News

Georgia preparing for wine export to Russia

by | December 31, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Twenty Georgian companies are preparing to export their product to Russia. A conference was organized at Tbilisi Marriott Hotel bringing together representatives of those companies and discuss the issue of Georgia exporting to the Russian market.

In brief, News

Crime is under control, says government

by | December 31, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The crime situation in Georgia stabilized in December, as the number of criminal incidents has been significantly reduced, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. During a visit to a family who had been attacked by robbers, President Mikheil

In brief, News

Another Stalin statue goes up in Georgia

by | December 31, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A statue of Josef Stalin which had been torn down has been put up again in a village in eastern Georgia. Locals in Akura restored the monument of the Soviet dictator two years after it was taken down. Villagers rehabilitated the monument to

News

Saakashvili visits crime victims, calls for tougher policing

by | December 31, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- President Mikheil Saakashvili says there should be declared an emergency situation in the Georgian police. He said it while visiting a family which a few days ago was attacked by burglars. December 29, the Ministry of Internal Affairs detained

News

Anti-NATO demonstration in Georgia quashed

by | December 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- An attempt at demonstrating against Georgian NATO membership was Sunday quashed by a counter-demonstration. The two rallies took place on Pushkin Square in the center of Tbilisi and started with a call the same day to support friendship with Russia,

News

Georgian soldier missing in Afghanistan found dead

by | December 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A Georgian soldier who has been missing for ten days was found dead in Afghanistan December 29. Sergeant Giorgi Kikadze is the nineteenth Georgian soldier to lose his life while carrying out his duties as part of the NATO-led ISAF mission

News

Another witness questioned in Girgvliani case: minister’s wife

by | December 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Prosecutor’s Office in Georgia has questioned the wife of the former interior minister regarding a case of beating of policemen. This is a case in which former officials in the Interior Ministry have been charged. Tako Salakaia, wife of

News, Politics

Ivanishvili government gets rid of tuition fees

by | December 30, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The new government has decided to cancel tuition fees for many popular studies. Bachelor students in 14 fields of specialization at state universities will have their tuition fees cut to zero from 2013. The free subjects will be agronomy, education sciences, energy

News

Georgia charges missing ex justice minister with torture

by | December 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s Prosecutor’s Office has officially charged a former Justice Minister in absentia for abuse of power and being responsible for torturing prisoners. Zurab Adeishvili, the former Justice Minister in Saakashvili’s government who

News

$2 mill of emergency aid for 2008 war still stowed away

by | December 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Ministry of Refugees and Internally Displaced People has discovered five unregistered warehouses, where there were kept humanitarian aid which should have been distributed to refugees in 2008 and 2009. The ministry on Friday published photos

Opinion

Local government after the parliamentary elections

by | December 29, 2012

The victory of the opposition in the October 1, 2012 parliamentary election created an unusual political situation for Georgia: the majority in parliament and the local governments are controlled by two different political forces, the ruling and the opposition party.

Elections '12-'13, News

Georgian parliament overturns Saakashvili’s veto

by | December 29, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Georgian parliament overrode President Mikheil Saakashvili's veto against a law about mass amnesty. 91 MPs voted against Saakashvili's new version of the law, while 4 supported it. Now, the Georgian Dream coalition's law, which was passed

News

Parliament to return to Tbilisi in spring

by | December 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Georgian Dream coalition says parliament will return to Tbilisi by the end of the spring session. After the parliamentary election in October, 2012, the eighth parliamentary assembly has been holding sessions in a new building in Kutaisi,

Elections '12-'13, News

Amid crisis, Georgia moves to give president more powers

by | December 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The governing Georgian Dream coalition suggests bringing forward a planned reform to give the president power to immediately dissolve parliament and announce a new parliamentary election. The powers are part of a package of constitutional

In brief, News

Saakashvili presents downsized amnesty bill

by | December 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili has vetoed the coming into force of a law on amnesty, and sent his own version of the law to parliament. Speaker of Parliament Davit Usupashvili on Friday said the legislative body has received the president's

News

Saakashvili vetoes mass amnesty

by | December 28, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- President Mikheil Saakashvili will veto a planned mass amnesty passed by parliament, arguing that the new government is about to release dangerous people into society. The amnesty was passed by parliament December 22 after much

News

Witness confirms Cartu Bank bankruptcy plot

by | December 28, 2012

The leader of a business chamber in Georgia says he helped the previous government try to bankrupt Cartu Bank, which was owned by current Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. Giorgi Isakadze, Chair of Georgia’s Small and Medium Enterprises Association,

Opinion

Elite Corruption and Government Pressure on Business in Georgia

by | December 27, 2012

Elite corruption directly affects the economic development of a country. There are a number of studies, including publications by the World Bank, which prove the interdependence between the size of the unobserved economy and corruption in a country. Moreover,

Elections '12-'13, News

Fraud allegations against Saakashvili campaign rally

by | December 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Prosecutor’s Office in Georgia says public money was spent on campaign rallies for President Mikheil Saakashvili’s National Movement party last September, which is illegal, and that documents were falsified to cover it up. The party

News

Kars-Akhalkalaki will not be halted

by | December 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Construction of the Kars-Akhalkalaki railway will continue as before. Irakli Kovzanadze, Chair of Georgia’s Partnership Foundation, said this in Azerbaijan on Wednesday, during a visit there by Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and

Media, News

Georgian Public Broadcaster gets new director

by | December 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The supervisory board of Georgia’s Public Broadcaster Wednesday elected a new director as replacement for Giorgi Chanturia, who unexpectedly resigned almost two weeks ago. The board chose Giorgi Baratashvili, who has a background from different

NGO news

Three months after election, civil society groups make new plans

by | December 27, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The largest Georgian union of civil society organizations December 24 met to discuss the role of civil society, and their activities and future plans. The National Platform, as the union is called, has been joined by 106 civil society organizations.

In brief, News

Ivanishvili and Aliyev discussed energy export

by | December 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili Tuesday met the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, during an official visit to Baku. The two held a closed meeting which took place at Aliyev’s Zagulba palace. Also present were Georgia's Foreign

In brief, News

Earthquake hits Georgia again

by | December 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- An earthquake hit Georgia Wednesday morning; the second one in three days. Two strong quakes were felt early morning December 26, at 02:44 and 03:00 am. According to the seismic monitoring center, the strength of the earthquakes were 5.5 and

NGO news

Top-level corruption was rife in Georgia: NGO

by | December 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Just as the Inter RAO corruption scandal is jolting the political scene in Georgia, a Georgian think tank claims to have revealed three further cases of what is called high level corruption. The Saakashvili government has been credited with having effectively

News, Prisoner abuse

Georgia prison rape video was real

by | December 26, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Georgian Prosecutor's Office has concluded an investigation of a handful of videos showing torture of prisoners which sparked protests two weeks before the election in October, 2012. The videos were published September 19, and showed

Elections '12-'13, News

Security Council spent money on lobbyists, Ivanishvili claims

by | December 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Secretary of the Security Council and the Prime Minister disagree about the expenses and financing for the National Security Council of Georgia. The issue surfaced when the 2013 budget was presented to parliament, showing that the

In brief, News

Georgian sailors returning home

by | December 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The twelve Georgian sailors who have been adrift on a ship abandoned by its owner off the coast of Panama are returning home. The sailors aboard the Maria del Carmen 2, sailing under a Nigerian flag, were rescued by staff at the Georgian embassy

In brief, News

Georgia sends rescue team to Afghanistan

by | December 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A military search team left for Afghanistan on Monday in order to search for a Georgian soldier who has been missing for almost a week. The team is headed by the deputy chief of the Joint Staff. ISAF isalready  conducting a search and rescue

News

Georgia will never return to the Commonwealth, the PM says

by | December 25, 2012

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Georgia’s new government’s declared foreign policy priorities haven’t changed and country will have good relations with its neighbors, but will never return to the Russian-dominated CIS, said prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili of Monday’s

News

Ivanishvili to ask for quota system for Kars-Akhalkalaki

by | December 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili is considering proposing a quota system for sharing cargo load between the existing railway through Georgia and a new railway under construction which will bypass Georgia's Black Sea ports Poti and Batumi.

News

Georgia cuts electricity price by a quarter

by | December 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili promises that electricity prices will be reduced by around 25 percent from January 1, 2013. As winter has arrived in Georgia, Ivanishvili brought good news to a press conference Monday at Sheraton

In brief, News

Georgia’s Interior Ministry auctions off luxury cars

by | December 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s Interior Ministry has decided to put its luxurious cars up for auction. The new leadership at the ministry has prepared around 50 cars for sale, and models range from Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Range Rover Vogue, to BMW

NGO news

TI asks for proof that wiretap was legal

by | December 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Transparency International Georgia demands that the authorities show proof that they had a legal right to secretly tap the phones of two former officials. The phone conversations in question were used to justify detaining officials in the

News

Five policemen dismissed in one of Georgia’s controversial cases

by | December 24, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Five policemen who were involved in one of the controversial cases against officials in Georgia have been dismissed. The five were based at the Central Criminal Police Department and carried out the first detention of Tengiz Gunava, a former

In brief, News

Phone outage after earthquake in Georgia

by | December 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- There was an earthquake in Georgia on Sunday, causing minor damage in parts of the country. According to the national seismic monitoring center, the earthquake struck at 17:31 local time and had a magnitude of 5.7. The epicenter was 46 km

In brief, News

Saakashvili addresses party, delegates return to parliament

by | December 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The National Movement party of President Mikheil Saakashvili will return to parliament on Monday. This became clear at a party conference Sunday. The president addressed his party's activists and tried to fire them up as they are

News, Prisoner abuse

‘Justice Minister arranged fake torture video to defuse scandal’

by | December 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Georgian Prosecutor's Office has launched an investigation into one of the prison torture videos that shook the country two weeks before the 2012 parliamentary election. The first of six videos was published in the morning of September 18,

News

Six released on bail in corruption ring case

by | December 23, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Six suspects in a corruption case involving a one million dollar bribe, a dummy company and three power stations were Saturday released on bail. The two most high profile names among the suspected conspirators are Nika Gvaramia, former education

News

Vera Kobalia questioned about Cartu Bank bankruptcy scheme

by | December 22, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Former Economy Minister Vera Kobalia was Friday evening questioned regarding the bankruptcy of a bank connected to Prime Minister Ivanishvili. Former Justice Minister Zurab Adeisvhili was also called in for questioning in the same case,

News

Supreme Court tightens surveillance oversight

by | December 22, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Supreme Court of Georgia is establishing a special group which will oversee the issuing of warrants for secret surveillance. Kote Kublashvili, Chair of the Supreme Court, said Friday that Zaza Meishvili, Chair of the Criminal Law Chamber,

In brief, News

Georgia gives 3 500 prisoners amnesty

by | December 22, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The parliament in Georgia has finally passed an amnesty law which will mean that 3500 prisoners will be released. The goal of the bill is to soften the crime policy. It aims to achieve this by releasing some prisoners and halving the sentence for others.

In brief, News

Kitsmarishvili fined for damaging Maestro’s equipment

by | December 22, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A court has fined the former manager of Maestro TV, Erosi Kitsmarishvili, with USD 845 204 for damaging equipment belonging to the TV company one year ago. November 30, 2011 Erosi Kitsmarishvili and a group of strangers scaled the walls of

Interviews

Ivanishvili says his focus is on the economy

by | December 21, 2012

Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili says the main goal of the new government is to improve the economic situation and to strengthen the course of Euro-integration in the foreign policy, as well as to make certain steps to improve relations with Russia. DF Watch spoke with the

Elections '12-'13, News

Saakashvili will not dismiss Ivanishvili’s government

by | December 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili says he has no intention of dismissing the new government. In a live televised press conference late Thursday night, he said that he has no plans to use his constitutional powers to dismiss the cabinet.

News

Saakashvili will veto bill about Georgian court system

by | December 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Georgian president says he will veto a new bill to reform the oversight of the justice system. President Mikheil Saakashvili Thursday evening held a televised briefing about recent events in the country. He said parliament is reviewing a bill which will place the Council of Justice and the courts completely under the control of the government, which is no longer controlled by Saakashvili's party. The goal of the bill is to improve the process of disciplinary litigation and modernization, and provide more transparency. The bill focuses on how to appoint members of the Council of Justice, as well as the assignment and disciplinary reactions for judges. According to the bill, the head of the Supreme Court will not appoint members to the Council of Justice. Instead, members will be elected by a conference of judges. Members of parliament will be barred from becoming members of the Council of Justice. The bill also foresees the possibility of suspending justice council members before the end of their term. Only the Supreme Justice Council will have the authority to implement preliminary audit and research into ...

News, Security

Georgian soldier goes missing in Afghanistan

by | December 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A Georgian soldier serving in Afghanistan has disappeared, according to the defense ministry. The soldier, who was serving as part of the ISAF mission, disappeared on December 19, and no one has seen him since.

News

Ambassador Norland questions detention of Gvaramia

by | December 21, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- US Ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland says that when a director of a TV company is detained, it naturally raises questions. Norland on Thursday held a closed meeting with Prison Minister Sozar Subari. After the meeting he commented on the

News

Court says wiretap was without warrant

by | December 20, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A court in Georgia says it did not give permission to eavesdrop on the former Interior Minister and the Director of Rustavi 2 TV. Police Wednesday detained two former government officials on suspicions of bribery and falsification of documents.

News

Saakashvili’s party boycotting parliament

by | December 20, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The National Movement party of President Saakashvili is boycotting parliament. Its representatives have returned to Tbilisi, saying they are moving into 'another regime of activity'. Vano Merabishvili, former Prime Minister and Secretary

In brief, News

ICC to investigate 2008 Georgia-Russia war

by | December 20, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The International Criminal Court (ICC) is considering launching an investigation into the war between Georgia and Russia in August 2008. The Justice Ministry of Georgia on Wednesday released a statement which says that in accordance with Georgia's international

News

Former energy minister detained for corruption

by | December 20, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The ex-energy minister in Georgia, Alexandre Khetaguri, has been detained, suspected of accepting bribes in connection with power stations only months ago. Also other former government officials have been detained in the case, suspected of having received

Opinion

The fate of truth in our days

by | December 20, 2012

The example of one small country The reason behind this letter lies in critical comments made by western political circles and media concerning the government, which was elected by the majority of the citizens of Georgia in the October 2012 parliamentary election,

News

Ivanishvili considers tearing down ‘ugly’ new buildings

by | December 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- In Georgia, the prime minster and the president have clashed over what to do with newly built and half finished buildings. During President Saakashvili's rule, modern complexes have popped up around the capital Tbilisi and in other towns

Europe, News

EU rewards Georgia’s reforms with €22 million

by | December 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- EU is giving another €22 million to Georgia this year in recognition of its reform efforts. Stefan Fule, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, on Wednesday attended the EU-Georgia Cooperation Council in Brussels.

News

Another ex-prime minister questioned

by | December 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Another former prime minister in Georgia was Tuesday called in for questioning. This time, Nika Gilauri spent five hours with the investigative service of the finance ministry, answering them about the sale of a park area in Tbilisi. The head

NGO news

Georgia’s reserve funds lacked transparency

by | December 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A new survey shows that the least transparent issue during recent years has been the spending of money from two state reserve funds. Georgian Young Lawyer's Association (GYLA) presented the survey, which deals with the spending of money from

In brief, News

Ivanishvili looks forward to meeting Putin

by | December 19, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili hopes to meet with the Russian leaders Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev in the future. Recently Georgia's special representative for Russian relations met the deputy foreign minister of Russia in Geneva.

In brief, News

Okruashvili is on hunger strike

by | December 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A former defense minister who is in prison awaiting trial has gone on hunger strike. Irakli Okruashvili, who is charged with abuse of powers and extortion, says he is doing it to express solidarity with ten other prisoners who didn’t make

Media, News

Saakashvili to fund free media

by | December 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili has decided to finance media and non-government organizations and issued a special decree December 17, 2012. A program to contribute to the civil sector and development of free media will

Elections '12-'13, News

80 % of Georgians like Ivanishvili

by | December 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- 80 percent of the Georgian population likes the new Prime Minister, while only 29 percent likes the president. 63 percent support the Georgian Dream coalition, while 10 percent support the former ruling party. Those are the results of a survey

News

Georgia makes it illegal to sell condoms that enhance pleasure

by | December 18, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Lawmakers in Georgia want to make it illegal to use condoms that enhance sexual pleasure. Other condoms will be legal. On Monday, a disputes was brought to a calm in parliament after a debate about what specifically can be called a sexual

In brief, News

Friends of Buta Robakidze will not be prosecuted

by | December 17, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Tbilisi City Court has ruled out that there will be criminal charges brought against the friends of Buta Robakidze, who was killed by police in 2004. November 24, 2004 Giorgi Kurdadze, Kakhaber Azariashvili and Akaki Bartaia, all friends of

News

Ivanishivili’s coalition is winning the trust of Georgians

by | December 17, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The political party section of NDI’s first survey after the parliamentary election shows a U-turn compared to the situation a couple of months ago: Politicians in the coalition which recently came into government score high on trust

Media, News

Experts ask for legal reform to improve media freedom

by | December 17, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A handful of media experts are calling for legislative reforms to address problems with media freedom in Georgia, and have prepared a draft bill as a first step. The bill would amend the law on broadcasting, and was presented by its authors

In brief, News

Stranded Georgian sailors plan lawsuit in Panama

by | December 17, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Georgian sailors who are stranded off the coast of Panama plan a lawsuit at the marine court in that country. The twelve Georgian sailors on a ship sailing under Nigerian flag plan to file the suit on Monday if their demands aren’t met. “The temperature is

News

Large ammunition depot found in south Georgia

by | December 17, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian police have seized a large amount of ammunition in an abandoned house in a town in the south of the country. According to Interior Ministry, the ammunition was hidden at an abandoned airport dormitory house in the town Akhalkalaki.

In brief, News

Traffic restrictions after first snowfall

by | December 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The season's first snowfall has led to restrictions on traffic several places in Georgia. The snow is causing problems in the Kakheti region, in east Georgia. Local media also report that ice is making it difficult for people to move around

News

Ex-minister’s uncle detained for illegal tree-cutting

by | December 16, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Police have detained the uncle of a former interior minister for illegally cutting forest. Levan Tumanishvili the head of Tao LTD, was Saturday interrogated for violation of the conditions of a license for using the forest, after trees were

Society

Friday prayers interrupted in Georgian village

by | December 15, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A religious conflict has broken out in a village in Georgia after orthodox Christians started interrupting Muslims in their Friday prayer. The conflict started a few weeks ago. Tariel Nakaidze, leader of the Georgian Muslims, wrote on his Facebook

News, Security

Georgia raises salaries for its soldiers in Afghanistan

by | December 15, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s Defense Ministry plans to improve conditions for Georgian soldiers serving in NATO's ISAF mission to Afghanistan. Defense Minister Irakli Alasania on Friday stated that the salary will be increased for Georgian soldiers in Afghanistan

In brief, News

Georgia and Russia’s first step towards mending relations

by | December 15, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia and Russia representatives on Friday agreed to continue the dialogue. Zurab Abashidze, the Prime Minister’s special representative for Russian relations, and Gregory Karasin, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, on Friday met in Geneva.

News

Georgian Public Broadcaster director leaves

by | December 15, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- General Director of Georgia’s Public Broadcaster (GPB) Gia Chanturia has resigned. He handed in his resignation letter to the GPB's supervisory board, which approved it today at a special session. Late Thursday night, there were unconfirmed

News

73 fired Telasi workers get their jobs back

by | December 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The power company Telasi has brought back 73 out of 107 employees who were fired, according to the company's director. Workers at Telasi, which distributes electricity in Tbilisi, have been out in the streets for two months. They were among the

News

Details published about Saakashvili’s flights

by | December 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Defense Ministry in Georgia has published details about flights made by the government with a Gulfstream G450 which was recently withdrawn from use due to budget cuts. The information used to be state secrets, but was published because of the

Economy, News

Georgia is losing out on foreign investments

by | December 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s direct foreign investments have significantly decreased in the third quarter of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011, according to Georgia's National Statistics Department, Geostat. According to the new report, the total amount

News

Saakashvili confidente financed Russian revolutionairies

by | December 14, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Russian police have published new evidence which seems to strengthen the case that Georgian politicians tried to foment social unrest in Russia. The evidence relates to the connections between the Russian opposition and the Georgian

In brief, News

US supports Georgia having direct talks with Russia

by | December 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The US supports Georgia's decision to start direct talks with Russia, Thomas O. Melia, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, said Thursday. Melia, whose full title is U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor,

In brief, News

Georgia and Russia plan rare meeting Friday

by | December 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The two countries fought a brief war in August 2008. Tomorrow they will meet face to face for the first time. The meeting will take place on neutral ground in Geneva, Switzerland, on the sidelines of periodic talks between the sides in that war.

Society

Two thirds still without a job in Georgia

by | December 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Two thirds still consider themselves unemployed in Georgia, a new survey shows. 67 percent say they are without a job in the latest survey of public attitudes by the National Democratic Institute (NDI). The number has not significantly

In brief, News

U.S. monitoring how Ivanishvili and Saakashvili cooperate

by | December 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The U.S. is closely monitoring the transition of power from President Saakashvili's National Movement to Prime Minister Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream coalition. Also subject to scrutiny is how well the two political blocs are working together,

Elections '12-'13, News

Ivanishvili’s election promises considered unrealistic

by | December 13, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The new government's proposed budget is in some regards unrealistic, according to a new report. Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC) presented the report Analysis and Recommendations on 2013 year Draft Budget of Georgia on Tuesday.

News

Saakashvili loses one of his jets

by | December 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- President Mikheil Saakashvili has lost one of his two business jets. The new government has decided not to allow the president to use it anymore. Alexandre Burchuladze, Deputy Defense Minister said in an interview with Rustavi 2 that the reason

In brief, News

MP investigated for beating of businessman

by | December 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A member of parliament from Saakashvili's National Movement party is being called in for questioning regarding the beating of a businessman. According to the prosecutor's office, Paata Lezhava on September 23, 2012 beat businessman

In brief, News

U.S. officials visit Georgia

by | December 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Two U.S. government officials arrived in Georgia Wednesday as part of a tour of the Caucasus. Thomas Melia from the State Department and Catherine Newcombe from the Department of Justice, will meet with Georgian government officials, media and

News

Crime wave is receding, says interior minister

by | December 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The interior minister says the crime situation in Georgia now is under control, but remains difficult. Interior Minister Irakli Gharibashvili says criminals have taken advantage of the process of handing over power. “We weren’t able to timely

News

South Ossetia: one of the world’s worst repressive regimes

by | December 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- South Ossetia – a breakaway region of Georgia – is ranked among the world's most repressive regimes by Freedom House. Freedom House, a non-governmental organization, has published a new report called 'The Worst of the Worst: The World’s

News

Knife re-offender stirs debate ahead of mass amnesty

by | December 12, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A man who was recently released from prison has reportedly attacked someone with a knife. The interior ministry December 10 reported that a prisoner named Tengiz injured a 31-year old man called Tamaz with knife and escaped from the scene.

News

Lukashenko will beg on his knees for Georgia’s return to CIS

by | December 11, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko says he is prepared to beg on his knees for the Georgian government to return the country to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Lukashenko said this in Minsk on Tuesday during a meeting

News

Court rules that Okruashvili must remain in prison

by | December 11, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Tbilisi City Court Tuesday heard two separate set of charges against former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili, and determined that he must remain in pre-trial custody. The first set of charges pertain to negligence of duty while he as defense

News

Abandoned Georgian sailors have run out of food

by | December 11, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian sailors who have been stranded on an abandoned ship in Panama are still suffering from hunger and unable to leave. The crew of Maria Del Carmen, which is flying a Nigerian flag, released a letter on Monday which says that they still

News

Ex-official detained in Ukraine may be extradited

by | December 11, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A former Georgian interior ministry official was Monday given 40 days preliminary detention in Ukraine by a court in Kiev. Ukraine is considering Oleg Melnikov's extradition to Georgia during his detention, online media in Ukraine report. Melnikov has a background

NGO news

Kutaisi parliament cost USD 196 million

by | December 11, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A new study has revealed the true cost of Georgia's new parliament: USD 196 million. Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) on Monday presented a report about the cost of building a new parliament building in Kutaisi, the second

Society

Second hand clothes are in fashion in Tbilisi

by | December 11, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch - There are stores in between the large markets near the central train station in Tbilisi were people sell second hand clothes from abroad. There, people are crowding close to piles of clothes, peeking inside to find what they want. Rusa, 21, says

News

Trading ambassadors for prisoners

by | December 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Georgian government is in negotiations with President Saakashvili's associates about releasing detained officials against replacing ambassadors appointed while he held government power. The unusual high level "prisoner exchange" has become

In brief, News

Georgia to chair GUAM in 2013

by | December 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia will have the chairmanship of GUAM in 2013. Foreign Affairs Minister Maia Panjikidze said at Monday's regular briefing that Georgia was officially appointed in Dublin a few days ago, at a session of the GUAM foreign minister council.

News

Russia and Georgia to meet for direct talks

by | December 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- At last, Georgia and Russia will meet to start sorting out their differences. The two countries broke off diplomatic relations after the war in 2008. Zurab Abashidze, Georgia's Special Representative for Russian relations, on Monday said that

News

Lavrov says Russia will allow regular flights to Georgia

by | December 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Russia and Georgia will soon meet to discuss allowing import of Georgian agricultural products and restoring regular flights between the two countries. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow is ready to start talks about the issue,

News

Ivanishvili explains the need for amnesty

by | December 10, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Georgian Prime Minister expects to see a rise in crime for a few days after a mass amnesty comes into force, and says the population should understand and get on with it. Bidzina Ivanishvili Saturday visited parliament in Kutaisi, and

News

Ukraine detains wanted Saakashvili ex-official

by | December 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Police in Ukraine have detained a former Georgian interior ministry official, who was announced wanted by Interpol and is sentenced to preliminary detention. Oleg Melnikov was detained in Kiev on grounds of information provided by Interpol

News, Politics

Revised 2013 budget presented

by | December 9, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The new government in Georgia has presented a 2013 budget of USD 5.3 billion. USD 4.4 billion of this is expenditure. The revised budget comes as a result of consultations after critical remarks by members of parliament, and the new

News

Ucha Nanuashvili is Georgia’s new ombudsman

by | December 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Ucha Nanuashvili has been chosen as Georgia's new ombudsman. The 38 year old lawyer has more than 15 years of experience as a human rights worker and is currently director of the non-governmental organization Human Rights Center. Mr Nanuashvili's

News

Ex-minister questioned again about fake passport

by | December 8, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Former Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili was Friday questioned a second time about his attempt to leave the country with a fake passport November 30. The interior ministry has made public several witness statements seeming to confirm that

News

Detainee in Georgia-Dagestan border shooting released

by | December 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Tbilisi City Court on Thursday released a man detained after a firefight on the border with Russia in late August, 2012. Akhmed Chatayev was released on USD 3 000 bail, which he will have to pay within 30 days. August 28, Georgia started

News

Fake passports were common in Georgia’s interior ministry

by | December 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s interior ministry is investigating one more attempt to jump the border with a fake passport. The ministry says it discovered a suspicious passport issued in the name of Gocha Tsereteli, but the photo shows former Deputy Interior

News, Politics

Failing revenues forces major shifts in budget

by | December 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The revenues into Georgia’s state accounts have decreased by USD 50.5 million lari compared to the budget. For this reason, priorities will be shifted until next year. According to the 2012 budget, revenues should have been USD 5 billion

In brief, News

Saakashvili criticizes government’s handling of NATO

by | December 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili says the meeting of the NATO-Georgia commission on Wednesday was not a step forward for the country. Saakashvili made the comment during a working visit to Poland. “Unfortunately, we didn't see

Interviews

Interview with Irakli Alasania

by | December 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s Defense Minister Irakli Alasania sat down with DF Watch to talk about the bilateral security and defense cooperation with the US which he said has already started. A few days ago bilateral consultations were held in Tbilisi

In brief, News

Rasmussen says NATO will not interfere in detention cases

by | December 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- NATO will not interfere in the legal process in Georgia in regard to the recent detentions of former government officials, the alliance's Secretary General says. After summing up a meeting of the NATO-Georgia commission in Brussels, Anders

News

Poll shows massive support for Ivanishvili government

by | December 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian Dream, the party of billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili which recently took over government power, has about five times more support than the National Movement party of President Mikheil Saakashvili. The is the result of a poll

In brief, News

Georgian patriarch hosts Israeli ambassador

by | December 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian Patriarch Ilia II hosted Israeli Ambassador Yuval Fuchs and his wife at the Patriarch's residence in Mtskheta, close to the capital. Fuchs thanked Illia II for his merits in deepening relations between the two states in regards to

News

Georgia places 51. on corruption ranking

by | December 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia comes in at 51. place in the latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). In the previous ranking, the country was in 64. place. The CPI is prepared by Transparency International and scores and ranks countries and territories based

News

Testimonies published in Merabishvili forged passport case

by | December 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian authorities are continuing their investigation into former interior minister Vano Merabishvili for trying to leave the country with a forged passport. According to the interior ministry, Merabishvili gave them false information on purpose

News

Westerwelle asks Georgia to stay its course

by | December 5, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Germany's foreign minister Guido Westerwelle says he hopes the change of government in Georgia won’t influence the country's course towards NATO and the EU. Westerwelle said this ahead of a meeting of the NATO-Georgia commission,

News

Lavrov asks Georgia for more details about dialogue

by | December 5, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Russia wants to know how Georgia plans to improve relations with its neighbors. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said this while answering questions at a press conference in connection with the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council

News

Georgia to introduce a traveling parliament

by | December 5, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The governing coalition in Georgia wants parliament back to the capital Tbilisi, but with an added option to meet at other places if necessary. Recent consultations among the Georgian Dream coalition, which came to power after the October 1,

In brief, News

Rasmussen comments on Georgia

by | December 5, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Bucharest decision that Georgia will become a member of NATO stands if Georgia fulfills necessary criteria, NATO Secretary General states. Anders Fogh Rasmussen was speaking at a press conference after a meeting of the NATO-Russia

News, Prisoner abuse

Georgia starts investigating prisoner abuse

by | December 5, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Prosecutors in Georgia are preparing to press charges in several cases of prison abuse, based on a series of leaked videos which spurred a major scandal in September. Chief Prosecutor Archil Kbilashvili said at a press conference on Tuesday

In brief, News

Court detains Data Akhalaia in absentia

by | December 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A former Interior Ministry official has been sentenced to pre-trial detention in absentia. Data Akhalaia, former chair of the feared Constitutional Security Department of the Interior Ministry, is charged, together with Soso Topuridze and Geronti

News

Georgia gets a new Chair of the Joint Staff

by | December 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia's Defense Minister and President have agreed on a new candidate for Chair of the Joint Staff. Irakli Alasania, Defense Minister on Tuesday presented Colonel Irakli Dzneladze who will be filling this post. A day before, consultations

In brief, News

Weapons cache discovered in Tbilisi

by | December 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Military Police in Georgia have seized about a hundred weapons of different types at an apartment in Tbilisi. Vako Avaliani, Advisor to the Defense Minister, on Monday said the weapons were not registered. The ministry learned about the location

In brief, News

Seven die in road accident

by | December 4, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Seven persons died Monday evening in a car accident in Western Georgia, according to the Interior Ministry. In a statement the ministry writes that the accident took place at about 20:00 in the village Tseva, in the Imereti region. A truck

In brief, News

NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels

by | December 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- NATO's Foreign ministers are meeting in Brussels December 4 and 5. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO Secretary General, will chair the meeting. Maia Panjikidze, Georgia's Foreign Affairs Minister arrived in Brussels Monday evening

News

UN vote on Palestine causes controversy in Georgia

by | December 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- It has caused great controversy in Georgia that its representatives at a session of the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of Palestine being given observer status in the world organization. The vote comes amidst a time of criticism

Opinion

Misunderstanding that Georgia will not Facilitate a Solution

by | December 3, 2012

If our strategic allies’ warning is about reversing the current legal processes, I would say it is impossible and could be even harmful. If it is about being more considerate in decision-planning and aware of the environment, I would agree and subscribe to it.

News

Data Akhalaia charged in absentia

by | December 3, 2012

Data Akhalaia, former chair of the Constitutional Security Department of the Interior Ministry, Georgia's domestic intelligence service, has been charged in absentia for abuse of powers and illegal deprivation of liberty. Akhalaia, the brother of the detained

News

New details about 2004 Robakidze murder

by | December 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Another Interior Ministry official has been interrogated regarding the murder of Buta Robakidze, who was killed by police in 2004. This time Levan Gvazava, Former Deputy Interior Minister was interrogated. He was called in for questioning on

In brief, News

Justice Minister in doubt about charges against ex-official

by | December 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The court released a former interior ministry official on bail until the trial, in the most controversial case among the recent detentions. Tengiz Gunava on Sunday was sentenced to pay USD 6 000 bail. First he was detained for illegal possession

News

Ex-minister questioned about forged passport

by | December 3, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Former Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili was Saturday interrogated. He did not comment except saying it’s a pity that the prime minister is using the interior ministry as a tool of repression against the opposition. The interior ministry

Society

World AIDS Day marked in Tbilisi

by | December 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Saturday evening around 30 local organizations marked World AIDS Day with an event on Freedom Square in Tbilisi. Volunteers and organizers of the event stood and formed of giant ribbon holding candles in red plastic glasses as a sign of solidarity

News

Editorial in the Post leads to controversy in Georgia

by | December 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- An editorial comment published by the Washington Post has caused great controversy in Georgia. “The magnate-turned-prime minister said last week that his first official visit to the United States had been postponed, which is a good thing.

News

George Soros visits Georgia

by | December 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Philanthropist George Soros on Saturday visited Georgia and met with Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. George Soros' visit will last for two days ending December 2. Ketevan Kutsishvili, Chair of Open Society Georgia Foundation, which was founded

News

Ex-minister wanted to fly to Armenia with forged passport

by | December 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The former interior minister Vano Merabishvili is under investigation for having tried to board a flight from Tbilisi go Yerevan Friday with a forged passport. Merabishvili was traveling together with President Saakashvili and others. According

News

Georgia turns to Interpol in hunt for torturers

by | December 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Four former officials from the Interior Ministry will be charged with illegal deprivation of freedom, torture and abuse of powers. Chief Prosecutor Archil Kbilashvili said at a briefing Friday that former Deputy Defense Minister Data Akhalaia,

News

Nuland: prosecutions must not appear politically motivated

by | December 1, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch -- U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland gave more details about a meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Georgian foreign minister Maia Panjikidze Thursday. Nuland said the two discussed the recent detentions of several

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