News, Politics

State health insurance becomes a reality for Georgians

by | February 28, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--A new health insurance program became available to Georgians from Thursday. The program is open for citizens from the age of 6 to 60 who have not had health insurance before. Health insurance for every Georgian citizen was a part of the Georgian

News

Ex interior minister in court, supporters rally

by | February 28, 2013
bacho-akhalaia-tbilisi-court-2013-02-28

TBILISI, DFWatch--The most controversial court case against former officials continued on Thursday, as ex interior minister Bacho Akhalaia made another appearance in the city court here in Tbilisi. The close Saakashvili ally is charged with abuse of powers, illegal

News

Did Saakashvili drive without escort?

by | February 28, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili Wednesday appeared to drive his blue Nissan to the airport together with his wife without the protection of guards. He explained that it is the fifth week he hasn't been using the services of the president's

NGO news

Georgian media continue to be polarized

by | February 28, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--According to a new survey the main problem in Georgian media is polarization. This is the main finding of a new report based on data gathered by four Georgian NGOs: Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), Internews – Georgia, International

Economy, News

Saakashvili’s gaffe about Russian banks taking over

by | February 28, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Mikheil Saakashvili is concerned that Russian banks lately have bought two Georgian banks and plan to make more deals with other banks in Georgia. The Georgian banks in question deny the content of what the president said. Also the banks in

News

Competing versions of Georgian events heard in Brussels

by | February 27, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili accuses the Ivanishvili government of failing to adopt a common document with EU, while it  accuses him of  telling lies. Tuesday, during a meeting with TV reporters, the president said that for the first time

Elections '12-'13, News

Norland asks government to avoid vengeance

by | February 27, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--US Ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland asks the Ivanishvili government to avoid vengeance as it seeks to prosecute many of the people who ran the country while President Mikheil Saakashvili held power. “There was a need now to balance the desire for

In brief, News

Saakashvili visits Azerbaijan

by | February 27, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Mikheil Saakashvili today starts a two day visit to Azerbaijan. The visit will take place on February 27-28 and includes a personal meeting with Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev, according to the Georgian president's press office.

News, Politics

Saakashvili invites Ivanishvili to meeting

by | February 27, 2013
mikheil-saakashvili-tv-interview-2013-02-26

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Mikheil Saakashvili says he wants to sit down with Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili to talk about how to solve a gridlocked power-sharing process. “I think we should talk with the government about many issues, like relations with Russia,

News

Saakashvili refuses to use the security service

by | February 27, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Mikheil Saakashvili refuses to use the Special State Protection Service service after bitter negotiations with the government about the size and financing of the unit. Saakashvili said during a press conference on Tuesday evening

News, Politics

Ivanishvili agrees to give former officials amnesty

by | February 26, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili says his Georgian Dream coalition will agree to a demand put forth by President Mikheil Saakashvili's National Movement and offer former government officials amnesty. The head of government writes in an open letter

Economy, News

Russia sends experts to examine Georgian wine making

by | February 26, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Six Russian experts yesterday landed in Georgia to inspect the production process of wine with an eye to returning the beverage back onto Russian dinner tables. They are sent here by the Russian consumer protection agency CPS to inspect companies

News

Two policemen detained in Robakidze case

by | February 26, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Police have detained two former policemen involved in the Robakidze case; a police operation in 2004 which led to the death of a 19-year old man. The two, Maizer Liparteliani and Levan Lobzhanidze, were detained Monday evening because they changed

In brief, News

EU and Georgia agree on visa action plan

by | February 26, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--EU has agreed with Georgia about a visa action plan that may one day allow Georgians to enter Europe without a visa. But first, the country must pass through a set of requirements in data safety, border management, migration, public order, security

Elections '12-'13, News

Local government reform to involve people more

by | February 26, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The goal of a new reform of local government is to involve locals in solving their own problems, like bad roads and failing water supply. The Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure on Monday laid out its new decentralization plan and

In brief, News

Ugulava free without bail

by | February 25, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court did not listen to a plea from the Prosecutor's Office to suspend Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Uglava from his position. Neither did it set bail conditions. Monday, the court reviewed the charges against Ugulava, a member of President

In brief, News

Georgia and Russia to meet in Prague for direct talks

by | February 25, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia and Russia will meet for a second round of direct talks in Prague on March 1. The two countries have still not established formal relations following a brief war in 2008. Georgia's envoy, Zurab Abashidze, told journalists Monday that they will

News

Prosecutor wants Tbilisi mayor suspended from office

by | February 25, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Prosecutor’s Office wants Tbilisi mayor Gigi Ugulava removed from office and on a USD 600 000 bail as he awaits trial for money laundering and embezzlement. Even though Ugulava, a close ally of President Mikheil Saakashvili, is an elected

News

Saakashvili pressured TV investor: ‘You are a smart Jew’

by | February 25, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Mikheil Saakashvili may be asked to give testimony as a witness in the case about the takeover of a TV station. The reason is that an investor who played a key role in bringing Imedi TV under his government's control in 2008 said he was

News

Saakashvili criticizes ex minister for running away

by | February 25, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian president says it was not right of the former justice minister Zurab Adeishvili to run away from the country and that he wouldn't have done the same. But Mikheil Saakashvili also said that Zurab Adeishvili had planned to leave Georgia

In brief, News

Ex-minister involved in an unexpected killing released on bail

by | February 24, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -A former sports minister detained for being involved in a fatal gun accident that killed his friend was Saturday released on GEL 3,000 (USD 1,800) bail by Tbilisi court, along with two other men charged for the same incident. Lado Vardzelashvili, former sports

NGO news

New book details ownership in Misha’s Georgia

by | February 24, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--After the election for parliament last year, the process of changing and reallocation ownership has begun, says journalist Paul Rimple, who has published a new book called Who Owned Georgia. In it, he vividly depicts the very sophisticated quasi-legal

News, Politics

Saakashvili’s party rallies to support Tbilisi mayor

by | February 24, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava was charged with money laundering and embezzlement of the city's money, but not detained. Politicians from the United National Movement party of President Mikheil Saakashvili on Friday hastily left parliament Kutaisi

Elections '12-'13, News, Politics

Saakashvili plans to stay in politics

by | February 23, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Mikheil Saakashvili, who will leave office in October, says that he doesn’t plan to leave politics, because this would mean running away from the battlefield and letting everything which he has built be ruined. Saakashvili has served

News

Saakashvili talks about errors in unusual talk show appearance

by | February 23, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili made a rare appearance on a TV talk show and spoke about his own and his government's errors. Saakashvili was invited to Channel 1 to answer

News

Tbilisi mayor appoints his own replacement

by | February 23, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--As Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava is slapped with charges of money laundering and embezzlement, he appoints who will replace him if he is arrested. Thursday evening, Ugulava presented Sevdia Ugrekhelidze, a Tbilisi Council member, as the new first vice

In brief, News

Lawmakers in Georgia discuss using national dress

by | February 23, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Lawmakers in Georgia Friday discussed a proposal to allow members of the assembly to wear the national dress Chokha while in parliament. The bill is the initiative of Bidzina Gujabidze from the Conservative Party, who argues that the physical

News

Tbilisi mayor charged with money laundering

by | February 22, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava is charged with money laundering and embezzlement of public money. Ugulava is a close ally of President Mikheil Saakashvili and in 2010 became the first elected mayor of the capital. Natia Sukhiashvili, spokesperson for

News

Ex minister detained after fatal gun accident

by | February 22, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The former minister of sport and youth affairs, a close ally of president Saakashvili, has been detained by Tbilisi police, along with two of his friends, after the accidental killing of another friend who was also a former ministry employee.

News

Ivanishvili introduces regional democracy

by | February 22, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Ivanishvili government plans to do away with the governors in Georgia after the local election in 2014 and replace them with elected councils, Davit Narmania, Minister of Infrastructure and Regional Development says. A governor is a trustee

News

Saakashvili’s party to demonstrate against foreign policy change

by | February 22, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Mikheil Saakashvili’s party plans a rally on April 19 to demand that the country's western policy continues. The Secretary General of the National Movement says ‘the vague foreign policy’ by Ivanishvili’s government puts the country in danger.

News

Airing of edited Robakidze video condemned

by | February 22, 2013
demonstration-at-rustavi-2-2013-02-21-londa-beria-photo

TBILISI, DFWatch--The public defender and several major non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Georgia condemn Rustavi 2 TV for airing the footage of the 2004 police raid which killed a teenager. The Robakidze incident has been in the focus of the public interest

News, Politics

Saakashvili demands to hold address to parliament

by | February 22, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Mikheil Saakashvili demands that parliament allows him to use his constitutional right to address the nation from parliament. Thursday, the Georgian leader sent an open letter to MPs calling on them to follow the constitution, which obliges

News

Robakidze video is edited, says expert

by | February 21, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--An independent expert claims that a video which was released a few days ago regarding Buta Robakidze’s murder, is edited. Marika Toklikishvili, who is an expert on audio and video footage, said at a press conference Thursday that even at first look,

News

Moscow issues arrest warrant for Georgian politician

by | February 21, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--A court in Moscow Thursday issued a warrant for the arrest in absentia of a Georgian politician who is accused of organizing mass riots in Russia. Russian media writes that the court agreed with investigators to impose restraint measures and confine

News

OSCE to study trials of ex officials in Georgia

by | February 21, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) Wednesday started a monitoring of the trials against former government officials in Georgia. According to the OSCE webpage, the monitoring started with the pretrial hearing of Bacho

News

Controversial trial postponed again

by | February 21, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--A trial drawing great public attention against former government officials was again rescheduled for February 28 by Tbilisi City Court on Wednesday. Tbilisi City Court held pretrial hearing for Bacho Akhalaia, a Saakashvili loyalist and former

Elections '12-'13, News

Constitution talks break down

by | February 20, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The negotiations between Saakashvili’s party and Ivanishvlii’s coalition about constitutional changes have failed, because the president demanded an amnesty for all crimes committed by officials in his government, a demand rejected by Georgian Dream.

News

Georgia to build new mosque in Batumi

by | February 20, 2013

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Georgia has found a solution to a controversy concerning a planned mosque in Batumi, a city on the Black Sea coast. Locals have been outraged over the plans, as it should have been named after the historic Turkish leader Aziz. Now, the government

In brief, News

Akhalaia expected in court today

by | February 20, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court today holds pretrial hearing in the case against Saakashvili loyalist Bacho Akhalaia and other former government officials. The hearing has been rescheduled several times on request by the Chief Prosecutor. Wednesday's hearings

News, Politics

Saakashvili allies lose another seat in capital

by | February 20, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The National Movement (UNM) has lost one more member of Tbilisi City Council, but still has a majority of seats. Nikoloz Khachirashvili on Tuesday said he is leaving the UNM faction, but will remain an independent and not join any other faction.

News

Re-edited video published by cop in Robakidze case

by | February 20, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Saakashvili faithful TV station Rustavi 2 has aired a 5-minute clip which appears to free police of culpability for the death of nineteen year-old Buta Robakidze, who was shot during a police operation on November 24, 2004. But the clip, the source

News

Saakashvili and Ivanishvili to write letter to NATO

by | February 19, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian prime minister and president are considering writing a letter to NATO about integration issues, according to the country's foreign minister. Foreign Affair Minister Maia Panjikidze on Tuesday visited parliament in Kutaisi in western

In brief, News

Cecilia Malmström to visit Georgia

by | February 19, 2013

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Commissioner Cecilia Malmström will visit Georgia and bring action plan for visa liberalization issues on February 24. Maia Panjikidze, Foreign Affair Minister on Tuesday met with the National Movement members in parliament

In brief, News

Georgia gets new business ombudsman

by | February 19, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili Tuesday appointed a new business ombudsman. He said this will make it easier for them to make the government aware of problems they may have. The announcement took place at a meeting with business

News

Alasania: Top NATO people to visit Georgia

by | February 19, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The visit of NATO’s top political governing body to Georgia has been agreed upon, said Irakli Alasania, Georgia’s Minister of Defense, to journalists on Monday. He said that the exact date of the visit of the North Atlantic Council as well as the

Elections '12-'13, News, NGO news

Ivanishvili government’s first 100 days

by | February 19, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Georgia met for a conference on Monday to sum up the three months after the parliamentary election of Georgia. Representatives of NGOs working in the human rights field described the government's first 100

News

Disagreement over diplomatic passport

by | February 18, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian justice minister and a member of parliament from the National Movement party (UNM) Monday argued about the issuing of a diplomatic passport during a conference to sum up the government's first 100 days in power. The two were attending

News

National Movement drops the bill but still adherent to constitutional guarantees

by | February 18, 2013

Tbilisi, DF Watch - President Saakashvili’s United National Movement Party withdraws the draft bill which legally safeguards Georgia’s Western-oriented foreign policy in order 'not to interrupt' the process of negotiations between the government and the UNM.

In brief, News

Foreign experts to study high profile cases

by | February 18, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--A group of foreign experts is to monitor ongoing high profile criminal cases in Georgia. Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, who took the initiative, told journalists that President Mikheil Saakashvili has agreed to establishing the group. Another

Economy, News

More money flowing into Georgia

by | February 18, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--More than USD 94 million was transferred to Georgia from abroad in January, 2013. This is more than USD 10 million more than the same period in 2012. The total amount of money transfers in January was USD 94.1 million, which is 11.5 percent

Elections '12-'13, News

Georgian parliament to debate foreign policy constitution

by | February 18, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Lawmakers in Georgia today start debating whether to write its foreign policy into the constitution, and if so, how many details of it. Foremost among issues likely to end up in the constitution is EU and NATO membership aspirations. The bill,

In brief, News

UNDP chief visits Georgia

by | February 17, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--UNDP chief Helen Clark is expected in Georgia February 17 for a three-day visit. According to the UNDP, the organization's administrator will hold meetings with government officials and representatives of local and international organizations. She

News

Georgia and Russia plan second bilateral meeting

by | February 17, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--A second meeting between Georgian and Russian representatives will be held on March 1, 2013, in a European country, but not in Geneva. Zurab Abashidze, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Russian Relations, said in an interview on

News

Ivanishvili reveals what he and Saakashvili talked about

by | February 17, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has lifted the veil on what was said in an unusual conversation between him and President Mikheil Saakashvili last month. The two leaders, who are maneuvering a precarious power-sharing situation,

Elections '12-'13, News

Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream holds party conference

by | February 16, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Bidzina Ivanishvili was Saturday elected honorable chairman of the Georgian Dream Democratic Georgia Party. The Prime Minister’s Party on Saturday held a large congress at Tbilisi Concert Hall to elect a political council and a party chairman.

News

Ugulava told police: ‘If you want a show, here is your show’

by | February 16, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava has left the police building after three hours of questioning. He said that he thinks he won’t be questioned again about the street violence he was involved in on February 8. The mayor was questioned as a witness

News

US congressmen ask Kerry to ‘avert crisis’ in Georgia

by | February 16, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Four members of the US Congress have appealed to Secretary of State John Kerry to use the full diplomatic resources of his department to avert a political crisis in Georgia. The magazine The Hill on Friday published a letter signed by Michael Turner,

Elections '12-'13, News

Agreement about reducing powers of president

by | February 16, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian Dream coalition and the National Movement Party agree to reduce the powers of the president. This will need immediate enforcement of that part of the constitution which applies to the powers of the president and which should have been

News

Georgia to move 30 Turkish prisoners to Turkey

by | February 16, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia is to speed up the transfer of Turkish prisoners to Turkey, to let them be closer to their family as they serve out the rest of their sentence. The government wants to make it easier for people to care for a family member who is in prison,

News

Tbilisi mayor to be questioned about violence today

by | February 16, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court Friday issued a ruling that orders the city's mayor, Gigi Ugulava, to appear before the police and explain himself about a massive street scuffle that he was involved in February 8. The court instructs Interior Ministry employees

Elections '12-'13, News

By-elections to be held April 27

by | February 15, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--By-elections will be held April 27 in three districts of Georgia to fill seats made vacant when members of parliament were appointed to government positions last year. The three districts are Nadzaladevi in Tbilisi, and Baghdati and Samtreida, two

News

Saakashvili’s party loses seat in Tbilisi council

by | February 15, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The National Movement continues to lose members in the Tbilisi City Council, but still controls a majority of seats. Zura Gachechiladze, known as Shonzo, on Friday left the National Movement and joined the alternative Freedom faction. After

News

Georgia to have constitution define NATO and EU wish

by | February 15, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The governing coalition in Georgia accepts a demand made by President Saakashvili's National Movement party to write the country's foreign policy course into the constitution. This means that Georgia's aspirations to become a member of NATO

News

Saakashvili ally wanted in Russia for planning revolution

by | February 15, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Russia has declared a Georgian member of parliament internationally wanted, accusing him of past ties to the Russian opposition and having tried to finance a revolution. According to reports in the Russian media, investigators have charged Givi

News

Rail workers on strike in Khashuri

by | February 15, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Around 800 rail workers in Khashuri in central Georgia went on strike Wednesday,demanding increased salaries and to restore benefits which they used to have years ago. There are no staff available on the railway section between Zestaponi further west

Elections '12-'13, News, NGO news

Saakashvili’s local people are leaving

by | February 15, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--According to a new survey, the number keeps growing of public employees who are members of President Saakashvili's party and have been fired after the parliamentary elections of October, 2012. The report, which is published by International Society

In brief, News

Ivanishvili visiting Turkey

by | February 14, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian head of government Bidzina Ivanishvili is on a one-day visit to Turkey accompanied by some of his ministers. According to the prime minister's press office, the delegation plans to hold meetings with Turkey's president, prime minister

In brief, News

Court to consider forcing mayor to come for questioning

by | February 14, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian Interior Ministry appeals to Tbilisi City Court asking for it to issue a court order requiring the Tbilisi mayor to appear for questioning. Mayor Ugulava has been asked repeatedly to come to the police and talk about the violence outside

Society

200 children in Tbilisi suffered food poisoning

by | February 14, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Nearly 200 children were poisoned at Tbilisi kindergartens in November, 2012. According to the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), the reason was bad quality products. Representatives of the National Food Agency say that sanctions have

News

Georgia unveils memorial to victims of Saakashvili regime

by | February 14, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s justice minister on Saturday opened a memorial for the victims of the Saakashvili regime, which held government power in the country from 2004 to 2012. The memorial stone at the entrance to the House of Justice bears the names of Zurab

News

Scuffle in TV studio during debate about violence

by | February 14, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--A member of parliament from the opposition and one from the ruling coalition beat each other live on Maestro TV Wednesday evening during a discussion about political violence. The two briefly clashed together while discussing who was to blame for the

News

Tbilisi Mayor refuses to come for questioning about violence

by | February 13, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--For several days, investigators in Georgia have been calling National Movement members in for questioning without them appearing, including the Tbilisi mayor. Mayor Gigi Ugulava's answer has repeatedly been to call on the investigators to come to his

Elections '12-'13, News

Power-sharing talks continue in Georgia

by | February 13, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The two main political blocs in Georgia met Tuesday to try to agree on how to change the constitution, but without results. Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili from the governing Georgian Dream coalition said he believes it is possible to bring

Opinion

What Constitutions are not about and what foreign policy is about

by | February 13, 2013

Polemical reflections on the UNM's proposal for the constitutionalization of Georgian Foreign Policy Constitutions are binding principles that are non-negotiable in the context of a polity. This is why principles enshrined in a Constitution set minimum benchmarks,

News

EU to support Georgia’s reforms with €20 mill

by | February 13, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--EU Tuesday signed an agreement with Georgia which will release €20 million in aid for furthering democratic reforms in the country. According to an EU press release, the money will be spent on institution building aimed at supporting reforms

In brief, News

Panetta briefed Alasania about Afghanistan plans

by | February 13, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The US Secretary of Defense Tuesday called Georgia’s Defense Minister and introduced him to the US action plan for Afghanistan. The main topic of conversation between Leon Panetta and Irakli Alasania was what kind of new functions the Georgian

News

Saakashvili says current events in Georgia are dangerous

by | February 12, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili says the current events in his country are dangerous and that he will meet regularly with the prime minister in the coming period. “Now we should stand higher than our ambitions. We and the government should

News

7 000 released after Georgian amnesty

by | February 12, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Almost to 7 000 prisoners have left Georgian jails after a mass amnesty came into force one month ago, according to the country's Prison Ministry. This is twice as many as the government estimate before the amnesty. In total, 6 918 prisoners have

In brief, News

Minibus drivers in Batumi are on strike

by | February 12, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--A correspondent for Interpressnews in the Black Sea port reports that 350 drivers have been on strike from Tuesday morning, demanding an increase in their salary. Drivers say their hourly pay is USD 2.20 and want to increase it to USD 2.50, otherwise

In brief, News

Georgia and Turkey plan defense cooperation

by | February 12, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The prime minister and defense minister of Georgia will go to Turkey this week to discuss relations between the two neighboring countries. Defense Minister Irakli Alasania said on Monday that he and Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili will go to Turkey

In brief, News

Informal Eastern Partnership talks in Georgia

by | February 12, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia will host the session of the informal dialogue within the Eastern Partnership February 12 and 13. Georgia's Foreign Affairs Minister Maia Panjikidze and Economy Minister Giorgi Kbirikashvili will host the event, according to the press office

Elections '12-'13, News

Press conference turned into TV debate

by | February 12, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The president and the speaker of parliament Monday emerged after an hour-long meeting and agreed that it had been a productive one, although the only thing they agree on was that agreement is necessary on important issues. Speaker of Parliament Davit

News

Suspect given bail after National Library violence

by | February 11, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The man suspected of beating a member of parliament outside the National Library last Friday was Monday allowed to go free until his trial for a USD 1 200 bail. Gela Mamaladze is charged with physically assaulting Chiora Taktakishvili, Sergo

Opinion

The End of Neoliberal Hegemony

by | February 11, 2013

The new ruling political class needs to make more effort to emancipate their minds from market oriented stereotypes, writes Bakar Berekashvili. 20 years of post-communist transition cultivated and produced lots of troubles, dramas and traumas in many post-communist

In brief, News

Saakashvili to negotiate with government today

by | February 11, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian president will meet with the speaker of parliament in the evening today to discuss topics which lie at the base of a protracted dispute between the two main political blocs. Member of parliament Giorgi Gabashvili from the minority

News, Prisoner abuse

Prison torture has not been investigated: NGOs

by | February 11, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Non-governmental organizations say the cases of torture in the prisons, which caused a wave of demonstrations in September, 2012 and preceded the ruling party’s election defeat, have not been investigated by the new government. "Despite an

NGO news

New webpage about EU-Georgia relations

by | February 11, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--European Initiative - Liberal Academy Tbilisi presented a new web service about the evolution of EU-Georgia relations. The goal of the project “Who is Who in Brussels on Georgia and the South Caucasus” is to offer a mapping of major interlocutors

In brief, News

Two people fined for Friday’s violence

by | February 11, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s Prosecutor’s Office asks Tbilisi City Court to impose pre-trial measures against Gela Mamaladze, the man who is accused of beating opposition members outside the National Library on Friday.

News

Ivanishvili and Saakashvili facing off on Facebook

by | February 11, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The prime minister and the president in Georgia are continuing to challenge eachother's versions of a violent street clash Friday – via Facebook. Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili Sunday evening issued another statement as answer to President

News

EU ‘deeply concerned’ by Friday’s violence in Georgia

by | February 10, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Two EU foreign policy spokespersons express deep concern over the violent incidents in front of the National Library in Tbilisi February 8. A violent clash developed as a column of activists for President Mikheil Saakashvili's National Movement party, led

News

Saakashvili calls on government for dialogue

by | February 10, 2013

Tbilisi, DF Watch--Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili welcomes a statement by Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili condemning Friday's violence in front of the National Library and invites him to a new dialogue. Saakashvili said he welcomed 'the fact that the Prime

News

New details in Robakidze murder case

by | February 10, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--New details have been revealed about the murder of Buta Robakidze, while the former head of the interior minister’s press office was detained. Guram Donadze was charged for abuse of powers. Specifically, he is accused of ordering the filming of

News

Ivanishvili condemns the violence

by | February 10, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili unconditionally and unequivocally condemns the violence which took place on Friday outside the National Library. President Mikheil Saakashvili's televised address to the nation was delayed after a group of

News

Three detained after Friday’s violence

by | February 9, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Police today detained a person who Friday hit Chiora Taktakishvili, member of parliament for the National Movement, causing bleeding and injuries to her nose. According to the interior minister police this morning detained Giorgi Mamaladze, who is

News

Reactions and explanations after the violence in Georgia

by | February 9, 2013
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TBILISI, DFWatch--Some of the top people in President Mikheil Saakashvili's National Movement party Friday clashed with a crowd mostly consisting of protesters who were angry about the treatment of political prisoners. Over a hundred political prisoners were recently

News

Saakashvili: Girgvliani case ‘a black stain’

by | February 9, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Saakashvili says the Girgvliani case is ‘a black stain’ for him which he feels partly responsible for. After the televised state to the nation speech, which eventually ended up being held at his residence, the president invited journalists from

News

Ex parliamentarian accused of embezzlement

by | February 9, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s Finance Ministry’s investigative service launched an investigation into the organization of the former member of parliament and well-known climber Gia Tortladze. Investigators believe that money given by the Culture Ministry to the

Elections '12-'13, News

Saakashvili argues for keeping parliament in Kutaisi

by | February 9, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili says his party supports constitution changes regarding limiting his powers, but doesn’t support the change which suggests moving parliament back to Tbilisi. In his speech held at the president's residence

Elections '12-'13, News

Saakashvili: I won’t be locked up in my palace

by | February 9, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- After violent clashes caused him to change venue for the state of the nation address Friday, President Mikheil Saakashvili held his televised address from his residence. No one will be able to lock me up in this palace, the president said. He opened

News

Saakashvili party allies beaten, speech delayed

by | February 8, 2013
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TBILISI, DFWatch -- Violent clashes broke out as some of the central figures in President Mikheil Saakashvili's party were trying to enter the National Library to listen to the state of the nation address. Two rallies were ongoing in the area: One by former

In brief, News

Georgia and South Korea sign visa treaty

by | February 8, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia and South Korea have signed their first inter-governmental treaty about visa free travel for citizens holding diplomatic, official and service passports. The agreement on the waiving of visa requirements for holders of diplomatic, official

News

Stalin statues paint bombed, damaged

by | February 8, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Monuments of Joseph Stalin which have been restored in two Georgian villages were bombed with pink paint, torn down, and damaged. After the change of government, the population in some villages demanded to restore old monuments of Soviet dictator

In brief, News

Saakashvili to address the nation today

by | February 8, 2013

Tbilisi, DF Watch - The President of Georgia will address the nation at 18:00 today from the National Library. The diplomatic corps, church leaders, journalists and students are invited to attend the event. After his speech, the president will answer questions.

News

Spring recruitment for the military has started

by | February 8, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Spring recruitment for compulsory military service has started. Citizens from 18 to 27 year will be recruited -- about 1 650 persons in total. This is a significant decrease from 4 347 in 2012. Gocha Kharshiladze, chair of the military service

In brief, News

Saakashvili to hold state of the nation address from library

by | February 8, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili will address the nation from the National Library instead of from parliament. Saakashvili should have held his annual address on Friday, but the event was postponed by the ruling Georgian Dream coalition.

Elections '12-'13, News

Saakashvili’s party loses two members of parliament

by | February 8, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Two more members of parliament for the National Movement have left their party’s faction in the last few days. The party of President Mikheil Saakashvili is now down to 55 representatives in the assembly of 150. Speaker of Parliament Davit

In brief, News

President’s annual address postponed

by | February 7, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The president’s annual speech to parliament is postponed indefinitely. This is a decision made by the ruling coalition. Speaker of Parliament Davit Usupashvili today said consultations had been held and a decision was made to not hold

News

Georgia eases punishment for entering breakaway regions

by | February 7, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The new government in Georgia wants to amend the law on the occupied territories in order to soften the punishment for people who violate it. The Law on Occupied Territories was adopted in October 2008, a few months after the Russian-Georgian war.

Interviews

The world’s busiest interior minister

by | February 7, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- One would think Georgia’s fresh interior minister would have his hands full, as his government has enforced a mass amnesty which has freed more than three thousand prisoners, but Irakli Gharibashivli says the crime situation in the country hasn’t

News

Ivanishvili addressed Georgian soldiers in Afghanistan

by | February 7, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili spoke with Georgian soldiers serving in Afghanistan and thanked them for their service. According to the press office of the Defense Ministry, Ivainishvili Wednesday visited the ministry and held a video

News

Ivanishvili guarantees Georgia’s foreign policy course

by | February 7, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili says Georgia’s foreign policy course is unchanged and doesn’t need constitutional guarantees. He also says that the country will restore its territorial integrity and mend relations with Russia. The National

Economy, News

Georgia expects 6 % growth in 2013

by | February 7, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s finance minister Nodar Khaduri says the government expects 6 % growth in 2013, low inflation and reduced state debts. He also notes that 6 percent growth is the minimum estimate on which the Georgian government is working. The finance

News

Saakashvili’s white collar crime amnesty takes form

by | February 6, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has presented parliament with a bill which will give amnesty for industrial, financial and economic crimes. A few days ago, the president spoke about the importance of announcing a financial amnesty to attract

News

Where did Shashkin earn his fortune?

by | February 6, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Ex Defense Minister Dimitry Shashkin lives in the United States in a luxurious $4000/month house and claims to have earned his fortune while working for an American corporation. But what corporation does he mean? The former prison, defense and education

News

Interior minister found his own phone had been tapped

by | February 6, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Georgian interior minister says he has discovered audio files of all his phone calls for a whole year, secretly recorded and stored on computer disk. Irakli Gharibashvili was Tuesday invited to the TV channel Rustavi 2 to sum up the government's

In brief, News

Georgia to set up three new investment funds

by | February 6, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Three new funds will be established in Georgia, which will be sovereign fund of Georgia, a private investment fund and a youth fund. Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili at a press conference Tuesday briefly outlined the three new funds, saying that

Elections '12-'13, News

Ivanishvili is still not a Georgian citizen

by | February 6, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s head of government Bidzina Ivanishvili has temporarily suspended the process of canceling his French passport, because it may cost him his position. The prime minister said at a press conference Tuesday that he still doesn’t have

News

Ivanishvili answers questions about alleged nepotism

by | February 6, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili Tuesday answered questions about alleged nepotism in his government. He said he doesn’t agree that people should get positions through being familiar with others, and that competition is the best way to get good

In brief, News

Saakashvili in Germany for Marshall Fund conference

by | February 5, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili and Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava have left for Germany to participate in a conference organized by the German Marshall Fund. According to the president's press office, there is planned an event called

News

Saakashvili’s party compares Ivanishvili with Chavez and Castro

by | February 5, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- The opposition National Movement party in Georgia compares Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili with Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro after statements he made at a press conference Tuesday. Ivanishvili was summing up his first hundred days of being in

News

Ivanishvili says Saakashvili’s party tries to recruit Alasania

by | February 5, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili says the National Movement is attempting to win over Defense Minister Irakli Alasania to their side. He says he heard rumors that some of the UNM members have contact with him, but when he asked Alasania about it,

News

Georgian wine to Russia in months

by | February 5, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian wine might get back on the Russian market by the end of spring and it will cost about USD 10, which is higher than the average wine price in Russia. A delegation from Georgian business and government is in Moscow to negotiate about a return

News

Parliament to discuss president’s powers today

by | February 5, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A set of constitutional amendments are set to be debated in parliament today Tuesday. The amendments have been through a public hearing process with town hall type meetings around the country. The Judiciary Committee will discuss it

News

Ivanov and Japaridze meet for constructive talk

by | February 5, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Two veterans of Russian and Georgian politics met in Munich and discussed current problems between their two countries and ways of solving them. The meeting took place on the sidelines of the 49th Munich Security Conference. Igor Ivanov, former

News

Former PM’s death case soon to be reopened, Zhvania’s brother says

by | February 4, 2013

Tbilisi, DFWatch -- Goga Zhvania, brother of the deceased prime minister Zurab Zhvania, says he is cooperating with the Prosecutor’s Office and is sure the case of his brother’s death will soon be reopened. Goga was voted into parliament last October, representing

News

Georgians in Moscow to negotiate about opening trade

by | February 4, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- A delegation from Georgia is in Moscow on Monday to negotiate about letting Georgian wine, mineral water and other products onto the Russian market. The seven persons delegation left on Sunday. Two of them represent the national agency of wine, two

News

Tbilisi mayor questioned, says prosecutors are ‘in deadlock’

by | February 4, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- After having been questioned about his role in a large embezzlement case, the Tbilisi mayor says the Prosecutor’s Office is in a deadlock and in a hurry. Even though Gigi Ugulava refused to appear for questioning, he invited investigators

Elections '12-'13, News

CoE expert confident in Ivanishvili’s democratic aspirations

by | February 4, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Venice Commission president Gianni Buquicchio says he will continue cooperating with the new government in Georgia. Before he left Georgia, Buquicchio held a press conference to sum up his stay and his meetings with the president, the prime

News

Saakashvili demands unanimous decisions on constitution

by | February 3, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- President Mikheil Saakashvili calls on Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and his Georgian Dream coalition to make all constitutional amendments unanimous. The governing Georgian Dream coalition wants to change the constitution, but is nine votes

In brief, News

Saakashvili to address parliament February 8

by | February 3, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- President Mikheil Saakashvili's annual address to parliament will take place on February 8, 2013. “As a result of consultations, a decision was made that the president's annual speech, defined by the constitution, will take place at 14:00 Friday

Elections '12-'13, News

Saakashvili compares Georgian Dream with epidemic

by | February 2, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili compares the opposition victory in the October, 2012 parliament election with an epidemic. “Sometimes I think there was no election on October 1, but some type of natural disease swept across some of our

News

Tbilisi mayor fails to appear for questioning

by | February 2, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Tbilisi mayor and staunch Saakshvili ally Gigi Ugulava failed to show up for questioning at the Finance Ministry’s Investigative Service today. He was called to explain himself regarding a case of suspected embezzlement of five million lari

Elections '12-'13, News

Saakashvili’s party recruiting people to weaken government

by | February 2, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- President Mikheil Saakashvili’s political party says it can't wait four years for a change of power and instead will try to 'weaken' the Ivanishvili government. Secretary General of the National Movement, Vano Merabisvhili, says they do not plan

News

Cleaning company was front for embezzlement

by | February 2, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s Prosecutor’s Office claims to have revealed a case of embezzlement in a cleaning contractor for the city of Tbilisi. Chief Prosecutor Archil Kbilashvili said that Tbilservice Group – a company established in 2006 which provides

News

TBC Bank stops seizure of Tbilisi minibuses

by | February 1, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- TBC Bank has stopped the seizing of minibuses belonging to Tbilisi Minibus Ltd and lets the company continue work as normal when drivers have ended their strike. Thursday morning, the National Enforcement Bureau entered the garage in Gldani,

NGO news

Are the trials against ex officials political revenge?

by | February 1, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Foreign diplomats in Tbilisi are concerned about the many speedy trials against former officials, saying the whole process looks like political revenge. The new government in Georgia has received seven thousand complaints from people who say they

In brief, News

Moscow denies talks with Georgia about CIS return

by | February 1, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Moscow denies rumors about ongoing negotiations with Georgia to bring the country back as member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The rumors were reported a few days ago in Russian media. Alexander Lukashevich, spokesperson for

NGO news

GYLA: Local government employees under pressure

by | February 1, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Civil groups in Georgia are concerned about the dismissal of public employees in local government. Around 1 200 public employees have been fired from their jobs since the election in October, 2012. Non-governmental organizations now protest

In brief, News

Ex minister risks 15 years for making fake cognac

by | February 1, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch -- Another official from Mikheil Saakashvili’s government was Wednesday charged with abuse of powers and bribery. The Finance Ministry’s investigative service accuses former Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili of assisting a criminals gang with

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