News

Georgia’s Interior Ministry destroys surveillance material

by | January 31, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--45 DVDs and two hard drives were destroyed at the Interior Ministry on Friday, which included footage obtained through illegal surveillance. Alexandre Chikaidze, Minister of Internal Affairs, said that the commission tasked with studying the illegally

Environment, News

Some roads closed, deep freeze expected in Georgia

by | January 31, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Traffic is prohibited on the Gudauri-Kobi section of the road from Mtskheta to larsi via Stepantsminda due to the avalanche danger. The Environment Ministry warned about possible avalanches in this section of road. According to the Road Department,

News

Georgia to keep archive obtained by illegal political surveillance

by | January 31, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's Interior Ministry still stocks about 28 000 computer files with recordings that were part of a system of political surveillance obtained through illegal means. Only a few of the files will be destroyed – those which contain material of an intimate nature.

News

French prosecutor does not want Kezerashvili extradited

by | January 31, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A prosecutor in France does not want to extradite Davit Kezerashvili, former Defense Minister of Georgia, who was detained in France in October, 2013. Georgia has charged the former minister with abuse of power and receiving more than USD 12 million

News

Georgian PM visited Israel

by | January 31, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili has visited Israel to meet with his colleague Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. The meeting with Peres was about the good bilateral relations between the two countries and confirmed an intention to deepen

Economy, News

GeoStat: Georgia’s GDP 8% higher in Dec ’13 than Dec ’12

by | January 30, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's estimated real GDP growth rate was 8.4 percent in December 2013, compared to the same month in 2012, according to preliminary data published by the National Statistics Department, GeoStat. According to the estimate, real GDP growth

News, Security

What Georgia can expect from the Munich Security Conference

by | January 30, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--When the annual Munich Security Conference opens in a few days, it will be the first time Georgia's delegation is headed by the prime minister and not the president. The reason for the change is partly that a constitutional amendment came into force

News

South Ossetian de facto president dismissed the government

by | January 30, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The de facto president of South Ossetia, Leonid Tibilov, has dismissed the government. About a week ago, Tibilov said that the government of Rostik Khugaev was unable to fulfill its duties in regard to South Ossetia’s social and economic

News

Video shows Merabishvili promising reward for ‘two corpses’

by | January 30, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--There may be added new charges against former Prime Minister and Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili, according to the head of parliament's defense and security committee. Wednesday, a 4-minute long video was posted on Youtube,

Environment, News

Villagers block road to stop hydro power dam

by | January 29, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--People from the Svaneti mountain village Khaishi Wednesday demonstrated against the construction of a gigantic hydro power dam that will wipe out their community. Demonstrators blocked the road to Jvari-Mestia with stones to interrupt land surveying

In brief, News

Fog caused delays and cancelations at Tbilisi airport

by | January 29, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Four flights were delayed at Tbilisi airport on Wednesday due to fog. A flight to Istanbul was delayed several hours. A plane arriving from Warsaw was unable to land at Tbilisi airport and instead landed in Kutaisi, Georgia's second largest city.

News

Witness tells of humiliating treatment on May 26, 2011

by | January 29, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Four more witnesses were heard on Tuesday in a trial about the violent police dispersal on May 26, 2011. The witnesses were Zaza Papuashvili, Soso Jachvliani and Luka Kurtanidze, who represent the People’s Assembly, and Beka Javakhadze from the

In brief, News

Circus worker dies after lion attack in Tbilisi

by | January 29, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The lion tamer who was attacked by a lion last Thursday has died in the hospital. The circus worker remained in intensive care, but doctors could not save him. The 23-year-old lion tamer was from a Ukrainian circus troupe and entered the cage to do

News

Merabishvili demands a polygraph test

by | January 29, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Former Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili demands to be subjected to a lie detector test to prove he is telling the truth when he says he was threatened by the chief prosecutor. Merabishvili claimed he was taken from his cell at night, brought to an

In brief, News

One man dies in coal mine in Georgia

by | January 28, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A man has died in an apparent accident in a coal mine in Tkibuli, a town in Georgia's mid-western Imereti region. Tariel Kasrashvili, a shift leader, died at 16:00 on Tuesday. He was transporting coal inside the Mindeli mine when he fell and died on

News

Parliament again fails to fill Public Broadcaster board

by | January 28, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Parliament in Georgia has again failed to approve new board members for the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB). Groups claim this shows there is a lack of will to free the broadcaster from political influence. January 23, parliament approved only one

News, Security

NATO chief: Georgia has made progress

by | January 28, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen writes in his latest annual report that Georgia has made good progress in implementing the reforms required to meet its standards. Rasmussen writes in his 2013 report, which was published on Monday, that NATO

Society

Georgian government presents bill about citizenship of newborns

by | January 28, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in Georgia proposes to automatically give Georgian citizenship to a child who was born through in vitro fertilization if none of the parents's home countries recognize it as its citizen. The Ministry of Justice explains that the new

News

Supreme Court gives Ivanishvili back Georgian citizenship

by | January 28, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--After waiting more than two years, ex-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili is finally a Georgian citizen. The businessman had his Georgian citizenship revoked by then President Saakashvili in October 2011, shortly after he declared that he would

News, Politics

Margvelashili planning his first annual address to parliament

by | January 27, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Giorgi Margvelashvili is in consultations with the speaker of parliament about the date of his annual address to parliament. The Georgian constitution says that the president must visit parliament once a year and present a report about

In brief, News

Iraqi medical student attacked in Kutaisi

by | January 27, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A student from Iraq was beaten in the Georgian city Kutaisi on Saturday. Local media writes that he was attack because of his origins. The student was brought to the hospital and will have to remain there for several more days. Unknown assailants

Minorities, News

Chechen refugees feel harassed by Georgian counterintelligence

by | January 27, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Some of the Chechens in Pankisi Gorge close to the Russian border say they are blackmailed and harassed by Georgian counterintelligence. Saikhan Muzayev, a former Russian and Arabic translator for the Refugee Ministry, said at a press

News

Georgia to allow dogs, peppers spray, batons against prisoners

by | January 27, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in Georgia wants to make it legal to use pepper spray, batons and dogs in prisons for security reasons. Today, if a prisoner poses a danger, he may be chained or placed in a restraining jacket. The government has drafted a bill with

NGO news

Georgian NGOs express concern about events in Ukraine

by | January 26, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--An umbrella organization uniting more than a hundred non-governmental organizations in Georgia on Saturday issued a statement expressing concern about events in Ukraine. The statement, which is signed by more than 60 groups that are members

Europe, News

Ukraine support rally in Georgia’s Samegrelo region

by | January 26, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tens of people Saturday gathered in Zugdidi, a town in western Georgia’s Samegrelo region, to express solidarity with people in Ukraine. The crowd brought with them Ukrainian flags and Georgian flags and posters saying Freedom to Ukraine, Victory is

Europe, News

Carl Bildt hopes Georgia will sign EU pact in August

by | January 25, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt says he hopes Georgia will sign the Association Agreement with European Union in August. Bildt met with Georgia's Prime Minister Irakli Ghrabishvili in Davos during the World Economic Forum and said afterward that

News, Security

Georgia creates an additional security council

by | January 25, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili has created a consulting group named the Security Council that will work on issues concerning Georgia’s internal and external safety. The council has almost the same duties and responsibilities as the National

News

Witnesses heard in trial about May 26 dispersal

by | January 25, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A court in Georgia on Friday questioned witnesses and participant in a demonstration on May 26 in 2011, which was violently dispersed by the police causing several deaths. One of the participants, Gia Burjanadze from the People’s Assembly, recalled

Minorities, News

Muslims in Georgia feel pressured by law enforcement

by | January 24, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Muslims in Georgia say they are being pressured by law enforcement bodies. Clerics from the Muslims community January 22 met with the Public Defender. According to the Ombudsman’s office, the meeting dealt with problems they are experiencing and

News

Further charges against former Georgian intelligence head

by | January 24, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Prosecutor’s Office in Georgia on Friday presented further charges against a former top intelligence official under Saakashvili. This again puts the spotlight on Data Akhalaia, who served as head of the domestic intelligence service in Georgia,

News, Politics

Ivanishvili starts non-governmental organization

by | January 24, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Ex-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has founded a non-governmental organization called Citizen. Details are scarce, but it is known that Ivanishvili himself will head the new organization and that its goal will be to strengthen civil society in the country.

News

Circus worker attacked by lion in Tbilisi

by | January 24, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A lion attacked a lion tamer in Tbilisi on Thursday, after the end of the night's performance. Monday night, a lion tamer from a group of Ukrainian performers entered the lion's cage to do some cleaning, and that was when the animal attacked. Roman

Europe, News

Georgian lawmakers express concern about violence in Ukraine

by | January 24, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The parliament in Georgia on Thursday passed a resolution expressing concern about the use of force against peaceful citizens in Ukraine. 118 representatives voted for, none voted against. The minimum number of votes to pass such a resolution is 60.

Opinion

Saakashvili’s appointment as ‘Senior Statesman’

by | January 23, 2014

This letter was published January 21, 2014, in The Tufts Daily, a student newspaper at Tufts University.I was distressed to read in your newspaper that former Georgian President Saakashvili had been appointed as a so-called “Senior Statesman” at the Fletcher

News, Politics

Georgian government members get performance-based bonuses

by | January 23, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Government ministers in Georgia are to be given bonuses according to their performance. Government officials receiving high bonuses was a controversial issue during the previous government. The problem is that under Georgian law, only the salary

Economy, News

Georgian lari continues to fall

by | January 23, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian lari continues to fall in value and hit 1.7817 against the US dollar on January 23. The fall started in early November and continued gradually from a level of around 1.67 lari against the dollar the month before. The lari rate has also

News

Georgia expresses concern about Russian border-moving

by | January 23, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili expresses concern about Russia moving the border into the territory of Georgia’s breakaway region Abkhazia. A few days ago, the Russian Federation and de facto government of Abkhazia made a decision

News

Hundreds demonstrated in Tbilisi to support Ukraine

by | January 23, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Wednesday evening, several hundred people demonstrated at the old parliament building in Tbilisi in support of Ukrainians who want integration with Europe. Students, journalists, politicians, artists, singers and others filled the square in front

News, Security

Constructive dialogue at South Ossetia field meeting

by | January 22, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) met in the village Ergneti on Tuesday. Representatives of Georgia's Interior Ministry presented footage of Russians installing barbed wire and fences in villages close to the demarcation line

News

Georgian PM to attend World Economic Forum

by | January 22, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili has left for Switzerland to participate in the 44th World Economic Forum in Davos. Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Foreign Affairs Minister Maia Panjikidze, Director

News

Georgia appoints new chief prosecutor

by | January 22, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili appointed a new chief prosecutor on Monday. The country has been without one for almost a month. The new chief prosecutor is Giorgi Badashvili, a 32 year old graduate from Georgian Technical

Minorities, News

HRW highlights recent attacks on minorities in Georgia

by | January 22, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Human Rights Watch criticizes Georgia in its World Report 2014 for not having done enough to protect the rights of religious minorities and LGBT. When it comes to religious rights, the organization points out that the Muslim minority has experienced

News, Security

The NATO Military Committe to visit Georgia Feb 11-12

by | January 22, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The NATO Military Committee will visit Georgia February 11-12. Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze said at Tuesday’s briefing that the visit is important, because it means that the military cooperation with NATO is on a new level. "Reforms implemented

News

HRW: Unclear criteria for prosecution of ex-officials

by | January 21, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticizes Georgian authorities for not clarifying what criteria they used when cleaning up crimes committed by officials under the previous government of former President Mikheil Saakashvili. "The authorities did not explain

News

Many milk products in Georgia have misleading labeling

by | January 21, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Food companies in Georgia are selling modified milk products with misleading labeling, according to Center for Strategic Research and Development. The center examined fifteen types of milk products, and ten of them turned out to be modified. They

News

Court strikes down libel sentence in ‘Imedi’ case

by | January 21, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court struck down a previous court ruling to fine Member of Parliament Giorgi Vashadze for libel against the businessman Joseph Kay. Kay is the investor who for a few months owned Imedi, a formerly government-critical TV station that played an

News

Tbilisi TV tower gets to keep its light show

by | January 21, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The TV tower in Tbilisi went briefly dark Monday because of disagreement over the city's budget, but the flashing light show lit up again late at night. The lights that have become the most visible landmark in the Georgian capital, were turned

News

Georgia to restrict privatization of strategic assets

by | January 21, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in Georgia demands to restore the list of strategic assets. The list was abolished a few years ago by the National Movement government and defined assets like railways, dams and pipelines, that have special importance for the country's

News, Security

Russia moves disputed state border near Sochi

by | January 20, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Russia has created a temporary border zone in the disputed Georgian region Abkhazia. The measure is said to be temporary in connection with the Winter Olympics in nearby Sochi. According to the Georgian Foreign Affairs Ministry, Russia has moved its

News, Politics

Tbilisi’s TV tower goes dark due to budget gridlock

by | January 20, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi's most visible landmark, the Mtatsminda TV tower, has gone dark at night, because of the the city's failure to pass a budget for this year. City Hall decided to switch off the light show on the tower because of the City Council's

News

Aide to the Georgian president attacked in Ankara

by | January 20, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--An aide to the Georgian president was attacked in Turkey on Monday during an official visit. The attack took place in Ankara, just as a meeting between Georgian president Giorgi Margvelashvili and Turkish President Abdullah Gül was about to start.

Environment, News

1000 people demonstrated to save Vake Park in Tbilisi

by | January 20, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Around a thousand people showed up in Vake Park in Tbilisi Sunday to protest against the construction of a new hotel. The event, which was planned on Facebook, brought together people, families, some with dogs or carrying balloons, enjoying snacks

Economy, News

Farmers in Georgia dump mandarin harvest due to delay

by | January 20, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Farmers in Kobuleti, a small town on the Black Sea coast, have thrown away part of their mandarin harvest because it rotted before they managed to sell it to the factory. The farmers say frost destroyed their mandarin and they just have to throw it

In brief, News

Georgian president pardons 54 prisoners

by | January 20, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili on Sunday pardoned 54 prisoners. Two of them are minors, and one is a woman. The pardoning took palce in connection with Epiphany, a holiday usually celebrated on January 19. It is regular practice for the

In brief, News

US Congress approves USD 62 million aid to Georgia

by | January 19, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The United States will give more than USD 62 million in aid to Georgia in 2014. Georgia's Foreign Affairs Ministry says the extent of U.S. aid was decided in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for fiscal year of 2014, which was passed by the House

News

Mining company wants to dig gold in 5400 year old mine

by | January 19, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Activists in Georgia are trying to prevent a five thousand year old gold mine from being opened up for commercial exploitation. It started in spring 2013, when archaeologists became aware that the mining company RMG was about to start excavating gold

News

Energy Ministry claims Saakashvili’s palace stole gas

by | January 18, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in Georgia has discovered that the palace Mikheil Saakashvili used as official residence for many years had a gas pipe installed which made it able to consume gas illegally without a counter. The glass domed presidential residence towers

Elections, News

Burjanadze fined USD 36 600 for campaign financing violation

by | January 18, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The State Audit Office in Georgia has fined the party led by opposition figure Nino Burjanadze, Democratic Movement, 65 000 lari (USD 36 600) for not declaring its finances in the election campaign. The State Audit Office, previously known as

News

Georgian government publishes Imedi settlement agreement

by | January 17, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian government Friday published an agreement between the previous government and the family of deceased businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili about Imedi TV. The settlement agreement, which is published on the Ministry of Justice webpage, was

News, Security

PM to head Georgia’s delegation at Munich Security Conference

by | January 17, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili will lead the Georgian delegation at the annual Munich Security Conference in two weeks. Mikheil Saakashvili, who stepped down as president three months ago, has been representing Georgia in recent

News

Georgia will consider proposal to open McDonald’s in Abkhazia

by | January 17, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili says it is necessary to correctly evaluate the political risks of McDonald’s and Coca-Cola entering the Georgian breakaway region Abkhazia. Gharibashvili Thursday said at a press conference that he will discuss

News

Georgian government limits purchase of expensive cars

by | January 17, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in Georgia plans to adopt rules that will regulate what type and mark of cars officials will be allowed to have according to their rank. Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili presented the initiative during a more general press conference

News

Illegal slaughterhouse uncovered near Tbilisi

by | January 17, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Hunters in Georgia have discovered an illegal slaughterhouse close to the village Kumisi, not far from the capital Tbilisi. The hunters claim donkeys are secretly killed there and cut in a way as not to recognize the origin of the meat. Later it is

News

Hungary recognizes Georgia’s ‘neutral passports’

by | January 16, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Hungary has recognized Georgia’s neutral passports, which are issued to people living in the breakaway territories Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Hungary made a decision on November 29, 2013, and it came to force yesterday. The so-called neutral

News, Security

Georgia denies claim Russian fighter jets flew over its territory

by | January 16, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in Georgia rejects reports that Russian military jets recently violated Georgian airspace. A few days ago, local media reported that five Russian SU-27s and one IL-76 crossed Georgia on January 10 and landed near the Armenian capital

Minorities, News

Georgian Muslims to have two muftis

by | January 16, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Muslims in Georgia will from now on have two muftis instead of one. This was decided at a session of the Administration of Muslims of all Georgia on January 9. Jemal Paksadze, who used to be the Mufti of all Georgia, from now on will be mufti of

Economy, News

World Bank expects 6.3 % growth in Georgia in 2014

by | January 16, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The World Bank expects Georgia to have 6.3 percent economic growth in 2014. The estimate was published in the Bank's Global Economic Prospects 2014, which reads that the prognosis for economic growth in Georgia in 2014 is 6.3.

In brief, News

Venice Commission visiting Georgia Thursday

by | January 15, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The president and the secretary of the Venice Commission will visit Georgia on January 16. Gianni Buquicchio and Thomas Markert will meet with Speaker of Parliament Davit Usupashvili on Thursday and members of the constitution commission, which is

News

Georgia creates agency to stimulate entrepreneurship

by | January 15, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian government plans to create an Entrepreneurship Development Agency to spur the growth of business. Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili said this on Wednesday during a meeting with representatives of the business

News, Politics

Tbilisi still without a budget, City Hall warns of problems

by | January 15, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Hall asks the City Council to solve the problem of approving the 2014 city budget. The Council failed to approve the budget on December 29, which means that City Hall is only allowed to spend up to one twelfth of the size of last year’s

News

Merabishvili inquest turns up nothing interesting: Prison Ministry

by | January 15, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Prison Ministry in Georgia says it did not notice anything interesting while looking into claims made by former Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili that he was taken out of his cell at night and threatened by the chief prosecutor. The ministry's

Economy, News

Georgia listed in 22nd place on Index of Economic Freedom

by | January 15, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia is listed in 22nd place on the Index of Economic Freedom, a ranking which includes 178 countries worldwide. The list was published Tuesday by the Heritage Foundation and shows Georgia in 22nd place with 72.6 points. According to the report,

Minorities, News

New details may help find who attacked Jehova’s Witnesses

by | January 14, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--New details might help police find out who attacked Jehovah’s Witnesses in Ozurgeti two weeks ago. In the attack, which took place on January 1, strangers broke the windows of a car the Witnesses were sitting in and threw stones at the building where

News

Georgian and Estonian parliamentarians reinforce ties

by | January 14, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A group of Georgian parliamentarians arrived in Estonia Monday for a two-day visit. The delegation includes MPs from the two opposing power blocs in Georgian politics. On Monday, the Georgian and Estonian speakers of parliament held a meeting to

In brief, News

Georgia to launch Facebook page in Abkhazian language

by | January 14, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in Georgia is preparing to start a Facebook page that will offer information about its activities in the Abkhazian language. Abkhazia is one of two Georgian breakaway regions under Russian control. The previous government also took steps

News

McDonald’s to open restaurant in Abkhazia?

by | January 14, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A statement by McDonald's that it wants to open a branch in the disputed Georgian region Abkhazia has caused strong criticism in Georgia. Temur Chkonia, representative of McDonald’s in Georgia, says the statement will be removed from the

In brief, News

Russia-Georgia border crossing will be open 24 hours

by | January 14, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Checkpoint Lars, the only Russian border crossing with Georgia, will be open 24 hours from January 15. Kavkaz Uzel writes that a person working at the checkpoint says the checkpoint on the Georgian side, which is called Kazbegi, will also be open 24

News

Further charges against two Saakashvili-era ex-officials

by | January 13, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Prosecutor’s Office in Georgia has presented new charges against former Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaia and Megis Kardava, a former chairman of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti police department in a case that deals with torture of prisoners. This will be

News

National Movement to rally Georgians against Russia

by | January 13, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The National Movement is planning a series of anti-Putin demonstrations in several cities and towns, but first wants to meet with the people. The party's spokesperson Andro Barnovi said on Monday that the government is passive as the Winter Sochi

News

Georgian parliament’s website down after hacker attack

by | January 13, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The website of Georgia's parliament was down during the weekend and IT specialists are still trying to repair it after it was hacked twice in the last two weeks. Merab Gotsiridze, head of the informational technology department of parliament, says

In brief, News

Georgian parliamentarians to visit Estonia Jan 13-15

by | January 13, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A group of Georgian parliamentarians will visit Estonia January 13-15. The delegation will be headed by the speaker of parliament and hold meetings with the Estonian president, speaker of parliament, prime minister and foreign minister, according to

In brief, News

One person a day detained at de facto border in 2014

by | January 13, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--14 persons have been detained by South Ossetia from December 31 to January 10 for violating the de facto border. Nine of the detainees were locals from South Ossetia, one was a Russian citizen and four were Georgian citizens. They were detained

Opinion

Child protection is missing from Georgia’s Association Agreement

by | January 12, 2014

In December 2013, Georgia signed the Association Agreement with the European Union during the Eastern Partnership summit held in Vilnius.The newly signed Association Agreement thus becomes the main treaty between Georgia and the EU and highlights key areas of cooperation.  The Agreement focuses

Society

Two people die in homeless shelters in Georgia

by | January 12, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Two people have died during the last two days in shelter tents which were put up in Tbilisi and Gori to help homeless people get through the winter. A woman died January 11 in a tent in Tbilisi. The cause of death is still unknown. The woman was brought

In brief, News

Georgian president to visit Turkey January 20

by | January 12, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian president Giorgi Margvelashvili will visit Turkey on January 20. According to the president's administration, he has planned meetings with President Abdullah Gül in Ankara and also the prime minister and speaker of parliament.

Environment, News

Rally against planned new hotel in Vake Park, Tbilisi

by | January 11, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--People Friday demonstrated in front of Tbilisi City Hall against a private company's plans to build a new hotel inside the publicly owned Vake Park in the capital. Behind the project is Tiflis Development Company, and the hotel is planned at the location

Minorities, News

Nigerian king concerned about attack on own citizen in Georgia

by | January 11, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A man presenting himself as a king has appealed to the Georgian government for better protection of his fellow countrymen after a Nigerian was brutally attacked in Tbilisi. Richard Arize, presented by Rustavi 2 as a king of Igbo-Ukwu, a town in

Economy, News

Georgia’s National Bank changes policy after drop in lari’s value

by | January 11, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The National Bank of Georgia plans to tighten its monetary policy in case the fall in the exchange rate of lari sets off an inflation. After falling in value for several months, the Georgian lari (GEL) is now rated at 1.7421 against the US dollar.

Minorities, News

Georgian Patriarch: Glad gay marriage is not EU requirement

by | January 10, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Patriarch’s Christmas epistle continues to cause controversy in Georgia. Not only in vitro fertilization and the use of surrogate mothers, but also what he wrote about sexual minorities. "It’s a pity that minority groups, that have sharply

News

Tougher punishment for false reports of terrorism in Georgia

by | January 10, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Interior Ministry in Georgia is bringing in tougher rules for falsely reporting a terrorist attack or a bomb. The Administrative Violations Code of Georgia will now define stricter punishment for those who report false information to the

News

Georgian government critical of anti-mafia law but won’t change it

by | January 10, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in Georgia does not plan to review its policy towards the mafia, but the head of the judiciary committee in parliament says the laws targeting criminal organizations are vague. One of the stated priorities of former president Mikheil

In brief, News

Georgia says crime level dropped in 2013

by | January 10, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in Georgia says the overall crime level dropped by one fourth in 2013 compared to the preceding year, although the number of new criminal investigations grew by 40 percent. The Ministry of Internal Affairs's latest crime statistics

News

Four people guilty of hooliganism after Wednesday’s rallies

by | January 9, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court Thursday fined three people detained at a rally the day before and fined them 100 lari (USD 60). A fourth detainee received a verbal warning. All four were detained on Wednesday as two opposing protest rallies outside the

Society

Georgia begins effort to stem hepatitis C epidemic in March

by | January 9, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--From March 1, 2013, medical treatment for hepatitis C will be free for prisoners in Georgia. Other people with the illness will be able to buy medicines for 60 percent lower price. The Health Ministry on Thursday presented its hepatitis C treatment

News

French refugee office lists Georgia as a safe country

by | January 9, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless (OFPRA) has listed Georgia as one of the countries considered safe at the national level. This means that people from Georgia who seek asylum in France cannot receive it easily, only in

News

Georgian health minister promotes adoption

by | January 9, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--There are more than 3 000 applications of couples who want to adopt a child in Georgia, and only 20 children available for being adopted. Health Minister Davit Sergeenko said at press conference on Wednesday that the procedures aren’t difficult but

News

Five prison doctors fired after prisoner death

by | January 9, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Five prison doctors have been fired after the death of a prisoner at Prison No 19 in Ksani, a town north of the capital. Spokesperson Irakli Kordzaia said Wednesday that the Prison Ministry has studied what happened to a prisoner who died January 2,

News

Four detained at protests about artificial fertilization

by | January 8, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Four persons were detained on Wednesday after several incidents during two counter-rallies held at the main office of the Georgian Orthodox Church, the Patriarchate. Participants at one rally came to protest against an epistle by the Georgian Patriarch

News

Ex-officials charged with torture leading to death

by | January 8, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--In the past two weeks, Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia has twice introduced charges against former government official Megis Kardava for torture of prisoners. On Wednesday, the Prosecutor’s Office published information about an investigation

In brief, News

Georgia sends delegation to Munich Security Conference

by | January 8, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia will send a delegation to attend the 50th Munich Security Conference. According to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, it is decided that a delegation from Georgia will attend the conference, but it is still unknown who the members

News

Georgia’s Patriarch criticizes artificial reproduction

by | January 8, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian Patriarch's Christmas epistle is causing a reaction among human rights groups in the country. In the epistle, which was published yesterday night, Catholicos Patriarch Ilia II talks about children who were born to surrogate mothers. He

News

Georgia does not plan to advertise for wine at Sochi

by | January 8, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The National Wine Agency of Georgia does not plan to advertise Georgian wine at the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics, but it is still unknown whether private companies will do it on their own initiative. On Tuesday, Russian media reported that Georgia

News

Christmas procession Alilo held in Tbilisi

by | January 7, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--January 7, Georgia marks Christmas according to the Julian Calendar and as customary the large Alilo procession was held in the capital. Clerics and parishioners on Tuesday gathered at Roses Square to prepare to walk along Rustaveli Avenue and end the

News

Georgia listed as world’s fifth best tourism country

by | January 7, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Rough Guides has listed Georgia as number five among the world's top countries for tourism. Rough Guide is a travel guidebook owned by Penguin Random House. The publication has selected the best tourist countries for 2014, and Ethiopia is

Economy, News

Georgian lari falls further against dollar, euro

by | January 7, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The exchange rate of Georgian lari (GEL) continues to fall and is now valued at 1.7466 against the US dollar. According to the National Bank of Georgia, the lari this year fell by 5.1 percent. The last time it was as low as 1.74 against the dollar was

News

21% more visitors to Georgia in 2013

by | January 6, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--There were 5 365 356 visitors to Georgia in 2013. This is a 21.2 percent increase from 2012. According to the Interior Ministry’s department of information and analysis, there came 391 724 visitors to the county in December 2013, which is five

Society

Mandarin vendors protested in Kobuleti

by | January 6, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Citrus vendors in Georgia protested Sunday in Kobuleti on the Black Sea which against their produce not being taken in by a factory and instead left to rot. The protesters said about 200 trucks are standing there loaded with mandarins, and the vendors

News

Five Georgians die of alcohol poisoning in Turkey

by | January 6, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Five Georgians have died of alcohol poisoning in the suburbs of Istanbul, Turkey. First, there was report about the death of four Georgians, which was confirmed by the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Georgia. On Sunday, there was another report that

News

Ivanishvili’s fortune shrunk 1.1 bln during year in politics

by | January 6, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili's fortune shrunk by USD 1.1 billion during the year he governed his country as prime minister. What happened? The journal Forbes in 2012 listed Ivanishvili in 153rd place among the world's billionaires with an estimated

News, Politics

Georgian government starts weekly meetings with its lawmakers

by | January 5, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in Georgia on Saturday held the first of what is to be weekly consultations with its coalition's lawmakers. Davit Saganelidze, Member of Parliament for the Georgian Dream coalition, said the point of the weekly Saturday meetings

Minorities, News

Chechen refugees trying to find their place in Georgian society

by | January 5, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--For the last 14 years, Kariata Tsimirbulatova has lived with her husband and four children in Duisi, a village in a valley in the northeastern part of Georgia near the border to Chechnya called Pankisi Gorge. The members of her family have recently

News

Next Abashidze-Karasin meeting in Prague in February

by | January 5, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The next meeting between representatives of Georgia and Russia will be held possibly at the end of February in Prague. Zurab Abashidze, the prime minister's special representative for relations with Russia, told Interpressnews that he and Gregory

News

Prison Ministry questions former interior minister about threats

by | January 4, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Prison Ministry staff have questioned former Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili about his statement about being taken from his cell and threatened by the chief prosecutor. Merabishvili said in December that he was brought out of his cell and taken

News

Russia simplifies visa rules for Georgian transport drivers

by | January 4, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Russia has simplified its visa rules for Georgian transit traffic. According to Deputy Economy Minister Natia Mikeladze, Russia informed Georgia about the decision through the Swiss embassy, which acts as an intermediary since formal relations were

In brief, News

Georgia’s new chief prosecutor to be announced soon

by | January 4, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's prime minister Irakli Gharibashvili says he will name the new chief prosecutor in a few days. The former chief prosecutor Otar Partskhaladze resigned December 30 after the National Movement claimed an alleged robbery sentence from Germany in 2001

Society

Homeless people sheltered in tents in Tbilisi

by | January 3, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Government has erected 20 tents in a Tbilisi suburb to help homeless people survive the cold winter. The temporary tents are currently used by more than 200 people, including up to ten children. The first four tents were put up December 11 on Moscow

News

Georgia to elect new member of High Council of Justice

by | January 3, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian president Giorgi Margvelashvili January 3 announced a competition to select one member of the High Council of Justice. According to a statement published by the president's administration, the candidate will be selected among professors

In brief, News

Families get compensation for soldiers who died in war

by | January 3, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--From January 1, the closest family of soldiers who have died on duty will receive a monthly compensation of 500 lari (USD 300). An amendment was made in June last year to the law about state compensation and state academic scholarship and is now

Minorities, News

Jehovah’s Witnesses attacked in Ozurgeti

by | January 3, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--January 1, unknown persons attacked a gathering of Jehovah's Witnesses in Ozurgeti. According to local media in the Guria region, the assailants broke the windows of a car the Jehovah's Witnesses were sitting in and threw stones at the building where they

News, Politics

Tbilisi City Council rejects 2014 budget

by | January 2, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A majority in Tbilisi City Council voted to reject the 2014 budget. The proposal received the support of only 18 council members, while 21 voted against. Three abstained. During the preceding debate, a majority of council members criticized how

In brief, News

Georgian ministry renamed from ‘reintegration’ to ‘reconciliation’

by | January 2, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Office of the State Minister for Reintegration from January 1 is called the Office of the State Minister of Reconciliation and Civil Equality Issues. According to the minister, Paata Zakareishvili, the name implies two areas: conflicts and

News

South Ossetia pardons Georgian jailed for sedition

by | January 2, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The de facto president of South Ossetia, Leonid Tibilov, on December 31 pardoned a Georgian who was serving a 13 year sentence for sedition after being involved in the region's Tbilisi-backed administration. According to a statement by the breakaway region's

News

Georgia releases 87 prisoners for New Year’s

by | January 2, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia has released 87 prisoners in connection with New Year's Day. Four of the released are women and 83 are men, according to the Prison Ministry. The decision was made by the ministry's pardon commission, one of two such bodies that recommend

News

Georgian president will not use official residences

by | January 1, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian president Giorgi Margvelashvili says he has decided not to use any of the presidential residences. He claims that none of the government officials have purchased luxurious cars or other objects by state money. A few days ago, questions

Minorities, News

Will local government reform encourage separatism in Georgia?

by | January 1, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A draft law that will reform local government is causing controversy in Georgia, as some think it may encourage separatism and jeopardize the country’s integrity. This issue is problematic because the Soviet government created three autonomous

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