In brief, News

Germany with new 57 mill euro aid package to Georgia

by | May 31, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Germany is to allocate 75 million euro as grant and soft loan to Georgia. The new aid package was announced after a meeting between Georgian Prime Minister Nika Gilauri and Dirk Niebel, German minister for economic development today. Gilauri says

News

Damage control after exam center chief’s firing

by | May 31, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The firing of the head of the National Examinations Center is being vigorously discussed in Georgia's social media. Some claim that authorities are using fake identities to contain the political fallout. Maya Miminoshvili was fired two days ago, two

In brief, News

Georgia’s PM says investments are increasing

by | May 31, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - USD 230 million was transferred to Georgia in the first quarter of 2012 as direct investments. Nika Gilauri, Georgia's Prime Minister this at a government session Wednesday. The figure is based on preliminary data of National Statistics Department,

News

Senator Richard Durbin is studying Georgia’s election system

by | May 31, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, who is visiting Georgia, is studying how the election campaign is being conducted in the country. Durbin arrived on Wednesday and will stady in Georgia for two days. Durbin is the senior senator from Illinois, and was

News

Georgia’s PM confident despite price deflation

by | May 31, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's Prime Minister Nika Gilauri claims that inflation indicator in May is positive and hopes that it will have positive influence on the country's economy. Gilauri said this at a government session on Wednesday. He noted that prices have

News

Crisis continues in Georgia’s education sector

by | May 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – After dismissing the head of the national examinations center, Georgia's education minister has hired the head of the country's police academy to fill her position. The firing of Maya Miminoshvili has stirred emotions in Tbilisi, as many see her

In brief, News

U.S. Senator Durbin is visiting Georgia

by | May 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – U.S. senator Richard Durbin is visiting Georgia today to discuss regional safety and US-Georgia relations. The visit will last two days. He will meet with President Mikheil Saakashvili, as well as representatives of the opposition and organizations.

News

Saakashvili signed ‘Ivanishvili law’

by | May 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - President Saakashvili has signed a set of constitutional changes which allow his main competitor to participate in parliamentary and presidential elections. The changes will allow a citizen of an EU country, who is born in Georgia and has lived here

In brief, News

Saakashvili expects Russia to attack Georgia soon

by | May 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – President Mikheil Saakashvili says his country expects a new attack from Russia by October, when parliament elections are to be held. But he things it will fail. Saakashvili is on a visit to Latvia together with his wife, and made the statement

News

Ivanishvili attacks Georgia’s state TV for spreading lies

by | May 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia's opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili has gone on the barricades against the Public Broadcaster, saying that it should change their editorial policy. “Lies won't have such a way out anymore as it has today. They won't be able to sell

News

Georgia allows commercial exploitation in natural park

by | May 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia has decided to open a national park for commercial activity. The area lies in Georgia's western part near the Black Sea. Kolkheti National Park had status as a protected area, but part of the park will be exempted from its protected status

In brief, News

Protesters arrested in front of parliament

by | May 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The police detained eight activists in front of parliament today. The eight were protesting against the arrest of their friends on May 26, near Gelati Monastery, near Kutaisi in western Georgia. The protesters were from three organizations:

In brief, News

NATO envoy Appathurai to Tbilisi in June

by | May 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - James Appathurai, NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, will arrive in Georgia on June 11. NATO's information center in Tbilisi told DF Watch on Tuesday that Appathurai is coming to Georgia to plan for

News

Georgia’s education sector in crisis after ‘political’ firing

by | May 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia's whole educations sector has been thrown into crisis, as right before the national tests over a third of the staff at the National Examinations Center have left their jobs in protest against the dismissal of their boss, which they believe

News

Secret phone surveillance in Georgia – is it legal?

by | May 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia's education minister on Monday fired the head the of National Examinations Center, which is know as a successfully reformed state body. The minister said the reason was differences over how to implement reforms. But there are suspecions

News

Businessman pardoned by president who allegedly set him up

by | May 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A businessman in Georgia who is in prison and said he was framed by the Saakashvili regime has been pardoned by Saakashvili himself. The founder of Georgia's largest electronics chain was serving an eigth year prison sentence in connection with

News

Possible political firing could lead to mass resignation

by | May 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – An employee of the Ministry of Education has been fired and says it might have been because of her son's political activism. Maya Miminoshvili, who was head of the National Examinations Center says that her son yesterday participated in a rally

News

Georgia aims to avoid Serbian recognition of breakaway reps

by | May 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The election of a nationalist as president in Serbia has caused Tbilisi to respond with an appeal for cooperation and to shared cultural bonds. The Serbian parliament may consider formal recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, after the

News

Georgian opposition movement selecting candidates

by | May 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The opposition coalition Georgian Dream will start naming their candidates for majoritarian members of parliament from June 1. Leader Bidzina Ivanishvili said Monday that most of the candidates have already been selected, but there are several

News

Saakashvili plays nationalism card against opponent

by | May 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – On May 26, Georgia's independence day, President Mikheil Saakashvili argued that it is time for a stronger nationalism in order to undermine Russia's influence. The call for a strengthening of nationalism came during a speech in Kutaisi at the

Opinion

Global TV: Freedom of Speech under Attack

by | May 28, 2012

Global TV is a cable operator that provides services to its subscribers in Tbilisi and some other regions of Georgia. The company also owns a satellite broadcasting license which allows it to broadcast its signal by way of satellite. Before 2012, Global TV had a

News

Massive opposition demonstration in Tbilisi

by | May 27, 2012

The opposition movement Georgian Dream mobilized tens of thousands of supporters in Tbilisi Sunday. Crowds marched from three different locations in order to converge on Freedom Square. There, a stage had been assembled, from which the movement’s leader,

News

Georgia’s Independence Day moves to Kutaisi, sort of

by | May 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – For the first time in Georgia's history, the main celebration on Independence Day took place not in Tbilisi, the formal capital, but in Kutaisi, where a new parliament building was opened with a symbolic first session of lawmakers and a military

News

Georgia marks independence day with new parliament

by | May 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia celebrates Independence Day today on May 26. The day is a celebration of restoration of independence from the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. May 26 1918, the first Georgia republic was established. The country became independent

In brief, News

Hillary Clinton to visit Georgia on June 5

by | May 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch –The U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton will visit Georgia June 5. Clinton starts her South Caucasus tour on June 4 in Armenia. After visiting Georgia, she will leave for Azerbaijan June 6, according to the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi. During the

News

Journalists rallied outside justice ministry in Tbilisi

by | May 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Groups organized rally in front of Justice Ministry on Friday to protest against a number of incidents of violation of journalist rights, and verbal and physical abuse. They demand to launch an objective investigation of each incident. For the

News

Georgian opposition without stage on its big day

by | May 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – City authorities in Tbilisi have decided to not allow the opposition Georgian Dream movement to erect a stage on the freedom square to be used during a mass rally. The opposition movement led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili has been running

News

U.S. Ambassador to Georgia assesses the situation

by | May 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - DF Watch sat down with U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, John Bass, for a conversation about the situation in the country. For the latest two months about twenty cases were observed, when government representatives interrupted media activity and in some

Opinion

The Glorious Lies – Where’s that “Georgia”, Mr. President?

by | May 25, 2012

The recently delivered speech by Michael Saakasvilli in Princeton University was a wholesome educational experience for every graduate in communication studies, writes Tedo Japaridze, former Foreign Minister of Georgia and an advisor to Bidzina Ivanishvili. Those who

In brief, News

Georgia falls on ranking of trade enabling

by | May 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia fell one place in the Global Enabling Trade Report 2012. The list is published by the World Economic Forum (weforum.org). It contains 132 countries and ranks them according to how well they perform in market access, border administration

In brief, News

Four Georgians detained in South Ossetia

by | May 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Four Georgians have been detained after having crossed into the breakaway region South Ossetia. The four were detained on May 21 and 22 after going on a trip to pick staphylea, a plant which is used for common sour dish in Georgia. Shota Utiashvili,

News

Campaign accuses Saakashvili regime of gas price fixing

by | May 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – In Georgia, rising fuel prices has spurred a new movement that is questioning the cozy connection between the Saakashvili regime and the fuel companies. As people are feeling the impact of high gas prices, the new movement says the reason is price

News

Election observers in Georgia report early violations

by | May 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The first interim report of one of several extraordinary election monitoring teams says that this spring has been marked by numerous cases of political intimidation. The report covers the period between April 1 and May 4 and is written by

In brief, News

Russia regrets NATO’s stance on Georgia

by | May 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Russia regrets that NATO was unable to make findings regarding the events of August 2008. The Russian Foreign Ministry says Russia accepts with regret NATO's decision regarding Georgia. “One of these complex issues is the situation in the South

In brief, News

Georgia postpones LSE listing for state railways

by | May 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia once again has postponed placing shares of the state-owned Georgian Railway on London Stock Exchange. The debut should have been on May 24, but the government has again decided to postpone it. Georgian Prime Minister Nika Gilauri said that

News

Amnesty: Georgia is not investigating police brutality

by | May 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Amnesty International criticizes Georgia for not having investigated police brutality. The Saakashvili regime has renewed the country's law enforcement personnel since seizing power in 2003, and is touting the reform as a model for other countries.

News

Dzhioyeva appointed vice premier in South Ossetia

by | May 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – An opposition leader in South Ossetia who refused to acknowledge the last election has been appointed Vice Prime Minister in the breakaway republic. Alla Dzhioyeva boycotted the elections in March and April, but that didn't stop the winner,

News

Georgian blogosphere angry over same-sex marriage ban proposal

by | May 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A new initiative by the moderate opposition Christian Democrats to ban same-sex marriage and write Christianity into the constitution is being discussed in the Georgian blogosphere. The initiative has been criticized by the government,

News

Another sportsman goes into politics in Georgia

by | May 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Another Olympic champion has been added to the list of Georgian sportsmen taking part in the political life of Georgia, as an Olympic judo champion joined Bidzina Ivanishvili's opposition Georgian Dream movement. After a brief break, the issue of

In brief, News

Saakashvili regime surprised by Ivanishvili’s cold shoulder

by | May 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – One of President Mikheil Saakashvili's top officials says he was taken by surprise by an open letter from opposition billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili yesterday, in which he said that he will not make use of a new tailor-made constitutional change

News

Journalists in Georgia want to talk to President Saakashvili

by | May 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Journalists in Georgia demand to meet with President Mikheil Saakashvili and ask him about a series of cases of harassment and violation of their rights. The appeal is backed by 24 media units. On May 25, journalists are planning to hold a protest

News

Christian Democrats in Georgia want ban on gay marriage

by | May 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The parliamentary faction Christian Democrats Movement is demanding a ban on 'immoral persons' holding public office and wants a constitutional guarantees on prohibition of same sex marriage. The government, non-governmental organizations and the

News

Ivanishvili rejects having to run as a foreigner

by | May 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian parliament today passed constitutional changes meant to let opposition billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili participate in the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections. Ivanishvili, Georgia's richest, decided to go into politics

News

Another TV channel taken over in Georgia

by | May 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A small TV station in Georgia has been taken over, in the latest of a series of disputes within media in the country. A few days ago, Davit Zilpimian reported that the property of Pirveli Stereo and Stereo Plus, a TV channel he established, had

In brief, News

NATO chief reaffirms membership commitment for Georgia

by | May 22, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says Georgia will become a member of the alliance sometime. There has been progress in the reforms and NATO will continue to support the country in that regard. Fogh Rasmussen said this at a joint

News

Don’t hesitate, says democracy campaign in Georgia

by | May 22, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A pro-democracy campaign in Georgia calls on the Saakashvili regime to not stall a negotiated deal intended to secure a more fair election in October. The campaign sent a letter appealing to the president and speaker of parliament to start

In brief, News

Former Georgian general murdered in Moscow

by | May 22, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A former Georgian general who was convicted of treason and lived in Russia was killed Monday in Moscow. Russian media report that Roman Dumbadze was hit by bullets from two attackers passing by on motorcycles near his home. Dumbadze died on the

Opinion

NATO Summit in Chicago its Importance for Georgia

by | May 22, 2012

At the Summit of NATO, leaders of the NATO and non-NATO member states are discussing the next major phase of transition in Afghanistan, furthermore, related to the further steps to ensure that North-Atlantic Alliance has the capabilities necessary to meet the challenges

News

Georgia and Azerbaijan will solve monastery issue

by | May 22, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia and Azerbaijan are working on delineating their border, in order to solve the problem regarding Davit Gareja monastery complex, which is a source for concern. Georgia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Nikoloz Vashakidze said Monday that the

News

Georgia expecting new border monitoring soon

by | May 22, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's Deputy Foreign Minister Nikoloz Vashakidze says he hopes that Switzerland will finish selecting the company which will conduct monitoring of goods passing the Russia-Georgia border. Georgia agreed to accept Russia as a WTO member in November

News

NATO’s Chicago declaration

by | May 21, 2012

There are several points on Georgia in NATO's declaration in Chicago published on Monday, 21. DF Watch publishes part of the declaration unchanged:   «At the 2008 Bucharest Summit we agreed that Georgia will become a member of NATO and we reaffirm all

News

Protesting the destruction of an old square in Tbilisi

by | May 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The protest continues against the construction work on a historic square in Tbilisi, after workers Saturday started demolishing an old building, apparently without a permit. Witnesses called police, and the work stopped for a while. Several months

Opinion

So what about the NATO-Georgia relation?

by | May 21, 2012

On 11th of May Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty published an interview with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. It might not raise big interest amongst Georgian media if it would not be right before the NATO Summit on May 20-21, and the question about Georgia

News

Saakashvili promotes his reforms ahead of NATO summit

by | May 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – NATO countries are meeting in Chicago with aspirant countries and countries which participate in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. The Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili is attending the summit, after having spent several days in the U.S.

Economy, News

How pro-government TV sees Georgia’s weak labor code

by | May 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The labor code should contribute to employment, faster investments and motivate investors, and only after this may it possible to think about how to improve the rights and conditions of workers in Georgia. This is the position of the country's

News

Georgian Railway soon goes live on LSE

by | May 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgian Railway is nearer to going live on London Stock Exchange. Georgia’s Economy Ministry confirms the listing, previously reported by DF Watch, and says the government currently is studying the situation on stock exchanges to make sure that

In brief, News

German business eyes investing in Georgia’s regions

by | May 20, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia is attractive in regards to ease of doing business and freedom of the economy, says Martin Wansleben, head of the German Chamber of Commerce. He hopes that this will contribute to an influx of German investments to Georgia. Wansleben said

News

Ivanishvili’s assets in Russia to be sold for $1 bill

by | May 20, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian opposition billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili sells his development assets in Russia for USD 982.5 million. Ivanishvili, who leads the Georgian Dream coalition, says that he has already sold part of his property in Russia, and the rest

News

Prisoner tells of sexual abuse and threatened silence

by | May 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A prisoner in Georgia says he was sexually abused by prison staff and later told he would be killed if he told the outside world about it. In a letter dated February 24, the prisoner asks for help and wants to be transferred to another prison.

Society

Show of support for anti-homophobia demonstrators

by | May 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – After peaceful demonstrators against homophobia were beaten by counter-demonstrators Thursday, people gathered in front of parliament building on Friday to protest the incident. “I’ve seen footage of yesterday’s gathering on TV and I’ve

News

Saakashvili asks Georgian doctors in U.S. to come home

by | May 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - President Mikheil Saakashvili suggests to bring Georgian doctors currently working in the U.S. back to Georgia. It is unknown how many doctors will accept the proposal. Saakashvili said it while meeting with doctors in the U.S. The leader used the

In brief, News

Still unknown when Hillary Clinton will visit Georgia

by | May 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - John Bass, U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, says that Hillary Clinton will visit Georgia. In late 2011, it was reported that the US Secretary of State’s was going to visit Georgia, and February was mentioned as a probable date for her arrival. But the

News

Georgian and Azerbaijani FM to try to solve monastery dispute

by | May 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia’s foreign minister and his Azeri colleague have decided to find a solution to the situation at the Davit Gareja Monastery complex while the two meet at the NATO summit in Chicago May 20 and 21. Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs writes

News

Pro-democracy campaign wants equal access to media

by | May 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A pro-democracy campaign in Georgia Thursday presented their latest package of modifications to various aspects of the election system, as there are four months left until the parliamentary elections. Among issues they presented to an audience of

News

Saakashvili says NATO must not hesitate this time

by | May 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili says 2012 has many parallels to 2008, and that NATO needs to show decisiveness to avoid a new war between Georgia and Russia. He says NATO hesitated in 2008, and must show more decisiveness at a summit in Chicago

News

Border guards inside David Gareja monastery

by | May 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian government says it will solve the problems with the David Gareja monastery complex on the Georgia-Azerbaijan border. The government raised the issue after witnesses reported that Georgian citizens and tourists aren’t allowed into a

Economy, News

Georgia’s labor code allows firing someone for political views

by | May 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - There are two articles in Georgia’s Labor Code which entitles employers to terminate a labor contract without giving any explanations or preliminary warnings. A teacher from a village in the Gori region was fired because of her husband’s political

News

Anti-homophobia demonstrators were beaten

by | May 17, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A celebration of the international day for the fight against homophobia Thursday turned violent as demonstrators were beaten and posters torn. Members of the two organizations LGBT Georgia and Identoba and their supporters held the event in front of

In brief, News

More money is transferred in and out of Georgia

by | May 17, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Money transfers from foreign countries to Georgia increased 6.4 percent in April, compared to the same period in 2011. There was also an increase in money transferred abroad in April, compared to last year, according to Georgia's National Bank.

News

Man sets himself on fire at parliament

by | May 17, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A man Thursday set himself on fire at the parliament building because the government hasn’t helped him. Parliament employees managed to put out the fire. Then police and firemen arrived and arrested Giorgi Chikhladze. He did not resist arrest.

News

Channel 9 buys stake in local TV

by | May 17, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The recently founded Channel 9 TV, which is affiliated with Bidzina Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream party, has bought a ten percent share in a popular regional television station, TV Trialeti, for one million dollars. Channel 9 Director Kakha Bekauri

News

EU criticizes police brutality in Georgia

by | May 17, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - In a new report, the EU Commission criticizes Georgia’s government for the police brutality on May 26, 2011. The criticism comes as the Commission is taking stock of how well each country has performed in 2011 under a democracy building

News

Georgia makes the income of officials secret

by | May 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia is doing away with a law which guaranteed the public access to information about public officials. This means that details about the income, expenses and social benefits of public persons will remain unknown to the public. Openness in this

In brief, News

Per Eklund studying Georgia’s election campaign

by | May 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Giorgi Targamadze (pictured) is one of the sources for a new report former EU Ambassador to Georgia Per Eklund is writing about the election environment ahead of the parliamentary elections in October. Eklund met with the Christian Democrats parliamentary

In brief, News

Georgia boosts foreign trade by 18%

by | May 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia’s foreign trade turnover in the first four months of 2012 grew 18 percent compared to the same period in 2011. Georgian National Statistics Department, GeoStat, reported on Wednesday that preliminary figures for January-April 2012 show that

News

Anger in Tbilisi over reasons for deadly flood

by | May 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Opposition representatives in Georgia say the flood that took five lives Sunday could have been prevented. The discussion led to a street scuffle between a district governor and an opposition party representative. Besik Gazdeliani, Deputy Governor

News

Georgian agency denies having misinformed about flood

by | May 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - As Georgia's capital was drenched in rain water, and a stream flooded a district, killing five, reports went out from the national emergency agency that what caused the disaster was that the river Mtkvari had burst its banks. Mtkvari is the largest

News

New doubt about Ivanishvili’s political rights

by | May 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The parliament in Georgia Tuesday once more modified a set of constitutional changes which were meant to let Saakashvili’s main competitor participate in elections. At the second hearing, Vakhtang Khmaladze, legal expert and representative of the

Opinion

NGOs’ proposal: concrete step towards fair elections

by | May 15, 2012

Last week was remarkable due to the activities of a number of NGOs (such as TI Georgia, GYLA, ISFED, Coalition for Free Choice, Media Coalition and others), which several months ago started a civic movement called “This Affects You Too”, writes Eka Gigauri, executive

News

Georgia’s ruling party allows Ivanishvili to run

by | May 15, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Lawmakers in Georgia have finally achieved consensus for constitutional changes which will give opposition billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili the right to participate in elections, without being a Georgian citizen. The amendment was originally proposed

News

Teacher in Georgia fired for not loving Saakashvili

by | May 15, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Teachers are suffering political discrimination in Georgia ahead of an important election. Only in Shida Kartli, a region bordering on South Ossetia, 21 teachers were fired because their family members supported or were member of the largest

News

Georgia’s parliament finally gets a price tag: $82.5 mill

by | May 15, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Saakashvili regime has finally revealed how much it is spending on building a new parliament building: USD 82.5 million. Finance minister Dimitry Gvindadze says the whole process with building a new parliament is completely transparent.

In brief, News

Georgia’s gas and oil company is on LSE

by | May 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia has obtained a listing on London Stock Exchange for obligations in Georgian Oil and Gas Corporation. Securities valued USD 250 million were placed on one of the world’s most famous stock exchanges on May 9. According to Kommersant, the lowest

News

Ivanishvili sells off his assets in Russia

by | May 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Saakashvili’s main political opponent Bidzina Ivanishvili will sell all his property in Russia by the end of May. The billionaire said this after it became public that his shares in companies in Russia were already sold. According to Forbes magazine,

Opinion

Inefficient system for releasing prisoners due to illness

by | May 14, 2012

Recent practice and statistics have revealed the extreme severity of the problem of inefficiency of the legal mechanisms that envision release of convicts from imprisonment due to their serious illness, writes Tamta Mikeladze, lawyer at Georgian Young Lawyers'

News

What caused the flood in Tbilisi?

by | May 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Residents in the disaster struck district of Tbilisi speak about different reasons causing damage during heavy flooding Saturday night. Heavy rain caused mud slide from ravines down towards residential houses and streets. Ortachala is an old district

News

Kalmakhelidze orders more crowded prisons in Georgia

by | May 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Prisons in Georgia are to become more crowded, as the maximum limit on number of inmates is raised, and two prisons are closed down. It's the controversial Minister for Corrections and Legal Assistance, Khatuna Kalmakhelidze, who has ordered the

News

Renewed Georgia Party organized refugee protest

by | May 13, 2012

BILISI, DFWatch - On Saint Andrew's Day May 12, refugees from Abkhazia gathered at the parliament building in Tbilisi to demand attention from the government and that it gets back the lost territories. Refugees claim this is their first large meeting for the last 20

News

Journalists’ rights are still under pressure in Georgia

by | May 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – After a series of incidents with security and police, journalists gathered in Tbilisi to share their stories and inform foreign diplomats. Association of Regional Broadcasters had prepared a documentary based on material from regional reporters.

In brief, News

Heavy flood killed five in Tbilisi

by | May 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia was hit by heavy rain overnight, causing flash flooding many places. Five deaths are reported in the capital Tbilisi as a reservoir burst in a hill above the city and flooded one district. The Emergency Department in Tbilisi says five people have died from flooding

News

Tree-cutting in Tbilisi demonstrated against

by | May 12, 2012

TBILISI, Dfwatch - Groups in Tbilisi today held a small symbolic protest against the mass cutting of trees in the capital. Transparency International Georgia and the organization Green Alternative joined other young activists and local residents on the Deda Ena (Mother

News

Georgia needs more democratic political parties

by | May 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Political parties in Georgia need to strengthen their internal democracy. This is the conclusion of a new report by Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD). In the report Internal Party Democracy and Local Government NIMD names three

News

Saakashvili to create holographic government

by | May 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili has a new initiative to turn the whole government into a digital world, where citizens will be able to speak with 3D images of the ministers. Saakashvili says all citizens should have the opportunity to talk

News

Putin visited border with Georgian breakaway republic

by | May 11, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The newly inaugurated Russian president Vladimir Putin Friday paid a visit to the border between Russia and the disputed region Abkhazia, signing a new treaty about railways. Mr Putin turned up at Psou, a border crossing which Georgia considers

News

Tbilisi’s old trees are being razed to the ground

by | May 11, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – One hundred year old trees are being cut down in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi and are replaced with new saplings, which will need decades to reach mature height. A few days ago workers started cutting trees in Tbilisi’s old district at the end

In brief, News

Georgia notes growth in construction business

by | May 11, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Demand is growing within the construction business in Georgia. According to the National Statistics Department, GeoStat, the number of permits for constructions and reconstructions has increased by 43.3 per cent in 2011 compared to 2010. The

News

Georgia offers tax break for investors

by | May 11, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia is to create a new 15-year tax privilege for people who invest at least one million USD. An appropriate bill is already initiated in parliament. The government’s parliamentary secretary Gia Khuroshvili explains that the government decided

Economy, News

Georgia stopped publishing statistics on work place deaths

by | May 11, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - According to unofficial information, 13 people died in the work place in 2011 in Georgia. No official numbers exist for 2012 either, but media reported about a number of fatal incidents in the mining and construction sector. These fatal accidents are

In brief, News

Georgia postpones population census

by | May 11, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia has said it is unable to conduct a general population census in 2012. Georgia’s National Statistics Department, GeoStat, says even though there was expected to be conducted a census this year, it is not feasible. The statement says that

News

Russia accuses Georgia of supporting terrorism

by | May 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Russia’s national antiterrorism committee says it has foiled a terrorist plot planned against the Olympics Games in Sochi in 2014. The committee also says a significant arsenal of weapons was seized. “The ringleader of an international terrorist

News

Liberal politicians come to Georgia to give advice on democracy

by | May 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – European liberal politicians visited an opposition billionaire in Tbilisi Thursday to contribute their views on how democracy can progress in Georgia. Representatives of the Liberal International, which is an international federation of liberal

News

What can Georgia learn from African conflicts?

by | May 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A series of discussion was held in Tbilisi on Tuesday to review conflict problems in Georgia. Comparisons were made between “good” and “bad” conflict case studies in various African countries with those in Georgia. The main topic of discussion

News

Swedish mobile giant Teliasonera may be breaking the law

by | May 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Swedish TV recently revealed that Teliasonera has opened their doors for an Orwellian level of surveillance in former Soviet countries. A group of lawyers in Georgia now says that indiscriminate wiretapping is illegal. Georgian Young Lawyer’s

News

Saakashvili says Putin is imitating Georgian reforms

by | May 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Mikheil Saakashvili did not miss out on another chance to mention his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin while giving a speech in Batumi at an international conference about world tourism. Saakashvili said Putin is a person who signed Georgia’s

News

Confusion over whether Ivanishvili will be allowed election rights

by | May 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Lawmakers in Georgia have temporarily given EU citizens political rights in the country for the next three years. The rights will expire on January 1, 2014. The constitutional amendment is widely seen as a measure to allow opposition billionaire

In brief, News

Heavy rain in Georgia, but so far no flooding

by | May 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Rivers in Georgia's Eastern region Kakheti swelled Tuesday after heavy rain and melting snow, but so far there has not been a repeat ot the disaster year 2011. Deputy Governor of the region told Interpressnews that the rivers feeding Alazani, one of

News

“Facebook City” to be written into Georgia’s constitution

by | May 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A hypothetical city of half a million which still only exists as a Facebook page will be written into the constitution of Georgia. The initiative comes from president Mikheil Saakashvili, who in a televised speech December 4, 2011 said the new city

News

Georgian billionaire Ivanishvili goes back to court

by | May 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The opposition billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili is going back to court, in a further effort to be recognized as a Georgian citizen. Authorities annulled Ivanishvili's citizenship shortly after he revealed his plans to become a politician in October

News

Private U.S. observers announce arrival for Georgian election

by | May 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The U.S. organization Committee for Open Democracy (COD) is to send log term election observers to monitor the parliamentary election in Georgia in October. “We’ll be focusing on the processes of democracy and people’s confidence in these

In brief, News

Georgia’s 2012 budget expanded after influx of EU funding

by | May 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia’s budget is to be increased by 200 million lari by increasing the licensing fees for use of natural resources. Another source for the increase is grants from the EU to finance reforms in different areas, according to Gia Khuroshvili,

News

Putin congratulates the Georgian people, not its leader

by | May 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – On the 67th anniversary of VE Day, victory in Europe in World War Two, Vladimir Putin sent his congratulations to the leaders of the countries that are members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), as well as to the two

News

Ivanishvili citizenship quick fix to only last three years

by | May 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The constitutional changes Georgia recently passed which gives EU citizens the right to stand for election will be restricted to only last for three years. The Christian Democrats party recently suggested constitutional amendments according to

News

Further changes in laws are needed, say media and groups

by | May 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Media and law organizations in Georgia suggest another package of legislative amendments for the electoral environment in the country. The bill will regulate issues like the definition of hidden political advertisement, paid and free political commercials,

In brief, News

Two minor earthquakes in South Caucasus

by | May 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Caucasus region experienced two minor earthquakes Monday, the strongest of 5.6 magnitude. The 5.6 magnitude earthquake occurred at 08:40 in the morning with epicenter in the border region between Azerbaijan and Georgia, 17 kilometers from Zagatala,

Opinion

Violence against journalists on World Press Freedom Day

by | May 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - During several days, while the whole world was celebrating World Press Freedom Day, journalists have been violated, insulted, beaten or deprived of their cameras and belongings in Georgia, writes Tamar Chugoshvili, leader of Georgian Young Lawyer's

In brief, News

Russia copied Georgian police reform, says Saakashvili

by | May 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian president claims Russia tried to copy the Georgian police reforms, but could not get them to work. Sunday, Saakashvili marked a recently created national holiday called Police Day, held on the same day as St George's Day, May 6,

News

Uncertain stalemate between EU and Abkhazia

by | May 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The crisis in the EU's dealings with a disputed region that broke away from Georgia and is heavily militarized by Russia continues as neither side is willing to give in. Abkhazia said before the weekend that it is not going to change its position. The

News

Ruling party in Georgia gave voters sheep for Easter

by | May 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Two organizations in Georgia have published information which shows that the party of President Mikheil Saakashvili bribed voters. The groups calls for the Chamber of Control and the Prosecutor’s office to react. As only five months are left until

News

Police in Georgia censored independent reporters

by | May 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Police in Georgia Friday intervened in the work of several independent journalists, but let the government-controlled TV work freely. The victims were covering the discovery of an explosive device in the center of Zugdidi, a town in western Georgia.

News

Georgian Party has broken off relations with Kitsmarishvili

by | May 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgian Party has broken off relations with Erosi Kitsmarisvhili, a well known politician and former manager of Maestro TV. The party has released a statement saying that for four months, the Georgian party has not had any relations with him, and

In brief, News

Georgian pro-government TV disses the church

by | May 5, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Three national TV channels in Georgia selectively left out parts of a new survey. The survey was done by the International Republican Institute, which is affiliated with the Republican party in the United States and is in Georgia to develop democracy.

News

Media diversity will be important in ’12 election

by | May 5, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Groups gathered Thursday to mark World Press Freedom Day with a day-long discussion about how well suited the media environment is to fulfill its public role ahead of the parliamentary election in October. The roundtable discussion was held at Courtyard

News

Saakashvili’s guards kicked journalist in the head

by | May 5, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - For three days, journalists from Kutaisi in the west of Georgia have been complaining about harassment by the President and Interior Minister's guards. On May 2, president Mikheil Saakashvili was giving a speech at the city's theatre. Nodar Jojua,

News

Georgia’s prison minister lied to get rid of protesters

by | May 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A spokesperson for the prison minister in Georgia Friday lied about her whereabouts to divert a crowd of protesters who were angry over a dead prisoner. A spokeswoman for prison minister Khatuna Kalmakhelidze, claimed that she was not in Tbilisi,

News

Prison death was caused by illness, not torture

by | May 4, 2012

TBLISI, DFWatch - An independent medical expert says the injuries seen on photos of a prisoner’s dead body were caused by a disease which was not properly treated. Zurab Delianidze died at Gldani prison hospital in Tbilisi. Media learned about his death from family

In brief, News

Bomb suspect arrested in western Georgia

by | May 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia’s Interior Ministry says one person has been arrested for smuggling explosive material to Zugdidi, after crossing the administrative border line with Georgia’s breakaway region Abkhazia. “Explosive material was seized by the Sappers Division

News

How one man tried to save Moscow cemetery

by | May 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgiy Ramazashvili, a Moscow-based archival researcher, in July 2011 discovered that there was new construction work on a historic cemetery in Moscow where many Georgian royals, nobles and historic persons are buried. After Georgian and Russian media

News

Georgia ignored call to stop destruction of Moscow cemetery

by | May 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian foreign ministry ignored calls from an activist in Moscow to help stop the destruction of a historic cemetery where royals, nobles and famous persons are buried. All Saints Cemetery contains the graves of Russian and Georgian nobles and

News

Stop the harassment of journalists, say Tbilisi protesters

by | May 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - ‘I am a reporter, not a spy’; ‘we want free media’ – these were some of the slogans seen during a demonstration in Tbilisi Thursday to mark World Press Freedom Day. The first rally started at 12:00 noon. Protesters symbolically tied their eyes,

News

Georgian opposition launches its own TV

by | May 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A Georgian billionaire's opposition movement has launched its own TV channel. Channel 9 started broadcasting April 30 and has been given a license by the National Communication Commission to broadcast via satellite. The broadcasting permit is for

News

Tbilisians protested suspicious prison death

by | May 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – People gathered in front of parliament Thursday to protest against mistreatment of prisoners, spurred by the news of another death of a prisoner who bore signs of having been beaten. Police reported that the prisoner died of a heart attack, but

News

Another suspicious death in police custody

by | May 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – There are suspicions that a prisoner may have died as a result of torture. The family of Zurab Delianidze (39) claims that he was violently tortured and demand an inquest, according to TSPress.ge, a website run by the newspaper Tavisupali Sitkva.

In brief, News

Saakashvili’s successor will win: new poll

by | May 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A new poll shows that no matter who is nominated to suceed Mikheil Saakashvili, his party will win the next Georgian presidential election. A poll by the International Republican Institute shows that Saakashvili's National Movement party still has

News

Georgian president plans details of his own cremation

by | May 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian president says that after he has passed away, he wants his ashes to be spread over a holiday resort on the shores of the Black Sea. President Mikheil Saakashvili said this during a visit to Kutaisi, Georgia’s second largest city, where he is to

News

Conflicting statements about Georgian church in Jerusalem

by | May 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The issue about returning management of Monastery of the Cross in Jerusalem to Georgia has no connection with the government of Israel, says Yitzhak Gerber, Israel’s Ambassador to Georgia. On May 1, before an event Sheraton Metekhi Palace Hotel in

In brief, News

Georgia’s parliament will be opened before it’s finished

by | May 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The new parliament building in Georgia will be only partly completed by the time of the opening session on May 26. In 2011, Mikheil Saakashvili announced that he would move parliament to Kutaisi, Georgia’s second biggest city. He also said that

News

Georgian authorities violated rights, ombudsman says

by | May 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -The Georgian ombudsman criticizes a control body overseeing the financing of political parties for having violated civil rights. Earlier this year, there began to come reports about a wave of interrogations in parts of the country outside of Tbilisi.

In brief, News

Trump lauds Saakashvili on Fox & Friends

by | May 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The American investor Donald Trump praised Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili on the morning talk show Fox & Friends recently, calling him “one of the great leaders of the world”. The billionaire and TV personality had just returned from a trip

News

Weak worker protection drew thousands for May 1 rally

by | May 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Thousands gathered Tuesday in central Tbilisi to celebrate the International Worker's Day, May 1 and demonstrate in front of the parliament building. Protesters adopted an appeal to the president, government and parliament. They call on authorities

News

Trouble in EU-Abkhazia relations does not affect South Ossetia talks

by | May 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Breakaway Abkhazia refuses to cooperate with a Polish general who represents the EU, and the EU refuses to replace him, leading to breakdown in talks, but the dispute has had no effect on similar talks about South Ossetia. On April 30 parties gathered

In brief, News

Visa-free Georgia records flood of visitors

by | May 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - In first four months of 2012, 61 per cent more people came to Georgia, compared to the same period the previous year. 978 521 person visited Georgia between January and April this year, according to the Interior Ministry. Over three hundred thousand

News

Georgia criticizes European embassies for being bureaucratic

by | May 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia’s vice prime minister criticizes foreign embassies in Tbilisi of not following up a new agreement meant to simplify visa application procedures. Giorgi Baramidze was reacting to a new report by Liberal Academy Tbilisi, adding that

Society

Nani is one of Georgia’s missing 23 %

by | May 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Nani (48) left Georgia about 17 years ago to work in Italy and send money to her family. She’s from Samtredia, a small town in Western Georgia. Her husband works at a local theater, earning a small salary. Her daughter goes to school, while her son

News

Georgian spring without calls for Saakashvili’s resignation

by | May 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - For the first time in more than five years, spring in the Georgian capital will not be marked by crowds demanding the resignation of President Saakashvili. At least the largest opposition party won't be demanding that he steps down. Georgian Dream doesn't

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