 15, 2018

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

News

Georgian far-right group plans to form new political party

by | February 15, 2018

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

News

Ukraine detains Saakashvili and deports him to Poland

by | February 12, 2018

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

News

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

by | February 10, 2018

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

News

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

by | February 9, 2018

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

News

Former high-ranking ‘Mkhedrioni’ paramilitary shot in Tbilisi

by | February 7, 2018

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

News

Rare Georgian language memorial discovered in Abkhazia

by | February 2, 2018

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

News

How much do teachers in Gali actually earn?

by | January 30, 2018

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

Sport

Georgian wins sumo wrestling championship in Japan

by | January 28, 2018

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

News

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

by | January 26, 2018

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

News

Abkhazia demands Georgians renounce citizenship before issuing passport

by | January 24, 2018

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

News

Georgian opera singer to perform in breakaway Abkhazia

by | January 22, 2018

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

News

Local strongman assassinated in South Ossetia

by | January 17, 2018

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

News

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

by | January 12, 2018

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

News

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

by | January 10, 2018

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

News

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

by | January 5, 2018

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

News

Ukraine detains ship carrying cigarettes from Abkhazia

by | January 5, 2018

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

News

Abkhazia demands extradition of Russian diplomat’s murderer

by | January 5, 2018

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

News

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

by | December 29, 2017

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

News

Five detained in Georgia for links to ISIS terror plot

by | December 27, 2017

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

News

Killed ISIS operative Chatayev was planning attacks in Georgia and Turkey

by | December 26, 2017

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

News

Georgian ex-soldier released by Abkhazia after 7 years imprisonment

by | December 25, 2017

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

News

Abkhazian “visas” to be issued at Enguri border crossing

by | December 22, 2017

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

News

Georgia absent during UN vote to annul US recognition of Jerusalem

by | December 22, 2017

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia was among 21 countries that were absent during a vote in the UN General Assembly on Thursday to annul the US's unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. “We […] have had consultations with our partners and our delegation

News

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

by | December 21, 2017

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

News

Al-Qaeda commander from Pankisi reported dead in Syria

by | December 18, 2017

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

News

Abkhazia plans to charge customs tax at checkpoint with Georgia proper

by | December 15, 2017

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

News

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

by | December 15, 2017

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

News

Man suspected of 2012 Abkhazia assassination attempt killed in shooting

by | December 14, 2017

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

News

Catastrophic mandarin harvest deals heavy blow to Abkhazia’s exports

by | December 6, 2017

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

News

Complex prisoner exchange between Georgia and breakaway territories

by | December 5, 2017

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

Crime

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

by | December 4, 2017

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

News

Georgian authorities confirm Akhmed Chatayev died in Nov 22 Tbilisi siege

by | December 3, 2017

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

Youth

Georgia moves toward legalizing marijuana with Constitutional Court ruling

by | November 30, 2017

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

News

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

by | November 26, 2017

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

News

11 people dead in hotel fire in Batumi

by | November 25, 2017

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

News

Tskhinvali regime closes single checkpoint with Georgia proper for two days

by | November 23, 2017

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

News

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

by | November 22, 2017

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

News

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

by | November 17, 2017

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

News

South Ossetia bars ambulances from leaving at night and during weekends

by | November 14, 2017

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

News

Faced with new bureaucratic hurdles, Georgians in Abkhazia ponder leaving

by | November 11, 2017

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

News

Burjanadze: Georgia needs a president like Vladimir Putin

by | November 10, 2017

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

News

Scottish town removes Abkhazian war memorial out of respect for Georgia

by | November 10, 2017

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

News

One of 17 detained Saudi princes is honorary citizen of Georgia

by | November 7, 2017

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

News

South Ossetia plans to impose customs tax at checkpoint near Akhalgori

by | November 3, 2017

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

News

Abkhazia calls Georgian PM’s language initiative ‘hypocritical’

by | November 1, 2017

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

News

Georgians in Abkhazia cancel harvest, claim pesticide withheld by regime

by | November 1, 2017

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

Sport

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

by | November 1, 2017

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

News

Rally in Sokhumi to demand action against drug abuse epidemic

by | October 29, 2017

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

News

President Margvelashvili questions the benefits of total GD victory

by | October 26, 2017

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

News

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

by | October 25, 2017

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

News

Former AC Milan player elected Tbilisi mayor

by | October 22, 2017

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

News

Abkhazia shuts down elementary school in Georgian populated region

by | October 21, 2017

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

Crime

Gunman wounds four ahead of Georgia’s local elections

by | October 20, 2017

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

News

Georgian schools in Akhalgori facing a language dilemma

by | October 20, 2017

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

Minorities

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

by | October 18, 2017

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

News

Circassians prevented from attending jailed activist’s court hearing

by | October 16, 2017

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

Minorities

South Ossetia declares Jehovah’s Witnesses ‘extremists’

by | October 16, 2017

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

News

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

by | October 16, 2017

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

News

Opposition clash with police as Tbilisi assembly OKs Ivanishvili land deals

by | October 11, 2017

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

News

Circassians protesting against jailing of remembrance day organizer

by | October 10, 2017

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

News

PACE president resigns amid controversy about Syria trip

by | October 10, 2017

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

News

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

by | October 6, 2017

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

News

Abkhazia appeals to UNESCO for help to save cultural monuments

by | October 5, 2017

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

News

Six opposition activists detained outside Tbilisi City Hall

by | October 3, 2017

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

Minorities

Ethnic Armenians clash with police in south of Georgia

by | October 2, 2017

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

News

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

by | September 29, 2017

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

Politics

Georgian parliament passes new Constitution as opposition walks out in protest

by | September 26, 2017

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

Politics

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

by | September 25, 2017

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

Politics

Georgia’s constitutional reform gets cautious thumbs up from CoE

by | September 23, 2017

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

News

Azerbaijani agents shadowing opposition journalists in Tbilisi

by | September 20, 2017

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

News

David Lynch to found film festival and cinematography institute in Georgia

by | September 16, 2017

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

News

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

by | September 16, 2017

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

News

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

by | September 13, 2017

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

News

Georgian ex-president burst through police block and into Ukraine

by | September 11, 2017

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

News

Saakashvili breaks through Ukraine border assisted by crowd of supporters

by | September 10, 2017

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

News

Saakashvili confirms pledge to enter Ukraine on September 10

by | September 7, 2017

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

Crime

Georgian priest sentenced to nine years in prison for murder attempt

by | September 5, 2017

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

News

CoE’s Buquicchio disappointed by Georgian stalemate on new constitution

by | September 5, 2017

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

News

52 tourists rescued in Georgia’s mountains this summer

by | September 1, 2017

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

News

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

by | August 30, 2017

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

News

Georgia national park forest fire reportedly contained

by | August 26, 2017

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

News

Wildfire has destroyed 100ha of forest in central Georgia

by | August 24, 2017

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

News

Massive wildfire in Georgia’s Borjomi National Park

by | August 22, 2017

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

News

Saakashvili announces plan to return to Ukraine via Poland

by | August 17, 2017

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

News

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

by | August 14, 2017

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

News

Fire devastates mountain overlooking Tbilisi

by | August 9, 2017

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

Youth

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

by | August 6, 2017

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

Security

Georgian soldier killed in Afghanistan

by | August 4, 2017

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

Security

US Vice President Mike Pence visiting Georgia

by | August 1, 2017

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

News

Saakashvili threatens with new revolution in Ukraine

by | July 30, 2017

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

News

Georgian MP fined for wearing pistol at rally against extremism

by | July 26, 2017

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

News

Former president of Georgia stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship

by | July 26, 2017

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

News

Nationalists hurl eggs and bottles at European Georgia march

by | July 23, 2017

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

Media

Georgian opposition TV claims tax debt used to silence its voice

by | July 21, 2017

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

News

Independent candidate for mayor vows to halt Tbilisi building spree

by | July 21, 2017

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

News

Trump picks new Afghanistan ambassador who served in Georgia

by | July 21, 2017

TBILISI, DFWatch--US President Donald Trump has nominated former Ambassador to Georgia John Bass as new ambassador to Afghanistan. Bass currently serves as the US ambassador to Turkey. From 2009 to 2012, he served as ambassador to Georgia. He was nominated

Media

Georgia suspends two officials while investigating journalist’s abduction

by | July 21, 2017

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

News

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

by | July 17, 2017

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

Minorities

Rally in Tbilisi to demand ‘illegal’ immigrants kicked out

by | July 15, 2017

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

News

Anti-immigration activists plan rally in Tbilisi Friday evening

by | July 14, 2017

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

Minorities

Constitutional Court overturns ban on gay men donating blood – again

by | July 13, 2017

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

News

Detained Gülen school director to ask for asylum to avoid extradition

by | July 12, 2017

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

News

Five foreign tourists rescued by helicopter in Caucasus mountain range

by | July 10, 2017

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

News

Separatists deny leader injured in car crash visiting other breakaway region

by | July 8, 2017

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

News

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

by | July 6, 2017

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

In brief

Two men rescued by helicopter from flooded river in Samegrelo

by | July 6, 2017

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

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