News

No religious split-lines, ROC says to Abkhaz

by | March 31, 2013

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Abkhaz de facto leader was evidently informed that Russian Orthodox Church, unlike the Kremlin which recognized Abkhazia as an independent country, wouldn't tolerate drawing ecclesiastical borders along political split-lines, at least formally.

NGO news

More communication with Europe needed, GNP argues

by | March 30, 2013

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Georgia’s National Platform, an umbrella group of the tens of local NGOs, claims that information about current events of Georgia is incorrectly reported abroad and such situation evokes many challenges during a process

Elections '12-'13, News

7 members called for questioning, embattled UNM still holds ground in Tbilisi Sakrebulo

by | March 30, 2013

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Seven members of Tbilisi City Assembly, all from the Saakashvili’s United National Movement, were summoned on Friday for interrogation to the investigative body of the Ministry

In brief, News

Third Georgian released by South Ossetia

by | March 29, 2013

Tbilisi, DFWatch - A Georgian was released from prison by the breakaway region South Ossetia Friday. This was the third Georgian prisoner to be released in the same number of days. The de facto authorities of the region on Friday released Ushangi Dotiashvili,

In brief, News

MoD proposes draft law increasing accountability to Parliament

by | March 29, 2013

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Ministry of Defense prepared two draft laws which, it argues, will increase its accountability before the parliament. The draft is about public and secret procurement

News

Georgia counting damage of the storm

by | March 29, 2013

Tbilisi, DFWatch - The extent of damage after a storm March 23 continues to increase and has now reached about USD 4 million, according to the latest estimate. Energy Minister Kakhi Kaladze on Thursday informed that the worst losses was damaged houses

News

Georgia’s Mali mission finally decided, no details clear so far

by | March 28, 2013

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Georgia’s participation in the EU led mission in Mali is finally decided but the details has been yet to be defined, nor is it clear how many Georgian officers will participate in operation in the war-torn African nation, Vako Avaliani, Advisor of the Defense Minister, told DF Watch.

In brief, News

Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey plan closer cooperation

by | March 28, 2013

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Foreign ministers of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey will be meeting on Thursday in Batumi, a city on the Black Sea coast.

In brief, News

Missing fisherman found dead after storm

by | March 28, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The crew of a Georgian fishing boat Wednesday discovered the body of a man, 55, drifting in the Black Sea. The deceased, Davit Geladze, had been lost at sea during the storm of March 23 and was the subject of a search operation at the time his

Opinion

Between either/or and both/and: Georgia’s foreign policy choices

by | March 28, 2013

Even as Europe and the United States encourage the countries between Russia and the West to adopt a “both/and” approach to relations with the two and in many cases criticize those governments which don’t, Moscow has signaled that in its view, these countries

Elections '12-'13, News

Saakashvili signs constitutional amendment

by | March 27, 2013

Tbilisi, DFWatch - President Mikheil Saakashvili has signed the constitutional amendment which reduces his power, and it will be enforced as soon as it is published on Georgia’s legislative website. Speaker of Parliament

Economy, News

Georgia half-way through Russia’s quality control for wine

by | March 27, 2013

Tbilisi, DFWatch - A second group of Russian experts who should have arrived in Georgia on March 25 to monitor about 40 companies have rescheduled their visit for the beginning of April.

Media, News

OSCE supports reform of public broadcaster

by | March 27, 2013

Tbilisi, DFWatch - OSCE supports a draft law to reform Georgia's public broadcaster, but has some critical remarks. The organization's media freedom representative, Dunja Mijatović, thinks the amendments of the law on broadcasting can provide for pluralism and transparency

Society

Agriculture University gets back authorization

by | March 27, 2013

Tbilisi, DFWatch -  The Agricultural University got its authorization back on March 26, two weeks after it was suspended by the authorization commission. The university is now allowed to carry on with all its 25 accredited programs.

In brief, News

Saakashvili presents a list of five new ambassadors

by | March 26, 2013

Tbilisi, DFWatch -President Saakashvili on Monday presented parliament with a list of five new ambassadors. The candidates are Khatuna Salukvadze for Lithuania, Zurab Pataradze for Kazakhstan, Irakli Koplatadze for Turkey, Teimuraz Sharashenidze for Azerbaijan

News

Swiss ambassador rushes to defend Ivanishvili against some European politicians

by | March 26, 2013

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Swiss Ambassador’s appealed to Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, besieged by some MEPs mostly from influential European People’s Party, with an open letter which he wrote

News

Saakashvili awards Bagrati architects medals

by | March 26, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Mikheil Saakashvili has awarded the architects behind the rehabilitation of Bagrati Cathedral the Medal of Excellence shortly after the cathedral rehabilitation was awarded the international prize Domus Restoration and Conservation.

Elections '12-'13, News

Parliament waiting for Saakashvili to sign constitution

by | March 26, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The governing coalition in Georgia says parliament will listen to President Mikheil Saakashvili's annual address as soon as a set of recently passed constitutional amendments are signed into law and enforced. February 8, Saakashvili should have

Elections '12-'13, News

Constitutional amendments are finally passed

by | March 26, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The constitutional amendments which reduce the powers of President Mikheil Saakashvili were passed on Monday by 114 votes against 0 at the third and final hearing. When the amendments come into force, the president can no longer change

News

Saakashvili removes the bill on courts from the parliament’s schedule

by | March 25, 2013

Tbilisi, DFWAtch - President Saakashvili on Monday barred Parliament from voting on the bill which according to the government will ‘depoliticize’ courts while United National Movement, the former ruling party

Society

Georgians outraged as one year old boy dies of hunger

by | March 25, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--It has caused strong reactions in Georgia that a one year old child died of hunger late at night on March 22. All over the country people are demonstrating against hunger and poverty. According to the doctors, one year-old Gogita Abashidze died

News

Hundreds of houses damaged by storm

by | March 25, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--A storm that hit Georgia's Black Sea coast has inflicted losses of USD 1.8 million in the Adjara region alone, according to preliminary estimates. Archil Khabadze, Chairman of the Adjaria government, said at a briefing Saturday that 43 houses

News

Metal workers fired as others block railway

by | March 25, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The management of the metallurgical plant in Poti has fired nine employees the day after the port workers there went on strike. This decision led to a renewal of the workers' rally, who at first demanded better working conditions and normal salary,

News

Fierce storm hits Georgia

by | March 24, 2013

Tbilisi, DFWatch - A tearing storm that hit Georgia on Sunday morning and has damaged infrastructure in Batumi city, the most popular tourist sight on Georgia’s Black Sea coast. No casualties reported yet, one fishermen disappeared, Ajara autonomous republic’s local authorities stated.

News

Russia asks for renewed visa talks with Georgia

by | March 24, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Russia again has offered to cancel visa requirements for Georgian citizens, if Georgia creates legal guarantees for Russian citizens to safely visiting the country, which means that Georgia will have to amend its law on the occupied territories.

Opinion

The Quest for Mundane Democracy in Georgia

by | March 24, 2013

Democratura is a term that would resonate perfectly with a post-Soviet republic, such as Georgia, mainly because it is a word designed to resemble the word “Nomenklatura,” that is, people who rule in the name and by virtue of their patron. There is something lucid and honest about this word, in that it assigns personal responsibility for a specific phenomenon. In Brussels, this would be called “a democratic deficit” and would gravitate around structures rather than individuals, in a perpetual evocation of “systemic weakness” that must be addressed, albeit, blurring the question of personal responsibility: i.e. “who should address this question?” It is interesting that people prefer “grand narratives” and elaborate terms when they want to avoid talking on real issues or real responsibility. In a democracy, authority is a battle, not a fact. The problem with democratic legitimacy often stems from the fact that popular vote often conveys authority “indirectly” rather than directly. Already in 1960, Bell wrote a book entitled “the end of ideology,” describing how democracy was turning into a technocracy were “authentic” political choices were being blurred ...

News, Society

Workers protest in Poti

by | March 23, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Port and metal workers in Poti went on strike Saturday, demanding to improve their work conditions and have a normal salary. Journalists from the port city report that workers at the Georgian-Indian owned metallurgical plant were on strike the whole

News

Saakashvili finds new role from the sidelines

by | March 23, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Mikheil Saakashvili says he sees his role as different now than when he was in government. “My goal is to watch over the framework of our constitution and ensure that the government has an effective opposition and that the

Society

Agriculture students continue studies, protesting

by | March 23, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--While the students at the Agricultural University are waiting to see if their learning institution will get its accreditation back, they are continuing to attend lectures and demonstrating outside the Education Ministry. Chances are good that

News

Georgia negotiated about EU Association Agreement

by | March 23, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia held a final round of negotiations about an association agreement with the EU March 21-22. This latest round, which dealt with the political part of the agreement, saw some progress which means that Georgia is better prepared for the Eastern

In brief, News

Two Georgian battalions depart for Afghanistan

by | March 22, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The 33rd and 42nd battalions of Georgia’s III and IV infantry brigades are today getting ready to depart for Afghanistan to participate in NATO’s ISAF mission. According to the Defense Ministry, both battalions have been through a six-month

News

EU Commission makes recommendations to Georgia

by | March 22, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The European Commission recommends that Georgia amends its law on the occupied territories, improves errors in its election legislation, reforms its justice system, and avoids selective justice. The Commission writes this in a new report about the

News

Georgian tug of war on constitution ends in compromise

by | March 22, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s coalition Thursday accepted a demand from President Mikheil Saakashvili's National Movement party, which let it pass a set of constitutional amendments which reduces the rights of the president. After the

NGO news

GYLA: Public registry employees fired for political reasons

by | March 22, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Three employees of the Public Registry have been illegally dismissed, according to Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA). The three believe they were fired because they are supporters of President Saakashvili’s United National Movement and

Opinion

Georgia’s democratic transition

by | March 22, 2013

I hoped to publish this in an American newspaper during Speaker Usupashvili''s visit to Washington DC, a very successful one, by the way! I wanted Americans to read that message about Georgia and the recent developments there. I did not succeed, but I want to share

In brief, News

US ambassador: Georgia has strong and competitive government

by | March 21, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--US Ambassador Richard Norland says Georgia has a strong and competitive government, a competitive parliament, independent media and justice system, and a strong and experienced opposition. Norland said this during a meeting in parliament Thursday.

Elections '12-'13, News

Saakashvili ‘bought 25 000 SIM cards to build Facebook support’

by | March 21, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Defense Minister Irakli Alasania Thursday told parliament that the defense ministry last year purchased 25 000 SIM cards for mobile phones in order to build up Facebook support before the election. Speaking during a meeting with the defense committee

Elections '12-'13, News

Constitutional amendments may fail

by | March 21, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The constitutional amendments to limit the president's power to dismiss parliament may fail to be passed. The reason is that Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvivi’s Georgian Dream coalition lacks the votes to pass the amendments, while Saakashvili’s

News

More stowed-away post-war supplies discovered in Georgia

by | March 21, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Local government and Refugee Ministry representatives have discovered another locked warehouse full of undistributed equipment and supplies intended for people affected by the 2008 Russia-Georgia war. This is the second such discovery. In late 2012

Society

Agricultural University’s fate to be decided on Tuesday

by | March 21, 2013
student-protest-2013-03-20-ii

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Education Quality Development Center will March 26 at 18:00 decide whether to reinstate the Agricultural University's accreditation. The center on Wednesday informed that five issues will be on the agenda of Tuesday's session, including the issue

Society

After mass amnesty, some ex-prisoners go back to jail

by | March 20, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tengiz, a man now in his early sixties, was sentenced to 11 years in jail for burglary in 2007. December 7, 2012, he was pardoned by the president because of a difficult health condition after being recommended by Prison Minister Sozar Subari. Two

Elections '12-'13, News

Saakashvili’s party agrees to constitutional changes

by | March 20, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Mikheil Saakashvili’s party has agreed to support a set of the constitutional amendments which will limit the powers of the president, but only if Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s coalition lacks the required votes. The Georgian

News

Georgia’s new ambassador to the US

by | March 20, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's new ambassador to the US will continue his activity just like his predecessors did. Newly appointed ambassador Archil Gegeshidze Tuesday said President Mikheil Saakashvili for month didn’t sign the document about

News

Former AC Milan player Kaladze to hold final match

by | March 20, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The former AC Milan player who is became Georgia’s Energy Minister plans to hold a farewell football match in the end of May. Kakhi Kaladze, who played for Milan in 2001-2010 and 2010-2012 for Genoa, originally planned to hold a final symbolic

News

Ivanishvili’s US visit postponed

by | March 19, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili currently has no specific plan to visit the United States. However, there visiting the US is on the list of future plans, according to Archil Gegeshidze, Georgia's new ambassador to the US. After the

In brief, News

Georgia’s foreign minister visits Azerbaijan

by | March 19, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Maia Panjikidze on Tuesday met with the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, to discuss bilateral relations and further cooperation. During her visit to Azerbaijan, Panjikidze also met with the prime minister

In brief, News

Georgia confirms nine new ambassadors

by | March 19, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--President of Georgia on Monday approved the list of nine new ambassadors, by signing the document which parliament passed February 20. The new ambassadors are those serving in Belgium, Ukraine, France, US, Hungary, Austria, Latvia, Czech Republic

News

Georgia to send military instructors to Mali

by | March 19, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia is considering taking part in military operations held under the auspices of the European Union. First Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Davit Zalkaliani Monday informed the media about planned activities of the ministry. He said that Georgia

News

Georgian government answers European People’s Party

by | March 18, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--After an exchange of open letters between Georgian government officials and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from the European People’s Party, the Georgian government has now published a long memorandum to argue its case against criticism

News

Saakashvili dragging out approval of ambassadors

by | March 18, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Mikheil Saakashvili has postponed for a month the signing of a document passed by parliament about confirming the country’s new ambassadors. Foreign Affairs Minister Maia Panjikidze claims in an interview with DF Watch that the president

In brief, News

Storm hits Black Sea coast

by | March 18, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--A storm hit Georgia Sunday evening and is threatening to inflict damage. Rescue personnel are mobilized in several regions of the country. According to local media, the wind has a speed of 20 meters per second on the Black Sea coast in the Adjara

News

Student protest continues despite promises

by | March 18, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Center for Education Quality Development on Saturday informed that the Agriculture University has corrected errors which led to its accreditation being suspended, and the authorization process will start on Monday. The center's March 12 decision

Elections '12-'13, News

Lawmakers start work on constitutional amendments

by | March 18, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Parliament in Georgia will today start reviewing a draft bill for amending the constitution and reduce the president's right to dismiss the government any time he wants without confirmation from the parliament. The bill, which is signed by 78 MPs,

In brief, News

Ivanishvili to address PACE

by | March 17, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s prime minister will participate at a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg from April 20. Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili will address the assembly, according to Tina Khidasheli, a member

NGO news

Georgia has as a high level of development

by | March 17, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Georgia is one of the countries that have a high level of human development. This can be gleaned from the new Human Development Report 2013 -- The Rise of the South: Human Progress in

Society

Agriculture University will get back its accreditation

by | March 16, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The students at the Agriculture University continued their protest Friday, and handed Education Minister Giorgi Margvelashvili documents which were meant to show that the institution now complies with the law's requirements. After studying the

News

Georgian parliament speaker finishes ‘interesting’ US visit

by | March 16, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian speaker of parliament said his week-long visit to the US has been ‘beneficial, interesting and timely.’ Speaker Davit Usupashvili was Saturday meeting with the media after holding nearly 50 meetings with the US Congress, State

In brief, News

Robakidze video has been edited, examination shows

by | March 16, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--A forensic examination has concluded that a video clip of a police operation in 2004 which ended the life of Buta Robakidze has been edited. The Prosecutor’s Office on Friday published the results of an examination of the video, which was released

In brief, News

Bushfire in southwest Georgia

by | March 16, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Firefighters are trying to contain a bushfire that is spreading in the Adjara region in south western Georgia on the Black Sea shores, bur wind is making their work is made difficult. Journalists for the local newspaper Batumelebi and the news agency

Interviews

The UK’s position on current developments in Georgia

by | March 15, 2013

DF Watch spoke to Simon Fraser, the United Kingdom's Permanent Under Secretary and Head of the Diplomatic Service, and David Moran, the UK's Ambassador to Georgia, about the current situation. DF Watch: What is the view of the UK of our domestic processes as we for the

In brief, News

Snow blocks two roads in Georgia

by | March 15, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--A road in the Mtskheta region close to the capital is closed for all traffic after an avalanche. Also part of a road in Gudauri-Kobi in northern Georgia is blocked by masses of snow. The Road Department on Friday said clearance work is in progress.

News

European People’s Party continues educating Georgian leader

by | March 15, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The European People’s Party has published a declaration that highlights a divide in how current events in Georgia are understood in Brussels and Tbilisi. The EPP has adopted a declaration that makes it clear that the party thinks Georgia is no

In brief, News

Time schedule for visa liberalization plan ready

by | March 15, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--A time schedule for implementing the action plan for visa liberalization between Georgia and the EU has been confirmed. Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration Alexi Petriashvili explained Thursday that the new agreement sets detailed goals for

In brief, News

Over 8 000 prisoners were freed in Georgia amnesty

by | March 15, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The prisoner amnesty in Georgia ended its term of execution March 13. 8 322 prisoners were freed in total. According to the Prison Ministry, about 800 cases are still pending review in court. Most of them are about charges of fraud, cases which

News

Georgian leader responds to center-right MEPs

by | March 14, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s prime minister has sent an open letter in response to a letter signed by 23 members of the European parliament for the European People’s Party (EPP). The center-right EPP criticizes Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili for conducting

News

Ivanishvili warns power-sharing is no rose garden

by | March 14, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian prime minister says Europe has unrealistic expectations about the two political blocs in his country drawing a line over the past. Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said Europe expects the former and current governments to start

In brief, News

Georgia asks Interpol to help catch ex-official

by | March 14, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia asks for help from Interpol in its search for a former government official. This time, the wanted note is about Davit Chakua, the former head of the prison department, who is charged with abuse of powers, humiliating and inhumane treatment,

In brief, News

Prosecutors struggling to deal with flood of complaints

by | March 14, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Prosecutor’s Office in Georgia has created a 12 member investigative group to deal with the mass of complaints flowing in. Chief Prosecutor Archil Kbilashvili said on Wednesday that the group consists solely of young prosecutors who finished

In brief, News

Doctors’ hunger strike over

by | March 14, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Four fired doctors on Wednesday ended their week-long hunger strike after learning that the director of the emergency service where they worked has been removed from his position. The doctors started their protest March 6. They said had they

News

Agriculture University protest continues

by | March 14, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--After another day of protest against the suspension of the Agriculture University's accreditation, students and the education minister agreed to meet again and go through all the details which caused the suspension. On Wednesday, the students were

In brief, News

Progress in prisoner exchange with Tskhinvali

by | March 13, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--There are twelve Georgian prisoners in South Ossetia, a breakaway Georgian region, according to the public defender Ucha Nanuashvili. He told Pirveli Radio Wednesday that his office has received positive signal from non-government organizations in

In brief, News

Merabishvili ‘connected’ to controversial 2006 killing

by | March 13, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's chief prosecutor and justice minister claim that the long time former interior minister Vano Merabishvili was implicated in the killing of Sandro Girgvliani, a controversial murder committed by the police in 2006. Chief Prosecutor Archil

Society

Student protest at Agriculture University

by | March 13, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--For the last two days, students at an agricultural college have been at the center of a dispute between the governing Georgian Dream coalition and supporters of President Mikheil Saakashvili. The dispute began with the

News

‘Misinformed or shameful’ letter by European People’s Party

by | March 13, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--23 members of the European parliament for the European People's Party are criticized for being either misinformed or else writing a 'shameful' letter to the prime minister of Georgia. "That letter is a shame, or the MEPs didn't know

News

Compromise reached in case of fired doctors

by | March 12, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--In the case about the doctors on hunger strike, a managing council will be set up to chair the emergency service until the problems are solved. Health Minister Davit Sergeenko said it is being done to find a way out in the case of the four

News

Council of Europe rates Georgian court reform

by | March 12, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Council of Europe's Venice Commission has published its final recommendations on the draft of law amendments which are meant to reform the court system in Georgia and make the courts truly independent. The draft bill will amend the law on Courts

In brief, News

Most visitors to Georgia come from neighboring countries

by | March 12, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The majority of foreign visitors to Georgia in 2013 came from Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia, Ukraine and Iran. As there is no mechanism to categorize people crossing the border of the country, the government provides general information about

Elections '12-'13, News

Pro-Russia party to be founded by former Georgian minister

by | March 12, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--A former security minister who was fired by President Mikheil Saakashvili after the Rose Revolution in 2003 is to found a new political party with a pro-Russian orientation. Valeri Khaburdzania, who has lived in Russia for the last two years and just

Economy, News

Foreign investments to Georgia drops

by | March 11, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Direct foreign investments in Georgia dropped by 47 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, compared to the previous year, according to a new report by National Statistics Department, GeoStat. According to preliminary data, the total amount of

Society

Doctors on hunger strike after being fired

by | March 11, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Four emergency service doctors have been on hunger strike since March 6. They are protesting against being fired and demand to replace the local management. The doctors claim that the director of the emergency center illegally fired them and that

News, Prisoner abuse

Bacho Akhalaia moved back to scandalous prison

by | March 11, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Former interior minister and close Saakashvili ally Bacho Akhalaia has been moved from a relatively privileged facility to Prison No 8 in north Tbilisi, notorious for numerous cases of torture and death. Akhalaia, who has been in detention since

Elections '12-'13, News

Constitutional amendments may be modified

by | March 11, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--A draft law already presented to parliament which will reduce the powers of the president may be amended. According to the draft of constitutional changes, if the president dismisses parliament and government, he won’t have the right to himself

News

Venice Commission’s recommendations on Georgian reforms

by | March 11, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe is finished preparing its first set of recommendations regarding a draft bill for reforming the Georgian justice system. Even though the recommendations have not yet been published, both President

News

Parliament speaker leaves for the US

by | March 10, 2013

Tbilisi, DFWatch--Georgia's Speaker of Parliament on Sunday left for his first visit to the US amidst harsh criticism of the country’s new government from the Congress and US media. Davit Usupashvili, the speaker and the chairman of the Republican Party,

News

Shashkin faced with embezzlement accusation

by | March 10, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government want to question newly returned former defense minister Dimitry Shashkin about the embezzlement of state money and appropriation of petrol belonging to the ministry. Defense Minister adviser Vako Avaliani said Friday that an

News

Former head of military police charged in abduction case

by | March 9, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Prosecutor’s Office has presented a new charge against the former head of the military police for illegal deprivation of liberty and humiliating treatment. Khatuna Paichadze, spokesperson for the Prosecutor’s Office, said Saturday that Megis

Opinion

Why the Bipartisan Foreign Policy Resolution is Significant

by | March 9, 2013

Adopting a bipartisan resolution on foreign policy in Georgia is significant both in terms of process and in terms of substance. In terms of process, anything bipartisan, in the first experience of a real bipolar party system, not least a cohabitation, should not be

News

Curious coincidence? Four injured ministers

by | March 9, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Four out of nineteen ministers appeared at the government session on Thursday with some kind of injury. Journalists were surprised to see minister after minister arriving with a broken arm or a black eye. Energy Minister Kakhi Kaladze, a former AC

NGO news

Bonus system for parliament members to be phased out

by | March 9, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Members of parliament in Georgia will not receive bonuses after 2013. The total amount of bonuses was over 2.5 million lari in 2012. According to the Institute for development of freedom of information (IDFI), in 2012, MPs were given an additional

News

Controversial restoration of Georgian cathedral wins award

by | March 8, 2013
bagrati-cathedral

TBILISI, DFWatch--The controversial restoration of Georgia’s historic Bagrati Cathedral has been awarded the international prize Domus Restoration and Conservation. According to the jury, ‘the intervention of critical reintegration of Bagrati Cathedral, one of the

In brief, News

Georgia ends use of consecutive sentence

by | March 8, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The parliament in Georgia on Friday decided to end the practice of mandatory consecutive sentence. Following the amendments to the Criminal Law code and Criminal Law Procedure Code, the longer sentence absorbs the shorter one; what is called

News

French university backs Georgia’s justice minister

by | March 8, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--In a moment resembling the publication of Obama's birth certificate, Georgia's justice minister Tuesday appeared on the Public Broadcaster's Channel 1 holding up two of her university diplomas as proof that she has enough education for the position.

News

Georgia declares commitment to EU, US and NATO

by | March 8, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian parliament Thursday evening voted unanimously for a resolution that says the country aims to join the EU and NATO and defines the EU and the US as its ‘top strategic partners.’ This comes after a period in which President

News

Military tops enriched themselves: Alasania

by | March 7, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government accuses former officials during Saakashvili's time in power of having embezzled state money in order to purchase luxurious cars and unnecessary apartments. The apartments were discovered at military bases which are in a

News

Financial amnesty falls flat in parliament

by | March 7, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Mikheil Saakashvili’s proposed amnesty for financial crimes has been rejected in parliament, as it failed to garner support in any of the parliamentary committees. At the plenary session Wednesday it emerged that representatives from

News

Impeachment of Supreme Court chair not on the agenda

by | March 7, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishivli says that he and Chairman of the Supreme Court have not discussed the issue of impeaching the latter. “We only spoke about how we should develop and go forward,” Ivanishivli says. Kote Kublashvili has

NGO news

New EU effort to save street children in Georgia

by | March 7, 2013
eu-project-for-street-children

TBILISI, DFWatch--According to the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs, the number of children living in large orphanages has decreased by over 5 000. There are only five large child care institutions left, compared to 41 during 9 years ago. But the street

News

Georgia lifts photo ban inside courtrooms

by | March 6, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The parliament in Georgia today passed a law which allows filming and taking photographs inside courtrooms. Also at today’s plenary session, parliamentarians decided to cancel fees for kindergartens and to separate the garbage fee from the

Economy, News

Russia approves Georgian wine and fizzy water

by | March 6, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Russian consumer safety bureau Rospotrebnadzor confirms that 36 Georgian wine companies and four mineral water companies are ready to enter the Russian market. On Wednesday, the agency, which is a federal service for protection consumers’ rights

News

Shashkin returns to Georgia, isn’t charged

by | March 6, 2013

TBILISI, DFwatch--A former defense minister returned to Georgia Wednesday morning, accompanied by his family, to answer questions from investigators if it becomes necessary. So far, there are no charges against him. (Updated with comments from the Prosecutor's Office

News

Saakashvili offers opponent to sign common foreign policy statement

by | March 6, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Saakashvili offers Prime Minister Ivanishvili to sign a common statement to NATO and the EU confirming their allegiance to a European and Euro-Atlantic political course. A spokesperson for the prime minister told DF Watch that Ivanishvili has

News

Ivanishvili’s fortune shrinks by one billion

by | March 6, 2013
bidzina-ivanishvili-and-painting-2012-12-20

TBILISI, DFWatch--Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili is still Georgia's richest person, but his fortune has shrunk by USD 1.1 billion to USD 5.3 billion, according to a new rating by Forbes Magazine. On Forbes's new list of the world's richest people in 2013, Bidzina

Media, News

Public broadcaster chairman dismissed

by | March 5, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The supervisory board of Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) has dismissed the company's chairman because he fired the news chief, allegedly for political reasons. After the change of government in Georgia, TV channels have gone through a period of

Economy, News

Price drop for Georgian consumers

by | March 5, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The level of inflation did not significantly change in February, 2013, compared to the preceding month. According to Georgian National Statistics Department, GeoStat, the national currency is up by 0.3 percent. Price changes in the following

News, Prisoner abuse

Prison official admits guilt in abuse scandal

by | March 5, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--A former high official in the Georgian prison system admits guilt in a case of mistreatment and torture of prisoners, but says he was a victim of the Saakashvili regime.Gaga Mkurnalidze, former deputy chairman of the Prison Department, is one of 17

Elections '12-'13, News

Saakashvili claims Georgian exiles behind Ivanishvili’s election win

by | March 5, 2013
mikheil-saakashvili-march-2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili claims that billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili came to power in 2012 thanks to a group of Georgian exiles in Russia who provided funding and support. As he returned from a trip to Azerbaijan last week, Saakashvili

Elections '12-'13, News

President should return to reality, says Ivanishvili

by | March 4, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili says his meeting with President Mikheil Saakashvili was an exercise in futility. Summing up today's conversation with Saakashvili, he opened with asking the journalists: “You have met with the president, did you

Elections '12-'13, News

Saakashvili outlines Georgia’s democracy challenges

by | March 4, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Mikheil Saakashvili says three main challenges are facing democracy in Georgia: establishing independent courts, to end pressure against the media and to stop political persecution. He said this after a meeting with Prime Minister Bidzina

In brief, News

Snow and ice is causing traffic problems in Georgia

by | March 4, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The latest snowfall has made driving conditions so poor that the road from the winter resort Gudauri to the village Kobi has been closed for all traffic. On other roads there are restrictions from some types of traffic. Along the road section from

Elections '12-'13, News

Georgian leaders meeting to solve gridlock

by | March 4, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Expectations are high before a meeting between Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and President Mikheil Saakashvili now at 15:00 Monday to solve a crisis over the constitution. Saakashvili has arrived at the government office in his electric car – this time with an escort

Elections '12-'13, News

Saakashvili and Ivanishvili meet at 3 pm

by | March 4, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The president and prime minister of Georgia will meet have their second official meeting today at 15:00 at the government office to discuss ‘important topics for the country.’ The meeting will be closed to the media. Only PR staff working for the

In brief, News

Akhalaia to remain in detention

by | March 4, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court on Saturday held pretrial hearing in two of the five criminal cases currently brought against former defense minister Bacho Akhalaia to decide on preventive measures before the trial. For the third time, Akhalaia was given pretrial

News

Ex minister given further charges of torture

by | March 3, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Prosecutor’s Office Saturday presented a fifth charge against close Saakashvili ally Bacho Akhalaia, this time about torture through abuse of powers. Those who were tortured were ‘punished’ for their political views, and the crime was

Opinion

Intellectual Dilemma or Political Hoax?

by | March 3, 2013

“Georgia? What kind of place is that?” “Well, this is a post-Soviet country where a pro-Russian billionaire won the elections over a pro-Western reformer president…” That is a tag line that has already appeared in many foreign publications on Georgia,

News

Justice minister lacks law degree, some claim

by | March 3, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--A debate is brewing in Georgia about the credentials of the new justice minister, as Thea Tsulukiani's opponents claim that she doesn't have a law degree. Her supporters in the governing Georgian Dream coalition claim she has a diploma, but received

In brief, News

Prosecutor lost appeal in Tbilisi mayor’s case

by | March 2, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Prosecutor’s Office lost its appeal about issuing bail conditions for Tbilisi mayor Gigi Ugulava in a case about money laundering and embezzlement. The Appeals Court refused to set a one million GEL (USD 600 000) bail for mayor and suspend him

In brief, News

Russia and Georgia discussed visa rules

by | March 2, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--One of the main topics of conversation when Georgia and Russia met in Prague yesterday was whether Russia will simplify visa rules for Georgian citizens. (Article has been updated with comments from Russia's foreign ministry.) The two countries

Elections '12-'13, News

Ivanishvili and Saakashvili to meet Monday morning

by | March 2, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's president and prime minister will meet on Monday. The main topic of conversation will be 'important issues of the country', according to the president. The date of their meeting became known on Friday, after Prime Minister Bidzina

NGO news

Media commission’s head has been abroad for three months

by | March 2, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--A new report found violations in the activities of the National Communications Commission. It says that commission head Irakli Chikovani, who has been abroad for the last 3 months, has a conflict of interest. Georgian Young Lawyer's

News, Prisoner abuse

Ex minister charged with causing fatal prison riot

by | March 1, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--A former government minister and close Saakashvili ally will be charged with misconduct during the country’s largest prison riot in 2006 which caused seven deaths. The Prosecutor’s Office today presented details of the prison riot and charged Bacho

In brief, News

Saakashvili reaffirms Georgia’s close ties with neighbor Azerbaijan

by | March 1, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Mikheil Saakashvili says no matter who is in government, the country will continue the same foreign policy course, also in relations with neighboring Azerbaijan. The Georgian leader visited Azerbaijan for two days and held meetings with his

In brief, News

Georgia and Russia meet today in Prague

by | March 1, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Representatives of Georgia and Russia meet in Prague today to discuss trade, cultural and transport issues. The countries still have no formal relations after fighting a war in 2008. Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili a few months ago appointed Zurab

Economy, News

Georgia sees a shift toward processing industry

by | March 1, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's economy has shifted toward processing industry, after many years of basing its exports on used cars and scrap metal, according to an economy expert. New figures show that the country's economy is growing; and now, the export is no longer

News

Saakashvili in unusual conflict with own security service

by | March 1, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Mikheil Saakashvili has started a boycott of the protection services, testing the limits of the law. The message he wants to get out is that the government has cut his funding so much that they just as well might take away the security

News

Akhalaia trial postponed because of new evidence

by | March 1, 2013
bacho-akhalaia-tbilisi-court-ii-2013-02-28

TBILISI, DFWatch--The trial of former interior minister Bacho Akhalaia and six others was rescheduled for today, because the judge had to make a decision about whether to allow evidence to be admitted. The new evidence was presented by the Prosecutor’s Office.

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