News

U.S. Ambassador to Georgia is confident in NDI’s polling methods

by | March 31, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The U.S. Embassy to Georgia has expressed its confidence in surveys done by the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute and says the polls are conducted professionally and are based on legitimate methodology. The

News

Little progress in talks in wake of Georgia-Russia war

by | March 31, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - After the 19th round of the Geneva talks, Georgia hopes that Moscow, like Tbilisi, will commit to a non-use of force pledge; but such a pledge does not seem to be forthcoming. Regular talks have been held in Geneva since the Russia-Georgia war in August

In brief, News

Georgia wants a stop to heritage vandalism in Abkhazia

by | March 31, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian parliament asks the international community to react to intentional destruction of historical monuments on the territory of Georgia’s breakaway region Abkhazia. The Georgian legislative body calls for the international community to

News

Georgia’s refugees to be top priority for the ombudsman

by | March 31, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian Public Defender gives priority to the problems of internally displaced persons (IDPs). Giorgi Tughushi presented his annual report on human rights in Georgia, which in details describes problems faced in different areas, like the prison

Opinion

Why Is Social Sensitivity Required for Judges

by | March 31, 2012

About a month ago Tbilisi Appellate Court delivered a judgment in a case involving a person with a disability, who was represented in court by Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association. The respondents were the legal entity of public law Social Service Agency at the Ministry

News

Fearing the bandwagon effect: Georgia’s opinion poll wars

by | March 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A new opinion poll in Georgia surprisingly showed that a new opposition movement has little support. Was it a sensational, true, finding, or did the pollster “cook” the survey? The election campaign is well underway in Georgia, and apart from the ground rules

News

Ivanishvili citizenship decision next week

by | March 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's Deputy Justice Minister says there will be a decision in about a week regarding the businessman who had his citizenship revoked. Bidzina Ivanishvili is considered to be Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili’s main competitor, but his

In brief, News

Ivanishvili met EU Commission’s Wiegand

by | March 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A Georgian billionaire who is considered the main competitor of the government yesterday met EU officials and discussed the election campaign in the country. The press office of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s political coalition Georgian Dream reports the

News

Georgia lowers age limit for politicians

by | March 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - From now on it will be possible to be elected to parliament from the age of 21. Before, the age limit was 25 years. The Constitution of Georgia sets a lower age limit for being elected to parliament, so appropriate changes are to be made to the constitution.

In brief, News

Georgia’s parliamentarians on the move

by | March 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia has changed its laws so that parliament can meet in the new parliament building in Kutaisi already from May 1. During a transition period, Georgia's parliamentarians may gather at either the new building or in the old building in Tbilisi.

News

Clause in Georgian law may block election observers

by | March 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A little known clause in Georgia's election law may allow the authorities to block most foreign election observers, only allowing two observers from each organization. This includes the OSCE and the EU. A newly established movement called League of Voters

News

Prisoners don’t dare to complain of mistreatment

by | March 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The current situation in Georgian prisons remains one of the main problems in the human rights field, according to the public defender’s annual report to parliament. About 300 pages out of 645 explain the conditions and problems in Georgian prisons.

News

In Georgia, 40% of prisoners who die have injuries

by | March 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian Public Defender on Thursday presented his annual report on human rights in the country. Among the most important problems is conditions in the prison and penitentiary system in Georgia, where human rights are often violated, according to

News

IMF gives Georgia new USD 387 million loan

by | March 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The International Monetary Fund will support the Georgian government’s economic and finance program of 2012-2013 with USD 387 000 000. Edward Gardner, IMF Senior Resident Representative in Georgia, said on Wednesday that an agreement has been achieved

In brief, News

Georgian MPs to Uganda to meet other parliamentarians

by | March 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A delegation from the Georgian parliament is going to Uganda to take part in the 126th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The visit will last from March 31 to April 5 in the city of Kampala. Meetings will be held with delegations of different

News

Georgian Forbes editor quits, claims he was pressured

by | March 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Editor in Chief of the Georgian edition of Forbes blames the magazine’s owner of censorship, after an interview with the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is trying to wrest power from President Saakashvili. At a press conference March 27, Revaz

News

Georgian TV show mocks ‘women’s logic’

by | March 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - In Georgia, there have been demonstrations throughout March against what is seen as violations of women’s rights. The national TV channel Imedi started a show called ‘Women’s Logic’. The concept is that three two-member groups of men are invited

News

Georgia increases its trade with Germany

by | March 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia’s foreign trade turnover increased by 15 percent compared to the same period last year. Germany moved from fifth to third place among the ten largest trade partners. Georgian National Statistics Department, GeoStat, published this information

News

Abkhazia’s election – a look at minorities

by | March 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Abkhazia, the Georgian breakaway republic, last Saturday held the last of two election rounds for parliament. A closer look reveals that ethnic Abkhaz have a stronger representation among those who were elected. In fact, the majority of elected MPs are

In brief, News

Observers should check restoration works in Abkhazia

by | March 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian parliament asks the international community to help keep a watch on the restoration work planned at several historical sites in Abkhazia. This comes a few days after Alexander Ankvab, de facto president of Abkhazia, spoke about an initiative

News

Leaked poll shows Saakashvili’s party will remain in power

by | March 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - If there were elections tomorrow 47 percent would vote for the party of President Mikheil Saakashvili, the National Movement, according to a survey by the U.S. National Democratic Institute. The Georgian Dream coalition of Bidzina Ivanishvili

News

Another arrest in ‘paramilitary case’

by | March 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - An opposition activist who first spoke out about the alleged paramilitary groups in Western Georgia has been arrested in Zugdidi. Vako Avaliani, spokesperson for the opposition Free Democrats party, told DF Watch that that Kakha Mikaia was arrested on

News

Arrested for blowing whistle on Saakashvili’s paramilitaries – claim

by | March 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - An opposition party in Georgia that claimed President Saakashvili is organizing political paramilitaries reports that one of its members has been arrested. Information about the arrest of Sergo Chachibaia, a member of the Free Democrats Party, was

News

Georgia does not recognize elections in breakaway regions

by | March 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Tbilisi does not recognize last weekend's elections for parliament and president in Georgia’s breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia, respectively. Nino Kalandadze, Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia said at one of her regular briefings that

In brief, News

Georgians awaiting important opinion poll

by | March 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Tuesday, the results of a reguler opinion poll done by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) are expected. Although regular, the results are eagerly awaited because they will indicate the political landscape seven months before an election which will

News

Ex-KGB chief wins first round of South Ossetia poll

by | March 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Leonid Tibilov, a former head of the KGB in Georgia’s breakaway region South Ossetia beat the other three candidates in the president elections Sunday. In the region's previous attempt to select a leader, an opposition candidate won against the Kremlin

In brief, News

Second round in Abkhazian poll completed

by | March 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The breakaway republic Abkhazia Sunday completed its 2012 parliamentary election by holding a second round of voting. There was voting in 20 districts this time. The region has a first past the post system, and these districts out of a total of 35 needed

News

Another death during questioning in Georgia

by | March 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - For the second time in a month, there has been a death during police questioning in Georgia. The Interior Ministry does not say when it happened, only that took place at Gori police station. Tamaz Jghamadze was asked to come to the police in Gori to

News

South Ossetia tries again to hold election

by | March 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia’s breakaway region South Ossetia Sunday held presidential elections. By 10 in the morning, 11% of voters had visited election precincts; a high turnout, according to the Central Election Committee of the region. Interfax reports that Tskhinvali

In brief, News

Georgian patriarch asks diplomats to help with election

by | March 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's Patriarch, Ilia II, told foreign diplomats that their assistance is needed for the difficult election period his country is heading into. Ilia, who has great influence among the population, appealed to the diplomats during a ceremony Friday

In brief, News

Abkhazia holds second round of election

by | March 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Abkhazia today holds the second round of the elections for parliament. 20 constituencies are selecting a candidate in a first past the post system. In the first round, March 10, 13 candidates were chosen, out of a total of 35. In one district, less

In brief, News

Twenty years of US-Georgia relations

by | March 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Today it is twenty years since Georgia and the U.S. established diplomatic relations. Marking the occasion, the U.S. Embassy writes in a press release that since 1992, hundreds of Peace Corps volunteers have come to Georgia and over five thousand

News

Alasania’s letter to Georgia’s Security Council

by | March 24, 2012

March 20, opposition politician Irakli Alasania sent a letter to Georgia's National Security Council, detailing what he claims is a paramilitary force set up by President Saakashvili within the last few months, which could be used against opposition supporters. The government

News

EU’s Eastern Partnership looking at Georgia

by | March 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The first forum organized by the EU's Eastern Partnership is being held in Tbilisi’s Radisson Hotel. It is jointly hosted by the office of State Minister of Georgia on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration and the Institute for Eastern Studies, Poland.

News

Closer cooperation between Georgia and Lebanon

by | March 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The visa rules between Georgia and Lebanon will be simplified, the two countries' prime minister have decided. Georgian Prime Minister Nika Gilauri yesterday left for a two day visit to Lebanon. There, he met the President, the Speaker of Parliament

News

Next US ambassador to supervise democracy in Georgia

by | March 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The confirmation hearing for the next U.S. Ambassador to Georgia has made waves in the country of his assignment. One senator asked Richard B. Norland to supervise the democratic processes in the country. In Georgia, the hearing has been interpreted

In brief, News

New World Bank loans for Georgia

by | March 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The World Bank has granted Georgia two new loans. The loans total 130 million US dollars and will go to finance infrastructural development and rehabilitation of the roads in the eastern Kakheti region. 70 million US dollars was approved by the World Bank

News

Dzhioyeva encourages people to vote

by | March 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Alla Dzhioyeva, the defiant opposition leader in Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia, asks her supporters to vote in Sunday's election. She herself, however, is boycotting the poll. She was the apparent winner of last November's election, which the region's

News

South Ossetian rescheduled election on Sunday

by | March 22, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia’s breakaway region South Ossetia is preparing for another presidential election. The poll on March 25 will be the region’s second attempt, after the first one failed and led to a still unresolved protest campaign by the winner to claim victory.

News

Russia appoints officials to oversee Georgian regions

by | March 22, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has appointed a special representative to South Ossetia, five days after awarding the same kind of job title in regards to Abkhazia, the other Georgian breakaway region. The person in charge of South Ossetia, the arena

News

Georgia denies the existence of paramilitaries

by | March 22, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's Interior Ministry said March 21 that all armed groups are under the control of the government. “There are no other armed units, cannot be and won’t be,” said Shota Utiashvilil, head of the Interior Ministry’s press and analytical department.

News

U.S. Democrats present their survey of Georgian mood

by | March 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The U.S. National Democratic Institute today presented its latest findings about public attitudes in Georgia. The survey was conducted in February 2012 by Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC). The topics for the questionnaire covered the themes

News

Groups in Georgia note progress on democracy

by | March 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A pro-democracy campaign in the former Soviet republic Georgia is noting a slight progress as parliament Wednesday took into account their criticism. The groups have said that recent changes to the campaign finance rules pose a threat to democracy.

News

Georgia’s promised mega-city is not a fata morgana

by | March 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The former Soviet republic of Georgia has made the building of Lazika, a hypothetical metropol on the Black Sea, one of its top priorities. The Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili announced the plan at the end of 2011. He said Georgia plans to build

Opinion

Socially Dangerous Elements – Past and Present

by | March 21, 2012

On February 29, 2012, during a debate in Parliament, President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili referred to a former pupil at Tbilisi Public School #53 as a hooligan, writes David Jishkariani is researcher at the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI). 

News

Saakashvili’s paramilitaries are clan based – claim

by | March 20, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - An opposition politician in Georgia Tuesday described in more detail what he knows about an alleged paramilitary force recently established by President Saakashvili in the west of the country. But he said documents about the illegal armed units will not

News

Georgian border police arrests Russian cargo ship

by | March 20, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian border police Monday detained a Russian cargo ship carrying coal across the Black Sea from Ukraine to Turkey. The Pur-Navolok is now in arrest in the Georgian port Batumi with its Russian crew of ten. Preliminary information indicates that

In brief, News

Georgian opposition details Saakashvili’s alleged paramilitaries

by | March 20, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - An opposition candidate Tuesday presented details about an alleged secret paramilitary organization he claims was recently organized by President Mikheil Saakashvili in western Georgia. Leader of the Free Democrats Irakli Alasania had called the press

In brief, News

Georgia in talks to spare 2 from execution in Malaysia

by | March 20, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia is to send a task group to Malaysia to study the situation regarding two Georgians sentenced to death for drug related crimes. Babutsa Gordadze (26) and Darejan Kokhtashvili (37) were arrested in Malaysia in October 2010, accused of trafficking

Investigative reports, Society

Georgians struggling to get through European visa maze

by | March 20, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Vakhtang Nadibaidze (53) stands in line in front of the Polish embassy, waiting for the answer to his visa application. Many Georgians have been in his place, facing the labyrinth it is to get a visa at the European embassies here. He remembers how about

Opinion

Georgian Administrative Detention Undermines Human Rights

by | March 20, 2012

The regulation of administrative offenses and administrative detention in particular are of grave concern to local and international human rights organizations, which has been clearly demonstrated several times, inter alia, by providing observations on the issue and expressing

News

Groups note progress about Georgian election rules

by | March 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - In Georgia, a vague new law is on its way to be clarified, as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) continue their negotiations with parliament’s judiciary committee to amend the law about political unions of citizens. The concept of ‘related legal

In brief, News

Chamber of Control to testify before Georgian Parliament

by | March 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Parliamentarians in Georgia are awaiting the testimony of the chairman of the country's Chamber of Control, a controversial agency recently vested with broad extrajudicial powers. Parliament will hear Chamber chairman Levan Bezhashvili explain what's going

In brief, News

Groups met Georgian lawmakers over campaign law

by | March 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Four non-governmental organizations in Georgia Monday for the third time met with parliament's judicial committee about the new law on party financing, called 'law on political unions of citizens'. Georgian Young Lawyers Organization, Transparency International

In brief, News

Hillary Clinton soon coming to Georgia

by | March 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's foreign ministry says the U.S. State Department has confirmed to them that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is coming to Georgia in the near future. But the exact date has yet to be announced. Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalanadadze says

News

Progress in Israel-Georgia negotiations

by | March 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - There are intense preparations going on between Georgia and Israel to cancel visa restrictions between the two countries. There are also talks with Israeli airlines regarding direct flights between Georgia and Israel, and Knesset is ready to give control

News

Georgia’s Saakashvili responds to ‘civil war’ charges

by | March 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili has dismissed the charges made by one of the opposition leaders that he was preparing for civil war as a campaign move ahead of the parliamentary election in October. He was responding to something the Free

News

Georgia’s promising women – where are they today?

by | March 17, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - In August 2007, the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi listed twelve young women who each held special talents and one day could become powerful. DF Watch went looking for them. The embassy cable leaked by Wikileaks in 2011 is dedicated to Georgian women who held

News

Georgian opposition says Saakashvili preparing for civil war

by | March 17, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's former UN ambassador, now an opposition leader, says that President Mikheil Saakashvili's apparatus is organizing paramilitary groups and handing out weapons in preparation for a civil war in the power struggle ahead of the election this October.

News

European Council to examine pre-election moves by Georgia

by | March 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Council of Europe is to examine moves by the government of Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili made ahead of a crucial parliamentary election in October. The Advisory Board of the Council of Europe's Venice Commission has put it on the agenda of

News

Israel contradicts Georgia’s account of visa negotiations

by | March 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A report from an Israeli news agency contradicts what the Georgian government is saying about negotiations over visa rules between the two countries. New agency Izrus writes that Israeli officials acknowledge that there are going to be negotiations

In brief, News

Georgian security official chimes in on Russian visa move

by | March 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - After a top Georgian lawmaker and the foreign ministry came out with critical remarks about a statement by Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov about visa rules, Georgia's security council chief also added his comments. Security Council Secretary Giga

News

Georgia answers Lavrov about canceling law

by | March 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Thursday responded to a request by Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov the day before that Georgia should cancel a law that targets some Russians as criminals for having visited Georgia's breakaway regions.

News

Germany wants extra election observers to Georgia

by | March 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Germany wants to send in extra long-term election observers to Georgia ahead of an important parliamentary election which sees two political blocs for the first time competing against each other. The extra observers will be working for the European Union,

In brief, News

US Ambassador criticizes interrogations in Georgia

by | March 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, John Bass, has expressed concern about the wave of interrogations carried out by the Georgian Chamber of Control. “Concerned about the controversy surrounding the Chamber of Control's recent

News

Two students beaten in Tbilisi, say it was because of blog

by | March 15, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Representatives of Tbilisi State University’s student's union Wednesday beat two students. The students who were beaten believe the reason was a recently started blog which contains criticism of the student's union and its actions, as well as the university.

In brief, News

Georgian lawmaker answers Lavrov

by | March 15, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia is not going to abolish the law on occupied territories before Russia starts pulling back its occupying troops from Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This was the response Georgia's ruling party had to a statement by Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov

In brief, News

Georgia’s patriarch congratulates Putin with election

by | March 15, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian Patriarch congratules Vladimir Putin with having been elected as president of Russia. Polls have shown Patriarch Ilia II to be the most respected person among the Georgian population. His administration has published the text of the

Opinion

An Empty Circle – Access to Public Information

by | March 15, 2012

Several days ago I had a meeting with two experienced lawyers. They and I are all rather concerned about freedom of expression in the country. During the discussion we concluded that those who don’t write, are not worried about anything at all; they have nothing to say

News

More secrecy in Georgia’s government

by | March 15, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A bill in Georgia will entitle the president to issue secret acts if the country's defense and security is at stake. Not only the president will have this right, but also the ministries of defense, internal affairs, justice, finance and energy and natural

News

Germany’s Westerwelle visits Georgia

by | March 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - German Foreign Affairs Minister Guido Westerwelle will visit Georgia on March 15 as part of a tour of the South Caucasus. Travelling with him are Markus Loning, the German Federal Government's Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid

In brief, News

Obama’s promise led to US-Georgia business talks

by | March 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A two day business conference was launched in Tbilisi Wednesday called Making Business with USA. The conference is the result of an agreement between U.S. President Barack Obama and Georgia's Mikheil Saakashvili to hold high level dialog between their

In brief, News

Lavrov says Georgia must change law to get visa freedom

by | March 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Russia is ready to cancel its visa requirements for Georgian citizens if Georgia changes the law about the occupied territories, says Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. According to the law, Russian citizens who go to Abkhazia or South Ossetia can

News

Georgian opposition party says new law is discriminatory

by | March 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The opposition Christian Democratic Movement blames the government of having adopted a law which discriminates against women. Representative of the Christian Democrats Magda Anikashvili said this on March 13 at a parliament session. She says that before

Opinion

Westerwelle’s visit and Georgia-Germany relations

by | March 14, 2012

The visit of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany Guido Westerwelle to Tbilisi on March 15, 2012 represents an important event for the Germany-Georgia relations, taking into account the fact, that this visit coincides with the 20th anniversary

News

In Georgia, NGOs are looking for people’s trust

by | March 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Do you know what “NGO” means? If not, look out. You might be targeted by their next campaign to raise awareness. They have been on the streets of Georgia demonstrating for democratic rights, and their ads are on TV promoting the environment.

In brief, News

Saakashvili to attend nuclear summit in Seoul

by | March 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili will attend the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit to be held March 27-28 in Seoul, South Korea. The president’s press spokesperson Manana Manjgaladze said this at a regular briefing Tuesday. According to the summit's

News

Biological laboratory in Tbilisi to start research soon

by | March 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - American defense officials Tuesday visited Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili to talk about a biological research facility which opened near Tbilisi one year ago. The Central Public Health Reference Laboratory is a joint American-Georgian cooperation,

News

Wave of political interrogations in western Georgia

by | March 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Chamber of Control has started a wave of interrogations in western Georgia. People are being called in for questioning at local government buildings. The coalition Choice for Freedom says the letter calling people in for talks does not give any

In brief, News

US and EU do not recognize Abkhazian election

by | March 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The delegations of the U.S. and the EU in Georgia do not recognize the recent de facto parliamentary elections in Abkhazia as legitimate. Both have releases statements expressing support for Georgia’s territorial integrity. “The United States

In brief, News

EU’s NGO platform in Georgia asks Füle for help

by | March 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Eastern Partnership Georgia appeals to the EU for help in the case of party financing rules. Authorities in Georgia enforced new tough restrictions on party financing last December, and made the rules apply also to organizations and individuals 'indirectly'

News

Ivanishvili’s Cartu Bank fined half a million dollars

by | March 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian Chamber of Control keeps using its newly granted authority and fines a Georgian billionaire turned politician’s bank 822 040 lari (about 498 000 US dollars) for avoiding the law during financial transactions. In a statement, the Chamber

Opinion

What can we expect from Westerwelle’s visit?

by | March 13, 2012

We have bad experience with a German Foreign Minister’s visits to Georgia. Former Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Georgia several weeks before the August war in 2008. He brought along a map with several points for how to solve the Abkhazian conflict.

News

Georgian leader says election is a way to confront Russia

by | March 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili Monday responded to a Russian invitation to reestablish diplomatic relations by saying Georgians will fight Russia in the parliamentary election this fall. Saakashvili is being challenged in October's election by a new coalition headed by

Opinion

The Subtle Art of Realpolitik

by | March 12, 2012

Guido Westerwelle, a German Foreign Minister, a distinguished and energetic German politician, will soon be visiting Georgia. A visit by the German Foreign Minister in any corner of Europe these days is a significant event, writes former Georgian foreign minister, Ted

News

Georgian parliamentary speaker visits Israel

by | March 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian Speaker of Parliament, Davit Bakradze, March 12 began an official visit to Israel. Bakradze has been invited by Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, according to the parliament press office. During his stay, Bakradze will have meetings with Israeli

News

Abkhazia election goes to second round

by | March 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - There will be a second round of the de facto elections for parliament in the Georgian breakaway region Abkhazia, because representatives were elected from only 13 electoral districts out of a total of 35. Abkhazia is a part of Georgia currently occupied

In brief, News

Georgia halts gas flow to Armenia

by | March 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia halted the flow of Russian natural gas to Armenia on Saturday, due to a technical accident on the pipeline caused by a landslide near the village of Mamkoda near Tbilisi. Energy minister Alexander Khetaguri said Saturday that

News

Georgian breakaway region holds parliamentary election

by | March 11, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Abkhazia, one of Georgia's two breakaway regions, Saturday held parliamentary elections. According to the de facto Central Election Commission, voter turnout was 29.25% in 174 electoral districts by 15:00. This increased to 37.6% turnout by 18:00.

News

U.S. Marines to hold joint exercise with ex-Soviet republic

by | March 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - U.S. Marines have arrived in the former Soviet republic of Georgia to hold a two week exercise with the Georgian fourth infantry brigade. The joint exercise lasts from 10 to 24 March and takes place at Vaziani military base less than an hour's drive

News

Saakashvili’s Baku speech criticized in Azerbaijan

by | March 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili is being criticized for his speech in the parliament of neighboring Azerbaijan. A member of the Azerbaijani parliament calls Saakashvili an adventurer (авантюрист). News agency Regnum.ru reports this,

In brief, News

Foreign investment soars in Georgia

by | March 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Foreign direct investment in Georgia is increasing dramatically, and much of it comes from companies registered in the British Virgin Island, a known tax haven with low transparency. Foreign direct investments increased by 58% in the

News

Greek Patriarch denies negotiations over monastery

by | March 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Theophilos III, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, is unfamiliar with there being negotiations regarding returning church control over the Monastery of the Cross to Georgia. The Patriarch said this in an exclusive interview with the online portal

News

Democracy campaign in Georgia continuing

by | March 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Here in Georgia, the 'This Affects You Too' campaign continues as organizers delivered a special appeal to parliament, the president's administration and the foreign affairs ministry, requesting them to invite long term observers from the OSCE for the whole

News

Protest against suspicious death during interrogation

by | March 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Up to forty people gathered Thursday in front of the police building in Khashuri, a town in central Georgia, protesting the recent death of a man during interrogation. About half of people there were activists from Tbilisi, while the rest were locals.

News

NATO to expand cooperation about reforms in Georgia

by | March 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - NATO is to strengthen its efforts to further democratic reforms in Georgia as part of preparing the country for membership in the alliance. “Today we also have an opportunity to reinforce further the cooperation between NATO and Georgia through supporting

News

Lawmaker confirms Georgia-Russia counter-terrorism talks

by | March 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A lawmaker in Georgia confirms that there were negotiations with Russia about setting up a counter-terrorism center together. It was Georgia's Vice Speaker of Parliament, Mikheil Machavariani, who Thursday responded to something the president-elect of

News

Georgian radical defends herself against billionaire’s charge

by | March 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A billionaire newcomer politician in the former Soviet republic of Georgia criticizes a radical opposition leader for mismanagement involving a violent clash last spring. The movement People's Assembly mobilized all across the country in 2011,

News

Putin and Saakashvili both talking about cooperation

by | March 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The days are long gone when Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili spoke of Vladimir Putin’s height, while the Russian leader said he wanted to hang Saakashvili by his private parts. Yesterday’s speeches by both shows that relations between them have

News

Democracy campaigners in Georgia note slight progress

by | March 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Pro-democracy campaigners in Georgia welcome a step by the government to change a controversial law which they believe would be used to secure Mikheil Saakashvili’s power grip over the country in an election this fall. But the groups are not satisfied

In brief, News

Bidzina Ivanishvili had talks with radical movement

by | March 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - An opposition billionaire in the former Soviet republic of Georgia Tuesday had meetings with representatives for the movement behind a protest wave which ended in a fatal clash with police in May 2011. Bidzina Ivanishvili met with People's Assembly,

News

Saakashvili lashes out at Putin’s planned Eurasian union

by | March 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's leader Mikheil Saakashvili Wednesday went on the offensive against newly elected Russian president Vladimir Putin's brainchild; a Eurasian union, to encompass most of what was formerly part of the Soviet Union. „Any attempt to resurrect the

News

EU and OSCE help needed to avoid unfair election in Georgia

by | March 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Campaigners in the former Soviet republic of Georgia are asking the European Union and the OSCE for help to prevent Mikheil Saakasvhili from rigging the election this fall. Pro-democracy groups have been campaigning since December last year to reverse

In brief, News

Georgia’s Saakashvili on friendly visit to Azerbaijan’s Aliyev

by | March 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili met his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev March 6 during a two-day visit to the country. A press release from the Azerbaijani president’s administration says that the two expressed satisfaction with how

News

Georgia fires police chief for accidental death at station

by | March 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia’s Interior Ministry has fired a local police chief after a controversial death of a suspect under interrogation. The ministry says in a statement dated March 6 that the head of Khashuri police station, where a detainee died under suspicious

Opinion

How Georgia’s future leader should not be

by | March 7, 2012

When George Washington held the first State of the Union address in the U.S. Congress, there was a debate about where the president should sit so that his official status wouldn’t be diminished, but at the same time wasn't looking down on Congress, in order to visually

In brief, News

Georgia is to punish hate crimes harder

by | March 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia increases its sentencing of hate crimes. A new bill to amend the Criminal Code will make it mandatory for courts to use the maximum sentence if the crime was motivated by racial, linguistic, religious, national or ethnic prejudice. For every

News

Bosporus doesn’t divide, Bosporus unites

by | March 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Where exactly does Europe end and Asia start? Some say it's the Likhi mountain range, which separates Georgia's western and eastern parts. Regardless of how Europe's geographical extent is measured, the cultural connection to Europe has long been a

In brief, News

NATO reaffirms Georgia’s eligibility for membership

by | March 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen reiterates that Georgia is eligible for membership in the alliance sometime in the future when all criteria are met. Fogh Rasmussen said this at a regular briefing when asked by journalists how a potential

Opinion

How Party Financing Regulations Should be Changed

by | March 6, 2012

Georgia's party financing law was amended in December 2011. A campaign called This Affects You Too was formed in February out of concern that the amendments are a threat to democracy. Recently, the campaign presented their proposal for how to make new amendments, so that

News

Democracy-support gets in a squeeze in Georgia

by | March 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A new law in the former Soviet republic of Georgia has led to several international organizations reconsidering their democracy building activities. The law was supposed to strengthen transparency in the election campaign this year and next, but a broad

News

Georgia’s officials go to great lengths to be “liked”

by | March 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - School children in Georgia are given as home assignment to 'like' their leaders. Having a popular official Facebook page has become essential to public figures of Georgia. Users of the social networking site in the former Soviet republic recently started

In brief, News

93 % voted for Putin in South Ossetia

by | March 5, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - 92.77% of the voters in South Ossetia voted for Vladimir Putin as president of Russia. In the other breakaway republic Abkhazia, 90.94% of voters supported Putin in the presidential elections. 15,839 voters participated in the election in South Ossetia, Ria

Opinion

Budgetary Expenses and State Debt in Georgia

by | March 5, 2012

Social expenses comprised the largest share in the State budget of Georgia in 2011, with 30% of total expenses directed towards this category. Dynamics indicate clearly that the budget is getting more and more burdened by the social obligations, writes Irina Guruli,

News

Georgian minister stands by police story on controversial death

by | March 5, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian Interior Minister says his ministry’s preliminary findings show that the death of a prisoner at a regional police station was an accident, but that it is outrageous that something like this could happen. Following the death of Solomon

Opinion

Virtual Universe Keeps Turning into a Dynamo

by | March 5, 2012

President Saakashvili in his recent address to the Parliament referred to the entire opposition as ones locked in a virtual world who have completely lost touch with reality. Interestingly, the ruling team has crafted a virtual reality of another nature, one that manifests

Opinion

From Post-Soviet to Soviet – Something has changed!

by | March 5, 2012

‘Something’ really changed, because the party, the leader who called the collapse of the Soviet Empire the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century, in fact lost majority support from voters and was only able to retain power through falsification

News

Saakashvili unveils Grad, system used illegally in 2008 war

by | March 5, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili Saturday unveiled another home produced weapon system; a Georgian version of the Grad multiple rocket launcher. According to the EU's investigation into the August 2008 war, he ordered his army to use Grads, also

News

Georgian showcase resort came under RPG fire

by | March 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A Georgian beach resort came under machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire last night. According to a statement on the Georgian Interior Ministry's website, the attack started at 03:20 at night and lasted for ten minutes. No-one was injured. The

News

Georgian TV parroting eachother on suspicious death

by | March 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Confusion continues over a detainee's suspicious death at a police station, after a Georgian website released photos of the victim, Solomon Kimeridze, showing bodily injuries which could be the result of torture. Yesterday evening, all three national

News

Russia offers Georgia visa-free travel, on certain terms

by | March 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Russia offers Georgia visa-free travel and to restore diplomatic relations, but not without conditions. The Russian foreign ministry says in a statement on its website that Georgia first must create a 'reliable legal environment' that can guarantee

In brief, News

Saakashvili sets up new expert military panel

by | March 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili has set up a new board of military advisers in the Defense Ministry. The point of having the new advisors there is to aid in the transformation process of Georgia’s armed forces. The advisors will analyze

News

Georgia sees deflation for first time in 30 months

by | March 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The inflation rate fell to minus 2.1% in February, as an estimate for year as a whole. This the first deflation since August 2009. The drop is mainly due to falling prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages. According to figures released March 2 by

News

OSCE must send observers to Georgia now, not wait

by | March 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Democracy campaigners in the former Soviet republic of Georgia call for international observers to come and monitor what's going on. They believe the Saakashvili government is setting things up to rig the election for parliament this fall. Last election,

In brief, News

Saakashvili gets more power to sell off state property

by | March 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, have been given even more power to manage the sale of state property. Parliament has adopted a law which gives the president freedom to set the period of payment for state property when selling real estate

News

Georgia simplifies the definition of terrorism

by | March 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The former Soviet republic of Georgia has simplified the definition of what an act of terrorism is. Previously, an act of terrorism was defined in the Criminal Code as causing explosion, fire, or use of weapon, in a way that is a danger to human life,

In brief, News

Iranian visitors to Georgia increase most

by | March 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The former Soviet republic of Georgia is seeing a steady increase in foreigners visiting. Iranians account for the highest growth in visits. According to the country's Interior Ministry, 38.9% more foreigners arrived in Georgia in 2011, compared to

News

Georgia liberalizes its policy towards drug addiction

by | March 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The government in the former Soviet republic of Georgia is liberalizing its policy on drug addiction. According to authorities, drug addiction will no longer be considered a crime. Drug abuse will still be punished with fines, but the money from such

In brief, News

Saakashvili: Free trade will make unemployment disappear

by | March 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - President Mikheil Saakashvili hopes a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU will make unemployment disappear in Georgia. Saakashvili made his statement while visiting an Abipharm pharmaceutical plant in the village Tserovani near

News

Suspicious death in police custody called ‘accident’

by | March 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian Public Defender calls for an objectively investigation into the death of Solomon Kimeridze. “The cause of death should be found; also whether he was a victim of inhumane and severe treatment,” says a recent statement by the Public

News

Ivanishvili’s citizenship still unresolved

by | March 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Civil Registry is out of time to give a written response regarding opposition businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili's Georgian citizenship, his lawyers say. On January 5, his lawyers filed an application to the Civil Registry asking to give Ivanshvili

News

Refugees picketed Saakahsvili’s annual speech to parliament

by | March 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's president Mikheil Saakashvili was not only confronted with objections to his rule inside the parliament building Tuesday. On the outside, people had gathered, banging pots with spoons in protest against his eight years leading the former

In brief, News

Young lawyers win suit against secret wiretapping powers

by | March 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia’s Constitutional Court has decided that parliament did not have the right to give prosecutors powers to conduct secret wiretappings. Tamar Khidasheli and Georgian Young Lawyers Association filed a lawsuit at the Constitutional Court regarding

News

Campaigners meet lawmaker to discuss party finance rules

by | March 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The ‘This Affects You Too’ campaign continues to push for amendments to recent new rules that they say restricts freedom of speech, property rights, the right to political activism, right to assembly and independence more generally. Today,

News

Russian lawmaker calls Georgia’s visa move propaganda

by | March 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A Russian Duma member calls Georgia’s lifting of visa rules for Russians propaganda. Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili said in his annual speech to parliament Tuesday night that he would drop visa requirements for all Russian citizens. Today,

In brief, News

Georgian opposition party canvassing war refugees

by | March 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The political party For a Renewed Georgia will today open a regional office in Mtskheta-Mtianeti north of Tbilisi for refugees from the Akhalgori region. Party leaders will meet residents of Tsilknisi and Tserovani, two villages where most of the refugees

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