News

Fatal car crash allegedly involving president’s escort

by | July 31, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Witnesses say one of President Saakashvili's escort cars was involved in a car accident on the highway near Gori, which left a driver of another car dead and four others injured. Witnesses say one of the president's escort cars crashed into

News

Government took millions in loans while running Cartu Bank

by | July 31, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - While the opposition affiliated Cartu Bank was temporarily under state management recently, USD 50 million was taken in loans. The bank, which is associated with President Saakashvili's main competitor Bidzina Ivanishvili, plans to go to court

In brief, News

Bushfire in Vashlovani National Park

by | July 31, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A fire in Georgia has burned down more than one thousand hectares of land in the eastern Vashlovani National Park. The environment minister said the reason for the fire, which started on Monday at about 17:00, was negligence. It has now been

NGO news

Georgia’s health insurance system has flaws: report

by | July 31, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A new report by Transparency International Georgia (TI) shows that the country's health insurance system has major flaws. The study shows that there are mistakes when lists of beneficiaries of insurance programs are being worked out.

News

Former AC Milan player Kakhi Kaladze denied appeal hearing

by | July 31, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The former footballer, now opposition campaigner Kakhi Kaladze has been deprived of the right to appeal the seizure of his bank accounts. This news was relayed by Shalva Tadumadze, a lawyer for the former AC Milan player. Tbilisi City Court

News

Opposition activists accuse bank of tampering with accounts

by | July 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A member of the Georgian Dream coalition's campaign team Monday started a rally in front of Bank of Georgia in Lanchkhuti, a small town in the western Guria region. Shota Pirtskhalaishvili is one of over twenty opposition campaigners who claim that

News

Channel 9 journalist blackmailed

by | July 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian Ombudsman says the blackmailing of a journalist working for the opposition affiliated Channel 9 TV contains the signs of a crime. Journalist Nodar Chachua, who used to work for one of the three pro-government channels, says he was

News

Secrets revealed of how Georgia’s political police operates

by | July 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A memory card belonging to a policeman in a small village has been presented by an organization which says it reveals how authorities are systematically monitoring people's political sympathies. The memory card belongs to Shmagi Uratadze, who works

Opinion

Seizures without Prosecution

by | July 30, 2012

One of the blatant illegalities that the Georgian authorities have repeatedly committed in the last few months is that they seize one’s property without bringing charges against the owner of such property or any other person with whom the owner may somehow

News

Georgia nationalizes geological information

by | July 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian state takes over ownership of information about fossil and mineral resources in the country. Before, this information was the private property of the company that did the geological survey. The government explains this with a need

News

Most Georgian illegals abroad won’t be able to vote

by | July 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Most Georgians who live illegally abroad may not be able to vote in the upcoming elections, after Georgia’s Foreign Affairs Minister made the rules for qualifying as a voter stricter. There are no precise data about Georgian citizens living illegally abroad,

In brief, News

Georgia loses 17th soldier in Afghanistan

by | July 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch –Georgia has lost its 17th soldier in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. The Georgian Defense Ministry informs that Givi Pantsulaia, born in 1984, died Saturday at Gori Military Hospital. “Corporal Givi Pantsuala received injuries

News

Georgians subject to human trafficking in Turkey

by | July 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - 22 Georgians have become victim of human trafficking in Turkey. Georgian media reports that Lasha Navareli, a mediator, promised the men, who are from the village Alaverdi near Zestaponi, that they would be employed in Turkey with a salary

News

London Olympics noted Georgian athletes as born in Russia

by | July 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Organizers of the London Olympics have stepped into a diplomatic minefield after mistakenly referring to two athletes born in Georgian breakaway republics as Russians. On the official website of the London Olympics, Deni Tsargushi is described

In brief, News

Burjanadze supporter released after 16 hours questioning

by | July 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A former public servant who joined an opposition party was released later Friday evening. The Interior Minister said that Zaza Sopromadze was not arrested, but was only called in to the Prosecutor’s Office as a witness. Police came

News

Kakhi Kaladze’s appeal fast-tracked

by | July 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian professional footballer who ended his career to join politics has appealed the seizure of his bank accounts. But the appeals court says it will process the appeal "without an oral hearing", which means that there will not be a

NGO news

Georgia’s embassy in U.S. engaged in election campaigning

by | July 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Transparency International Georgia asks the country's foreign ministry not to let the diplomatic service be used for political means. According to information provided by TI, the Georgian embassy in the United States is sending out e-mails

News

Prisoners to go on hunger strike before election

by | July 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Human rights campaigners in Georgia are organizing a hungerstrike among prisoners in connection with the election for parliament. Organizers are the groups 'Political Prisoners against the Dictate of Five', 'For Protection of Human Rights'

News

Burjanadze supporter detained by police

by | July 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A supporter of a former government top who is now in the opposition was arrested Friday morning. For unknown reasons, Interior Ministry gave explanations for the arrest instead of Prosecutor’s office. Those two are different bodies,

In brief, News

Construction of new parliament halted due to strike

by | July 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Construction workers rallied in Kutaisi today at the site of the new parliament building they have been employed with constructing, demanding to get paid. The workers refuse to work until they get their salaries, which they claim they haven't been

News

Kakhi Kaladze’s bank accounts seized

by | July 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Tbilisi City Court accuses a former football player turned opposition activist of money laundering and has seized his bank accounts. Maia Panjikidze, spokesperson for Georgian Dream, said that leveling such accusations against Kakhi Kaladze,

News

Ivanishvili given back control over shares in Cartu and Progress

by | July 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A bank director in Georgia who authorities removed from his job will get his old job back. This follows from a decision to revoke the seizure of all 100 percent shares in Cartu Group and 22 percent of Progress Bank, effective Thursday

In brief, News

GeoStat notes increasing foreign trade

by | July 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia’s National Statistics Department notes growth in the country’s foreign trade turnover in the first half of 2012. Growth is 17 percent more than the same period in 2011 and equals USD 4 866 million. Georgia is importing more than

News

Media send second appeal for Maestro’s satellite dishes

by | July 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Media workers in Georgia Thursday delivered another appeal to the Chief Prosecutor’s office, asking to revoke the seizure of satellite dishes belonging to Maestro TV. The campaign first appealed to the prosecutor on July 23. This time,

In brief, News

Budget cuts passed to free money for disaster aid

by | July 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A bill to amend the 2012 budget to free money for cleanup work and compensation after a storm July 19 has been passed by parliament in Georgia. The total size of the budget, more than 7 billion lari, has not been changed. Instead, money has

In brief, News

Ruling party ex-MP vows objectivity as audit service head

by | July 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A former high-ranking member of parliament who was appointed new head of the audit service promises that he will be fair, independent, professional and objective. Lasha Tordia was appointed to the position after the former head, Levan Bezhashvili, left

News

Details of emergency funds spending presented

by | July 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – "Everything which is not secret, is public". This is how the Georgian finance minister answers the opposition, who demand to know what the reserve funds have been spent on. The two reserve funds, one controlled by the government and the other by

News

Communications commission is violating the law

by | July 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's National Communications Commission (GNCC) is violating a recently amended law obliging it to inform the public as well as cable companies and TV channels directly, within one week of the must-carry and must-offer principles coming

News

‘Dish protest’ in front of parliament

by | July 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Media workers and others demonstrated in front of the old parliament in Tbilisi Wednesday in support of Maestro TV. They demanded the immediate return of equipment seized from the company. The crowd held real and symbolic satellite

News

Woman dragged away from cameras and locked in a cellar

by | July 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – An elderly woman who tried to approach President Saakashvili to tell him about her family's problems, ended up being dragged away from the TV cameras and locked in a cellar Tuesday. The incident happened in Tsaishi, a village near

News

Ivanishvili pays state USD 48 mill to help storm victims

by | July 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Saakashvili’s main competitor Bidzina Ivanisvhili yesterday gave 80 million lari to the state. This is about USD 48 million. He says the government has denied him of all other ways to help the disaster struck population, and therefore he decided

NGO news

Amnesty warns against political clashes in Georgia

by | July 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Amnesty International expresses concern about the recent violence against opposition supporters and journalists in Georgia. In a new report, the organizations describes cases of verbal and physical abuse against Georgian Dream activists who

News

Georgian audit service gets new director

by | July 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The head of parliament's committee on human rights will replace the head of the audit service. Davit Bakradze, Speaker of Parliament, announced the decision Tuesday during a visit to Abasha, small town in the Samegrelo region. The audit service

News

Georgian Dream demands more transparency in crisis funds

by | July 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – In Georgia, the main opposition bloc Georgian Dream accuses the government of having recklessly spent the state reserve funds, set apart to handle disasters. According to law, the two crisis funds, one controlled by the government and

News

Georgian Dream supports non-use of violence declaration

by | July 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The opposition Georgian Dream coalition is ready to join a declaration asking for a competitive, fair and peaceful election. Maia Panjikidze, spokesperson for the coalition, said Monday that the coalition supports a document published July 16

News

More equipment seized from Maestro TV

by | July 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - More of Maestro's satellite equipment was seized yesterday by police on the Georgian border, the company's director informs. Ilia Kikabidze, General Director of Maestro TV, today said at a press conference that three cars were seized yesterday,

In brief, News

Georgia starts negotiations with EU about visa free travel

by | July 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia has started negotiations with the EU about liberalization of visa rules. Today, the EU Commission's Director General for Development met the Georgian deputy foreign minister in Brussels. According to Georgia's foreign ministry,

News

TV studio robbed, suspects political reasons

by | July 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – An independent TV studio in Georgia had its offices robbed, and suspects political reasons. Studio Monitor, which makes investigative reports for Maestro TV, was subject to a break-in on July 22. Its main work deals with producing

News

Ivanishvili once more offers to help storm victims

by | July 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Saakashvili's main competitor Bidzina Ivanishvili says he does not trust the government's official data about the amount of losses due to an extreme storm on July 19. Ivanishvili says his opposition Georgian Dream coalition is

News

Saakashvili uses state coffers to repair storm damage

by | July 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The government in Georgia has set aside 162 million lari to deal with the losses because of last week's storm. The money is to be taken from other parts of the state budget. Finance Minister Dimitry Gvindadze explains that a special fund

News

The head of Georgia’s audit service resigns

by | July 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The head of Georgia's audit service today resigned in order to help people affected by the storm in Kakheti last week. Levan Bezhashvili has held the position since 2008. Monday, he announced his decision to resign, on the fifth day

News

Media campaign in support of Maestro TV

by | July 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Media in Georgia have launched a campaign in support of TV company Maestro, which had thousands of satellite dishes seized by authorities. Ilia Kikabidze, general director of Maestro TV, Lasha Tughushi, editor in chief of newspaper

Society

How tourists see Georgia and what they expect

by | July 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Luis from Ecuador has been traveling for seven years around the world. This time he stops in Georgia for a while. He hadn't heard much about this country, but stopped by here on his way to somewhere else. Then he decided to stay for several weeks.

News

One arrested as Ivanishvili visits disaster area

by | July 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Police in Georgia has arrested one member of the opposition Georgian Dream coalition after he hit a female employee of the local government in Gurjaani, a town in eastern Georgia which was hit by a storm. Information Center Kakheti reports that

In brief, News

Increasing oil import to Georgia due to tourism

by | July 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia increased its import of oil by 8.5 percent in the first half of 2012 compared to last year and is now at 378 323 764 kg. Analysts say the increasing import is related to larger numbers of tourists visiting the country. The figure was

News

Government goes outside to help in cleanup work

by | July 22, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The entire cabinet in Georgia is personally taking part in cleanup work in villages affected by hail storm on July 19. In around 40 villages that were hit, 2 200 houses were left roofless, according to local government. Some villages are

News

Media workers gather in support of Maestro TV

by | July 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - 20 media outlets in Georgia gathered today at Tbilisi Marriott Hotel to discuss the recent seizure of satellite dishes belonging to Maestro TV. The media workers consider the prosecutor office's action illegal and appeal to both the government

News

How storm wrecked havoc in eastern Georgia

by | July 21, 2012

GURJAANI, DFWatch - There are no windows left in the Salimov family house. Their bread bakery has collapsed together with the pantry. Everything that is wet has been taken outside in the sun to dry, while a giant walnut tree has fallen down and wrecked havoc

NGO news

Saakashvili using state budget to secure election victory

by | July 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A new report warns that the government may be using money from the state budget to affect the outcome of the election. ”The state budget is less defined. So there is a risk that the ruling party will use it for its own interests,” explained Eka Gigauri,

News

Ivanishvili offers to cover population’s losses after storm

by | July 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Saakashvili’s main competitor, who accuses the government of abusing the legal system to intervene in his party's election campaign, offers the government 10 million lari, or USD 6.1 million, as assistance to people affected by the recent storm.

News

Non-use of violence declaration expanded

by | July 20, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The government in Georgia will add points prepared by non-government organizations to the declaration of acting regulations for elections. But it is still unknown whether Georgian Dream will join this declaration or not. Even though

News

Government rules out extending media diversity law

by | July 20, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian government does not intend to change its position in regards of to implementing the must-carry and must-offer principles. This means that it does not go along with the recommendation of foreign ambassadors in Georgia. These asked

News

Ivanishvili offers to help flood victims, Saakashvili considers

by | July 20, 2012

Georgia's Speaker of Parliament says the prime minister should decide whether opposition billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili may be allowed to help reimburse losses suffered after yesterday’s storm. Ivanishvili's opposition Georgian Dream coalition has offered to help

NGO news

New web portal to map out election violations in Georgia

by | July 20, 2012

A new portal in Georgia has been created to let people report violations during the election period. The website is called the Multi-NGO Elections Portal, and aims at collecting information about alleged violations and incident throughout the election period.

News

Tbilisi death jumpers used car safety belt, likely cause

by | July 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The inquest into the death of a 23 year old woman and a 25 year old man after a rope jump from a bridge in Tbilisi is not yet finished, but there are indications that what caused the tragedy was the use of a provisional mechanism involving

News

Georgian opposition announces candidates for Tbilisi

by | July 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Bidzina Ivanishvili Thursday announced the names of all ten majoritarian candidates for Tbilisi and several candidates in the regions. This time his opposition Georgian Dream coalition brings forth many popular names. Some of the candidates

News

Livestock killed by storm in eastern Georgia

by | July 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia was hit by a storm Thursday that killed livestock and injured eighteen people and caused flooding in the capital. Local media in the eastern region of Kakheti report that heavy rain was followed by a hail storm, causing difficulties

NGO news

Child poverty is still high in Georgia

by | July 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The poverty rate in Georgia has been reduced, but child poverty is still very high. According to a survey conducted by UNICEF, far too many children are still living in poverty, however the rate of poverty has been reduced by 2 percent from

News

Opposition activists fined USD 200 000

by | July 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Tbilisi City Court Wednesday fined six representatives of the main opposition movement USD 200 000 for donating money to their own political movement, Georgian Dream. The court made its decision under mediation of the State Audit Service, which

News

Diplomatic pressure to extend must-carry beyond election

by | July 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A working group of ambassadors in Georgia calls on the government to extend the term of the temporary must-carry and must-offer principles to beyond election day. UNDP on Wednesday released a statement after the meeting of the working group

In brief, News

Georgia sees 8 percent growth so far in ’12

by | July 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia’s GDP grew 1.3 percent in second quarter of 2012, compared to the first quarter and is now at 8.1 percent, according to official statistics. Georgia’s National Statistics Department points out that these are preliminary figures,

Opinion

Rejoice Gods of Georgian Democracy!

by | July 18, 2012

Prometheus is in the Cave! by Tedo Japaridze, former foreign minister of Georgia and political advisor to Bidzina Ivanishvili.Last year, the government of Georgia held a session of the cabinet in a grotto named after the mythical martyr of humanity, Prometheus,

News

Russia responds to Georgian human rights comment

by | July 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Moscow suggests that Tbilisi solves its own problems with democracy and human rights, before giving advise to Russia about saving democracy. This is a statement of Alexander Lukashevich, spokesperson for the Russian Federation's Foreign

News

Georgian Dream names 12 more candidates for parliament

by | July 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Saakashvili’s main competitor Bidzina Ivanishvili has named 12 more majoritarian candidates to stand for election from regions outside of Tbilisi. The Georgian Dream coalition has until now named 40 majoritarian candidates. The rest, including

In brief, News

Skadden to represent Ivanishvili

by | July 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The international law firm Skadden is going to represent the Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili in his struggle as opposition politician. Yesterday, he met David Herlihy, head of Skadden's London office and Gregory Craig, head

News

Police in Georgia seize 8 000 satellite dishes

by | July 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Another eight thousand satellite dishes belonging to Maestro TV has been seized by the police. The seizure comes in addition to an action by the prosecutor's office on July 11, when tens of thousands of satellite dishes were seized from Maestro.

News

Three opposition activists arrested

by | July 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Three Georgian Dream activists were arrested July 16 on suspicion of bribery. According to the Justice Ministry, one of the suspects, Merab Kachakhidze, transferred 7 000 lari to the chair of the Conservative party’s branch in Mtatsminda

Opinion

Inflation in Georgia – Causes and Cures

by | July 17, 2012

In 2011 inflation can be regarded as one of the major challenges for the Georgian economy, writes Irina Guruli, program coordinator at the Economic Policy Research Center. Even though Georgia has been successful in suppressing the inflationary pressure

News

Russian general says bases guarantee stability in Caucasus

by | July 17, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A Russian general says there won’t be another war with Georgia, thanks to military bases stationed in the two breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “There will not take place a recurrence of conflict in the Caucasus,” said Vladimir

News

Surveys differing wildly ahead of Georgian election

by | July 17, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The opposition Georgian Dream party does not trust the results of a survey conducted by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), which shows that the governing party of President Saakashvili has twice as much support as Georgian Dream.

News

Ivanishvili’s dolphinarium taken over in Batumi

by | July 17, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Batumi City Council has replaced the director of the local dolphinarium after security guards entered the facility Monday. The dolphinarium in Batumi was reopened on the initiative of the local government after 20 years of non-functioning. This

NGO news

Democracy campaign welcomes non-violent initiative

by | July 17, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Campaigners in Georgia welcome an initiative by the government to make political actors commit to not use or incite violence during the election campaign. The campaign This Affects You Too thinks that such an agreement between political parties

News

Media in Georgia demonstrated for the right to information

by | July 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Media workers in Georgia demonstrated Monday in support of a TV company. They were protesting the seizure of thousands by the Ministry of Justice of satellite dishes belonging to TV company Maestro. The background is a marketing push by

News

Georgia moved de facto border some hundred meters

by | July 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia June 29 moved a police checkpoint a few hundred meters into Russian-controlled territory in the South Ossetian breakaway region. The EU has been mediating talks on the ensuing controversy. The checkpoint was moved from the village Mereti

News

Georgian opposition is closing the gap on Saakashvili

by | July 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A new poll shows that the opposition Georgian Dream movement has nearly doubled its support in the last six months. But it still has a long way to go to match the ruling National Movement party, if the poll is correct. The ruling party has

News

Two die in rope jumping accident in Tbilisi

by | July 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A 23-year old woman and a 25-year old man died in a rope jumping accident in Tbilisi on Sunday. The two jumped together from a bridge. The woman, Mariam Kandashvili, died on the spot, while the man, Goga Goletiani, was taken to hospital,

News

Government proposes non-use of violence in election campaign

by | July 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian government calls for political parties to commit to not use or incite violence during this year's election process. The declaration submitted for parties to sign commits them to not use violence, nor call for violence or voice

News

Ivanishvili wants to reopen Ergneti market

by | July 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The main opposition bloc in Georgia mobilized 15 000 people Sunday in Gori, the town closest to the capital which was occupied by Russia in the 2008 war. Georgian Dream front man Bidzina Ivanishvili promised to normalize relations with Russia

News

Ivanishvili company’s assets seized, but must pay fine

by | July 15, 2012

TBILISI – Authorities in Georgia have issued a 2 million dollar fine to one of opposition financier Bidzina Ivanishvili's companies, and at the same time seized all its assets. The reason for both decisions is that according to the State Audit Service,

In brief, News

Police to provide security at campaign events

by | July 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian government is to start providing police security during opposition campaign events. The opposition Georgian Dream was Thursday driven out of the village Karaleti by a stone-throwing crowd. 13 people were hospitalised,

News

Media freedom used as weapon in Georgian politics

by | July 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Do you know the deductive method? Who was Jack London? What is Watergate? These are some of the important questions an unknown woman recently asked a reporter for info9, again and again, apparently in order to keep him from doing

News

Former Milan player Kakhi Kaladze’s bodyguard arrested

by | July 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Police in Georgia say they have arrested five suspects after violent clashes between government supporters and opposition activists Thursday led to thirteen people being hospitalized. Among them is the bodyguard of former AC Milan

NGO news

More violent incidents during Georgian election campaign

by | July 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – An employee of a public library who was fired in June claims the reason was her political opinion. She openly says she sympathizes with the opposition Georgian Dream party established by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili. The library's director,

News

Maestro journalists defend TV station’s integrity

by | July 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Journalists with Maestro demonstrated in front of the old parliament building in Tbilisi Friday. Their demand was that authorities return satellite receivers seized from the TV company a few days ago, so journalists be let to continue their

In brief, News

Soldier shot in the head in Georgia

by | July 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Kahketi Information Center Friday morning reported that a 19 year old solider had died from a gunshot wound to the head. Later the same day, the Defense Ministry confirmed the death of Koba Makharashvili in a short statement, which said that

News

Opposition takes measures against harassment of athletes

by | July 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The opposition Georgian Dream movement is campaigning to defend athletes against government harassment, but the sports minister says there is no harassment. Over 130 athletes have signed a petition organized by the opposition

News

Cartu Bank’s entire management fired

by | July 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – After Georgian authorities took over Cartu Bank in a criminal forfeiture process, the interim manager has fired the entire old management. Vladmer Ugulava, who now controls the bank on behalf of the government, yesterday fired both

NGO news

Is there a pharmaceutical cartel in Georgia?

by | July 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Transparency International Georgia on May 22 presented the results of a study showing that three pharmaceutical companies control almost the whole Georgian market. The three companies are: AVERSI (35 %), PSP (30%) and GPC (15%).

NGO news

Georgia’s health care sector a Klondyke for commercial interests

by | July 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A new study shows that the as the health care sector in Georgia has been privatised, the private health business has gained control over the hospitals. Herald De Bour, project coordinator for Transparency International's study,

News

13 in hospital after opposition rally turns into street fight

by | July 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A street fight broke out Thursday during an opposition meeting in a Georgian village. The scuffle involved both journalists and others being beaten. The opposition Georgian Dream coalition was visiting Karaleti, a village close to the breakaway

News

Opposition movement selects 15 more candidates

by | July 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Saakashvili’s main competitor Bidzina Ivanishvili has announced 15 majoritarian candidates that will stand in single mandate districts around in the different regions of Georgia. During rallies in May, the Georgian Dream coalition announced 19

News

Georgian TV station’s ads considered illegal funding

by | July 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The State Audit Service has intervened in the activity of the TV company Maestro, demanding information about advertising agreements and money transfers with Georgian Dream and Komagi foundation, which is also affiliated with the Georgian Dream

In brief, News

Georgian asylum seekers arrested for theft in Germany

by | July 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - German media reports that Georgians are among the suspects in a bust against shop-lifters in the city of Bielefeld in Germany. The suspects are Georgian and Ukrainian. Several people have been convicted. A man of about 29 from Ukraine stole perfume

News

Chlorine leak in Tbilisi claims one victim

by | July 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A chlorine leak in Tbilisi July 3 has claimed one death as 18 year old Lasha Narimanidze died from poisoning. The leak happened in the evening from tanks in the Tbilisi suburb Lilo. It poisoned up to 80 people. Lasha Narimanidze was in a serious

News

Cartu Group and Progress Bank seized by authorities

by | July 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The National Enforcement Bureau has asked Tbilisi City Court to transfer the shares of Cartu Group and Progress Bank to a compulsory management regime. The Enforcement Bureau seized all 100 percent shared that Georgian Dream coalition leader Bidzina

News

Second TV station targetted in satellite dish clamp-down

by | July 11, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Government is to seize satellite receivers belonging to the small, independent TV station Maestro under a controversial new party finance regulation. The Prosecetor's Office suspects that Maestro is distributing satellite receivers to voters

News

Less Georgians want NATO membership

by | July 11, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – There is a significant drop in support among Georgians for their country being integrated in NATO. In six months, the level of support has fallen from 70 to 62 percent. Also the support for Georgia being integrated with the EU has dropped since

News

Bulgaria recognizes Georgian neutral passports

by | July 11, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Bulgaria has sided with Georgia in a dispute over how to allow the civilian population in Georgia's breakaway regions travel abroad. Two regions broke away from Georgia during the breakup of the Socviet Union, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, leading

News

Georgia to supply US military

by | July 11, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The former Soviet republic of Georgia is to become a supplier of goods the U.S. military. Georgian Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili announced the news Tuesday during the opening of a conference on Georgian-American cooperation in Batumi.

News

French senators on field trip near disputed Georgian village

by | July 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A group of French senators on a midsummer visit Tuesday toured close to a village which was taken by Russia in the 2008 war. The senators's trip took them to the surrounding area close to the village Akhalgori. The village was renamed Leningor

In brief, News

Official murdered in South Ossetia

by | July 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Media in Russia and Georgia’s breakaway region South Ossetia report that the head of the investigation department at the de facto South Ossetian Prosecutor General's office has been murdered. Roland Chitayev was reported kidnapped on Monday

In brief, News

OSCE passes resolution about Georgia

by | July 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly Monday passed a resolution about Georgia, which uses the term ‘occupation’ about Russia's military presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The resolition also calls on Russia to live up to the terms of the

In brief, News

Georgia hit by new floods

by | July 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Heavy rain caused flooding in several parts of Georgia Tuesday. In Kutaisi, the second largest city, first floors and basements are under water. In Batumi, a defective drainage channel let to rivers of water in the roads. Local media in the

News

Russian military presence called occupation

by | July 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Russian military presence in Georgia's breakaway regions are increasingly being called an occupation. The first to use the term was U.S. representatives. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used the term during a visit to Tbilisi in 2010.

News

One more prisoner dies in Tbilisi, rumours abound

by | July 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – There is still no confirmation of an alleged raid of a prison in Tbilisi Friday night. In the meantime, one more prisoner has been confirmed dead. The Prison Ministry confirmed a second death at Geguti prison. Again, the cause of death was heart

News

Georgian elected vice president of OSCE’s parliamentary assembly

by | July 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's Vice Speaker of Parliament was today elected as one of the vice presidents of OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly. OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly are gathered in Monaco to elect a president and vice presidents. Riccardo Migliori,

News

Ministers bring staff with them in Georgian gov’t reshuffle

by | July 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Two ministers who where switched around in a government reshuffle are taking their staff with them. Former education minister Dimitry Shashkin is the new defense minister, and officials from the education ministry are now following after him.

In brief, News

Saakashvili offers help to Russian flood victims

by | July 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has offered to send rescue teams to Russia to help the flood victims in the Krasnodar region. Manana Manjgaladze, spokesperson for Georgian President said on Sunday that the president expresses his deep

News

Opposition activists fined USD 700 000

by | July 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Tbilisi City Court on Sunday fined seventeen opposition supporters USD 700 000 for illegal campaign donations. In local currency, the exact size of the fines are 1 202 000 lari, collectively. The State Audit Service, which is entitled to track

News

Georgian athletes clash, this time in politics

by | July 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A Georgian Olympic judo champion says a sports hall named after him in Eastern Georgia was renamed and his photos taken down from the walls after he decided to support the opposition Georgian Dream coalition; however the governor of the

News

Church appeals for mercy as another prisoner dies in Georgia

by | July 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Shortly after rumours of a raid inside the largest prison in the country, Georgia's Prison Ministry reports of yet another prisoner death. The Patriarch calls on prison directors to treat inmates with more respect. The Ministry of Corrections

In brief, News

OSCE says Russia is occupying Georgian regions

by | July 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly July 9 is to adopt a resolution which for the first time calls the presence of Russian military in Georgia's breakaway regions an occupation. The resolution deals with the current situation in Georgia. The ten point

In brief, News

Two still in prison after street fight at Ivanishvili rally

by | July 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Two of the four who were imprisoned following a street fight at one of opposition financier Bidzina Ivanishvili's campaign rallies have been released. The scuffle took place on June 26 in Mereti, a village near a Russian-Ossetian check point.

News

Unconfirmed reports about prison raid in Tbilisi

by | July 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Friday evening there was a rush of postings on Facebook and Internet forums saying that a special unit had raided the prison in Gldani, in northern Tbilisi, beaten the prisoners, resulting on two deaths. It started Friday evening when two Facebook

News

Georgia comes down hard on companies helping opposition

by | July 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Tbilisi City Court handed out fines totalling USD 6.7 mill Friday and Saturday. A company was found guilty of lending 45 cars to the opposition for free, and fined USD 5.2 mill, while that company and another was fined USD 1.4 mill for letting them

In brief, News

Political audits continue with more people on trial

by | July 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The State Audit Service, which used to be called the Chamber of Control, has seized property and bank accounts of a company which they say belongs to opposition billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili. The audit service also determined seventeen people

In brief, News

22 year old woman dies after giving birth

by | July 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A 22 year old woman has died at a maternity hospital in Telavi, a town in Eastern Georgia. Khatira Ukanova delivered a baby by Caesarean section on July 2. Three days later she was let go home, but yesterday she was submitted to hospital because

News

Kristali director to face trial for chlorine leak

by | July 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Chair of Kristali Ltd, the company responsible for a chlorine leak on Tuesday, was Friday sentenced to pre-trial detention. July 3, a chlorine leak in the Lilo district of Tbilisi poisoned around 80 people. Georgian Water Company said it was

News

Reshuffle continues in Georgia’s government

by | July 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The brother of Interior Minister Bacho Abkhalaia, Data Akhalaia, has been appointed to the post of deputy defense minister. He was head of the Interior Ministry's Constitutional Security Department. Data Akhalaia resigned after it became known

News

Georgian Church wants optional biometric ID cards

by | July 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's Holy Synod appeals to the government not to make it obligatory to have ID cards with micro chips, but confirms that it's not dangerous to use such cards. The Georgian government last year introduced a new kind of ID cards, and aims at

News

Brussels is focusing on Georgia’s internal politics

by | July 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Brussels is mainly concentrating on what happens with Georgian reforms and internal politics. On Abakhazia and South-Ossetia, everybody thinks that for as long as Russia will recognize these two territories as independent states, there is not much

News

Young lawyers warn that refugees are neglected by new law

by | July 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A loud discussion broke out in parliament Thursday, as the human rights committee held a hearing about the status of internally displaced persons (IDPs). Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association (GYLA) confronted members of the ruling National

News

Stalkers with cameras followed journalist for a week

by | July 5, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - A journalist from an online media outlet financed by Channel 9 has been stalked for a week by a group of up to ten people with video cameras asking her weird questions. Ekaterine Dugladze is a journalist at info9.ge, a new website financed by Channel 9,

In brief, News

Van Rompuy calls for fair elections in Georgia

by | July 5, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch –European Council President Herman Van Rompuy says the upcoming elections will be a crucial indicator of the progress Georgia has made on its path to reform. He thereby added his voice to many figures in the international community who continue

Opinion

The Saakashvili government’s osteochondrosis

by | July 5, 2012

This headline shouldn't concern us. It has a sarcastic meaning, but should not be taken as mockery. It is only a convenient metaphor for understanding today's processes, because this naturally derives from the government's early formula – 'Merabishvili

In brief, News

Three detained in killing of former Georgian general

by | July 5, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A court in Moscow has placed three persons into pre-trial detention until August 21, accused of killing a former Georgian general. Roman Dumbadze sided with the rebels during a stand-off between the region Adjara and Tbilisi authorities, a

News

Government-critical TV stations join together

by | July 5, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Two government-critical TV stations in Georgia are to start broadcasting from the same studios. The two are Channel 9, run by associates of Bidzina Ivanishvili, front man of the opposition Georgian Dream coalition, and Maestro TV, a small,

News

Prime mimister’s powers are increased

by | July 5, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – At a time when Vano Merbaishvili was not yet confirmed as Prime Minister, a bill was brought to parliament to increase the authority of the prime minister. Parliament passed it at the first hearing. According to the bill, which was proposed by the

News

UN calls for Georgia’s internal refugees to be let to return

by | July 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The UN General Assembly July 3 passed a resolution calling for internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia and so called South Ossetia, Tskhinvali region, to be let to return home. It was a humanitarian resolution, addressing demographic

News

Georgian parliament confirms controversial new PM

by | July 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Parliament voted 102 against 7 today to declare trust in the new government and its action plan presented by a former Interior Minister. From now on, Georgia’s prime minister will be Vano Merabishvili. The former defense minister will take over

News

Chlorine leak poisoned dozens in Tbilisi

by | July 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A chlorine leak in Tbilisi yesterday evening poinsoned more than 80 people. One person is in a comatose condition. The leak happened around nine in the evening at a private industrial area in the Lilo district on the southern edge of the capital.

News

Government’s newfound leftism considered suspicious

by | July 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The government's action plan 'More Benefits to People' is entirely based on social issues. This is now sparking criticism from experts and government opponents. The first promise new Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili made was to give each family

In brief, News

Georgian Interior Ministry loses another top official

by | July 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Another central figure in Georgia's Interior Ministry resigns, after recent changes in the government. Shota Utiashvili, former head of the Ministry's Department for Analysis, today announced his decision to leave. He did not say who will be his

News

Human rights group alarmed by situation in Geo prisons

by | July 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Prisoners in Georgia are getting support from democracy campaigners who protested outside one of the most infamous prisons. Non-governmental organizations protested against prisoner abuse in No. 15 detention facility in Ksani at the hands of

In brief, News

Germany’s CDU calls for Saakashvili to hold fair election

by | July 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Germany's Christian Democrat party calls for democratic elections in Georgia in October. In a press release entitled Ensure Fair Elections in Georgia, the CDU's faction in the Bundestag calls for Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to take

In brief, News

Georgia’s Basis Bank bought by Hualing Group

by | July 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – One of China's largest companies, Hualing Group, has bought a 90 percent share in Georgia’s Basis Bank. Xinjiang Hualing Industry & Trade (Group) Co. Ltd., Basis Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development today held a joint press

Economy, News

Merabishvili presents USD 12 billion action plan

by | July 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The government plans to spend four billion lari to develop agriculture, six billion on pensions, three billion on health insurance, three billion on social assistance and four billion on education. Changes have been made in the government, with

News

Georgia’s new power ministers: Akhalaia and Shashkin

by | July 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia’s former defense minister has been appointed new interior minister. The former education minister will take his place, and the former rector of Police Academy will be new education minister. Bachana ("Bacho") Akhalaia will take the position

News

Petre Tsiskarishvili explains Merabishvili’s promotion

by | July 3, 2012

President Mikheil Saakashvili Saturday appointed interior minister Vano Merabishvili as prime minister. DF Watch spoke to Petre Tsiskarishvili about the surprise announcement. Tsiskarishvili is parliamentary leader of the majority National Movement party. He says that

In brief, News

Georgia’s new prime minister makes bold promises

by | July 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia's new prime minister Vano Merabishvili has already started making promises, as only three months are left until the parliamentary elections. In a speech Monday in the Gldani district of Tbilisi, near a construction site of a vocational

News

Saakashvili may have violated constitution

by | July 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - President Mikheil Saakashvili's appointment of a former interior minister as prime minister may have been in violation of the constitution, and therefore invalid. One of Georgia's most experienced constitutional experts, Vakhtang Khmaladze, says

News

Georgia gets new minister for employment

by | July 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia's new prime minister Vano Merabishvili today presented his employment minister, which is a new post. “I have initiative to set up specific Employment Ministry, which will take care to solve problems of employment. A database of unemployed

In brief, News

Georgia to host UEFA Super Cup in 2015

by | July 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia will host UEFA Super Cup in August 2015. This will be the first time Georgia is host country for an UEFA event. According to the Georgian Football Federation, the decision was made in Kiev on Saturday at a session of the executive committee.

News

Field meeting in Abkhazia breaks down again

by | July 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Again, a field meeting meant to defuse tension in the conflict region Abkhazia has broken down before it even started. The meeting should have been held June 27, and was to have brought together operative leaders from the warring parties of 2008

News

Georgia woos Circassians, gains support in North Caucasus

by | July 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian parliament on Friday approved the country’s strategy on relations with North Caucasus people. At the beginning, the strategy had status as a concept, but when it finally was passed its status had been raised and it needed a

News

Ivanishvili gathers supporters in Georgia’s old capital Mtskheta

by | July 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian opposition figure head Bidzina Ivanishvili continued his tour of the country's regions Sunday by staging a rally in the old capital Mtskheta, 20 km north of Tbilisi. The rally started at 19:00 and saw the billionaire making new

News

Education reformer who was fired makes comeback

by | July 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – An key figure in Georgia's education reforms who was recently fired has made a comeback and launched her own consultancy to improve the education system. “We plan to provide some recommendations to the Ministry of Education and vigorously

News

Georgia’s new prime minister has a controversial past

by | July 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - The goal of appointing Ivane Merabishvili, the powerful Interior Minister, to the post of Prime Minister is to solve problems in health care and agriculture – this is what Merabishvili said on Saturday, after being appointed to this post. He

News

Saakashvili’s government has lacked long term plans

by | July 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – In the years from 2004 to 2011, the Georgian Parliament had ten votes of confidence for the government and approved ten government programs, although the programs changed each year and almost never followed the steps of the previous one. This

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