In brief, News

Saakashvili makes Merabishvili new prime minister

by | June 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's president Mikheil Saakashvili says he is appointing Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili as new prime minister. Saakashvili announced the decision from his presidential palace in Tbilisi shortly before 19 local time Saturday. Imedi TV broke

News

Floods hit western Georgia, causing blocked roads

by | June 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Heavy rain led to flooding in Georgia’s western Samegrelo region, causing material damages. Blocked roads prevented cleanup work some places. Interpressnews reports there is a difficult situation in eight villages in Samegrelo. There is damage to

In brief, News

Georgia’s foreign debt has tripled in five years

by | June 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's foreign debt has increased by USD 128.9 million since fourth quarter of 2011 and is now USD 11.4 billion. The National Bank today published data over the country's foreign debt for first quarter in 2012. USD 3.8 billion of the total amount is public sector debt, which is 33 percent of the total debt; USD 783.1 million is the National Bank's debt, USD 2.1 billion – the bank sector, USD 2.6 billion – inter-company lending and USD 2.1 billion – other sectors. “Gross foreign debt to GDP ratio for the last four quarters (from Q2 2011 to Q1 2012) amounted to 76.7 percent,” the National Bank informs. The increase for the first quarter in 2012 is caused by transactional, price, exchange rate and other changes, which led to an increase in gross foreign debt by 49.0 million USD, 16.2 million USD, 60.2 million USD and 3.5 million USD, respectively. Public sector debt has increased by 114.4 million USD. Public debt to GDP ratio for the last four quarters amounted to 25.6 percent. The National Bank's external liabilities decreased by 31.9 million ...

Economy, News

Agriculture and tourism failing: new report

by | June 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A new report shows that President Saakashvili turned his back on Georgian farmers in order to develop tourism, but the strategy failed. Six out of ten employed persons in Georgia are self-employed. More than 50 percent are employed in agriculture,

News

NDI’s recipe for improving Georgia’s election

by | June 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - One day after President Saakashvili met regional governors and told them to guarantee that the election process is exemplary, a fistfight broke out during an opposition event near a Russian checkpoint north of Gori. The fistfight on Tuesday was

In brief, News

Georgia passes media diversity law

by | June 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian parliament today passed the new law which is meant to make television more diverse ahead of each election. A campaigners have been advocating the must-carry and must-offer principles for months, and two weeks ago the

In brief, News

Appeal rejected in Ivanishvili citizenship case

by | June 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Tbilisi Appeals Court upheld the city court's decision in the case of opposition billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili's citizenship. This means he is still without a citizenship of his native Georgia, and he will be barred from standing for election or engaging

News

Ivanishvili takes his citizenship case to the UN

by | June 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgian opposition billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili has complained to the United Nations Human Rights Committee. Georgian Dream spokesperson Tina Khidasheli says they are bringing his citizenship case to the Committee because the government

News

Media diversity law could lead to social turmoil

by | June 29, 2012

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

News

NATO strenghening relations with Georgia

by | June 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – NATO's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is coming on another visit to Georgia in September, less than a year after his last visit here. This is proof that Georgia-NATO relations are strengthening, Georgia’s Vice Prime Minister Giorgi

In brief, News

American election observers arriving in Georgia in July

by | June 28, 2012

TBILISI, The International Republican Institute (IRI) is sending a long-term observer mission to Georgia, which will arrive on July 18. Resident Country Director Andrea Keerbs says the IRI will have both long-term and short-term observers from the U.S. and Europe.

News

Bass sums up the U.S. democracy effort in Georgia

by | June 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Thursday called in the press to outline what America is contributing to organizing the coming parliamentary election. Initially, addressing the current split between two major blocs, the ruling National Movement party

In brief, News

Saakashvili promises free trade with Europe soon

by | June 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – President Saakashvili says Georgia's integration with Europe is an irreversible process, and he is sure that there will be achieved a free trade agreement in next 16-18 months, creating tens of thousands jobs. In this near future, Saakashvili said

News

Police arrest opposition activists for recruiting intelligence officer

by | June 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian police have arrested two members of the opposition Georgian Dream movement for having tried to "recruit" an intelligence officer. A statement published on the Ministry of Internal Affairs' website says the two are charged with abuse of power,

News

Georgian opposition parties fined USD 1.5 million

by | June 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Tina Khidasheli, one of the leaders of the opposition Georgian Dream coalition says the government is preventing Georgian Dream from conducting an election campaign. Tbilisi City Court fined the Georgian Dream coalition's constituent parties 2 383 097

News

Georgia seizes Cartu Bank and Progress Bank

by | June 27, 2012

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

News

Saakashvili believes the Russians will leave soon

by | June 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Russia will leave South Ossetia and Abkhazia sooner than anyone can imagine, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili says. The comment came during a summit of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation which took place yesterday in Istanbul, Turkey.

In brief, News

Georgia’s foreign trade grew 19%

by | June 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia's foreign trade grew by 19 percent in the first five months of 2012, compared with last year. Final figures from GeoStat show that total foreign trade turnover was USD 4 059 million, out of which USD 961 million is export and USD 3 097

News

2008 war becomes topic in Georgian election campaign

by | June 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A scuffle broke out Tuesday while opposition billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili was campaigning in a small village near Gori. His opposition Georgian Dream movement says the scuffle was caused by pro-government vigilantes, but the ruling party says

News

Prisoner abuse papered over in Georgia

by | June 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The ombudsman in Georgia Tuesday asked the chief prosecutor to investigate suspected cases of prisoner mistreatment at Ksani prison. The plea came after some of the ombudsman's inspectors met hundreds of prisoners in that prison on June 22

In brief, News

Torture still a problem in Georgia’s prisons

by | June 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Several groups in Georgia Tuesday demonstrated against ongoing torture in the country's prisons. 140 prisoners died in prison during 2011 year, 40 percent of them had injuries on their body. The number of suspected cases of mistreatment gets longer

News

Georgia: Unfriendly observers? No. Friendly observers? Yes.

by | June 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Poland will send observers for the parliamentary elections in Georgia. The Polish observers will come as part of the EU, OSCE and Council of Europe's separate observer missions. Earlier, a Georgian lawmaker from the ruling party said Russia might

News

Georgian opposition’s bank accounts may be seized

by | June 26, 2012

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

In brief, News

Opposition party organizes refugee protest

by | June 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A group of internal refugees in Georgia today sat down in front of parliament and began a hunger strike. Their protest is being organized by the opposition party Future for Georgia and their demand is to have their living quarters legalized.

News

Georgia’s media diversity law contains loophole

by | June 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A draft law to let small and independent TV stations get national distribution contains a loophole. The text of the draft law became public Tuesday and shows that 'technical' problems will free cable companies from their obligations to carry all channels. 'Technical

News

Saakashvili promises Georgians NATO membership in 2014

by | June 26, 2012

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

News

Georgia draws attention to Russian military exercise

by | June 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia once again draws attention to an unprecedented Russian military exercise that is planned for September and will for the first time take place insidethe two breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia. A foreign ministry spokesman Monday said,

News

Georgian media diversity law will only last 60 days

by | June 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia will enforce media diversity, but only for sixty days, according to a new draft law. The draft envisages passing a law that will secure the population diverse access to TV channels. Currently, most of the population only have access to channels

In brief, News

Alexander Vershbow is coming to Georgia

by | June 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – NATO's Deputy Secretary General is to visit Georgia on June 28. Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Davit Jalaghania announced at a briefing in Tbilisi Monday that Alexander Vershbow will arrive for a two day visit to participate in a defense and

News

EU’s ambassador to Georgia supports media diversity law

by | June 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A legislative initiative to provide for more diverse media in Georgia continues to gather support as the EU Ambassador says he supports it. At a meeting at the Central Election Commission today, EU Ambassador to Georgia Philip Dimitrov said it gives

News

Policemen say they were fired for political views

by | June 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The opposition in Georgia claims the Saakashvili regime fired 50 policemen because of their political views, but the Interior Ministry denies it and says the policemen left because they refused to go along with a restructuring plan. At a press conference

In brief, News

Abkhazia extends a hand to Georgian opposition

by | June 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian breakaway region Abkhazia says it is ready for dialogue with Georgia in case someone else than President Saakashvili comes to power. “We need pragmatic interlocutors, such as Bidzina Ivanishvili and Irakli Alasania, for dialogue with

News

Georgian war film causing controversy at home

by | June 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A movie about the Russo-Georgian war in 2008 is causing controversy among film critics and on social media in Georgia. The film "5 Days of War" premiered last summer with much fanfare. The film tells a personal story against the backdrop of the war

In brief, News

NDI sends election monitoring team to Georgia

by | June 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A group of experts from the National Democratic Institute (NDI) has arrived in Georgia to prepare a report about the election period. According to NDI's Georgia office, the delegation will hold meetings with the government, candidates, leaders

News

Georgia bans mobile phones inside court rooms

by | June 24, 2012

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

News

Teliasonera starts new ethics program after criticism

by | June 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The recent criticism against Swedish telecom giant Teliasonera's cooperation with totalitarian regimes in the former Soviet Union has prompted the company to start a new program for ensuring that human rights are observed. -We denounce all human rights

In brief, News

Saakashvili government will allow media diversity, temporarily

by | June 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A leading lawmaker in Georgia has modified a statement he made yesterday, that the government will support a proposal from democracy campaigners. Speaker of Parliament Davit Bakradze yesterday said he and the ruling National Movement party will vote

In brief, News

Ivanishvili: I don’t own any companies in Georgia

by | June 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Bidzina Ivanishvili, who has been fined USD 45 million but refuses to pay, says he doesn’t own shares in any Georgian companies. According to Ivanishvili's official Facebook page, he says he no longer owns shares in Cartu Bank nor in any other

News

Internal refugees forced out of their homes

by | June 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Nodar is a refugee from Abkhazia, the breakaway Georgian republic. He has lived with his family in an old hospital in Tbilisi. But in 2010, Nodar was informed that they had to vacate their home the next day. "They promised that we will have good

News

Georgia confronts the human trafficking trade

by | June 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – After the U.S. State Department published a report on human trafficking which indicated Georgia as a site of the illicit business, the Georgian Ministry of Justice responded by claiming to be a first tier country along with developed states as Germany.

News

Georgian government gives in to democracy campaign’s demand

by | June 22, 2012

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

News

Channel 9 defiant after police seize 300 000 sat dishes

by | June 22, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Police Thursday night seized 300 000 satellite dishes in several locations around the country. This will prevent a government-critical TV channel from reaching viewers. The sat dishes were meant to let people watch Channel 9, which does not have a

News

The rebranding of the Georgian opposition

by | June 22, 2012

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

News

Georgians do not have enough information about Abkhazia

by | June 22, 2012

There is a deficit of knowledge about what is going on in Abkhazia, says Alexander Cooley, professor of political science at Barnard College, Columbia University in New York. Cooley sat down with DF Watch and told us about a researcher doing public opinion surveys in

News

Another court hearing in drawn-out Ivanishvili case

by | June 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - It was just another day in court for the lawyers of Bidzina Ivanishvili, in a series of legal troubles that some people describe as kafkaesque. After throwing himself into the political ring in October 2011, the billionaire is still without a

News

Georgian police seize TV equipment in multiple locations

by | June 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Police in Georgia Thursday entered the offices of a company affiliated with Bidzina Ivanishvili, the billionaire who is trying to mount a challenge to President Saakashvili in a parliamentary election in October. Police went into the offices of Elita

News

Georgia intervenes against Ivanishvili’s fortune

by | June 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian authorities are starting to seize the property of billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili. (Article has been updated.) A prosecutor has ordered thousands of satellite receivers seized, while another office is preparing to forcefully collect a USD

News

U.S. State Department says Georgia is site of human trafficking

by | June 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A new report by the U.S. State Department paints a dire picture of victims of human trafficking in Georgia. The 2012 report, which covers 186 countries, states that Georgia is “a source, transit, and destination country for women and girls

News

Georgian mining companies bought by Russian investors

by | June 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Two of the largest mining companies in Georgia have been taken over by Russian owners. The owner of Madneuli and Quartzite, GeoProMining, June 14 published a statement which says that the two companies have been sold for USD 120 million. But the

News

Saakashvili exempts poor from utility fines ahead of election

by | June 20, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Four months away from an important election, the ruling party in Georgia has passed a new law which frees socially vulnerable families from paying fines for not having paid electricity, natural gas, bus ticket and other fines. The law came into

In brief, News

Georgia had 8% growth in first five months of 2012

by | June 20, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 6.8 percent in first quarter of 2012 compared to the same period last year, according to Georgia's National Statistics Department (Geostat). Extending the estimate one month, Geostat director Zaza

News

TI report identifies problems in Georgian courts

by | June 20, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A new report shows that Georgian courts do not works as intended, and judges are sometimes more concerned with getting finished soon than with making a fair decision. The report by Transparency International Georgia found that in in 92.6 percent

News

Saakashvili says he wants to develop agriculture

by | June 20, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – President Mikheil Saakashvili says his first priority is the development of agriculture. Manana Manjgaladze, the president's spokesperson, said this at a briefing Tuesday. Georgia is considered to be an agricultural country. But the government is

News

Internally displaced amass on minister’s office

by | June 20, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Refugees in Georgia once more demonstrated for ther rights Tuesday in front of the Refugee Ministry building. About fifty people had gathered to ask for a meeting with the minister. After ten minutes of arguing at the entrance, the refugees were

In brief, News

Georgia increases trade, but still sees large trade deficit

by | June 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – In the first five months of 2012, Georgia increased its trade with other countries, but had a significant negative trade balance. The trade deficit in the period January-May 2012 was USD 2 136 million. This is 53 percent of the foreign trade

In brief, News

Georgian burglar ring busted in Spain

by | June 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Spanish police have busted a ring of suspected Georgian burglars. The website Crime Scene Spain reports that police suspect the ring of having broken into homes and stolen valuables. Among sixteen people arrested, four were women. One was from

In brief, News

Computer programmer who went missing returns home

by | June 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A computer programmer who went missing more than a week ago has returned to his home. Mamuka Jibladze (54) disappeared on June 11. After two days, his family called police to report him as missing. The Interior Ministry started a search operation and

News

Ivanishvili’s USD 45 mill fine was due Monday

by | June 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Monday the deadline ran out for opposition financier Bidzina Ivanishvili to pay a USD 45 million fine. Tbilisi City Court issued the fine in a lawsuit raised by the Chamber of Control's party finance audit agency. Originally, the fine was 149

News

Georgia’s ruling party answers U.S. Ambassador

by | June 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The ruling party in Georgia defends its policy of not interfering in the television sector to provide pluralism before the parliamentary election. Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Georgia John Bass last week criticized the lack of plurality in Georgian

In brief, News

U.S. will aid Georgia in military surveillance

by | June 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The United States might might provide military assistance to Georgia's air and sea defenses. According to a common statement by the U.S. and Georgia as part of the strategic partnership established in 2009, the U.S. might contribute to

In brief, News

U.S. Ambassador: Georgian media is not diverse enough

by | June 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The outgoing US Ambassador to Georgia criticized the lack of diversity in Georgian television before an important parliamentary election. Ambassador John Bass criticized the current state of affairs in Georgia, saying citizens today only have

News

Computer programmer goes missing in broad daylight

by | June 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A former employee of the Education Ministry went missing seven days ago. The disappearance happened at 2 o' clock in the afternoon. Mamuka Jibladze (54) wrote something called the CAT algorithm for the ministry; a program for translating exam

News

Government accuses opposition advisor of bribing police

by | June 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's Interior Ministry accuses an opposition advisor of having tried to bribe a policeman into recording what was being said at meetings in the police. One person is arrested who is an associate of Irakli Sesiashvili, one of opposition

News

Ivanishvili draws 20 000 in western mountain region

by | June 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The opposition Georgian Dream movement Sunday held its third rally, this time in a small town in western Georgia. About 20 000 people gathered in Ozurgeti, a town in the Guria region. Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvili in his speech said

News

Ivanishvili launched nationwide Internet news service

by | June 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgian opposition financier Ivanishvili's Channel 9 has launched an Internet news service, with scores of reporters around the country's regions. As less than four months are left until a decisive parliamentary election, the main opposition bloc

Opinion

President Saakashvili attempts to challenge history

by | June 18, 2012

It would be strange if the things were different, it would confuse the classics; ad fontes: power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Could this maxim be wrong in Georgia's case? Could Saakashvili be an exception from this truism? asks Giorgi Margvelashvili,

News

Saakashvili’s top guns meet with business in secrecy

by | June 17, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – New questions are raised about the Saakashvili regime's methods to secure election victory as two of his most trusted officials met in secrecy with a private insurance company. Georgian Prime Minister Nika Gilauri and Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava met

News

Ivanishvili distributor physically attacked by Saakashvili official

by | June 17, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The opposition financier Bidzina Ivanishvili's TV station was subject to further difficulties Saturday as his distributor was physically attacked by a government employee. Global TV, which is the only cable company currently carrying Ivanishvili's

News

Ivanishvili gets new appeal hearing about citizenship

by | June 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Appeals Court in Tbilisi will June 21 hear the appeal of Bidzina Ivanishvili, after he lost his case to reclaim his Georgian citizenship. The court made this decision on Friday. President Mikheil Saakashvili revoked wealthy opposition

News

Ivanishvili’s fine reduced to USD 45 million

by | June 15, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The appeals court in Tbilisi has decreased reduced to half a fine issued to the opposition billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili. (Article has been updated.) Lawyers working for Ivanishvili say the businessman still will refuse to pay the fine and

In brief, News

Detainee released in Ivanishvili’s cable distributor case

by | June 15, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – An investor in an opposition affiliated cable company was yesterday released after five hours of interrogation. U.S. citizen Aleksandr Ronzhes, who is co-owner of Global TV, yesterday was unexpectedly detained at Tbilisi international airport and

News

Democracy campaign gathering signatures for media reform

by | June 15, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A democracy campaign in Georgia is gathering signatures in support of their law proposal about diversity in media, after the government said it is against it. The campaign called This Affects You Too has developed a law proposal which would

News

Tbilisi boosts public security at the expense of education

by | June 15, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A new report shows that the city of Tbilisi has increased its spending on culture and public order, while environmental protection and education has had to foot the bill. The report, which is a cooperation between the Caucasian Institute for

News

FBI helps Georgia create DNA database

by | June 15, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgian law enforcement will have access to a new DNA database developed by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The so-called CODIS database will be run by Georgia's national forensic service, and will mainly be used by law enforcement.

In brief, News

Ivanishvili’s TV distributor hit by criminal case

by | June 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – One of the owners of a cable company that is affiliated with the Georgian opposition was arrested today at Tbilisi international airport. Authorities claim he is involved in money laundering. The opposition billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili indicated that

News

Ivanishvili will not pay fine, property may be seized

by | June 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian opposition billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili refuses to pay a USD 90 million fine he was issued for illegal party funding. This could lead to seizure and forced sale of his property. The 149 million lari fine corresponds to 2.1 percent

In brief, News

Political analyst suspects his apartment is bugged

by | June 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – An independent commentator in Georgia suspects there was installed surveillance equipment in his flat. Gia Khukhashvili yesterday told journalists his neighbor from upstairs discovered a listening device and informed him. “I haven’t seen it

News

Russia prepares mass deportation of Georgians

by | June 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia is protesting against a Russian plan to expel 9 000 Georgians who are illegally in Russia. Georgia calls this the start of another wave of mass violation of human rights. Konstantin Romadonovsky, head of Russia's immigration service,

Society

Hard luck if you are a Roma in Tbilisi

by | June 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Walking the streets of Tbilisi, at several spots you will see groups of children dressed in worn-out, brightly colored clothes, with dirty hands and faces, asking you for money. These beggars come from the city's Roma community. The children you

News

Legitimacy of Georgian election may be questioned

by | June 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A democracy campaign in Georgia says recent developments may put in doubt the legitimacy of the whole election if the Saakashvili regime does not take immediate measures. The campaigners are particularly alarmed by the recent

In brief, News

Georgia plans to block Russian election observers

by | June 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia may restrict Russian observers from attending the parliamentary elections in October. If a new law proposal is passed, any country that wants to send observers must first express its support for Georgia's sovereignty. Russia has recognized

In brief, News

OSCE to follow Russian exercise closely

by | June 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - OSCE is to keep an eye on a massive Russian military exercise in the Caucasus planned for September. Eamon Gilmour, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, said this during a visit to Georgia. After a

News

Tough work conditions for Georgian journalists

by | June 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Journalists in Georgia have been intimidated without the legal system properly reacting, according to a new report by Transparency International Georgia. “The law enforcement agencies are investigating these cases but they rarely end up with

News

Georgian prisoners harassed for political views

by | June 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia’s ombudsman is reporting another case of mistreatment of a prisoners and asks the prosecutor to investigate the cases. The Public Defender writes that his team visited Manuchar Akhvlediani, Irakli Chantralze and Irakli Dundia, who are

News

Ivanishvili’s Channel 9 struggling with distribution

by | June 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The owner of TV and radio distributor Stereo+ says it has lost all its clients after signing a contract with Ivanishvili affiliated Channel 9 a month ago. Davit Zilpimiani, who started and owns Stereo+, says this and another company he runs have

In brief, News

Increasing foreign investment in Georgia

by | June 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A new report by the National Statistics Department says that direct foreign investments in the first quarter of 2012 was 55 percent higher than in the same period in 2011. The total amount of direct foreign investments in the first quarter of 2012

In brief, News

Village wanted water, got swings for the elderly

by | June 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A swing was put up in a mountain village in Georgia, but no children are there to use it. Next to the swing in Rkoni village, high up in the cool mountains, two elderly people, Nina Berdzeni and Mariam Chokheli are living alone, each in their own house. A swing to play on is not their primary wish. The villagers say they would have preferred if the money had been spent on rehabilitating the water supply instead, according to Shida Kartly Information Agency. The agency writes that the two women have to walk far from their houses to collect their drinking water. Giorgi Salkhinashvili, trustee of the village, told the agency that the 2 200 lari allocated for the village this year wasn't enough to install drinking water. “The population requested rehabilitation of the drinking water system, but the money was not enough and so we preferred a sport complex," the agency quotes him saying. The story has been circulating in social media for the last two days. Today Manana Manjgaladze, spokesperson for president once again spoke about president’s initiatives ‘water to all ...

News

Sheep and wine to voters might have been vote-buying

by | June 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The party financing audit agency in Georgia is continuing not only going after the opposition, but might also fine the ruling party. Kakha Baratashvili is head of Rustavi city council. Earlier this year, Transparency International Georgia reported

News

Georgian opposition financier Ivanishvili fined 148 million lari

by | June 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The main opposition leader in Georgia has been issued a fine of 126 million lari and an additional 22 million lari in a second case. The city court in Tbilisi ruled in favor of the audit agency in the case against Bidzina Ivanishvili, the billionaire who last

In brief, News

NATO Week opens in Georgia

by | June 11, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - James Appathurai, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, is visiting Georgia. Apparthurai came in order to take part in “NATO Week”, which he officially opened today, together with Vice Prime Minister

In brief, News

OSCE election observers arrive in Georgia

by | June 11, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A group of experts from the OSCE has arrived in Georgia to study the situation before the election. Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Nino Kalandadze says the experts, who come from the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), will

News

Ivanishvili drew big crowd at second campaign rally

by | June 11, 2012

KUTAISI, DFWatch – The main opposition bloc in Georgia Sunday mobilized supporters again, this time in the second largest city Kutaisi. The goal of Georgian Dream's rally was to gather supporters from different villages and cities in the region Imereti. Supporters

News

Concern over restoration of Likhny Church in Abkhazia

by | June 11, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia demands that international observers and Georgian specialists are allowed to observe monuments in the breakaway region Abkhazia. The request comes out of concern that Georgian inscriptions and depictions on monuments will be damaged during

Opinion

Why HSBC discontinued its banking activities in Georgia

by | June 11, 2012

Britain's largest bank HSBC opened business in Georgia in 2008. But in 2011, it decided to end its involvement here. Why?, asks George Khelaia, economist and former Deputy Chairman of the Chamber of Control. The Bank has branch offices in 65 countries and is one of the

News

Georgian opposition mobilizes in Kutaisi today

by | June 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The main opposition movement in Georgia plans to hold another large rally on Sunday, this time in the country’s second largest city Kutaisi. Georgian Dream, which is a coalition set up by Saakashvili’s main competitor, billionaire Bidzina

In brief, News

Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia starts new cooperation

by | June 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The foreign ministers of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey met Friday in Trabzon and signed a declaration about regional cooperation. The three countries were represented by Azerbaijan's Foreign Affairs Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, Turkey's Foreign

In brief, News

Journalist shot at in Georgia

by | June 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A TV journalist in Georgia was shot at while driving in her car last night. Ia Tinikashvili, reporter for Maestro TV and Interpressnews in the Shida Kartli region, was returning to Gori after finishing a report in the village Akhrisi, fifteen

News

Minister in Georgia wanted to electrocute opposition athlete

by | June 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – An athlete in Georgia claims that a government minister said he wanted to electrocute him as punishment for joining the opposition. The would-be victim, 2004 Olympic judo champion Zurab Zviadauri, joined the Georgian Dream movement of billionaire

News

Ivanishvili lawyers were denied to submit evidence

by | June 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Lawyers working for a Georgian opposition leader accuse a judge at Tbilisi City Court for being subjective. Lawyers representing Bidzina Ivanishvili, who has been taken to court by the Chamber of Control’s (CoC) financial audit branch, criticize the

News

Georgian TV channel off air, campaigners concerned

by | June 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A democracy campaign in Georgia expresses concern about the order to switch off Channel 9, a TV station owned by Bidzina Ivanishvili's wife. The campaign This Affects You Too is also concerned about the switching off of radios in minibuses in Tbilisi

In brief, News

U.S. Congress expresses support for Georgia

by | June 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on June 7 passed a resolution in support of Georgia. The resolution says that the House of Representatives supports strengthening relations between the U.S. and Georgia with a goal of helping the country

News

Court case starts against Ivanishvili

by | June 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A court in Tbilisi is to decide whether President Saakashvili's strongest challenger is a criminal. It's the Chamber of Control (CoC) that is taking Bidzina Ivanishvili to court. The body, which was given tough new powers last December, accuses the

In brief, News

Georgia consolidates law made for Ivanishvili

by | June 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia is to change its Election Code so it complies with the recently amended constitution. This means that Saakashvilis main competitor will have the right to participate in elections, and to establish and finance a political party. According to

News

Ivanishvili’s TV channel ordered off air

by | June 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A regulatory body in Georgia has decided that a TV station belonging to associates of the opposition billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili must go off air. Channel 9 was started only months ago, as a competitor to the strongly pro-government TV

News

Claims that Georgian opposition bribed voters

by | June 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A new strongly pro-government organization says the main opposition bloc in Georgia may be disqualified in the upcoming parliament elections, because of what it says is bribery of voters. The organization, called Clean Politics, which was set up two

In brief, News

One dies as part of parliament collapses in Georgia

by | June 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A construction worker was killed as one wing of the new parliament building in Kutaisi collapsed Thursday afternoon. According to eyewitnesses, 22 people were injured, but this is unconfirmed. Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili confirmed that one

News

Georgia not more democratic since the rose revolution

by | June 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A new report shows that Georgia is largely as democratic as it has been since and even before the rose revolution in 2003. In Freedom House's report Nations in Transit 2012, Georgia remains in the category called "transitional government or hybrid

News

Clinton’s neutral passports move rejected by the Kremlin

by | June 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A proposal by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meant to promote peace and understanding in the Georgian conflict areas has been briskly rejected by the Kremlin as a lie. Clinton said the U.S. will recognize something called 'neutral

In brief, News

Commercials replaces radio on Tbilisi minibuses

by | June 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The days are over when passengers on Tbilisi minibuses could catch the latest political gossip on their way around town. Drivers used to tune in to stations like Utsnobi, Palitra and Maestro, which are independent and often poking fun at the Saakashvili

In brief, News

Another bus crashes along Turkey-Georgia road

by | June 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Another accident along the highway most visitors to Georgia arrive on left three Georgians slightly injured. The accident happened Tuesday evening as the bus driver lost control while trying to overtake a car. The bus veered off the road and

In brief, News

Hacker brought down two news sites in Georgia

by | June 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Police have arrested a 19 year old man for a hacker attack against two Georgian websites. The suspect is said to have carried out a so-called distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack against the news portals presa.ge and droni.ge. Police have

News

Leaders come and go, Clinton tells Saakashvili

by | June 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Leaders may come to power and leave power, but institutions should be strengthened, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday. Appearing next to President Mikheil Saakashvili in Batumi after having had consultations with him and the

News

Hillary Clinton met opposition leaders in Georgia

by | June 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said after meeting with government and opposition that everything now depends on the Georgian people. Georgians will vote in a parliamentary election in October and a presidential election in 2013, which

News

Georgia in talks with EU about visa-free travel

by | June 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The EU Monday launched talks with Georgia about visa-free travel. According to Georgia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze had a meeting with Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Home Affairs, in Brussels,

News

Clinton offers breakaway regions visits to the U.S.

by | June 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – During a visit to Georgia, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised that it will become easier for people in the breakaway regions to visit the U.S. "We see this as step forward to achieving a peaceful and fair solution to the conflicts in Georgia,"

News

Saakashvili free tooth job program still just a promise

by | June 5, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - President Saakashvili's promise to fix the teeth of socially vulnerable people remains just a promise. The president's office does not even know who is responsible for implementing the program. But the president is still giving promises about giving

News

Clinton spoke about democracy and reforms

by | June 5, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Hillary Clinton Tuesday morning kicked off her visit to Georgia by speaking at a conference of the U.S.-Georgia strategic partnership in Batumi. The partnership was established in the wake of the Russo-Georgian war in 2008. During the opening

News

Bakradze tight-lipped about Clinton talks

by | June 5, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - As U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is visiting Georgia, Speaker of Parliament Davit Bakradze would like to see the visit `end with a specific decision'. But he doesn't say exactly what this decision this would be, nor does he want to

Opinion

Georgian Puzzle – Minorities and New Challenges (Part II)

by | June 5, 2012

by Arnold Stepanian, chairman of the movement Multinational Georgia.   Israel, the Israel Lobby and Georgian Authorities Georgian authorities' interest in Israeli capital is hard to overestimate. Since 2003, the authorities have been made efforts to strengthen

News

Another suspected political firing in Georgia

by | June 5, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Another case of a possibly politically motivated dismissal has come to light. This time it's an employee of United Water Supply Company of Georgia. Lasha Shvangiradze has been employed in the company since 2006. He works in Khoni, in the region

News

Construction company says government behind hassle

by | June 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Monday the offices of a construction company in Georgia was invaded by a group of people demanding that the company completes construction work on flats that many customers have invested in. The office invaders claimed to be relatives of customers

News

Democracy campaign on the streets again

by | June 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A democracy campaign in Georgia is keeping up the pressure on the government to change the law to counteract pro-government bias in TV media ahead of the election in October. The campaign This Affects You Too started in February as a reaction to

In brief, News

Hillary Clinton arriving in Georgia Monday

by | June 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to arrive in Georga from Armenia Monday evening as part of a tour of the South Caucasus. Tomorrow Clinton is meeting with President Saakashvili and Prime Minister Nika Gilauri, and later leaders

News

Control over TV is preventing democracy in Georgia

by | June 4, 2012

-The absence of a free media makes any kind of meaningful democracy impossible. Saakashvili's givernment is using legalistic and legislative pyrotechnics to ensure an unfair political system, says Lincoln Mitchell, Associate at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute and Georgia-expert.

News

Why is the Georgian government into sports?

by | June 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Recent sports events in Georgia are mainly connected to politics. After the Olympic judo champion Zurab Zviadauri joined the opposition Georgian Dream movement, two others within the same sport have joined him: Olympic bronze medalist Nestor

In brief, News

Growth continues in visitors to Georgia

by | June 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The number of visitors to Georgia is increasing. The latest figures from the Interior Ministry show that the number of foreigners who visited Georgia in the first five months of 2012 was half of what it was during all of 2011. 2 822 363 persons

In brief, News

Georgia embassy bomb had foreign origin

by | June 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia’s Interior Ministry is looking into a foreign trace in the search for those responsible for placing a bomb in front of Israel's Embassy in Tbilisi in February. There are no further details about the investigation. On February 13, police

In brief, News

Dirk Niebel to study water project in Batumi

by | June 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Dirk Niebel, Germany's Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, will visit Batumi on June 2. The German embassy informs that Niebel is planning to meet with Georgian government representatives. He will also study bilateral projects

News

Georgia’s education sector reports political harassment

by | June 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Former employees at Georgia's education ministry are reporting about harassment and threats after they resigned in protest against the ministry's decision to fire the head of the National Examinations Center. Almost half the employees at the exam

News

Georgia’s government seeks reconciliation ahead of contested election

by | June 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A government commission set up to monitor usage of administrative resources during the elections is calling for a halt in the dismissal of ministry employees before the elections are over with. Deputy Interior Minister Eka Zghuladze released a

News

Democracy campaign in Georgia hopes for Clinton’s support

by | June 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Ahead of a visit to Georgia by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, democracy campaigners are appealing to her for support in providing a fair election environment. The campaign This Affects You Too was started in February 2012, after the

Opinion

Georgia needs the U.S. to send Saakashvili a message

by | June 1, 2012

What does the U.S. expect from Georgia and what does Georgia expect from the U.S.? The U.S. has repeatedly declared Georgia a beacon for democracy and the most westernized country in the region, which accordingly can be called 'partly democratic', writes Zaza

News

Durbin hopes for free and fair elections in Georgia

by | June 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – U.S. Senator Richard Durbin says after familiarizing with the situation in Georgia that it was an unfortunate day for him, as he has seen a country split in two. After arriviong yesterday, Durbin had meetings with organizations, as well as the

Opinion

Hillary Clinton’s visit to Georgia – what to expect

by | June 1, 2012

Secretary of State Clinton's visit to Georgia and the South Caucasus June 3-6 underscores both the importance of the region to the US and the pressing political and security issues in the Caucasus, which could involve the West, writes Kenneth S. Yalowitz, former U.S.

News

Georgian footballer implicated in match fixing scandal

by | June 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – An investigation has been launched in Italy regarding 33 rigged football games, and Georgia's most famous football player is implicated in the case. Kakhi Kaladze, a former professional who played Genoa during 2010-2011, denies being involved.

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