In brief

Georgian parliament accepts president’s veto

by | October 31, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian parliament grudgingly abandoned its plan to overturn the president’s veto against a decision to postpone legislation that would quickly curb the Interior Ministry's ability to carry out secret surveillance. Georgia has introduced

Politics

Georgian president vetoes postponement of surveillance reform

by | October 31, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Giorgi Margvelashvili Friday vetoed a decision by the Georgian parliament to postpone a decision about reining in the use secret surveillance by the state. The veto is a highly confrontational move that could be a precursor of a major rift

In brief

Five defense officials placed in pre-trial detention

by | October 31, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court on Thursday placed five Defense Ministry officials in pre-trial detention. The five are charged with embezzling more than four million lari in connection with a tender for building high speed Internet. The hearing was

News

Changes in Georgia’s immigration law expected in December

by | October 31, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The criticism of the new immigration law in Georgia seems to have yielded some results: lawmakers are contemplating amendments to existing legislation concerning visa and residency permit. The parliament of Georgia has already received

Youth

Georgian ombudsman against use of video in children’s psychology sessions

by | October 30, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s public defender recommends that the Ministry of Education reconsiders a decision to allow the use of photo and video recordings of children during psychologist consultations. A psychology center for school children was opened in spring

In brief

NATO chief Stoltenberg to meet Georgian PM November 17

by | October 30, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--New NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg will meet Georgia’s prime minister on November 17. Secretary General Stoltenberg said this in a speech at the German Marshall Fund in Brussels on Wednesday. The stated purpose of the meeting with Georgian PM Irakli

News

Abkhazia rejects offer of status as autonomous region

by | October 30, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The de facto government of Abkhazia considers inadequate a proposal by the Georgian prime minister to make Abkhazia an autonomous republic inside Georgia. Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili made the proposal

In brief

Parliament speaker says corruption case has harmed Georgia’s defense ability

by | October 30, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s parliament speaker says the detention of five defense ministry officials accused of corruption has seriously harmed the country’s defense ability, even if the charges turn out to be false. Speaker of Parliament Davit Usupashvili

News

Saakashvili supporters plan rally on November 15

by | October 29, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian prime minister claims the party associated with former President Mikheil Saakashvili is planning to destabilize the country in connection with a demonstration planned on November 15. The National Movement announced the rally a few days

News

Georgian parliament postpones decision on secret surveillance

by | October 29, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The question of who should hold the access keys to the ‘black boxes’ containing secret surveillance material in Georgia has been postponed six more months. As other former Soviet countries, Georgia has experienced widespread use of phone tapping

Society

First lady and ministers perform in ‘Women wounded to death’

by | October 29, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s first lady and several government ministers took part in a theater performance on Tuesday dedicated to women who have been victims of violence. The title of the performance, held at Marjanishvili Theater, was ‘Women wounded to death’

Security

Smiling faces, little substance after security council session

by | October 29, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's president and prime minister laid their differences to rest on Tuesday and put on big smiles for a session of the National Security Council. The session was called by President Giorgi Margvelashvili to come up with ideas for how to respond

In brief

One man dead in building collapse in Zugdidi

by | October 28, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--One man died as a result of a building collapse in western Georgia Monday night. A water reservior burst in the office of the State Security Agency in the town Zugdidi, near the Abkhazian region. The victim is head of department Zviad Lagvilava.

News

Five Defense Ministry officials detained, accused of embezzlement

by | October 28, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Prosecutor’s Office in Georgia on Tuesday detained five officials at the Defense Ministry and accused them of embezzlement of about USD 2.3 million of the state’s money. The office accuses them of granting advantages to the communication

News, Security

Georgian PM to attend security council meeting

by | October 28, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian prime minister unexpectedly announced that he will attend a meeting today of the National Security Council, which was called by the president to respond to a proposed new pact between Russia and breakaway Abkhazia. Despite

Opinion

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women

by | October 27, 2014

Two weeks ago the weekend news was dominated by cases of acts of violence against women. Especially the murder at Ilia State University on October 17 and the subsequent media reports of other cases of domestic violence over the course of two days spurred the debate.

News, Security

Georgia’s security council will meet, though many members absent

by | October 27, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian president has called a meeting of the National Security Council tomorrow to discuss an issue that may influence the country's territorial integrity, but several central figures in the government are unlikely to show up. President Giorgi

News

Former Georgian economy minister becomes Tymoshenko adviser

by | October 27, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Right before Ukrainians went to the polls in Sunday’s parliamentary election, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko named a former Georgian economy minister as one of her advisers. Tymoshenko is leader of Batkivshchyna (Fatherland), a small

News, Youth

Georgia may make ‘civic equality’ part of university entrance exam

by | October 26, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The exam authority in Georgia has suggested introducing a new test in ‘civic equality’ as part of the entrance exams for university studies. The new test has been proposed by the National Exam Center against the background of a recent discussion

Minorities

Georgian bishop says the Mokhe building was never a mosque

by | October 25, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--An archbishop in Georgia claims the disputed building in Mokhe was formerly a church, and that allowing it to be used by Muslims is unacceptable. The conflict in the village Mokhe near Adigeni started last week when workers came to start dismantling

Society

Tbilisoba kicks off Saturday

by | October 25, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--This weekend marks the first Tbilisoba - the annual celebration of Georgia’s capital - under the new local government. A new mayor and new members of the City Council were elected in June. The list of events planned on Saturday and Sunday is quite

News

Suspect detained in journalist’s beating

by | October 24, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Police two days ago detained a man who is suspected of beating a journalist working for a conservative newspaper. According to the Interior Ministry, the suspect insulted and beat Zaza Davitaia on October 22 in the center of Tbilisi. Davitaia

Economy, News

Georgia’s foreign trade turnover up 10% Jan-Sept ’14

by | October 24, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s foreign trade turnover in the first nine months of 2014 was ten percent more than the year before, according to figures published Friday by the National Statistics Department, Geostat. The total turnover was USD 8,376 million, out

News

Foreign experts say evidence against Saakashvili is sound

by | October 24, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Three foreign prosecutors visiting Georgia have concluded that there is enough evidence to continue the criminal prosecution of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili and three of his associates. Georgia’s chief prosecutor’s office announced this on Thursday.

Minorities

School children stay home in Mokhe as politicians explain conflict

by | October 23, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Politicians Thursday began making sense of the conflict in Mokhe the day before, while local Muslims spent the whole night at the police station where people are being held who were detained. The scuffle began as Muslims tried to stop the

Minorities

Mosque conflict continues in southern Georgian town

by | October 23, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Conflict continued Wednesday in the small Georgian village Mokhe, as an old mosque was dismantled from morning. Muslims tried to protest, but the Orthodox Christians opposed them and there came to a scuffle, during which 14 people were detained.

Europe, News

Ukraine support rallies in three Georgian cities

by | October 23, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Ukraine support rallies were held in three different Georgian cities on Wednesday. They were organized by the National Platform, which is an umbrella organization uniting more than a hundred non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Rallies were held

News

Bacho Akhalaia sentenced to seven years in jail

by | October 22, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--One of the strongmen in Saakashvili’s government was Wednesday sentenced to seven years and six months in jail in a case concerning beating of prisoners and a fatal shooting in 2006. As the judge announced the verdict there was noise

In brief, News

Activists detained – want Saakashvili’s party banned

by | October 22, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A group of people from the organization Free Generation Tuesday evening demonstrated outside the office of the National Movement, Georgia’s former ruling party, demanding that it is declared illegal. In the ensuing scuffle, six person were detained

News, Security

Russian drones threaten stability, Georgia says

by | October 22, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Russian drones are endangering the security and stability in the region, Georgia’s representatives said at a meeting of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) Tuesday. As DF Watch reported earlier, a Russian unmanned aerial vehicle

News

Violence against women highlighted at demonstration in Tbilisi

by | October 21, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Demonstrators gathered outside the government office on Tuesday to demand better protection of women after what they claim is 23 killings of women this year in incidents of domestic violence. It is not known who organized the demonstration, but it

Minorities

Muslims in south of Georgia plan petition to dismiss mufti

by | October 21, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Muslims in south Georgia are planning to start a petition to dismiss the country’s mufti, who they claim is illegitimate and gave them false promises. A few days ago, there was a conflict in the village Mokhe, where an old mosque is going

News, Youth

Tbilisi students demonstrate against gas station on university area

by | October 21, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Students demonstrated Monday against the construction of a new petrol station on an area that is part of Tbilisi State University. The company claims it owns all rights to the land and is not violating any law by building the gas station. Led by

In brief, News

Supporters of controversial ex-official rally outside PM’s residence

by | October 20, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Supporters of Georgia’s former regime demonstrated outside the house of the prime minister on Sunday. Outraged passers-by confronted them, and several people were detained in the scuffle. The protesters demanded that the courts are freed from

News

Merabishvili gets three years in jail for Girgvliani murder

by | October 20, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Former Georgian interior minister Vano Merabishvili was Monday sentenced to three years in jail for involvement in the cover-up of the murder of a bank employee in 2006. Tbilisi City Court found the former minister guilty and also prohibited him from

Minorities

Locals demonstrate for and against turning mosque into culture center

by | October 20, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Muslims in Mokhe, a village in the south of Georgia, protested on Saturday, because they don't want to give up an old mosque and turn it into a culture center. The Orthodox population rallied against them demanding to construct a new culture center

Environment, News

Bad weather causes flooding in Georgia

by | October 19, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Bad weather continued to cause problems in many parts of Georgia on Sunday. A storm was raging on the Black Sea coast while rivers were flooded, damaging roads and houses in villages. The river Khobistskali spilled over its banks, paralyzing the road

News

String of violent incidents fuels crime debate in Georgia

by | October 19, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--After a lecturer was murdered in the corridor of a Tbilisi university on Friday, there have been more reports of domestic violence across Georgia, leaving one woman dead and one man in a critical condition in a separate incident. In Tbilisi, a patrol police

Opinion

ECtHR condemns Georgia for harassment of Jehovah’s Witnesses

by | October 18, 2014

On 7 October, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) unanimously ruled in favor of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the case of Begheluri and Others v. Georgia. The 99 Georgians, all but one of whom are Jehovah’s Witnesses, alleged that they were victims of large-scale

News

Man shoots ex-wife, then kills himself at Tbilisi university

by | October 18, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A lecturer was shot dead by her former husband at Ilia State University (ISU) in Tbilisi on Friday. The murderer committed suicide on the spot. Maka Tsivtsivadze was holding an English lecture, when she was visited by her former husband. He called

News

Greece refuses to extradite Data Akhalaia to Georgia

by | October 17, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A court in Greece has refused to extradite a former Georgian official who is charged with involvement in the murder of a bank employee and several other crimes, including abuse of power. Data Akhalaia is seen as a close ally of ex-President Mikheil

In brief, News

Georgia’s parliament speaker defends Ivanishvili in newspaper ad

by | October 17, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The speaker of the Georgian parliament went on the offensive Thursday against former President Mikheil Saakashvili and in defense of the billionaire who brought together the current government coalition, Bidzina Ivanishvili. Speaker of Parliament

In brief, Minorities, Youth

Update: Two teens captured for vandalizing a church in Tbilisi

by | October 16, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The police on Thursday arrested two youngsters for suspicion of vandalizing a church just during a religious holiday. The detainees are two teens of 17 and 15 years old. The latter has a prior conviction. While searching the homes of the suspects,

News

Georgia’s Russia-envoy does not plan to cancel Prague meeting

by | October 16, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s envoy for talks with Russia says he will meet his Russian counterpart in Prague on Thursday, despite criticism from his coalition fellow party members. But Zurab Abashidze says he will inevitably touch a very contentious issue during

News

Georgia’s new immigration law criticized for flaws

by | October 16, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's new immigration law has created a lot of problems for foreigners who already live, study or work in the country. People DF Watch spoke to say their applications are being rejected for unclear reasons. They also question why it is required to file

News

Georgia investigating coup plans by the former ruling party

by | October 15, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian law enforcers are investigating alleged plans by the former ruling party, the National Movement, to destabilize the country and overthrow its government, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Levan Izoria told opposition-leaning TV channel Rustavi 2.

News

Georgian diplomats clash over proposed Russia-Abkhazia pact

by | October 15, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A proposed new comprehensive agreement between Russia and Abkhazia has triggered a quarrel between two veterans of the Georgian diplomacy who both belong to the ruling Georgian Dream coalition. The text of the draft proposes ‘a common space

News

Former members of Georgian elite forces accused of kidnapping

by | October 14, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The police on Monday arrested four persons for alleged kidnapping, two of whom are former members of special forces units in the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA). MIA states that the four kidnapped a 19 year old man, Ioseb Giorkhelidze. Two members

News

Georgia eyes with suspicion Russian plans for new road through Caucasus

by | October 13, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia views with caution the construction by Russia of yet another trans-Caucasus road, while the opposition sees a direct threat for a country whose territory’s 18 percent is occupied by its northern neighbor. In North Caucasus, authorities

News

Seventh jihadi from Pankisi Gorge, Georgia, dies in Syrian war

by | October 13, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--One more Georgian jihadist from Pankisi Gorge has been killed in Syria fighting alongside the Islamic State. 22 year old Guram Gumashvili is the seventh rebel fighter from Pankisi to be killed in the Syrian war, according to the Kakheti

Minorities, News

Human rights court faults Georgia for its treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses

by | October 12, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The European Court of Human Rights last week found that Georgia has violated the human rights of the Jehovah’s Witnesses community in the country. The violations the court looked at date 14 years back in time, but the group is still being attacked

News

Brother of deceased PM Zurab Zhvania expects results soon

by | October 11, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The investigation into the death of the Georgian prime minister Zurab Zhvania in 2005 will soon enter its final stage, according to the brother of the deceased. Goga Zhvania said Friday that it’s still unclear whether the investigators

Opinion

A red ghost of virginity

by | October 10, 2014

“Inga, can I stay with you for a week? Something terrible happened.” This is a message I got from a  close friend earlier this week. Apparently, she went out with her friends and did not hear her brother calling. Then, in the middle of the night, her brother and her

News

Georgia’s president pardons 88 prisoners

by | October 9, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Wednesday was probably the happiest day in the lives of 88 prisoners in Georgia, as they were allowed to walk free following a presidential pardon. Another 27 got their sentences reduced by half or one third. The decree by President Giorgi

News

3.7 magnitude earthquake rattles southern Caucasus

by | October 9, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A 3.7 magnitude earthquake rattled the south central slopes of the Caucasus mountains Wednesday. The earthquake occurred at 4:36 pm Tbilisi time and had its epicenter near the mining town Tkibuli, in western Georgia. According to Tamaz Dolaberidze,

Minorities, Society, Youth

Deadly ‘bridenapping’ in Kakheti

by | October 8, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--When a young man was murdered last weekend in Kazlar, an Azeri village 40km east of Tbilisi, it could have been one among many stories of violence and homicides in rural Georgia, but the circumstances of this case makes it stand out. 21 year

In brief, News

Two Georgians detained by Russian border guards

by | October 8, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Russian border guards on Tuesday detained a husband and wife in a village bordering breakaway South Ossetia. The two, Kakha Kazishvili and Zina Natriashvili, were detained in the village Kvemo Ikorta as they were trying to cross the 'border' to visit relatives.

News, Politics

PM’s relative appointed party secretary

by | October 7, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A relative of the Georgian prime minister has been appointed as executive secretary of the Georgian Dream Party, the largest member of the government coalition by the same name. It was a unanimous decision by the political council of the Georgian

Media, News

Ivanishvili plans to host TV show

by | October 7, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Former Georgian prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili says he wants to host a weekly talk show. This comes after Ivanishvili many times has criticized Georgian media for bias and lack of professionalism. The new talk show is one of two projects presented

News

Murder charges against police officer who fatally shot 21 year old

by | October 6, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The police officer who shot to death a young man in Kutaisi has been charged with purposeful murder and exceeding his power using a firearm and faces up to 15 years in jail. The police officer pleaded not guilty. His lawyer told journalists

News

Georgia’s controversial new immigration law may be changed

by | October 6, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian government may change a new controversial law on immigration that has caused a wave of confusion and irritation in the country’s expat community. Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said this during a visit to the eastern Kakheti region

News

Policeman arrested after fatally shooting 21 year old

by | October 5, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A police officer who shot to death a 21 year old man in Kutaisi on Friday has been arrested. The Ministry on Internal Affairs has not released the name of the officer, who is suspected of exceeding his power. Details about the shooting are sketchy,

Minorities

Kobuleti, where Muslims are not welcome

by | October 4, 2014

KOBULETI, DFWatch--In the past couple of years, Muslims in Georgia have experienced more and more animosity directed toward them. In 2012, Muslims were opposed when they tried to open a mosque in Nigvziani; in 2013 villagers in Samtatskharo were not allowed to perform

News

21-year old dies after being shot by police

by | October 3, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A 21 year old man was shot by police during a car chase Friday in Kutaisi. The man later died from his injuries. The police shooting sent shockwaves through the local community in this Georgia’s second largest city, where people remember how police

News, Youth

More Georgian students to get scholarships for UK

by | October 3, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--In 2014-2014, six Georgian students will continue their Masters degrees at British universities with support from the Chevening program. The scholarships are mainly given for studies within economy and politics. The UK government

News

Abkhaz leader plans to close all but one checkpoint

by | October 3, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The newly elected de facto president of the breakaway region Abkhazia wants to close five out of a total of six ’official’ checkpoints that divide Abkhazia from Georgia proper. According to Russian news agency Ria Novosti, Abkhazia’s new president,

News, Youth

Saakashvili supporters and opponents clash again

by | October 3, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Opponents and supporters of former President Saakashvili clashed again in Tbilisi on Thursday, two days after their first showdown. The two rival political youth groups stood against each other on Pekini Street, cursing opponents and throwing bottles,

News

Investigators find no proof Kitsmarishvili was murdered

by | October 2, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Investigators haven’t  found any evidence that Georgia’s former ambassador to Russia and founder of Rustavi 2 TV company was murdered. “On the basis of testimonies by hundreds of witnesses, appropriate documents, videotapes, evidence

Minorities, News

Religious minorities in Georgia shortchanged due to prejudice

by | October 2, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--In the last few years, Georgia has had a surge in discrimination against religious minorities. A new report reveals that also a silent, invisible day-to-day form of discrimination is prevalent within government institutions and among public servants.

Minorities, News

Georgian man stabs sister for not wearing hijab

by | October 1, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A man from Pankisi Gorge stabbed his sister in the chest with a knife for refusing to wear a hijab. The brother, 35, inflicted 7 wounds on his 33 year old sister, a former police officer. Georgia's Pankisi Gorge is located in the northeast

In brief, News

Georgian president presents candidates for head of Supreme Court

by | October 1, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian president on Tuesday presented parliament with his two candidates to take over as head of Supreme Court. This was the second time President Giorgi Margvelashvili presented Nino Bakakuri and Zurab Dzlierishvili as candidates to take over

News

Two activist groups clash in Tbilisi

by | October 1, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Two groups of politically motivated youth clashed on Tuesday, inflicting injuries on each other. The conflict started after activists from the pro-National Movement youth group Tavisupali Zona (Free Zone) severely beat a journalist from a conservative

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