NGO news

Georgia improves on press freedom list

by | January 31, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia is placed 100 among 179 countries on World Press Freedom Index list 2013. This is an improvement by four places compared to last year. The report, published by Reporters without Borders, mentions Georgia only in passing together with a few

News

Government starts seizing minibuses of striking Tbilisi drivers

by | January 31, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The National Enforcement Bureau has started seizing the property of Tbilisi Minibus Ltd, which owns all the yellow minibuses in the capital. Their drivers are on strike for the seventh day. Employees of the bureau arrived in the garage in Gldani,

In brief, News

Agreement about foreign policy course

by | January 31, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The governing Georgian Dream coalition is ready to cooperate with the opposition about the foreign policy. Speaker of Parliament Davit Usupashvili said this on Wednesday after Saakashvili’s party accused the prime minister and his party

News

Minibus drivers on strike may be collectively fired

by | January 31, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The company which runs the minibuses in Tbilisi has given striking drivers an ultimatum: If they don’t agree with the company and end their protest, the company will fire them and announce new vacancies. But despite the threat, the drivers have

News

Saakashvili says pressure is used to force vote

by | January 31, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- President Mikheil Saakashvili says that the governing Georgian Dream coalition is unable to gather together a constitutional majority in parliament – that’s why they are threatening the opposition. Saakashvili said this while visiting Kutaisi,

News

Georgia to listen more to CoE advice when changing laws

by | January 30, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Georgian Speaker of Parliament promises that his country will not adopt constitutional changes that are not in line with recommendations by the Council of Europe's Venice Commission. After meeting with Venice Commission President Gianni

News

Georgia to replace 18 ambassadors

by | January 30, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Ivanishvili government is replacing Georgia's ambassadors to 18 countries, and has sent the list of candidates to President Mikheil Saakashvili for approval. After he has signed it, the list will be sent to parliament to get its approval,

In brief, News

Wants guarantees for Georgia’s western course

by | January 30, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- President Mikheil Saakashvili's National Movement party wants to tie Georgia to the mast in terms of the course of its foreign policy. Spokesperson Giorgi Baramidze Wednesday presented a draft bill that will write into legislation what the

News

Georgia hands out vouchers to farmers

by | January 30, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia is preparing to start distributing spring vouchers to its farmers. Preparations for spring are already finished, Agriculture Minister Davit Kirvalidze said after Tuesday's government session. The ministry has completed registering about 800

News

Georgia denies rumors of a return to CIS

by | January 30, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia is not considering to return to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). There is no contact with Russia about this issue. This is how official Tbilisi responds to Russian media who are reporting that there are negotiations with Georgia

In brief, News

BA cancels flights to Georgia

by | January 30, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- British Airways will temporarily cancel its flights to Georgia from April 1, 2013, spokesperson Irakli Gordeli told journalists on Monday. The airline started flights to Georgia in 2012. Gordeli said they made this decision in the beginning

News

Storm victims in Georgia angry over low compensation

by | January 29, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Victims of a hailstorm last summer in the Kakheti region are demonstrating in several towns and villages Tuesday, claiming that the authorities have inaccurately calculated their losses. There are rallies ongoing in the villages Gavazi and Kardenakhi

News

Saakashvili calls reopening Abkhazia railway ‘a Russian game’

by | January 29, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- President Mikheil Saakashvili says he will agree to open the railway line through Georgia’s breakaway region Abkhazia on one condition only: that the Russian occupation of Abkhazia is brought to an end. Otherwise, opening the railway will mean

News

Armenian Diocese gets involved in Georgian amnesty debate

by | January 29, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Armenian Diocese in Georgia accuses President Mikheil Saakashvili of making provocative statements regarding an ethnic Armenian prisoner, and calls on him to avoid such language. In 2008, Georgian police detained Vahagn Chakhaliani, a Georgian

News

Ex governor accused of money laundering

by | January 29, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Another former government official was January 26 released on USD 120 000 bail. Tsezar Chocheli used to be governor of the Mtskheta Mtianeti region in Saakashvili’s government. According to the Finance Ministry, he supported the signing of

News

Minibus strike leads to overcrowded public transport

by | January 28, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- On their fourth day of strike, minibus drivers in Tbilisi were joined by more supporters, while Tbilisians either travel by crowded buses or metro -- or walk. Even though Tbilisi City Hall took measures to increase the number of buses and wagons

Economy, News

Georgia’s foreign trade sees sharp drop

by | January 28, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia's foreign trade turnover experienced a sharp downward trend at the end of 2012, according to precise data from Georgian National Statistics Department, GeoStat. Although it is mostly the month of December which shows an alarming tendency,

In brief, News

Flights to Tbilisi canceled due to fog

by | January 28, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Tbilisi international airport on Monday had to cancel or divert several incoming international and local flights due to heavy fog. One flight from Moscow (04:00 pm) was delayed, while a flight from Ekaterinburg (10:20 pm) is canceled, as well as a

News

Holocaust Day marked in Georgia

by | January 28, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Sunday, as the Ombudsman’s Office organized a meeting at Library of Parliament in Tbilisi. There were invited representatives of different religious confessions, foreign diplomats,

News

Minibus strike stepped up after negotiations fail

by | January 28, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Almost no yellow minibuses are to be seen in the capital as the driver's strike continues. Sunday morning, a rally was held at one of the largest minibus garages, and drivers negotiated with Tbilisi Minibus, the company they work for, without

Elections '12-'13, News

Saakashvili’s party broke law, escapes consequences

by | January 27, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s new government has pardoned the National Movement party for law violations during the election campaign in 2012. The violations were described in a dossier published Friday by the Audit Office, a public body tasked with tracking

Society

Online shopping is catching on in Georgia

by | January 27, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- There is a small crowd gathered in the hall giving electronic signatures together with ID cards to get the parcel. 'Parcel from America', the tagline of the company says. There are several companies in Tbilisi like this one that offer to ship items

News

Tbilisi minibus strike continues

by | January 27, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The strike among minibus drivers in Tbilisi continued Saturday. More drivers joined the strike which started Friday, creating more problems for the population in the capital. Their demands are same as before: to reduce the price of travel

News

Georgian patriarch visits historic cemetery in Moscow

by | January 26, 2013
img_3345

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian Patriarch Ilia II Friday visited the All Saints Church in Sokol, in northern Moscow. The church is the site of a now defunct graveyard where there are buried many well-known Georgians and royals. There has been construction work in

News

Georgia expands mass amnesty

by | January 26, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Prison Minister says the number of prisoners that will be released under a new law on amnesty, will increase from 3 000 to 5 000. About 3 000 prisoners are already released, Prison Minister Sozar Subari told TV9 yesterday. The rest will leave

News

Saakashvili’s party ceases work in constitutional commission

by | January 26, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- President Mikheil Saakashvili’s party has ceased work in the commission organizing public hearings about proposed constitutional changes. The National Movement party's representatives say the reason is that they dislike statements made by the

Society

A third of minibus drivers in Tbilisi on strike

by | January 26, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- About 600 minibus drivers went on strike in Tbilisi Friday, causing crowding on buses and in the metro. The strike has the support of about 30 % of all minibus drivers in the capital. They are protesting against a new license system which has left

Opinion

Saakashvili and Friends

by | January 25, 2013

Certain powers in Europe declare unconditional support for Mikheil Saakashvili and his National Movement whom the Georgian people replaced peacefully, through tremendous efforts and social consolidation. This article offers the reader a description of reasons behind

News

Ivanishvili government to strengthen labor rights

by | January 25, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The new government in Georgia has presented a promised set of amendments to the labor code which it says will not only protect the rights of employers, like it was in the past. Georgia’s labor code was liberalized by the Saakashvili government

News

Medvedev and Ivanishvili shake hands: ‘It was a pleasure to meet’

by | January 25, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili says his brief encounter with his Russian counterpart was not more than a handshake and an introduction. But Ivanishvili says he had a feeling that Dimitry Medvedev is interested in mending relations

In brief, News

Three Georgian soldiers wounded in Afghanistan

by | January 25, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Three Georgian soldiers have been wounded in Afghanistan when insurgents opened fire as they were out on patrol. Corporal Erekle Kharshiladze and Junior Sergeant Iaho Kakulia received minor injuries. According to the Georgian Defense Ministry,

In brief, News

Georgia and Russia to meet at PACE spring session

by | January 25, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Representatives of Georgia and Russia will meet at the spring session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Tedo Japaridze, head of parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, told journalists about the planned meeting on Thursday

In brief, News

Medvedev and Ivanishvili’s 2-minute chat

by | January 25, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Maia Panjikidze on Thursday confirmed that the prime ministers of Russia and Georgia met unofficially in Davos. Panjikidze told journalists in Davos that Bidzina Ivanishvili and Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday met

Elections '12-'13, News

Ivanishvili government overhauling election legislation

by | January 25, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The new government has started an overhaul of the election legislation. A group in parliament will prepare a draft of amendments, but some experts argue that the non-governmental sector and parties outside parliament should also be involved in the

NGO news

A thousand public employees may have been forced to leave

by | January 25, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Transparency International Georgia claims pressure may have been involved as over a thousand public employees have left their jobs after the change of government in October, 2012. The group writes that employees of public institutions are under pressure

News

Saakashvili’s party claims harassment used to force vote

by | January 24, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A spokesperson for President Mikheil Saakashvili's National Movement Party accuses the new government of harassment of their parliament members. Davit Bakradze, former speaker of parliament for the National Movement, said in

Elections, Elections '12-'13, News

Ivanishvili demoted Alasania to end speculation

by | January 24, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili says the reason he removed Defense Minister Irakli Alasania from his post as vice prime minister was to end speculation in Alasania's party about making him a candidate for president. The prime minister

In brief, News

Ivanishvili and Medvedev meet at Davos

by | January 24, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Georgian and Russian Prime Ministers met for the first time in Davos Thursday and had a several minutes long conversation. This is the first time heads of government of the two countries have met since diplomatic relations between Georgia and Russia

In brief, News

Georgian patriarch met Putin

by | January 24, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian Patriarch Illia II on Wednesday met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and passed on greetings from Georgia’s Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. Vladimir Putin hosted Illia II and Kirill I of Russia at suburban residence in Novo

Economy, News

Ivanishvili to attend Russian breakfast in Davos

by | January 24, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili is invited to a Russian breakfast on Friday at the World Economic Forum in Davos. But Ivanishvili insists that Russian officials won’t attend and that he will only be meeting with Russian businessmen.

In brief, News

Canada and Georgia sign defense agreement

by | January 24, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia and Canada Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding about defense policy. The agreement was signed by Colonel Christopher R. Kilford and Davit Nardaia, Chairman of Georgia’s International Affairs and EU Integration Department at

Economy, News

Petitioning to decriminalize white collar crime

by | January 23, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The party of President Mikheil Saakashvili has started a campaign to gather signatures in support of his initiatives about tax amnesty and decriminalization of financial crime. The president presented his new initiatives to the government a few days

Elections, Elections '12-'13, News

Alasania to focus on defense

by | January 23, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has relieved Defense Minister Irakli Alasania of his additional responsibilities as vice prime minister. The press office of the PM says a decree was issued January 21 and that Ivanishvili will explain

Elections, Elections '12-'13, News

Alasania not a candidate for president

by | January 23, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Defense Minister Irakli Alasania says the Georgian Dream coalition has had ‘an awkward discussion’ about selecting a candidate for the presidential election, but he doesn’t consider himself a candidate, as he feels responsibility for the post he

News

Georgia pays back old debt to Gamsakhurdia family

by | January 23, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s new government will transfer USD 80 000 to the family of Zviad Gamsakhurdia, the country’s first president after independence. Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri told journalists on Tuesday that this money was debt that Eduard

In brief, News

Saakashvili era foreign policy deputy resigns

by | January 22, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia's Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Nikoloz Vashakidze resigned on Tuesday, citing incompatibility with the current foreign policy of the country. Vashakidze is one of the officials who have stayed over from the previous government. He

News

Georgia’s winning coalition criticized by its own activists

by | January 22, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Activists for the governing Georgian Dream coalition continue to rally people around the country in their demand to replace local government tops, including those appointed by their own party. Tuesday, two rallies are being launched in Tsalka, a town

Society

Georgian morning show anchors criticized Elton John

by | January 22, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Two well-known Georgian TV anchors are accused of having used a homophobic slur. January 18, one of the anchors of a morning talk show on Imedi TV said: ‘I’m honestly sorry for both surrogate children of Elton John’. The other one

News

Saakashvili says Georgia must choose between Russia and NATO

by | January 22, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- President Mikheil Saakashvili criticized his own prime minister for saying that Georgia should have good relations with both Russia and NATO. In a speech to the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (CoE) Monday, the president criticized his

News

Hailstorm victims to get compensation

by | January 22, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The victims of a hailstorm in Georgia last summer will finally get compensation, ranging from USD 3 600 to USD 4 800. Davit Narmania, Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure, said Monday that the loss was estimated in such extreme

News

Ivanishvili in Davos to market Georgia

by | January 21, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia's prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos and plans to hold meetings with leaders of several countries – but not Russia. Foreign Affairs Minister Maia Panjikidze said at a press conference Monday

News

New refugee plan to offer 300 families new homes

by | January 21, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The government in Georgia has decided to offer more than 300 refugees their own house in the regions for a symbolic price of one lari, or USD 0.60. Refugee Minister Davit Darakhvelidze told journalists after the government session Monday that even more

News

Georgia’s torture scandal gets worse: rape and urination

by | January 21, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia's chief prosecutor says he has "material" which is even more violent and shocking than videos leaked two weeks before the parliamentary election last year, which set off a wave of demonstrations. Chief Prosecutor Archil Kbilashvili

In brief, News

Georgian patriarch Ilia II visiting Moscow

by | January 21, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s Patriarch Illia II on Sunday left for Russia to receive an award. His visit will also include a meeting with the Russian president Vladimir Putin. “I want to ask you that I leave for Moscow and we will have a conversation on very

News

Escaped justice minister accused in Cartu case

by | January 21, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Former Justice Minister Zurab Adeishvili has been detained in absentia for things he did to Cartu Bank, which has links to current Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. Five other persons who are also implicated in the case were released on bail.

News

Body of Georgian mafia boss sent back to Moscow

by | January 20, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The body of a mafia boss who was killed in Moscow was on a plane to Georgia to be buried, but had to be sent back after Tbilisi refused to let it in. Aslan Usoyan, better known as Ded Hassan (Grandpa Hassan), a 76 year-old mafia boss was shot in

Economy, News

Georgia’s foreign trade turnover grew 11%

by | January 20, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s foreign trade turnover increased by 11 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year. Georgia’s National Statistics Department on Friday published a report which showed that the country's foreign trade turnover of goods was USD 10 220

News, Prisoner abuse

Prison torture whistleblower released on bail

by | January 20, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The man who published the videos that spurred the prisoner abuse scandal was today released on USD 1 200 bail. Tbilisi City Court Saturday evening released Vladimer Bedukadze, the former employee of Prison No 8, where the majority of torture cases

In brief, News

Political prisoners were blessed by the patriarch

by | January 19, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Political prisoners, who were released last Sunday when the new amnesty law came into force, visited the Georgian Patriarch, who blessed them. The prisoners came to Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi to attend the prayer for the Orthodox holiday of Epiphany,

News

Israel’s ambassador to Georgia offers cooperation

by | January 19, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Yuval Fuchs, Israel's Ambassador to Georgia, tells DF Watch that cooperation between Israeli and Georgia should be strengthened and he thinks Israel is able to help Georgia in terms of economic development, especially in agriculture. But there was

In brief, News

Saakashvili loses security force

by | January 19, 2013

TBILISI,DFWatch -- The Special State Protection Service of Georgia is now under the control of the government, and not the president. Parliament passed the law by 88 votes against 1 on Thursday. Earlier, the president had a right to appoint the chair of the Special

News, Prisoner abuse

Prisoner abuse whistleblower returns to Georgia

by | January 18, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Police in Georgia Thursday morning detained former prison guard Vladimer Bedukadze at Tbilisi airport, as he arrived from Istanbul. Bedukadze last year published five video clips documenting prisoner abuse, which caused a public outrage that led

News

Saakashvili wants expanded military pensions

by | January 18, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- President Mikheil Saakashvili asks the government to award pension to all families which have had one of their members die in the military. He presented the initiative at New Year's and described it again at a press conference at his palace

News

Saakashvili wants tougher privacy protection

by | January 18, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- President Mikheil Saakashvili proposes to make it a crime to publish material exposing someone's private life. A few days ago, the Prosecutor’s Office released information about a former government official ordering Defense Ministry officials

News

Saakashvili wants to decriminalize economic crime

by | January 18, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili suggests that the government decriminalizes economic crime, because of the importance of continuing to attract investments. Saakashvili said at a press conference at his palace in Tbilisi Thursday that

In brief, News

Tbilisi vice mayor released on bail

by | January 18, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A former Interior Ministry top was Thursday released on bail. Shota Khizanishvili, who after the National Movement's election loss became Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi, was included in a mass amnesty which applies to more than 18 500 prisoners. The

News

Georgia and Armenia plan common market

by | January 18, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A common economic market between Georgia and Armenia. This was one of the tangible results of a visit by Georgia’s Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili to neighboring Armenia Thursday. He was accompanied on his official visit by a government

News

Police: No pressure used against musician

by | January 17, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Ministry of Internal Affairs has finished looking into what happened when a well-known musician was questioned, and says it did not find any indications that he was pressured. Beka Gochiashvili, 16, a jazz pianist who lives in the US but

Elections '12-'13, News

Tight security around Kutaisi hearing

by | January 17, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Another public hearing is ongoing in Kutaisi to discuss constitutional amendments about changing the location of parliament and limiting the president’s power. Members of parliament from the majority Georgian Dream and the minority National

In brief, News

Rikoti tunnel closed for repair work

by | January 17, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Rikoti tunnel, which connects the western and eastern parts Georgia, will be closed from January 18 to January 30, from 20:00 in the evening until 08:00 in the morning, because of work to repair the electric system.

News

Further charges against Tbilisi vice mayor

by | January 17, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi, Shota Khizanishvili, was given an additional charge in relation with the disappearance of Besik Surmava, a former security guard for Bidzina Ivanishvili. Surmava disappeared shortly before the parliamentary election,

News

Ex Revenue Service head admits trying to bankrupt Cartu

by | January 17, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The former chairman of the Revenue Service ‘kind of admits’ being part of an effort to bankrupt Cartu Bank. Cartu Bank was one of the first targets of President Mikheil Saakashvili’s government after the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili

Elections '12-'13, News

Freedom House calls Georgia an electoral democracy

by | January 16, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The human rights group Freedom House writes in a new report that Georgia is now an electoral democracy. The group gives Georgia an improved democracy score in its report Freedom in the World 2013, as a consequence of the peaceful transfer

In brief, News

Ex intelligence official detained for abuse of powers

by | January 16, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Police in Georgia have detained a regional director of the feared domestic intelligence service, the Constitutional Security Department (CSD). Temur Pataridze, who headed the CSD (in Georgian abbreviated to KUD, or 'Kudi') in the Autonomous

News

Georgia TV channel hyped crisis over Karabakh comment

by | January 16, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian TV channel Rustavi 2 claimed there was a crisis between Georgia and Armenia after the Georgian Foreign Minister was misquoted regarding Nagorno-Karabakh. The comment fell during a visit to Lithuania. Mrs Panjikidze was asked by

In brief, News

UK has new temporary ambassador to Georgia

by | January 16, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Ambassador David Moran on January 14 began work as the temporary trustee of the UK to Georgia, the UK embassy in Tbilisi informs. On his arrival, Moran said he was pleased to be in Georgia and to start working and living in this beautiful country.

News

Musician says he was pressured by police

by | January 16, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A well-known Georgian musician claims he was harassed by police during a short stay in Georgia. Beka Gochiashvili, 16, a jazz pianist who lives in the US but spent his holidays here in Georgia, told the TV station Rustavi 2 about the incident

In brief, News

21 Georgians detained in France for bank card theft

by | January 15, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- French gendarmes have detained 21 Georgians suspected of cooperation with Russian mafia. According to reports in French media, they are accused of stealing hundreds of bank cards and attempting to break into accounts and steal money. The operation

News

Released political prisoners demand Saakashvili’s impeachment

by | January 15, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The political prisoners who were released on Sunday demand to impeach President Mikheil Saakashvili. The former prisoners think a person who allowed having hundreds of political prisoners, and having a torture policy in the prison system, where many

News

Georgia’s FM calls back ambassadors

by | January 15, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The president's administration has published a letter written by the foreign minister, who writes to the president asking to call back several ambassadors. This comes amid a period when the president and the prime minister are trying to portray

News

Georgian military intelligence used sex to blackmail

by | January 15, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Prosecutor’s Office has published a video clip apparently showing that officials in the previous government ordered the secret filming of public persons while engaging in sexual acts, as a means to blackmail them. A statement issued by

News

Saakashvili and Ivanishvili seen in rare tète-à-tète

by | January 14, 2013
bidzina-ivanishvili-mikheil-saakashvili-v-2013-01-13-official-ivanishvili-photo

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Georgian President and Prime Minister, who only have met once after the parliamentary election, Sunday celebrated the jubilee of the Georgian patriarch and shared what seemed to be a serious conversation. Last time the two leaders met

Elections '12-'13, News

On hunger strike to demand town’s regime change

by | January 14, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Local supporters of the governing Georgian Dream coalition in a town in western Georgia are on hunger strike for the eighth day demanding that the local mayor resigns. Organizers plan to hold a demonstration January 16 if their demand is not met.

In brief, News

Orthodox church leaders leaving Georgia

by | January 14, 2013
bidzina-ivanishvili-patriarch-ilia-ii-2013-01-13

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Clerics from different Orthodox countries will leave today, Monday. The guests arrived five days ago in order to congratulate Georgian Patriarch Ilia II with his 80th birthday and 35th year since his inauguration. Patriarch Bartholomew I of

NGO news

Unchanged bonus system for public employees

by | January 14, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A group claims a bonus system for public employees has not changed after the parliamentary election, but that there is slightly more transparency. According to the Ministry of Finance, bonuses given to public employees amounted to over 750 000 GEL

News

Georgia releases 190 political prisoners

by | January 13, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- 190 persons determined to be political prisoners were Sunday released from jail as a mass amnesty comes into force in Georgia. Prison Minister Sozar Subari was present at Prison No 6, which is in Rustavi, a town 20 km south of the capital.

News

Georgia releases prisoners against the president’s veto

by | January 13, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The speaker of the Georgian parliament Saturday signed into law a bill which will release 3 000 prisoners and halve the sentence for 17 000 others in a mass amnesty. The bill is one of the most tangible results of the unexpected outcome of the

Elections '12-'13, News

Saakashvili still appointing “his” people where he can

by | January 13, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- President Mikheil Saakashvili says he will continue to appoint his party members to bodies under his control. Saturday, Saakashvili appointed Khatuna Ochiauri, member of parliament (MP) before the last election, as governor of Mtskheta Mtianeti

News

Georgia to declare ex justice minister wanted through Interpol

by | January 12, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia is sending documentation to Interpol in order to announce former Justice Minister Zurab Adeishvili wanted and issue a so-called Red Notice. The Interior Ministry on Friday said Interpol's National Central Bureau in Georgia has submitted

Elections '12-'13, News

Saakashvili’s party under pressure in Tetritskaro

by | January 12, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Friday, another rally was held to demand the resignation of the local government in a small town in eastern Georgia. The population of Tetritskharo, which lies in the Kvemo Kartli region, doesn’t want the former ruling party to govern their town,

In brief, News

Saakashvili wants a doubling of pensions for veterans

by | January 12, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- President Mikheil Saakashvili has presented a new initiative to double pensions for veterans and allocate permanent pensions for families of soldiers and policemen who have died in the line of duty. The president's administration has prepared a

News

Georgia amnesty to begin on Sunday

by | January 11, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Prison Ministry plans to release political prisoners no later than Sunday, immediately after a new law on amnesty comes into force. Prison Minister Sozar Subari said after the government session today that the ministry will publish a list

News

Okruashvili free on bail

by | January 11, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili was Friday set free on bail, as prosecutors have dropped two of the four charges against him. The charge regarding setting up illegal armed units was today withdrawn, while a USD 9 000 bail was set

News

Extradition of Melnikov to Georgia postponed

by | January 11, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A court in Kiev has prolonged the pretrial detention of a former Georgian interior ministry employee for 12 more months. Oleg Melnikov, who used to work at the Constitutional Security Department, probably the most feared body in Saakashvili’s

Elections '12-'13, News

Georgian government forgives Saakashvili associates

by | January 11, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Parliament’s judiciary committee has started reviewing a draft bill which will free former government officials from responsibility for crimes committed while in office. Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili first announced the idea in the end of

News

Bacho wants to be tried by a jury

by | January 11, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The former Georgian defense minister Bacho Akhalaia who is now in detention facing three charges wants to be judged by a jury. Davit Dekanoidze, lawyer of Akhalaia, on Wednesday said at a press conference that his client wants his

Elections '12-'13, News

Saakashvili appoints official accused of corruption as governor

by | January 10, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvil has appointed a former government official who has twice been detained after the change of government as new governor in the Samegrelo region. Tengiz Gunava used to be Chairman of the General Inspection

News

Further testimony withdrawn in Okruashvili trial

by | January 10, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Another witness has changed his testimony in one of several court cases against former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili. The changed testimony led the Appeals Court to strip the case of one of the charges. Orkuashvili was minister

In brief, News

Three Russian climbers dead in avalanche

by | January 10, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Four Russian climbers have been taken by an avalanche in the Kazbegi mountains in northern Georgia. One has been brought to safety alive, the other three are presumed dead. Rescue workers have been unable to find their bodies because of thick fog. The four

News

Saakashvili claims Ivanishvili gov’t halting construction projects

by | January 10, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- President Mikheil Saakashvili accuses the new government of suspending a number of projects which his government started, and causing a loss of thousands of jobs. A few days ago, he said that the previous government started many projects and

News

Juries to decide fate of ex officials in Georgia

by | January 10, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia is to use juries in trials concerning crimes committed by officials, including abuse of powers. The initiative comes from the Prosecutor’s Office and was picked up by the Justice Ministry, which has prepared a draft bill and presented

News

Witnesses change testimony in Okruashvili trial

by | January 9, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Two witnesses have changed their testimony in the case against Irakli Okruashvili, the former Defense Minister who turned against Saakashvili’s government and had to leave the country before he was sentenced to eleven years in jail. There are four

News

Thick snow slowing down traffic in Georgia

by | January 9, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Thick snow is now covering most of Georgia. Some villages are isolated while there are restrictions on traffic on several roads. Tbilisi airport works normally, but a few flights have been canceled: 17:00, January 9, from Mestia to Tbilisi, 09:30,

Elections '12-'13, News

Further details about fraud at pro-Saakashvili campaign rallies

by | January 9, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Prosecutor’s Office has forwarded the National Audit Office results of its investigation into the National Movement Party's eleven rallies last September. The rallies were held September 8 in different regions of the country to show off support.

News

Prosecutors drop some of the charges against Okruashvili

by | January 9, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Prosecutor’s Office has dropped two out of four charges against former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili. He was part of the government of Saakashvili’s National Movement party, but turned against him and was forced to leave the country

News

Georgia to end the draft by 2016

by | January 9, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Ivanishvili government is reducing the length of compulsory military service from fifteen to twelve months. Defense Minister Irakli Alasania on Tuesday said this will be the first stage of a reform to reduce the length of military service

In brief, News

Jubilee brings congregation of world church leaders to Tbilisi

by | January 8, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A large number of clerics from different Orthodox countries will start gathering in Tbilisi tomorrow to mark the 80-year jubilee of the Georgian Patriarch Illia II. Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople is among the guests arriving in Georgia

News

Georgia ends battle operations in Afghanistan after 2014

by | January 8, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian troops serving in Afghanistan will not carry out battle functions after 2014, when the ISAF mission will end, but they will help Afghan security structures and army in military training. Irakli Alasania, Georgia’s Defense Minister,

News

Georgia makes it free to give birth

by | January 8, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The new Georgian government has decided to make child delivery completely free from July 1, 2013. Dimitry Khundadze, head of the parliamentary committee on healthcare, said on Monday that expenses for child delivery will be completely covered

Society

Thousands walked through Tbilisi to mark Christmas

by | January 8, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A traditional Alilo procession was held in Tbilisi on Monday to celebrate Christmas according to the Julian Calendar. Alilo, which is also a Christmas chant, was organized in each region and city of Georgia, as well as different districts

Elections '12-'13, News

GD: Saakashvili can dissolve parliament, not dismiss gov’t

by | January 8, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Parliament will go back to work from mid-January in order to start work on a bill about constitutional amendments which will prevent the president from dismissing the government. Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili's government proposes to change

In brief, News

Heavy snow fall in Georgia

by | January 7, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- There are restrictions on road traffic in northern Georgia due to heavy snow fall. There is danger of landslide on the road between Kobi and Gudauri, a resort in Kazbegi the mountains, and along the road Mtskheta-Stepandtsminda-Larsi, due to a snow

Elections '12-'13, News

Saakashvili supporters gather signatures for him to stay

by | January 7, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A group of supporters of the former government have started gathering signatures in support of President Mikheil Saakashvili. The group has published a petition on its Facebook page which says that according to the constitution, Mikheil Saakashvili

In brief, News

Two Alilo processions in Tbilisi

by | January 7, 2013

Tbilisi, DF Watch - Georgia marks Christmas on January 7 by Julian calendar by two major picturesque processions in Tbilisi and many other towns of Georgia. Alilo, a Christmas chant, is organized almost in each district and regions of the country.

Elections '12-'13, News

800 000 Georgians demand Saakashvili’s resignation

by | January 7, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Five years after the last presidential election in Georgia, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) claim that they have gathered 800 000 signatures in support of a demand that President Saakashvili should resign. Georgian Dream, the new ruling party,

News

Escaped ex Justice Minister detained in absentia

by | January 6, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Tbilisi City Court Saturday sentenced former Justice Minister Zurab Adeishvili in absentia to preliminary detention. Both his Georgian passport and diplomatic passport have been suspended. He left Georgia after the National Movement's election

Elections '12-'13, News

Saakashvili celebrated two terms as president

by | January 6, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- President Mikheil Saakashvili's second term ended on Saturday, January 5. Five years ago, on January 5, 2008, Georgia held a snap presidential election, following a period of social unrest. The protests reached their peak on November 7, 2007,

News

Georgian ISAF soldier buried today

by | January 5, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Sergeant Giorgi Kikadze, the nineteenth Georgian soldier to lose his life in Afghanistan, was buried today in Rustavi. This was the second public funeral organized for a Georgian soldier dying while taking part in ISAF operations. His body was

News

Saakashvili agrees to dismiss many of “his” ambassadors

by | January 5, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili Friday evening signaled that he largely agrees with the Ivanishvili government over what to do with the ambassadors. In a statement, Saakashvili's press office writes that the president has decided to call

News

U.S. military sends condolences to Georgia over dead soldier

by | January 5, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and James G. Stavridis, Commander of the U.S.' European Command and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe have expressed their condolences over the death of Georgian Sergeant Giorgi

News

Georgian worshipers denied entry to Israel

by | January 4, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s Foreign Ministry is looking into why the Israel has denied a group of Georgian worshipers entry visa. Foreign Affairs Minister Maia Panjikidze responded to reports that Georgian worshipers were denied entry into Israel for Christmas.

Elections '12-'13, News

Government partners to compete in local election

by | January 4, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The parties that make up the Georgian Dream coalition will compete against each other in the local election in 2014, Levan Berdzenishvili, one of the coalition leaders, said today. The next election is the presidential election in October, 2013.

News

‘Georgia to replace 18 ambassadors’

by | January 4, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Salome Samadashvili, Georgia’s ambassador to the EU, claims 18 ambassadors will be replaced by the new government, but Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze says the number is only five. Samadashvili on Friday told Maestro TV that she was told that

In brief, News

Ilia II to receive religious award

by | January 4, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian Patriarch Ilia II will visit Russia in the end of January to receive a special award. He is to receive the Russian Church’s International Foundation for the Unity of Orthodox Christian Nations, which is granted annually as a recognition

News

Georgian amnesty to free 3 000, halve sentence for 14 000

by | January 4, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The law on amnesty, which is in about to be enforced, will release 3 000 prisoners and halve the sentence for 14 000 more. Prison Minister Sozar Subari explained to journalists on Thursday the exact number of prisoners the new law will apply to.

Interviews

Georgia received complaint from another country about corruption

by | January 4, 2013

Foreign Affairs Minister Maia Panjikidze confirms in an interview with DF Watch that she has received a two page letter from a foreign country complaining about one of its citizens having been subjected to pressure from the previous Georgian government. She said a high

News

Body of Georgian soldier brought home from Afghanistan

by | January 3, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The nineteenth Georgian soldier to die as part of the ISAF mission in Afghanistan will be buried January 5. The Ministry of Defense will cover the total costs of the funeral. December 19, Sergeant Giorgi Kikadze was announced missing. He was last

News

Saakashvili marks New Year with troops in Afghanistan

by | January 3, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili celebrated New Year together with Georgian soldiers serving in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. The president's press office yesterday informed that there was intense shooting while the president was in the

In brief, News

Georgia becomes chair of GUAM

by | January 3, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- From January 1, 2013, Georgia holds the chairmanship of GUAM, an international organization between Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova. After assuming leadership Tuesday, Georgia presented a program to other member states. Georgia’s

News

Olympic champion’s house riddled with bullets

by | January 3, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The house of an Olympic champion who represents the Georgian Dream coalition in parliament was riddled with automatic rifle fire the early morning on New Year's Day. The shooting happened at 1 am on Tuesday in Akhmeta, a town about 150

Interviews

How Ivanishvili will reform Georgia’s courts

by | January 2, 2013

Deputy Minister of Justice Alexandre Baramidze says that there are many regulations in the current judicial system which contradict the Georgian constitution and international human rights principles. The reform of the court system which the Ministry of Justice has

Elections '12-'13, News

Saakashvili suggests plan of cooperation

by | January 2, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- President Mikheil Saakashvili says he is ready to cooperate with the governing Georgian Dream and its leader and has proposed a plan of cooperation. The invitation came during Saakashvili's New Year's speech Monday night. He focused on cooperation

News

Tbilisi mayor cancels outdoors New Year’s party

by | January 2, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- 2012 ended differently than previous years for Tbilisians, as there was no concert or other event organized in the center of the city on New Year's Eve. Mayor Gigi Ugulava said the reason is that people don't like outside concerts and therefore

News

Ivanishvili paid USD 122 000 in taxes

by | January 1, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The richest person in Georgia, Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, paid a total of USD 122 407 in taxes, according to  property declaration published in accordance with legal requirements. The declaration is 30 pages long and shows that apart from

Society

Controversial Christmas commercials in Georgia

by | January 1, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Another TV commercial in Georgia has caused controversy, as critics says it is sexist. The ad is for Elit Electronics, a large electronics stores chain, and shows a woman sitting in the front of a car, while a man tries to squeeze all the Christmas

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