Environment

Four environmental activists detained outside city council in Tbilisi

by | December 30, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Four environmentalists were detained outside the city council building in Tbilisi on Wednesday. The four were demonstrating against the project Panorama Tbilisi, which involves constructing a new cable car and several buildings in the old

News

Georgian priest among dead in Norman Atlantic fire

by | December 30, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A Georgian priest is among those who died after the ferry Norman Atlantic caught fire in the Adriatic Sea on Sunday. A spokesperson for Georgia's Foreign Ministry said a few minutes ago that the body of priest Ilia Kartozia has been found.

In brief

Nearly a hundred prisoners pardoned in Georgia

by | December 30, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Nearly a hundred prisoners have been pardoned in Georgia, partly in relation to the New Year celebration. Most of the prisoners who are being freed or have their sentences reduced were pardoned by the president’s pardon commission; one of two

Caucasus region

Chechen leader proposes building road and railway to Georgia

by | December 29, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov proposes building a new railway as well as a new road connecting the Russian republic with Georgia, which still has tense relations with Russia. Kadyrov's provocative plan was launched at a press conference in Grozny.

In brief

Ombudsman asks Prosecutor’s Office to investigate police brutality

by | December 29, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian ombudsman has asked the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate an incident of possible mistreatment by police. On Monday, the Ombudsman’s Office reported that a citizen, whose name is mentioned by initials, was detained

In brief

Eight Georgians among passangers of ferry that caught fire in Adriatic Sea

by | December 29, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A ferry which caught fire on December 28 in the Adriatic Sea, was carrying eight Georgian citizens. According to Italian media there were 478 people on the ferry, including the crew. At least eight people have been killed in the fire aboard MS Norman Atlantic

News

Georgian president considers meeting Putin

by | December 29, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian president says he is ready to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin if bilateral relations between the two states will be on the agenda. A meeting between the leaders of the two countries which broke off relations after fighting

News

Five Georgian Defense Ministry officials must remain in detention

by | December 29, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi city court on Saturday turned down a plea from five Defense Ministry officials who asked to be released on bail. The defense team of the five officials who were detained in late October and charged with embezzlement of about USD 2.3

News

One more Georgian jihadist dies in Syrian war

by | December 27, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--One more Georgian citizen has died in the Syrian war. Israphil Tsatiashvili, 18, died in Kobani, Syria, fighting for Islamic State. He is the eighth fighter from Pankisi who has died in Syria. Israphil’s brother Zelimkhan, 21, died about a month

Politics

Brawl in Georgian parliament

by | December 27, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Parliamentarians on Friday got into a physical scuffle hitting microphones at each other because they didn't agree on how to distribute delegates to the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe. The ruling coalition proposed reshuffling

Minorities

Armenians in Akhalkalaki struggle to learn Georgian

by | December 26, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Armenians from Samtskhe-Javakheti have a dilemma: They feel isolated from Georgian society because they don't speak the state language, but at the same time they don't have enough motivation to learn it. Shushana Shirinian, a journalist from

News

Georgia to reorganize Interior Ministry, Prosecutor’s Office

by | December 26, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in Georgia plans to reorganize the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor's Office. Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said at a press conference Friday that the Interior Ministry will be completely transformed and made

Environment

Georgian parliament halts work in prehistoric mine, orders investigation

by | December 26, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian parliament on Wednesday decided to halt work at a prehistoric mine that was almost destroyed by a mining company, and to put together a commission to investigate the legality of the ongoing work. The cave complex in Sakdrisi has more

News

Famous Georgians plea for detained officers’ release

by | December 25, 2014

Tbilisi, DFWatch - 37 famous Georgians, including members of the ruling coalition, stand in bail for release of the five defense ministry officials, detained earlier on corruption charges; 20 of them vouch for their innocence. Along with several popular personalities such

Minorities

Government members attend Catholic Midnight Mass in Tbilisi

by | December 25, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Several government members attended Midnight Mass at the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Church in Tbilisi last night. The ceremony started at 23:30 and Giuseppe Pasotto, Apostolic Administrator of the Caucasus, conducted the prayer.

Minorities

Georgia doubles state funding of four religious communities

by | December 24, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian government is doubling the funding of four religious denominations operating in the country, apart of the Georgian Patriarchate, the head of the State Agency for Religious Issues said on Wednesday. The four denominations

News

One Georgian released by South Ossetia

by | December 24, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--South Ossetia on Tuesday released one of two Georgians who were detained for crossing the disputed border. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Vasil Khidasheli and Alexandre Shiukashvili were detained on December 20

Environment

Tbilisi “invaded” by workers from Russian mining company

by | December 24, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi was Tuesday “invaded” by workers from a Russian mining company who are angry over the suggestion that they should halt work to protect a 5,400 years old archaeological site. The workers from Sakdrisi in southern Georgia gathered

News

Businessman beaten in Tbilisi, claims political motive

by | December 23, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A Georgian businessman was beaten at Tbilisi restaurant on Saturday and claims it was because of his support for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mikheil Khubutia, who is a member of Putin’s United Russia Party and has business

Media

Many journalists leave Georgian TV channel, claim interference

by | December 23, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Many employees left their jobs at a Georgian TV station on Monday, as a protest against what they say is interference with the independence of their news reporting. Nino Zhizhilashvili was fired from her position as head of Maestro’s news

News

Prison conditions in Geguti criticized by ombudsman

by | December 22, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian ombudsman has raised the alarm about bad conditions at Geguti Prison in western Georgia. According to a new report, the safety regulations in place are not sufficient to prevent violence between the prisoners, and there is no program

In brief

Eco refugees demonstrated in Batumi

by | December 22, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Refugees living on an abandoned military base near Batumi broke into the yeard of the Adjara Supreme Council on Monday, demanding to meet with its head. Protesters blocked the road of Chakvi Batumi for ten minutes as sign of protest because

Youth

Youth activists rally outside PM’s residence

by | December 22, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Youth activists continued to protest against the destruction of an ancient mine in the south of Georgia on Sunday and gathered outside the house of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili. The reason was a comment by Garibashvili in a speech

News

Two Georgian films nominated for Oscar

by | December 21, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Two Georgian films, Corn Island and Tangerines, the latter of which represents Estonia, are among the nominees for an Oscar in the category foreign language film. Tangerines is also nominated for a Golden Globe in the best foreign film category.

In brief

New EUMM head appointed

by | December 21, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The EU Monitoring Mission to Georgia (EUMM), which was recently prolonged for two more years, has a new head. Kęstutis Jankauskas replaces Toivo Klaar, who was appointed in October 2013. According to an announcement sent out by EUMM,

Youth

Brain behind Georgian charity success shares his secrets

by | December 19, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--According to the official data, one out of three young Georgians (20-29 years old) is unemployed.  But a senior student at the University of Georgia Boris Kiknadze is not one of them. Less than one year ago he established a crowd-funded

Environment

Groups want independent inquest into destruction of ancient gold mine

by | December 19, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Non-governmental organizations in Georgia demand an inquest into how an important archaeological site was almost completely destroyed by a mining company a few days ago. The 5,400 years old gold mine in Sakdrisi

In brief

44 mosques in Georgia taken over by the state

by | December 19, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--44 mosques were taken over by Georgia’s Muslim Department two days ago by decision of the State Commission on Religious Issues. According to Zaza Vashakmadze, who is head of the commission, 21 mosques are in the Kakheti region, while 32

Europe

EU parliament ratifies association agreement with Georgia

by | December 19, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--With 490 votes against 76 and 57 absentees European Parliament Thursday approved EU-Georgia’s Association Agreement and adopted a resolution about Georgia with 491 votes against 84 and 63 absentees. The current Georgian president and his

Economy

Georgian parliamentarian visiting China to attract new investors

by | December 18, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Head of the parliamentary majority in Georgia is on a visit to China to attract more investments to his country. China is one Georgia’s top five trade partners. The trade between Georgia and China was USD 564 million in all of 2013, while

News

Georgia to reform the Prosecutor’s Office

by | December 18, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's PM wants to start consultations about institutional reform of the Prosecutor’s Office which has long been criticized for political bias. Apart from the Prosecutor’s Office itself, the consultations will include law enforcement bodies,

News

Georgian politician confirmed as Ukraine’s new deputy interior minister

by | December 18, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A Georgian politician was on December 17 officially appointed as deputy interior minister in Ukraine, the same post she held under President Mikheil Saakashvili in her home country a few years ago. Eka Zghuiladze is now first deputy to Interior

In brief

EU parliament to pass resolution on Georgia and ratify agreement

by | December 18, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The EU Parliament is voting today over whether to ratify an treaty with Georgia signed in June and already partly in force. The so-called association agreement offers free trade to EU's vast market in return for incorporating hundreds of EU regulations

News

Head of Tbilisi NGO detained for illegal possession of firearm

by | December 18, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The director of an influential Tbilisi-based non-governmental organization says he was detained for illegal possession of a firearm on December 12. Giorgi Kldiashvili, head of the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), on Tuesday

In brief

EU’s observer mission to Georgia extended for two years

by | December 17, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--EU’s military observers in Georgia have had their mandate extended for another two years, until December 2016. EU Monitoring Mission to Georgia (EUMM) was established shortly after the Russia-Georgia war in 2008 to support stabilization

Environment

Outrage in Tbilisi over destruction of 5,400 year old gold mine

by | December 17, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The news that a prehistoric mine has been damaged by a mining company sparked outrage in Tbilisi Tuesday. People gathered in the evening outside the National Agency on Cultural Heritage Protection to demand the Georgian culture

Politics

Governing coalition may dismiss Free Democrats committee head

by | December 17, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The governing coalition is discussing whether to dismiss the head of parliament's finance and budget committee, because he is a member of a party that left the coalition. The parliamentary majority believes it would be a mistake to have a representative

Economy

Georgia’s growth in export grinds to a halt

by | December 16, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia looked set to continue growing its export this year, but a 35% drop in November has brought the export down to same level as 2013, according to new preliminary data from  the National Statistics Department. Georgia's export in the month

Minorities

Ombudsman to study progress of Mokhe commission

by | December 16, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's Public Defender is considering checking the progress of a new commission tasked with studying a conflict around a mosque in Mokhe, a village in southern Georgia. Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili says he thinks people's trust

In brief

Georgian president rides horse during Turkmenistan visit

by | December 16, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili visited Turkmenistan on Monday and signed four agreements dealing with as diverse issues as economy, culture, trade and tourism. People travelling with him say the business leaders in Turkmenistan

News

Guard accused in Zhvania case released on bail

by | December 15, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A former head of shift of Zurab Zhvania’s security detail, who was detained in the new investigation into the prime minister's death in 2005, was Sunday released from preliminary detention on a 2,000 lari bail (nearly USD 1,090). Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania

News

One more Georgian ex-official proposed for post in Ukraine

by | December 15, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--One more former official from Mikheil Saakashvili's government has been granted Ukrainian citizenship after being proposed for a high post in the new Ukrainian government. Eka Zghuladze, a former deputy interior minister in Georgia, is now candidate

Environment

Georgian patriarch deplores destruction of ancient mine

by | December 15, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The influential Georgian patriarch on Sunday criticized a company which is excavating an ancient mine in the southern part of the country, and called on the government to intervene. Mining company RMG Gold on Saturday resumed work at Sakdrisi,

Minorities

Controversial bilingual education program to be changed

by | December 14, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The current bilingual education program does not serve its purpose, according to Armenians in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Georgia. A specialist from the Ministry of Education and Science agrees with the critique and says that the current program

Environment

Mining work resumed at prehistoric Sakdrisi site

by | December 13, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Mining work resumed at Sakdrisi on Saturday, a site where scientists and environmentalist groups say is an ancient gold mine with invaluable artifacts from prehistoric man. The controversy about the mine near Bolnisi in the southern part of Georgia has involved

News

One more Defense Ministry official detained for corruption

by | December 13, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Finance Ministry’s investigative service detained one more Defense Ministry official on Saturday. Bakhva Surmanidze was detained for accepting a 400 lari (USD 218) bribe. He is head of the purchasing department at the Giorgi Abramashvili

In brief

Oleg Melnikov released

by | December 12, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A former officer in Georgia's domestic intelligence who was involved in the 2006 murder of Sandro Girgvliani has beenreleased from prison. Oleg Melnikov, formerly an officer of the Constitutional Security Department or 'Kudi', was released

News

Film by Georgian director nominated for Golden Globe

by | December 12, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A film by a Georgian filmmaker has been nominated for a Golden Globe award. Tangerines, or Mandariinid, is a Georgian-Estonian production written and directed by the Georgian Zaza Urushadze. Producer of the film is Ivo Felt and it starrs Georgian

News

South Ossetia preparing to sign treaty with Russia

by | December 11, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--South Ossetia may open its border with Russia and even seek some form of closer association, the breakaway region’s leader says. de facto president Leonid Tibilov said Wednesday that a 'treaty of collaboration' with Russia is likely to be signed

News

Rallies in Tbilisi and Batumi in support of jailed Azerbaijani journalist

by | December 11, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Two demonstrations were held in Georgia Wednesday in support of the Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova, who was recently detained. Ismayilova was placed in preliminary detention in Baku on December 5, after being subject to a travel ban earlier

News

Georgian government considers reforming the domestic intelligence

by | December 11, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in Georgia is beginning a debate about restructuring the Ministry of Internal Affairs and make the domestic intelligence a separate service. Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said this after a government session on Wednesday. Currently,

In brief

Georgian lari and Armenian dram recover after slump

by | December 10, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The currencies of Georgia and Armenia are recovering after a slump of more than 10% in the last few weeks. The sight of money exchanges trading US dollars for more than two Georgian lari (GEL) set off a fervent debate in Tbilisi. Many blamed

News

Four dead from Abkhazia war buried in Tbilisi

by | December 10, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A public funeral was held Tuesday for four victims of a plane crash during the Abkhazia war more than twenty years ago. The four were on a plane that was about to land in Sukhumi September 22, 1993, to evacuate head of state Eduard Shevardnadze.

News

Georgia prepares tougher punishment for joining terrorist groups

by | December 10, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in Georgia is working on a new bill that will punish people for joining terrorist organizations abroad. Spokesperson for the Interior Ministry tells DF Watch that the details of the new bill will be known after a draft has been sent

News

Woman shot and run over with car by husband in Georgia

by | December 10, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A 41-year old woman was killed by her husband in Kakheti on Sunday. According to local media, a 41 year old man first shot his wife and later ran her over with his car. She died instantly. Police detained the suspect at the crime scene. He is charged

Opinion

Georgia’s labor code still favors employers

by | December 9, 2014

Last week hundreds of train workers went on strike after negotiations to improve working conditions and raise salaries failed. The strikers demand overtime compensation, new salary rules and a 13th month salary payment [1]. Leaders of the trade union say the railway

In brief

Large amount of undeclared gold seized by Georgian customs

by | December 9, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Large quantities of undeclared gold has been seized by Georgian customs at the Sarpi border crossing with Turkey. The gold jewelry which had a total weight of 466.05 grams was found in the belongings of a Georgian citizen who was coming

In brief

Georgia sends more soldiers to Central African Republic

by | December 9, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Margvelashvili has asked parliament for approval to again send soldiers to the Central African Republic, after the EU extended its mission there for another four months. The president's order was signed on December 2, and has been received

News

Saakashvili claims Georgian officers preparing to join Ukraine’s military

by | December 9, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Former President Mikheil Saakashvili yesterday said that Georgian officers will be serving in Ukraine's armed forces and have been promised Ukrainian citizenship. But Defense Minister Mindia Janelidze rejects this. He says there hasn't been a single

News

Georgia plans new measures as one more fighter dies in Syria war

by | December 8, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--One more Georgian citizen from the Pankisi gorge has died during clashes in the city of Kobane, Syria, fighting for Islamic State. This is the eighth Pankisi man to die in the Syrian war. The victim’s family is avoiding comments, but relatives

In brief

Man injured in Batumi fire dies

by | December 8, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A man who was injured in a fire at a market in Batumi died in hospital Sunday night. Police have detained one person in connection with the fire. Davit Putkaradze, 51, was owner of one of the shops at the market. According to local media, he had lung

News

Journalist detained at Russian singer Grigory Leps’s Tbilisi concert

by | December 8, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A journalist was detained by organizers of a concert by the Russian singer Grigory Leps on Sunday. The incident led to a protest rally. Maestro TV journalist Nini Metreveli and her cameraman were locked up in a room with a guard for asking

In brief

Two die in fire in Batumi

by | December 8, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Two people died in a fire at a market in Batumi on Sunday. One person is in hospital in a critical condition. The victims are a married couple in their fifties, Temur and Nani Rizhvadze, while the third injured person is Davit Putkaradze, 51.

News

Four victims of Abkhazia war identified

by | December 7, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Four bodies found in a cemetery in Abkhazia have been identified. The bodies belong to the same family and the four died in a plane crash during the war in 1992-1993. According to Refugee Minister Sozar Subari, the victims are twins Nukri

News

Relative of PM leaves his position

by | December 6, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A relative of the prime minister left his position as executive secretary of the Georgian Dream party, the largest member of the ruling coalition. According to a statement issued by GD on Friday, Zviad Jankarashvili left his seat by his own volition.

Opinion

Respect will not save women from violence

by | December 5, 2014

Arguably the most influential person in Georgia, the Patriarch Ilia II, does not agree that a woman should be equal to a man in  a family. Instead “she must be respected by her husband. She [a wife] has been always holding high authority in Georgia, and so it shall

Youth

Foreign students facing bureaucracy and complex visa procedures

by | December 5, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--How attractive is Georgia as a country for young students looking for a career path? At the moment, there are 19 public and 47 private higher education institutions in Georgia. According to the National Statistics Office, there were 2,297 foreign students

Politics

Ivanishvili’s new barrage against Alasania: ‘You are a weak manager’

by | December 5, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--On Thursday, Georgia’s richest person and godfather of the governing coalition again lashed out at Irakli Alasania, calling him ‘a weak manager’ who has made an ‘ignorant statement’. Alasania was recently dismissed and claims it was

Environment

Mystery: Why is the water level so low in Mtkvari (Kura)?

by | December 5, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Water levels have fallen drastically the last few days in the biggest river in the South Caucasus, causing massive fish die-off. The Mtkvari originates in Turkey, runs eastward across Georgia and Azerbaijan, emptying into the Caspian Sea.

News

Envoy says prosecuting ex-officials slows down NATO integration

by | December 4, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A visiting NATO envoy warns Georgia that if the prosecution of former officials is seen as being politically motivated, this will slow down the country’s integration with the alliance. James Appathurai said it is important not only to avoid

News

Georgia may replace ambassador to Ukraine

by | December 4, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia may replace its ambassador to Ukraine after a Saakashvili era official was appointed as Ukrainian health minister. Wednesday there were reports that the government plans to replace its ambassador to Ukraine with Zviad Jankarashvili,

News

Georgia ranked 50th on corruption index

by | December 3, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Transparency International (TI) ranked Georgia 50th among 175 countries in its annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) report. Georgia got 52 points out of the maximum 100. In the past, it scored 52 in 2012 (51st place) and 49 in 2013 (55th place).

News

Ukraine appointment of Georgian ex-official angers Tbilisi

by | December 3, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi takes it as a slap in the face that Ukraine has appointed a former member of government from Georgia as health minister. On Tuesday, the Ukrainian parliament, Verkhovna Rada, agreed to appoint Alxandre Kvitashvili, a former Georgian health minister,

In brief

Tbilisi NGOs vow to defend president’s veto

by | December 3, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A group of NGOs based in Tbilisi warn that they are going on the offensive against the country's parliament, which recently overturned a veto by President Margvelashvili against giving the Interior Ministry control over the means to conduct secret surveillance.

News

New report sheds light on border shooting in 2012

by | December 2, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The ombudsman in Georgia on Monday published a report which criticizes the authorities for holding back information and not properly investigating a border shooting in 2012. When the several days long standoff ended on the border with Russia in late

In brief

Parliament overturns president’s veto, approves surveillance bill

by | December 1, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian parliament on Sunday overturned the president's veto and approved the a surveillance bill which gives the Interior Ministry direct access to communication operators' networks and to eavesdrop on citizens. 82 MPs voted in favor

News

Georgian parliament rejects sanctions against Russia

by | December 1, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A proposal in the Georgian parliament to introduce sanctions against Russia has failed to achieve enough votes. Only 36 MPs backed the proposal on Thursday, which was put forth by deputies from the National Movement, the party of former

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