News

Four candidates will compete in South Ossetian election

by | February 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Only four candidates have been approved to participate in the March 25 election to fill the post as president of the de facto republic of South Ossetia, a Georgian breakaway region currently occupied by Russia. Today the Central Election Commission

News

Saakashvili’s state of the nation address: Main points

by | February 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - President Mikheil Saakashvili Tuesday February 28 gave his address to parliament and summarized the country's situation as required by the Georgian Constitution. The leader grouped his political plans into five main points: Tackling unemployment,

News

Israel denies talks about Monastery of the Cross

by | February 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Israeli officials deny that there are in talks with Georgia about handing over control over the Monastery of the Cross in Jerusalem. “This is news for us. We have heard nothing like that,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Yigal Palmor said,

News

Saakashvili recommends mud bath to opponent, leaves debate

by | February 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - There were tough exchanges in the Georgian parliament yesterday, with President Mikheil Saakashvili at one point leaving the room after recommending an opponent to take a therapeutic mud bath to get rid of his delusions. The situation became so heated that

In brief, News

Georgia hopes vocational training will remedy crisis

by | February 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - From this year, Georgians who sign up with a private or vocational school for learning a new profession will receive a 1 000 lari voucher from the government. This was announced by President Mikheil Saakashvili during an annual speech to parliament

In brief, News

Saakashvili promises health insurance to large families

by | February 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The president in Georgia promises health insurance for all large families from 2013. Mikheil Saakashvili was making his annual address to parliament February 28. He noted that after establishing this system in Georgia, one out of two will be insured.

News

Saakashvili: Georgia’s election is a matter of national security

by | February 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The president of the former Soviet republic of Georgia says this fall's parliamentary election will be an important exam and says “conducting the freest elections which have ever been conducted is a question of national security.” Mikheil Saakashvili

News

Saakashvili: My force will govern for many years

by | February 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili says his political force ‘has the resources to govern for many years and will never refuse this.’ The statement came during an annual speech to parliament Tuesday. Giorgi Targamadze, leader of the Christian

In brief, News

Netherland to study Georgia’s health care system

by | February 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili claims that the Netherlands wants to copy Georgia's health care system. He said this during his annual speech to parliament on February 28. Speaking about the system implemented in Georgia, he said new hospitals

News

Saakashvili woos Russian business with visa-free travel

by | February 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's president, Mikheil Saakashvili, said Tuesday night that Georgia will lift visa requirements for all Russians. Saakashvili was holding his annual speech to parliament about the state of the nation. “I have an new initiative to unilaterally

In brief, News

EU to discuss visa action plan with Georgia

by | February 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - EU foreign ministers have issued a paper setting out to integrate Georgia more in the Union. The paper is a broad review of relations between Georgia and the EU and the country’s security. It notes that there has been progress in the Eastern

In brief, News

EU asks Georgia to hold democratic elections

by | February 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - EU says parliamentary and presidential elections in Georgia should meet internationally recognized standards of democracy. A statement published on the EU’s Council on the South Caucasus webpage says the EU acknowledges Georgia’s European

News

Opposition accuses gov’t of lying about Afghanistan casualties

by | February 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - An opposition politician in the former Soviet republic of Georgia accuses the government of lying about when three servicemen died last week. Salome Zourabichvili, Georgia's former Foreign Minister, accuses the government of having postponed the sad

In brief, News

EU Commissioner in Tbilisi to forge free trade agreement

by | February 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The European Union’s commissioner for trade issues, Karel de Gucht, will arrive in Georgia today on February 28 and will start negotiations with Georgia about a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement. Moldova is also offered the same kind of

In brief, News

Protest announced for Saakashvili’s address about country’s condition

by | February 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - When Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili comes to parliament this evening to make his speech about the state of the nation, groups and opposition parties will be demonstrating outside. The press office of the Free Georgia Party announced the

In brief, News

Georgian opposition movement not to reconsider NATO missions

by | February 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia’s billionaire-backed opposition movement, Georgian Dream, is not going to reconsider the country’s participation in the ISAF operation in Afghanistan. Press spokesperson Maya Pandzhikidze said this at a regular briefing on February 27.

Opinion

Waiting for Saakashvili’s state of the nation speech

by | February 28, 2012

It’s already the fourth year that I am a member of parliament, and for the fourth time I have to listen to the Georgian president in the Georgian parliament; listen to his promises and views, in what in the constitution is called “report about the country’s

Opinion

Georgian Puzzle – Minorities and New Challenges

by | February 28, 2012

Part 1: Russia and Georgia One cannot Play at Giveaway Since the Rose Revolution and the assumption of political power by Mikhail Saakashvili the scope of influence of the Russian Federation over Georgia has been weakened to that extent that the Russian Federation has

In brief, News

Georgia to host OSCE Economic Forum in May

by | February 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Black Sea port of Batumi has been chosen as host for the OSCE Economic Forum in May, Georgia's Vice Speaker of Parliament Gigi Tsereteli told journalists Monday. Tsereteli says the decision was taken a few days ago after a meeting of

News

Georgian opposition bloc fined by party financing authority

by | February 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian authorities have issued fines to an opposition figurehead and his associates totaling 363 000 US dollars. The businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili, who since October 2011 has been gradually building a base within the country's politics, was

News

Saakashvili to hold state of the nation address Tuesday night

by | February 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian president will make his annual speech to parliament tomorrow, February 28, at 20:00. Speaker of Parliament Davit Bakradze announced this today at a bureau session. “The best air time was picked for the president’s visit and speech

Interviews

Saakashvili is not indispensable to the United States

by | February 27, 2012

What is most valuable to the U.S. in regards to Georgia is to have a leader who is supportive of the U.S., but also has democratic legitimacy. And there are plenty of politicians who could fulfill that precondition, according to Lincoln Mitchell, Associate at Columbia

News

Georgia to have control over Monastery of the Cross

by | February 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Monastery of the Cross in Jerusalem, which in its time was built with the support of the Georgian king and for centuries was considered a Georgian cultural center, may placed under Georgian control. The Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili announced

News

Police clears protest camp in old Tbilisi park

by | February 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The small fireplace, wooden chairs, all the logs and even the small plant planted one day ago were demolished on Saturday by huge trucks and a tractor that dug a big hole inside the fenced-off area of old Kikvidze Park in northern Tbilisi. It happened

In brief, News

Georgia unveils new combat vehicle

by | February 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia today presented its new combat vehicle Lazika at the Vaziani military base not far from the capital Tbilisi. The demonstration of the new vehicle's technical and tactical abilities was attended by the Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili.

In brief, News

Saakashvili’s Facebook page blocked Russian users

by | February 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Friday evening, Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili's Facebook page suffered a similar attack as his Russian counterpart Dimitry Medvedev. Tens of comments per minute were submitted in Russian, until the administrator intervened and blocked

News

Trees cut and planted in old Kikvidze Park

by | February 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Four more trees were cut in Tbilisi's old Kikvidze Park yesterday night while activists left the area for a short time. The police Saturday arrested Lasha Chkhartishvili, the founder of Greenpeace Supporters Group and one of the organizers for trying

In brief, News

Correction: Only one of Ankvab’s guards died in attack

by | February 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Only one of Abkhazian de facto president Alexander Ankvab's guards died after Wednesday's assassination attempt. In the immedate aftermath of the shootout, a spokesman for Ankvab was quoted by Russian news agency Itar-Tass saying that a second

In brief, News

Turkey is Georgia’s most important trade partner

by | February 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's largest trading partner is Turkey, just like before, according to fresh data of from January 2012. According to Georgia's Statistics Department, the turnover with Turkey last year totaled 90 million US dollars. Azerbaijan and Germany

News

Georgia moves to data-sharing, more secrecy

by | February 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The former Soviet republic of Georgia is to establish a new data-sharing and information protection model. A new law sets out the rules that will apply to both private and public bodies, the only requirement being that it is a 'subject of critical

News

South Ossetian opposition leader boycotts March election

by | February 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - As one month is left until the de facto republic South Ossetia is to hold another presidential election, 21 candidates have registered their initiative group with the Central Election Commission. But the most popular candidate in a cancelled election

In brief, News

Georgians blocked from Medvedev’s Facebook page

by | February 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - An online campaign against Russian president Dimitry Medvedev’s Facebook page led to comments in Georgian language being blocked by the administrator. The campaigners wanted to express their protest against Russian policy regarding

News

Continued pressure to change vague party financing rules

by | February 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Groups in Georgia Thursday continued their campaign against the new party financing rules which were ushered in last December. At different spots around Tbilisi and in several other towns there were demonstrations to highlight the threat posed by

News

Georgia arrests Bidzina Ivanishvili’s security chief

by | February 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian authorities have arrested the head of security at opposition financier Bidzina Ivanishvili's ski resort. It was officers of the Georgian finance ministry's investigative unit which arrested Revaz Mumladze, who is head of security at the billionaire's

News

Protesting the destruction of old green lung

by | February 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - On Dadiani Street in northern Tbilisi near Didube metro, there is a big old park called Kikvidze Park. Here, the government has decided to build another one of Georgia's characteristic transparent glass police stations. A protest was launched against

In brief, News

Putin seeks brotherly relations with the Georgian people

by | February 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Russia hopes to restore friendly relations with the Georgian people, Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says. “We have never equaled the Georgian government to the Georgian people. And I hope very much that this really brotherly people to us

News

Ankvab might have been attacked by angered Moscow-loyal forces

by | February 22, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A Georgian security analyst says today's attack on Abkhazia's leader could have been carried out by Moscow-loyal forces who are angered by Alexander Ankvab's efforts to disrupt them. Mamuka Areshidze, chair of Caucasus Center for Strategic Research

News

Georgian lawmaker hints at Russian hand in Ankvab attack

by | February 22, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A lawmaker from Georgia's ruling party says he doesn't exclude that Russia was behind today's ambush of Abkhazian leader Alexander Anhvab's convoy. “The fact itself that there were several attacks on this person, while he was the so-called Prime

Opinion

Cherchez la femme: look for the woman in Georgian politics

by | February 22, 2012

It was a long way of looking for the women in Georgian politics. For the last decade, the only explanation for the lack of women in positions of power was: women are not ready themselves, are not showing will, writes Nina Tsihistavi, researcher in gender issues and women's

News

FSB forces back plane carrying South Ossetian ex-candidate

by | February 22, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Russian security police FSB forced a civilian airliner to return to Moscow and confiscated the passport of a South Ossetian ex-politician. Dzambolat Tedeev, who pondered running for president in South Ossetia last fall, was sitting on an airplane

News

Man hunt as two of Abkhaz leader’s guard dies in ambush

by | February 22, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - This morning's roadside ambush has left one of de facto Abkhazian president Alexander Ankvab's bodyguards dead, and authorities are now using helicopters to hunt down the attackers. The attack happened at 08:25 in the morning Moscow time. News

News

Three Georgian soldiers die in Afghanistan

by | February 22, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Three Georgian soldiers have died in Afghanistan, according to Georgia's Defense Minister. The country has now lost a total of fifteen soldiers in the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) mission. “The military servicemen died while they were

In brief, News

Abkhazian leader Ankvab survives, guards dies

by | February 22, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Wednesday morning the de facto president of Georgia’s breakaway region Abkhazia was attacked while in his car on his way to work in Sukhumi. Alexander Ankvab himself was not hurt, Abkhazian and Russian media report, but one of his bodyguards

In brief, News

Georgian accused of 2007 plot released on bail

by | February 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The former member of parliament accused of planning a coup d’état in 2007 was released on bail. Georgian authorities accuse Valeri Gelbakhiani of having hatched the plot together with Badri Patarkatsishvili, a now deceased billionaire who owned

News

Georgian election watchdog wishes it had retroactive powers

by | February 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - As a new chapter unfolded in the saga about Georgia's party finance reform, the Chamber of Control Monday made a request which seemed an implicit criticism of its critics. The CoC was given retroactive powers in a reform last December, but since such

News

Ivanishvili goes one step further on uncertain opposition path

by | February 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili Tuesday took his movement one step further to becoming a full-fledged party, but stopped short of assuming leadership. Ivanishvili's citizenship was revoked by President Mikheil Saakashvili at the

In brief, News

Georgia’s new party finance rules to be reworked

by | February 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian Speaker of Parliament Davit Bakradze is asking parliament to change the recently introduced party finance rules so that they guarantee the freedom of speech more. He said this during a bureau session on February 20, responding to a petition

News

Georgia’s Saakashvili to unveil new combat vehicle

by | February 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili promised to this week unveil a new combat vehicle his country has developed called ‘Lazika’. The president said this in a speech February 20 during a surprise visit to his country's soldiers stationed in

News

Saakashvili claims the U.S. is to strengthen Georgia’s military

by | February 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili said during a visit to Afghanistan that the United States will help Georgia to defend its territory. The president was addressing Georgian soldiers in the ISAF mission at a military base in Helmand province.

News

Britain’s Georgia ambassador visits breakaway Abkhazia

by | February 21, 2012

  TBILISI, DFWatch - The United Kingdom's ambassador to Georgia, Judith Gough, Monday visisted Abkhazia, one of two breakaway regions. Ambassador Gough was travelling together with Regional Adviser Claire Delassard and Political Affairs Counsellor James Gallagher.

Opinion

Analysis of 2012 State Budget and Elections

by | February 21, 2012

Georgia's 2012 budget is significantly different from the 2011 budget due to it being an election year. The expenditure part of the budget is particularly interesting. There are several expenditures which directly or indirectly aim to increase voters’ content, and this will

In brief, News

Saakashvili to give state of the nation address next week

by | February 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili will hold his annual state of the nation address in parliament's next week. The exact date of his speech is not yet known. Georgian Speaker of Parliament Davit Bakradze said this at a parliamentary bureau session Monday.

News

Saakashvili in Helmand: continuation of great tradition

by | February 20, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili today visited his country's soldiers at the combat outpost Shukvani in Afghanistan's Helmand province. No information was released beforehand about the president’s visit to Afghanistan, and it only became

In brief, News

Change of U.S. Ambassador is ordinary event

by | February 20, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The change of U.S. Ambassador to Georgia is routine, says the embassy's press service. ‘Ambassadors are replaced once in three years. John Bass has been Ambassador to Georgia since October 2009. Consequently, three years will pass in autumn 2012. He may

In brief, News

Ex-MP arrested for coup attempt as crosses border to Georgia

by | February 20, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A former parliamentarian has been arrested in Georgia today just as he entered the country from Armenia. Valeri Gelbakhiani had just crossed the border as law-enforcers arrested him. He voluntarily surrendered and was transferred

Opinion

eTransparency in the Government of Georgia

by | February 20, 2012

From 2009 to 2011, the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) carried out the first and so far only survey of eTransparency in Georgia, monitoring some 100 web pages of different public authorities in Georgia, writes Constantine Janjghava, project

News

On Saakashvili’s TV, it’s a time for heroes and challenges

by | February 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Hunters saved from freezing to death, sailors are saved from pirates, a monk saved from hostage-takers, villagers saved from water and power shortage. Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili gives you the heroes of daily life. As DF Watch continues

In brief, News

Obama proposes Norland as new U.S. Ambassador to Georgia

by | February 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Barack Obama has proposed Richard Boyce Norland as new U.S. ambassador to Georgia. The President proposed Norland as replacement for current ambassador John R. Bass, whose term expires this autumn. He was appointed in October 2009. The Senate's Foreign

News

Azerbaijani cinemas boycott Russian war movie

by | February 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Just days before the premiere, two cinemas in Azerbaijan have decided not to show a new Russian movie set during the 2008 Russia-Georgia war. Much of the new movie “August. Eight” was shot in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and the backdrop to the story

News

New party finance rules create chilling effect, warn activists

by | February 17, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The loud sound of a horn and whistles was heard outside parliament in Tbilisi today, as activists and rights groups protested against a new set of rules that they say threaten basic freedoms. They came there not only to show how strongly opposed they are

In brief, News

Georgia to build new coal power station

by | February 17, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The former Soviet republic of Georgia is going to construct a new coal power station in the near future. This was announced Thursday by the director of Georgian Industrial Group, Nana Turnava. She said the group has signed a contract with the Turkish

In brief, News

Georgian authorities deny sabotaging opposition TV

by | February 17, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's Revenue Service says it can not understand the charges made by a billionaire opposition politician that his TV van was damaged in customs. The revenue service said in a statement Thursday that Bidzina Ivanishvili's claim that TV equipment he was

In brief, News

Georgia extends military service to 15 months

by | February 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's defense ministry says the current twelve month service length is not enough to properly prepare persons called up for compulsory military service. It is now asking parliament to increase the length of service to 15 months. The bill is certain

Opinion

Saakashvili’s victory is his own defeat

by | February 16, 2012

In official or semi-official conversations, president Saakashvili's supporters often remark that Saakashvili should somehow stay in power to finish the reforms he started, because otherwise the country's direction will be reversed and it will head back into the past,

News

Party finance rules may be used against anybody, say activists

by | February 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Outspoken activists and rights groups met in Tbilisi today and signed a petition called ‘It affects you too’, demanding that something is done to rein in Georgia's new rules about party financing which they see as a threat to basic rights. The rules

News

Ivanishvili’s TV van damaged in customs

by | February 16, 2012

  TBILISI, DFWatch - A billionaire in Georgia who is building an opposition movement says his TV equipment was deliberately damaged while in customs. Bidzina Ivanishvili’s press office said Tuesday that a production van belonging to his TV company with broadcasting

News

Russia to enlist locals in occupation army, Georgia says

by | February 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's foreign ministry says Russia keeps on militarizing Georgia’s occupied regions, is deploying the newest offensive weapons and continues building military infrastructure. The Georgian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that Russia

News

South Ossetian opposition leader considers quitting

by | February 15, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The South Ossetian opposition leader who was injured in an attack by authorities last week says she will decide in three days whether to stay in politics or quit, and that she might ask for political asylum elsewhere. “It’s the first time I got the idea about getting out of South Ossetia. I was never broken by any Georgian aggression or criminal case, but now I am seriously wondered and will maybe ask some country for political asylum,” Russian news agencies quote Alla Dzhioyeva saying. Dzhioyeva is currently at the hospital in Tskhinvali. She appeared to win a clear victory in last November's run-off in the presidential election, but South Ossetia's Supreme Court refused to recognize her as the winner which led to a deteriorating situation in the region. New elections were announced for March 25, and Dzhioyeva agreed to a compromise which would let her participate then. But in mid January, Dzhioyeva abandoned the compromise agreement with authorities, and decided to unilaterally hold an inauguration ceremony on February 10. This was the second such attempt. The last time, which happened ...

In brief, News

Suspected bomb found outside Russian consulate in Tbilisi

by | February 15, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A suspected explosive device was reported to have been found outside Russia's consulate in Tbilisi Wednesday. However, it turned out to be just an empty suitcase, according to Interior Ministry spokesperson Shotia Utiashvili. The suspicious object

News

Israel to establish visa-free travel with Georgia

by | February 15, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Israel's transport minister proposes to establish visa-free travel with the former Soviet republic of Georgia. The proposal was put forth during a visit to Israel February 13 by Georgia’s minister of economic development Vera Kobalia and is reported on

News

Strong Georgian opposition party takes form

by | February 15, 2012

  TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili today presented the members of the initiative group for his new political party called Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia. Among the members of the group are famous public figures, lawyers, a journalist, also

News

Dzhioyeva: No heart attack, I was physically harassed

by | February 15, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The de facto authorities in South Ossetia said she suffered a heart attack and had to be sent away to Russia for treatment. But now opposition leader Alla Dzhioyeva denies she had a heart attack at all. She says her injuries were caused by physical and

In brief, News

Finding Israel embassy bomber is first priority for Georgian leader

by | February 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia is giving the highest priority to investigating Monday's foiled bombing attempt against the car of an employee at the Israeli embassy. President Mikheil Saakashvili's press spokesperson Manana Manjgaladze said this today at a regular briefing.

News

Georgia and Iran’s close relations boosts travel and investments

by | February 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia and Iran's new visa free agreement has led to a tripling of travel. We take a closer look at the extent of cooperation between the two countries. The agreement about visa-free travel between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Georgia came into

Elections, News

U.N. Envoy criticizes Georgia for not respecting human rights

by | February 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A United Nations envoy says the new party finance rules Georgia introduced in December are a violation of human rights. Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai says that ‘they at times use ambiguous language, are fuelling an overall climate of distrust, and

In brief, News

Terror suspect arrested, ‘unrelated’ to embassy attacks

by | February 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A terror suspect was arrested in Zugdidi Tuesday, but Georgian authorities deny that it is linked with yesterday's bomb attacks against Israeli embassies in Georgia and India. The Georgian Interior Ministry Tuesday arrested a person suspected of planning

News

Old Tbilisi square sports a white cover as protest goes on

by | February 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Tbilisi's old Gudiashvili Square was fully covered with white snow on Sunday as people showed up to defend it once more from an uncertain fate. Even though it was a freezing minus five degrees, people still gathered on the square on February 12 at what

Environment, News

Turkish company cancels hydro electric project in Georgia

by | February 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Work to construct one of the biggest hydro electric power stations in Georgia has been halted, after its Turkish investor pulled out. The Georgian government explains that the Turkish investor refused to go through with the project, and therefore a new

News

Car bomb defused in Tbilisi, Israeli embassy driver targeted

by | February 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - An explosive device was found under the car of a driver for the Israeli embassy in Tbilisi early Monday morning. The same day, a bomb went off in the Indian capital New Dehli, injuring two people; a driver for the Israeli embassy and a diplomat's wife.

News

Georgia’s ruling party saves its assumed opponent

by | February 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - In the former Soviet republic of Georgia, the elected assembly's minority block is in danger of breaking up. So the ruling party is helping them out. One more member of parliament (MP) from the ruling party has left the party. Mikheil Machavariani, first

News

Russia’s wrestling coach fired, was South Ossetian candidate

by | February 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A South Ossetian ex-politician has been fired from his position as coach for Russia’s national wrestling team. Dzambulat Tedeev is an opposition candidate who tried to register for the region's presidential election last November, but was denied

News

It affects you too: Petition in Georgia against new election rules

by | February 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Most newspapers in the former Soviet republic of Georgia today publish a petition which protests controversial changes to a law about party financing. When the law on Political Associations of Citizens was changed in December 2011, it caused a strong

In brief, News

Georgian president to brief own party after Obama visit

by | February 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Today at 17:00 the Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili will meet representatives of the parliamentary majority at his residence in Tbilisi's Avlabari district. Items on the agenda will be Georgia’s domestic and foreign policy. Majority representatives

In brief, News

Georgian parliament saves its moderate minority

by | February 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - In the former Soviet republic of Georgia, the bigger parties are giving away representatives in an apparent effort to prevent the moderate opposition from becoming too small. The radical faction Unity for Justice seems to be building up steam, as Roman

Opinion

New law imposes criminal liability on voters

by | February 13, 2012

In December 2011 the Parliament of Georgia upheld amendments to rules about party financing and other relevant regulations. These amendments impose severe and disproportionate limitations on voters, the private sector: business, non-governmental organizations outside o

News

Doctor says South Ossetian opposition leader had been beaten

by | February 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The acting president of the Georgia’s breakaway region South Ossetia claims the situation in the region is within the frames of the law. An opposition leader who was detained Thursday evening is still in hospital after suffering a stroke. “Alla Dzhioyeva

News

Monk released after 25 days’ captivity in Abkhazia

by | February 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian monk who mysteriously disappeared in Abkhazia is free after 25 days of captivity and has returned home. The monk Iona, or Mamuka Maisuradze, was detained in Georgia’s breakaway region Abkhazia nearly three weeks ago. Shota Utiashvili, head of

News

Party finance watchdog may be willing to curb its powers

by | February 11, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Several leading Georgian organizations are now demanding clearer limits for the powers of the country's party finance watchdog. The Chamber of Control itself is considering changes in its powers. The groups met Friday with the head of the Chamber of Control's

News

Groups under threat in Georgia mobilize to defend rights

by | February 11, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Organizations in the former Soviet republic of Georgia are planning to take immediate measures together with media workers to protest against a new law amendment which they claim poses a serious threat to freedom of speech, freedom of the media and

Opinion

Lazika: Democratic Deficit in Public Decision Making Process

by | February 10, 2012

On December 4, 2011, the president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili announced an initiative to build a new city called “Lazika” in the West of Georgia, between Anaklia and Kulevi. The new city is supposed to be the largest after the capital, Tbilisi, and reach a population of about

News

Dzhioyeva regains consciousness, refuses to be sent away to Russia

by | February 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - South Ossetian opposition leader Alla Dzhioyeva has regained consciousness in a hospital in Tskhinvali. Doctors want to transport her out of the breakaway republic and to Russia, but she refuses to be moved. It was just one day before she was going to hold

In brief, News

Media protests against photo ban in parliament

by | February 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Coalition for Media Advocacy says it is unacceptable to prevent journalists from bringing cameras into the session hall of the the Georgian parliament. It recently became known that there will be a photo ban in the new Georgian parliament building in

In brief, News

Wife of opposition financier to sue Georgia’s Saakashvili

by | February 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The wife of opposition financier Bidzina Ivanishvili is suing Mikheil Saakashvili, the president of Georgia, after he wrongfully revoked her citizenship. Saakashvili revoked Ekaterine Khvedelidze's Georgian citizenship last October, at a time when

News

Abkhazian leader asks EU, don’t try to teach us how to live

by | February 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The leader of the Georgian breakaway republic Abkhazia asks the EU not to teach Abkhazians how to live. “You can get blind from brilliant ideas of the international diplomacy, but they are not for Abkhazia. Our request is don’t teach us how to live.

News

South Ossetian opposition leader detained, had heart attack

by | February 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The popular opposition leader in South Ossetia, Alla Dzhioyeva, has been detained, reports Ekho Kavkaza. The internet portal writes that unidentified officials entered the politician's headquarters and detained Dzioyeva, who refused to go with

In brief, News

Abkhazia to ask EU to recognize homemade passports

by | February 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Abkhazia wants the EU to recognize the Georgian breakaway region's own passports as valid travel documents, just as is the case with North Cyprus. De facto foreign minister Viacheslav Chirikba said this February 8 after meeting Philip Dimitrov,

In brief, News

Ivanishvili takes part in street protest for the first time

by | February 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili calls for the government to investigate a police special operation in 2006 which took the lives of two young men. It's known as the Vazagashvili case and gathers a crowd every year at the spot near Paliashvili

In brief, News

Georgia notes record number of visitors, but are they tourists?

by | February 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia recorded a record number of visitors entering the country in January 2012. According to data from the Border Guard Department and the National Administration of Tourism, 227 006 international travelers entered the country in January, which is 41%

News

Georgian authorities go after election observers

by | February 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The government of Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili has begun an unprecedented move to cut off the foreign funding of civil rights groups and election observers, because it believes that the groups are trying to affect the outcome of the election this fall.

Economy, News

As winter freeze hits Tbilisi, the garbage fee jumps

by | February 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Among all the other problems the weather is causing, Tbilisi citizens have one more worry: Their garbage fee has increased dramatically. A few months ago, a law amendment made the municipal garbage fee dependent on the electricity bill, so the more

In brief, News

Georgia hit by up to two meters of snow, schools closed

by | February 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Snowy weather is creating difficulties in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. The whole country is currently covered with up to two meters of snow, but the transit of goods east-west is flowing normally. The international airport in Tbilisi says their

News

Tenser by the day in Tskhinvali, Moscow ambassador to run

by | February 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The situation in Georgia’s breakaway region South Ossetia ahead of a rescheduled elections is getting more strained day by day. The region's state security committee released a statement Wednesday warning of ‘possible provocations by Georgian special

Media, News

Why newspapers are sold from bicycle stands in Tbilisi

by | February 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - In the Georgian capital, news hungry citizens can now get their daily update from a bright red bicycle. The reason the new mobile newsstand is hitting the streets is that City Hall has removed many of the old permanent booths. Since last December, independent

News

New photo prohibition in Georgia’s parliament

by | February 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Journalists in Georgia will no longer be allowed to bring cameras into the session hall of the Parliament building. This is where plenary sessions are held. They will also be prevented from having cameras with them in the small meeting rooms where committee

In brief, News

Medvedev wants to reestablish trade relations with Georgia

by | February 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Russian President Dimitry Medvedev says the Russian and Georgian people should have relations and thinks it's therefore necessary to restore trade relation. The president made this statement on Monday during a meeting with his supporters. “We have

In brief, News

Saakashvili ducks issue of following in Putin’s footsteps

by | February 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - There is growing uncertainty about whether the Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili may stay on as prime minister after the end of his second term as president. Yesterday, the editorial board of the Washington Post published a comment in which

Legal reform, News

New criminal procedure law doesn’t work: lawyers

by | February 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - It is one of Georgia's most touted reforms abroad, but now lawyers who have experienced it in practice warn that the overhauled Criminal Procedure Code of 2010 isn't working. The reform saw deep involvement by top legal expertise from

News

Kremlin favorite withdraws from South Ossetian election

by | February 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The situation in Georgia’s breakaway region South Ossetia is getting more complicated as both top candidates refuse to take part in a rescheduled election on March 25. Kremlin favorite Anatoly Bibilov says he refrains from taking part

News

Journalist’s home shot at in Tbilisi

by | February 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A shot was fired at a journalist's house in the Georgian capital Monday. No-one was injured. The journalist Khatuna Paichadze was at work when the shot rang out at around 14:00 local time. The bullet broke a window in her first floor flat in an Italian yard

In brief, News

Ban Ki-moon discussed security with Georgia’s foreign minister

by | February 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has been in contact with the foreign minister of Georgia to discuss security issues. It's the country's deputy foreign minister Nikoloz Vashakidze who brings this information at a regular briefing on Monday.

In brief, News, World

Georgia does not consider role in US-Iran conflict

by | February 6, 2012

TBLISI, DFWatch - The Georgian Speaker of Parliament says that there is no talk of Georgia having a role in a potential conflict between Iran and the USA. Davit Bakradze was commenting a statement made earlier by the deputy secretary of the country's security council, Batu Kutelia,

Opinion

Administrative-territorial reform – a taboo in Georgian politics

by | February 6, 2012

A lot of reforms have been carried out in the country during the first two decades after Georgia's independence in 1991. Although some of them were rather controversial and contradictory, they led to significant changes in various spheres of Georgia’s social life, writes David Losaberidze,

News

Georgian youth learn English, and keep their Russian too

by | February 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - English is first priority for Georgian youth, but they might as well keep a basic knowledge of Russian too, just in case. Margo is getting ready to go abroad for a year through an exchange program, after graduating from university last summer, specializing in journalism.

In brief, News

Georgia’s Saakashvili: U.S. started sending troops in 2008 Russia war

by | February 5, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian president says Russia stopped its attack in August 2008 after the United States started deploying forces to assist the small country. Mikheil Saakashvili was speaking to students at the U.S. Naval Academy February 3, a speech that was carried

News

Dzhioyeva prepares inauguration, asks candidates to withdraw

by | February 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A South Ossetian opposition leader calls for the other candidates to not take part in a rescheduled election March 25, calling it illegal, and instead recognize her as the legitimate head of government. Several candidates have registered with the Central

News

Georgia’s dead prime minister: The case that won’t go away

by | February 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Seven years after his death, the anniversary of Georgia's late prime minister Zurab Zhvania is still testimony to the fact that many refuse to accept the case as closed. Some of the youth who gathered in front of parliament in Tbilisi Friday bore

In brief, News

Europe’s biggest shopping mall just built, in Georgia

by | February 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian president says Georgia already is the biggest trade hub in the Caucasus region and that the construction of Europe's biggest shopping center is just completed here. He made this statement during his speech at Georgetown University in Washington.

In brief, News

Georgia to boost defense following Saakashvili’s U.S. trip

by | February 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian Defense Minister signals that his country will strengthen its military capability. Bacho Akhalaia made the statement on February 2 after the meeting his U.S. counterpart Leon Panetta at a meeting of defense ministers among NATO

In brief, News

Saakashvili: New phase of military cooperation

by | February 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - “The military cooperation between Georgia and USA is entering a completely new stage, which means that Georgia will better protect itself,” Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili says. The president said this Thursday during his visit to the U.S. after meeting with

In brief, News

Saakashvili defends his government’s successes

by | February 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian president says the Georgian government has delivered on its promises. He said this during a speech at Georgetown University as part of his official visit to the U.S. this week. “Our economy has quadrupled. Crime has decreased fivefold. The poverty level has fallen

Opinion

Saakashvili: “We basically got what we wanted to get”

by | February 3, 2012

- Right! What we did not get was, something that was in the preliminary statement of the White House, stating that: “The President will reconfirm U.S. support for the integrity of Georgia’s territory within its internationally recognized borders”. We did not hear that; and really lacked that

In brief, News

Increased public fees helped root out corruption: Saakashvili

by | February 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - During a speech at Georgetown University in Washington, Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili said that his first presidential salary was 40 dollars and the state treasury was completely empty when he came to government in what is called the

Opinion

Beyond Reset – Building a Pluralistic Political Society

by | February 3, 2012

Georgia’s only way forward towards strengthened security, economic growth and modernization is to build a pluralistic political society. Georgia cannot build a national security state, it must build a liberal state, writes international relations specialist Levan Tsutskiridze.

Society

Stricter Turkish visa-rules making life tougher

by | February 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Nani has been working in Turkey for last ten years at a rich family, taking care of all the household activities. Her husband died years ago and she had to provide her two daughters with food and clothes. She couldn’t find a job here in Georgia and decided to leave for Turkey

Opinion

Is Georgia’s government still trying to improve the investment climate?

by | February 2, 2012

The Georgian public is already used to multiple amendments to different laws, which dramatically change regulation principles in different areas in the country. We also got used to the fact that some of the changes are introduced to the parliament and adopted by the legislator

News

A monk’s mysterious disappearance in Abkhazia

by | February 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The de facto head of the Abkhazian church Besarion Aplia confirms that a Georgian cleric was arrested in Abkhazia a few days ago. Aplia says the Georgian cleric didn’t have his documents in order. Georgia discussed this issue on Tuesday during a regular

News

Saakashvili says rose revolution can not be turned back

by | February 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili says the changes his country has been through can not be undone by himself nor anyone else. He was speaking at the US Institute of Peace on invitation from the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based

In brief, News

Russia-Georgia border hit by bad weather

by | February 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Snowfall and strong winds are making trouble for people all over Georgia. More than 72 000 were without electricity Thursday morning. The biggest distributor, Energo-Pro, said they had brought down the number of customers without power from 64 000 to around 49 000 by early afternoon. Motorists are heavily affected. Sections of some highways are closed in the east, according to a spokesman for the Regional Development and Infrastructure Ministry. Because of risk of avalanches, the road has been blocked in parts of the high mountainous area Kazbegi, the only road currently connecting Georgia to its northern neighbor Russia. The stretches of road between Stepantsminda-Lars and Gudauri-Kobi are closed, according to ministry spokesman Nugzar Gasviani, interviewed on Imedi TV. The Gudauri-Kobi road has been closed several times during the last year. Gasviani says only vehicles using skid chains will be allowed through. The bad weather has also created trouble in the vicinity of Tbilisi. According to Kakheti information center, the road Vaziani-Gombori-Telavi has been closed, and restrictions apply other places.

Media, News

Want new rules for media watchdog

by | February 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A civil rights group in Georgia wants a new set of rules to ensure that the country's media watchdog becomes more independent. Georgian Young Lawyer's Association (GYLA) last year criticized the present chair of the communications regulatory commission, Irakli Chikovani, for having a conflict of interest. In a study GYLA found that Ckikovani had refrained from acting against TV stations that showed more commercials than the rules allow. As 35% owner of the largest advertisement firm Magi Style, he stands to benefit from his own inaction. Now GYLA proposes a set of changes to make sure that future commission members will be more independent. Today, the Georgian president suggests three candidates to parliament, which then chooses one among them. GYLA proposes to appoint a group of media workers to find candidates for serving on the commission, instead of the president singlehandedly doing this. The group also proposes an option to have members of the communications regulatory commission dismissed, if twenty thousand signatures are gathered in support of such a demand. Another safeguard they propose is that any commission member shouldn't have worked within ...

News

Obama-Saakashvili debriefing with Tom de Waal

by | February 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - We asked Caucasus expert Tom de Waal a few questions following Monday's meeting between U.S. president Barack Obama and Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili in Washington. de Waal is a journalist and writer, previously Caucasus editor of Institute for War and Peace Reporting, and now senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, focusing on the South Caucasus.   - Some words about your impressions after the Oval Office meeting.- I think the meeting went well in the sense that both sides got something that they wanted out of it. I thought the body language between the two was not as natural as it was between Saakashvili and George W. Bush. For President Saakashvili it was obviously important to get a meeting in the Oval Office in the first place. He also received warm words from Obama about Georgian reforms, a continuing commitment to Georgian NATO membership and US defense cooperation and the promise of a free trade agreement—which will obviously be much more important for Georgia than it will be for the United States. President Obama wanted to publicly thank ...

Media, News

Pressured Georgian media reaffirm defense group

by | February 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Media workers in the former Soviet republic of Georgia met Wednesday to reaffirm their mutual pledge to support eachother in case of harassment from authorities. “The main goal is to fight against illegal actions, protecting each other and solidarity when the media is in trouble,” says Mamuka Glonti, who took the initiative to the group. Glonti used to be producer at the independent TV station Maestro in Tbilisi, which was taken over by its largest investor with the help from authorities last November. Its journalists have since been broadcasting with little equipment from a different studio. Another reason for the creation of the group is a new plan by Tbilisi City Hall to replace kiosks in the capital which threatens to monopolize the distribution and sale of newspapers, and could represent a threat against freedom of speech. The group presented a memorandum January 20 which says that an attack on one member will be perceived as an attack on all, and they will take measures to protect eachother. 'Measures' will include protest rallies, appealing to foreign embassies and to the international community. Glonti ...

In brief, News

Saakashvili’s account of Obama meeting challenged

by | February 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian president says the results of his meeting with U.S. president Barack Obama exceeded his expectations. President Mikheil Saakashvili said the issues he discussed with Obama at the White House Monday represent “a new and higher level of cooperation between the two countries; on the one hand military security and on the other hand in the economic spheres". “I want that we all acknowledge that this is unimaginably big thing for Georgian economy. The U.S. has a free trade agreement with its close partners and signing this agreement was very solid ground for a serious leap for each country,” he told journalists after the meeting. But Georgian political analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze disagrees with what Saakashvili says and claims that there is nothing in the released material which gives grounds for such overjoyous statements. He says that the strategic partnership charter signed between Georgia and the U.S. in the wake of the 2008 Russo-Georgian war contained all the things that Saakashvili now touts as something new. “I think the charter mentioned this and this is a planned step forward. The second ...

In brief, News

U.S. to take more active role in building Georgia’s defense

by | February 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili says that his country's military cooperation with the United States is moving into a new phase. According Saakashvili's press spokesperson, America no longer only prepares Georgian forces for tasks like anti-terrorism or the ISAF mission in Afghanistan, but takes an active role in building Georgia's military capability. According to Giorgi Baramidze, state minister for European integration, this deepening of cooperation means providing weapons and equipment. Press spokesperson Manana Manjgaladze says U.S. president Barack Obama and Mr Saakashvili directly discussed how to improve Georgia's security, while meeting at the White House Monday. After their meeting Saakashvili told journalists that military cooperation for years had been within the frameworks of anti-terrorist operations or participation in Afghanistan and Iraq missions, but now the America will take an active role in developing Georgia's defense. He says meetings have been scheduled between appropriate officials from the two countries to further deepen military cooperation. Manjgaladze says Georgia's National Security Council Secretary will hold a meeting with representatives of the U.S. defense department, and in the near future there will also be a meeting bewteen the ...

News

South Ossetian peace is fragile, say leaders

by | February 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The leadership of Georgia's breakaway region South Ossetia say an opposition politician's quest to claim election victory threatens a fragile peace and may have serious consequences. Authorities released the statement after talks with opposition leader Alla Dzhioyeva, who has been campaigning on and off to claim victory after an election in November which she clearly won, but which the Supreme Court cancelled. A compromise seemed to calm things down over the holidays, but Dzhioyeva withdrew from the deal last Sunday and proclaimed that she will have her own inauguration February 10. South Ossetia's leadership calls for people not to obey Dzhioyeva in carring out acts of civil disobedience and not to go beyond the bounds of law, Russian media report. Dzhioyeva held another round of consultations with acting president Vadim Brovtsev on Monday to try to solve the problems South Ossetia are facing, but yet again talks ended without agreement. The acting president states he’s not going to fulfill Dzhioyeva’s demand and transfer power to her. “According to the constitution of the republic I’m the acting president I have to fulfill my duties ...

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