Economy

Rustavi smelter plant fires hundreds of employees due to lawsuit

by | June 30, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Rustavi Poladi, a smelter plant in a town 20km away from the capital, has fired hundreds of employees because of a lawsuit. Nugzar Kachukhashvili, Director of Rustavi Poladi Ltd, said at a press conference on Monday that the

Opinion

Dances with a bear

by | June 30, 2015

The lukewarm Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga further outlined the value of Georgia’s two most important interconnected strategic goals: transforming the country into a modern European state and its European perspective of joining the EU.

News, Society

Thousands of Georgians despair as Greece halts money transfers

by | June 30, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The crisis in Greece has also hit hard for as many as 200,000 Georgians who are living and working in the country, and their families back home in Georgia. Money transfers are currently halted, as well as trailer transport. The crisis in Greece

News

On the road. A story of one Iraqi refugee in Georgia

by | June 30, 2015

Tbilisi, DFWatch – According to the estimates from the UNCHR, as of December 2014 there were over 1200 asylum seekers and over 800 refugees in Georgia. 26 year old Mustafa Shalan is one of them. His story, which he told me one spring afternoon in a sunny balcony in the center of Tbilisi, is a tale of a young man seeking a place to settle, as he is no longer welcome at home.

News

PM Garibashvili: We’ll decide same-sex marriage issue by ourselves

by | June 29, 2015

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Georgia’s PM will do his best to fix definition of a marriage as ‘union of a man and a woman.’ In a lengthy interview published on Monday by a popular Georgian ultra-conservative newspaper Asaval-Dasavali, Irakli Garibashvili, PM, says that the state firmly stands

In brief

Members of U.S. congress to visit Georgia

by | June 29, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A delegation from the U.S. congress is to visit Georgia from July 2 to 5. Among the delegation are members of congress from the Republican and the Democratic parties, according to Foreign Ministry spokesperson Davit Kereselidze. Peter Roskam

Politics

Georgian parliament approves controversial bank bill

by | June 29, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Parliament in Georgia approved a bill on Sunday which will relieve the National Bank of responsibility for supervising private banks and instead transfer such authority to a new agency. The vote was preliminary, as the bill must go through

News

Thirteenth Georgian dies fighting in Syria

by | June 29, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A 23 year old was reported by locals in his hometown in Pankisi Gorge Sunday to have died in the Syria war. Turpal Borchashvili is at least the thirteenth Georgian citizen who has died in Syria fighting for Islamists. Borchashvili was from

Youth

Anaklia hosts GEM Fest, instead of KaZantip, in July

by | June 29, 2015

Tbilisi, DFWatch - A western Georgian Black Sea resort Anaklia is going to host one of the largest electronic music festivals this summer. GEM Fest features popular electronic music stars, such as world renowned Dutch DJ and trance guru Armin van Buuren,

Minorities

Georgian parliamentarian criticizes U.S. Supreme Court same-sex ruling

by | June 28, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The deputy speaker of the Georgian parliament, Manana Kobakhidze, is criticized for recent remarks about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage. “Even if we are left all alone on earth, if every one of our friends or partners abandons us, I will not

Minorities

U.S. State Dep criticizes Georgia for failure to protect gays

by | June 27, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch -The U.S. State Department criticizes Georgia in a new report about human rights published on Friday. Among a whole a number of problems highlighted in the report, it pays particular attention to the violation of the rights of gays and other sexual minorities.

Politics

Judicial committee joins president in resisting National Bank bill

by | June 26, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian parliament’s judiciary committee agree with the president about a proposed bill to strip away the bank supervisory function from the National Bank, claiming that it violates the constitution. Committee chair Vakhtang Khmaladze said on Friday

News

Georgia extradites man suspected of beating wife to the U.S.

by | June 26, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia has extradited a man holding dual Iranian-U.S. citizenship to the United States. The man has been subject to an Interpol red alert notice since 2011. The man, who is born in 1979, was detained on January 23, 2015 by Georgian police. Interpol has determined

In brief

NATO’s Secretary General to visit Georgia in August

by | June 26, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will visit Georgia this August, according to the Defense Ministry. The visit was agreed during a meeting Wednesday between Georgia’s Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli and Deputy Secretary General of the alliance

Sport

80% of UEFA Super Cup tickets will be reserved for Georgians

by | June 26, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--80% of tickets for the August 11 UEFA Super Cup match between Barcelona and Sevillia in Tbilisi will be sold exclusively to Georgians. Only 6,000 tickets will be earmarked for visiting football fans from abroad. Eka Eloshvili, spokesperson for Georgian

Politics

Georgian president to veto National Bank bill

by | June 25, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--For at least the second time, the situation between the Georgian parliament and the president has become tense. Now the president plans to veto an initiative concerning the president of the National Bank. Since the president and non-governmental

News

Ditsi incident and irrigation canal discussed during South Ossetia talks

by | June 25, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The sides in the 2008 Georgia war met for a field meeting on Wednesday at Ergneti, a village on the border with the Georgian breakaway region South Ossetia. Also this time, border issues were on the agenda at the so-called Incident

Opinion

Alexandre (Alika) Rondeli, in memoriam

by | June 25, 2015

Alexandre Rondeli (Alika for most of his Georgian friends and colleagues) was a charming and talented man, a close friend, a consul, a strategic ally, from the category of “usual suspects”, and, at times, a political opponent. Most of the people who dealt with him called him a “Wise Man of the Caucasus,” at times because he

In brief

Georgian minister: Armenia’s EEU membership not an obstacle for ‘centuries-old friendship’

by | June 25, 2015

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Armenia's membership to the Eurasian Economic Union is not an obstacle but rather an opportunity of 'mutual enrichment and opening of new opportunities', Minister of Justice of Georgia said in an interview with Mediamax, Armenian e-newspaper.

In brief

Missing hyena found dead at Tbilisi Zoo

by | June 25, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A missing hyena was found dead on Wednesday during clean-up work inside the partially destroyed Tbilisi Zoo. The hyena was found by employees of Tbilservice Group, close to the cages of tigers and lions near the administration building. A tiger

News

A small crowd in Tbilisi rallied to support Yerevan protesters

by | June 24, 2015

Tbilisi, DFWatch -- A crowd of a few dozen gathered in front of the Armenian embassy in Tbilisi on Wednesday afternoon to show their solidarity with protesters in Yerevan.  One of the rally organizers Rezo Karanadze

Politics

Consultations begin to find new National Bank head

by | June 24, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The president is starting consultations to find a new head of the National Bank of Georgia (NBG). Current NBG head Giorgi Kadagidze was appointed during Saakashvili’s presidency for a seven years term which expires in February, 2016. According

News

Georgian journalists receive death threats after publishing cartoon

by | June 24, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Several journalists in Georgia have been threatened by a radical Islamist that he will ‘spill their blood’ if they don’t remove a cartoon from a website. The journalists launched the site to help ethnic minorities get an education and rid themselves of the chains

Sport

Biletebi.ge given 48 hours to solve UEFA Super Cup ticket mess

by | June 24, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The website responsible for selling tickets to the August 11 UEFA Super Cup between FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC has been given 48 hours to solve its technical problems. Zviad Sichinava, President of the Georgian Football Federation, told journalists that the tickets won’t

News

Georgian government proposes USD 60 million budget cuts

by | June 23, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in Georgia plans 140 million of budget cuts, about USD 60 million with today’s currency rate. The finance minister on Monday presented an adjusted budget to the cabinet of ministers. He said that the state budget,

News

Penguin found alive as Tbilisi Zoo publishes complete list of animals

by | June 23, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--As a penguin was discovered alive Tuesday, Tbilisi Zoo for the first time published the complete list of animals they had before the flood on the night of June 13-14. The penguin was found by soldiers as they were cleaning the lower section

Minorities

The Sayat Nova Project: Music Defying Borders in the Caucasus

by | June 23, 2015

A group of ethnomusicologists known as the Sayat Nova Project has been documenting the musical heritage of the South Caucasus, trying to de-emphasise national divisions, explore the shared heritage, and pay attention to the underrepresented forms of musical expression.

News

Three people still missing after Tbilisi flood

by | June 23, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The search is still on for three people who are missing after a devastating flood in Tbilisi early morning on June 14 which killed at least 19 people. Minister of Internal Affairs Vakhtang Gomelauri said on Tuesday that a large part of the gravel

News

Court allows prosecution’s evidence in Saakashvili trial

by | June 23, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court has accepted evidence presented by the Prosecutor General’s Office in a criminal case against ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili. The former leader was charged last November in a case that concerns the murder of a bank employee

News, Sport

Website selling UEFA Super Cup tickets goes down

by | June 22, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The website biletebi.ge, which is responsible for selling tickets for UEFA Super Cup 2015, went down Monday morning. Administrators claim they have been the target of a cyber attack and that enormous amounts of users have tried to enter the site at the same time.

In brief

Georgia to allow visa-free visits for Argentina, Uruguay and Chile

by | June 22, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia plans to allow short visa-free visits for citizens of Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, Foreign Minister Tamar Beruchasvili announced as she began her first visit to South America. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Davit Kereselidze said the aim of Beruchashvili’s

In brief

Storm toppled trees in several villages in southern Georgia

by | June 22, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--High winds toppled trees which crashed into several houses in Marneuli in southern Georgia on Saturday. According to the head of Marneuli municipality, the fallen trees also blocked several of the roads in the surrounding villages. Heavy rainfall and hail also

News

Animal rights activist demand to shut down Tbilisi Zoo

by | June 21, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A group of animal rights activists demonstrated Sunday outside City Hall in Tbilisi, demanding to shut down the zoo, after a flood killed more than 50 percent of the animals held there, and others escaped. The demonstration was organized by Vegan Georgia

Environment

Flooded areas of Tbilisi are being disinfected

by | June 21, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Health Ministry in Georgia has sent teams to disinfect five areas that were hit by a disastrous flood in Tbilisi on June 14 to prevent the spread of disease. Health Minister Davit Sergeenko named the targeted areas as Mziuri Park, Zoo, Svanidze Street,

News

Justice Ministry proposes bill for stronger protection of women

by | June 21, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Justice Ministry in Georgia has introduced a package of legislative amendments to prevent violence against women. The amendments apply to about 20 different sections of laws and will target illegal spying, communication by phone or by

News

Five Defense Ministry officials released

by | June 20, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Five Defense Ministry officials who were detained last fall on embezzlement charges were released Friday on the basis of personal guarantees from several MPs. The Prosecutor General’s Office wanted to set a bail bond, but backed down. The so-called

News

Ivanishvili comments on flood – criticized for being late

by | June 20, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s first comments about the flood disaster, which killed at least 19, destroyed forty homes and a zoo, were criticized for being too late. It took six days until he commented publicly, but his organization

News

Hunt underway for escaped tiger on Tbilisi’s outskirts

by | June 19, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Law enforcement bodies are still searching for escaped predators from Tbilisi Zoo after the flood disaster on June 14. Hunters involved in the search yesterday installed video traps fitted with meat as bait at possible locations of the predators. This is an area

In brief

Trafficking scheme uncovered in Georgia

by | June 19, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Finance Ministry’s investigative service has uncovered a case of trafficking in babies and arrested nine people at two maternity clinics. The arrested are the director of Rustavi Maternity House and his deputy, and one of the owners of New Maternity

Minorities

Yazidi temple, third in the world, opened in Tbilisi

by | June 19, 2015

Tbilisi, DFWatch – on Tuesday, Yazidis celebrated the opening of their first temple and a cultural center in Tbilisi. More than 2000 guests attended the opening ceremony of the temple in uptown Varketili district,  built on the donation by the state.

News

PM apologizes for misinforming the public, still blames zoo director

by | June 18, 2015

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Georgian authorities apologized for releasing the wrong information regarding escaped zoo animals, but they still blame the director of the Tbilisi zoo, Zurab Gurielidze.  “The report was based on the information provided by the zoo administration,

Minorities

Batsbi: A Silent Death of a Minority Language

by | June 18, 2015

The Batsbi language, a minority language related to Chechen, has been driven to the brink of extinction. Traditionally spoken in Zemo Alvani, Akhmeta Region, Kakheti, it has already lost its role as a community language and without institutional support it continues to decline at a rapid pace.

News

Tbilisi flood update: 19 dead, 3 missing

by | June 18, 2015

The number of Tbilisi flood victims has increased to 19. According to authorities, body of a man, who had been deemed missing, was found on Wednesday, while on Thursday rescuers recovered the body of a woman.

News

Money pouring in to deal with Georgia’s flood disaster

by | June 18, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--While the total damage of the flood in Tbilisi on June 14 is expected to reach 100 million lari, according to PM Garibashvili, money is pouring in from private donors, businesses and foreign states. More than 4.2 million lari has already been donated, according

News

Director of Tbilisi Zoo: ‘It’s all my fault’

by | June 17, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--"I acknowledge that based on me as a source, government bodies reported this information and it was considered that there was no longer a threat. It is all my fault,” says the director of Tbilisi Zoo after an escaped tiger killed a man Wednesday.

News

Tbilisi’s escaped zoo animals: Bear and hyena still not accounted for

by | June 17, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--As Tbilisi reels from the shock of a tiger attack which killed one man in a warehouse around noon today, a bear and a hyena may still be on loose in a city with a million inhabitants. The man who was killed by an escaped zoo tiger has been identified as a worker at a warehouse in the Laguna Vere compound, a few hundred meters from the zoo which was destroyed in a flood June 14. The man, who was about 40 years old, was severely injured and taken to the Republican Hospital, but doctors couldn’t save him. Doctors said he had injuries in the neck, damaging the carotid artery. Minister of Internal Affairs Vakhtang Gomelauri, as well as the head of the Security and Crisis Management Council Mindia Janelidze, both said they relied on information given by the zoo two days ago, that no animals were out in the streets. But yesterday evening, the zoo’s management issued a statement saying that a white tiger, a bear and a hyena were still absent. After the tiger has now appeared, this means a bear ...

News

Flood update: 17 dead, while 5 are still missing

by | June 17, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s interior minister said Wednesday that the number of flood victims is 17, while five people are missing. A man found dead in the river Khrami yesterday was not a victim of the June 14 flood, he Vakhtang Gomelauri said. Two persons were found dead

News

One man killed by escaped zoo animal in Tbilisi

by | June 17, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--One man was killed by a white tiger in Tbilisi on Wednesday. The animal attacked the man at Laguna Vere, a few hundred meters from Tbilisi Zoo, which was destroyed in a flood June 14. A witness told DF Watch that a tiger attacked a person, who was seriously injured. The victim was taken to hospital in a severe condition and the Ministry of Internal Affairs later said that he had died. After a brief hunt by special forces, the animal, a white tiger, was caught and surrounded as attempts were made to tranquilize it. The tiger was later put down, MIA press spokesperson Nino Giorgobiani confirmed. The animal had been hiding in a former textile factory where there were seven employees. The tiger attacked one of the men in the neck. The victim's colleagues started making noise and broke a window, after which the tiger escaped. The mayor, interior minister and head of Georgia's crisis management council came to the site. Zurab Gurielidze, director of Tbilisi Zoo, said live on GDS TV that all the lions in his zoo are dead, and that the reports about ...

Minorities

Pankisi residents want moderate Islam lessons to counter radicalism

by | June 17, 2015

PANKISI, DFWatch--Pankisi residents suggest to counter radical Islam by providing moderate Islam lessons for the young generation. Recently, four people were detained for recruiting new ISIS members in Pankisi Gorge. Journalists on a media tour here organized

Security

Georgia signs defense procurement deal in France

by | June 17, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli on Monday finally signed a procurement deal with a company in France which is meant to bolster Georgia’s air defenses. The content of the agreement is secret. Signing the document in France on June 15, she said the treaty

News

Georgian PM suggests moving flooded zoo outside of city center

by | June 16, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The disaster in Tbilisi has  made the government bring up a plan to relocate the zoo outside the city center, to an area by Tbilisi Sea, the largest body of water near the Georgian capital. The flood shortly after midnight June 14 killed more than 50 percent of the zoo’s animals, including bears, tigers and lions. Some animals were put down in the streets after having escaped in the flood. Mayor Davit Narmania said on Tuesday that the zoo will be moved to the nearby lake, while the area currently used by the zoo will be made into a recreational zone. He said constructing the highway from Heroes Square to Vake-Saburtalo pass a few years ago violated ecological conditions. “The River Vere was directed under the bridge, trees were cut, and this brought up additional ecological issues. The animals of the zoo had problems as well. So right now we have an idea to move the zoo to near Tbilisi Sea and create an additional recreational zone where the zoo is today,” he said. He also suggested connecting the current zoo and Mziuri ...

News

Flood update: Death toll rises to 19, while 6 still missing

by | June 16, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The number of victims of the flood in Tbilisi increased to 19 Tuesday evening, the Security and Crisis Management Council confirmed. 17 have been identified, while two are in the process of being identified. One of the bodies was found in Mziuri Park, while the other

Environment, News

Explanations differ about what caused disastrous flood in Tbilisi

by | June 16, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The clean-up effort continues after Sunday’s flood, which left at least 17 dead, as attention turns to what might have caused such a disaster. A handful of reasons have been given, which all may be grouped according to political affiliation. Some people blame

News

Tbilisi flood update: 17 dead, 6 missing, parliament meets

by | June 16, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--According to the most recent data from the Security and Crisis Management Council, 17 people died during flood Sunday morning, while 6 are still missing. Sixteen of the victims have been identified so far. The two last victims were found Tuesday in Mziuri park

News

Four people detained in Georgia for links to ISIS

by | June 16, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Four people were detained in Tbilisi and Kakheti, accused of joining the terrorist organization ISIS and recruiting Georgians to fight in Syria. One of the detainees is a local from Pankisi Gorge, father of 9 Ayuf (Gaioz) Borchashvil. The Ministry of Internal Affairs

News

Tbilisi flood: Death toll rises to 13, nine still missing

by | June 15, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The number of flood victims has increased to 13, according to the emergency service department of the Interior Ministry. Department head Zviad Katsashvili told journalists that 13th victim was discovered about an hour before. “We are now looking for the nine

News

Tbilisi residents mobilize for flood relief

by | June 15, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi residents are mobilizing to help victims of the flood via social media, people are encouraged to volunteer and to donate money or things needed.  A Facebook group 13 June – Volunteers currently have over 12,000 members, and the number is still growing. They

News

Holes appear in two of Tbilisi’s main streets

by | June 15, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Large holes appeared on two of Tbilisi’s main streets Sunday, sparking fear that the heavy rain and flood may have destabilized the soil under the city. The holes were first spotted Sunday evening on Melikishvili Street, which lies on a hill above Heroes

News

Police in Georgia conduct special operation in Pankisi

by | June 15, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian police on Sunday carried out a special operation in Pankisi, a valley in the northeast of the country mostly inhabited by Kists, who are ethnic Chechens. Omar Al-Shishani, or Tarkhan Batirashvili, one of the field commanders of ISIS, was born and raised in Pankisi. He left for Syria a few years ago to join the war. His father and relatives still live in Pankisi. During the special operation, law enforcement bodies detained his cousin Merab Batirashvili and questioned his friend Jokola Achishvili. Also Gaioz Borchashvili and several other persons were detained. About 100 special forces were at Borchashvili’s house for several hours, questioning family members. According to the most recent information, the special operation aimed at detaining those who allegedly have helped Georgians go to Syria, also because of suspected ties to ISIS. In recent months, several minors and young people have secretly left Pankisi and went to Syria, and it was later found out that they had joined one of the Islamist groups in the war there. Despite a number of photos from the location and information from locals, the interior minister has ...

News

Tbilisi flood: Stories from a disaster zone

by | June 15, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--While walking along the path through River Vere valley after the flood, a man approaches and asks to look in a certain direction, where there is just a rock and a river and nothing else. The empty space over the river was once his house. He says he borrowed some boots from his neighbor and is wearing the same T-shirt he wore yesterday, before the disaster started. He and his family managed to escape their home just as it collapsed and watched it dissolve in the water. Now they don’t own a single thing, apart from a T-shirt and the pants he is wearing. Later, on the same street, Gulnara calls us over to show us what happened at her place. Her house consisted of two buildings. In one of them there was a kitchen and a bathroom, which entirely disappeared. Another one with bedroom and living room was flooded and almost destroyed. “I have health problems, had double surgery on my leg, barely walking. I hardly managed to save anything in my house,” she tells us. It is 9:00 in the ...

News

Flood update: 12 dead, 24 missing, 40 houses destroyed

by | June 14, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The latest figures from the flood in Tbilisi are that 12 people have died, 24 are still missing, and 40 houses have been destroyed in the Vera and Vake district. The flood released dozens of dangerous animals from Tbilisi Zoo,

In brief

Update: Death toll rises to nine in Tbilisi flood

by | June 14, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The death toll after last night's flood had risen to nine people by 14:00. Four of the victims are rescue workers. According to the most recent data, the damages caused by the flood exceeds 10 million laris, but this includes only part of the damaged areas.

News

Almost no predators left in Tbilisi Zoo

by | June 14, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--There are virtually no predators left in Tbilisi Zoo, a spokesperson for the zoo told DFWatch. A large part of the animals were unable to escape their cages. Some of the animals that escaped have now been put down, particularly the larger predators,

News

7 dead in Tbilisi flood, as tigers, lions and bears escape from zoo

by | June 14, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The death toll after last night's flood in Tbilisi has risen to seven, as police urge people to stay off the streets and beware of tigers, lions and bears that escaped from a zoo. At least seven died and an unidentified number are still missing after a heavy rain triggered flooding of Vere river in the center of Tbilisi. "Rescue workers, the patrol police, units of the Ministry of Defense and the City Hall worked through night to rescue people," Narmania said. "Most of those who had been deemed lost, were eventually found." Heroes' Square and a new road constructed several years ago along Vere river and small private houses nearby were hit most. Tbilisi Zoo, which is located at the junction of Heroes' Square and Vere river, was almost entirely flooded, causing casualties among its personnel and animals. Many animals escaped their cages, including up to 30 larger predators - reportedly 6 lions, 6 tigers, a pack of wolves of about 13 and 7 bears - as well as a hippo and other animals. Three zoo workers were found dead in the ...

News

Six people injured as most parts of Tbilisi are hit by heavy rain

by | June 14, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--At least six people were injured as heavy rain hit the Georgian capital Saturday night at 10pm, Interpressnews reported. The city's zoo was also hit by flood, and animals have escaped, the news agency reported. The exact extent

News

Former Georgian official presents new Ukrainian police force

by | June 13, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A former Georgian government official during Saakashvili on Saturday presented the new reformed police force in Kiev. Eka Zghuladze is one of several former Georgian government officials who served under President Mikheil Saakashvili,

In brief

Speaker scolds MPs who have been most absent

by | June 13, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Speaker of Parliament on Friday scolded ten MPs who have been absent up to a hundred times during sessions in parliament. Davit Usupashvili said that according to the rules of parliament, an MP can have a honorary absence for family reasons.

News

Alexander Rondeli dies at age 73

by | June 13, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The well-known Georgian scholar Alexander Rondeli died on Friday. Rondeli, who was head of the Caucasus Institute of Peace, Democracy and Development, died at the age of 73. He was a doctor of geography. In 1991-1996, he headed the department

Environment

Landslide victim found after ten days of search

by | June 13, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--After ten days of search, rescue workers discovered the body of a shepherd who was taken by a landslide on June 2 along with hundreds of sheep and cows. Giorgi Shetikauri, 52, was discovered in the morning on June 12 under the ruins of hut in Shatili.

News, Security

Khidasheli: Defense deal with France will be signed by end of June

by | June 12, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s new defense minister has sided with her predecessor Mindia Janelidze in an argument with former Defense Minister Irakli Alasania about an agreement with France about buying air defense systems. Tina Khidasheli said in a recent interview

Minorities

Javakheti people excited over year-long visa-free stay comeback

by | June 12, 2015

Samtskhe-Javakheti Armenians applaud the comeback of the year-long visa-free stay permit in Georgia, as those who hold Armenian or Russian passport no longer need a residency permit to stay in the country.  As DFWatch has reported

In brief

Life threatening fish sold in large quantities

by | June 12, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The investigative service of the Finance Ministry has found that a company produced and sold smoked fish in violation of all hygienic and sanitary standards. Criminal charges have been brought against Tengiz Tsikaridze, who owns Donato Ltd, a company

News

Saudi crown prince visits Georgia

by | June 11, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The crown prince of Saudi Arabia is looking forward to investing in Georgia. Crown Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud said this during a visit here. After meeting the prime minister, he said that he feels honored arriving in Georgia and discussing

Sport

Georgian sports commentator fired for mangling football match

by | June 11, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s Public Broadcaster has fired a sports commentator who made several mistakes during an under-19 football match between Georgia and Portugal. He mixed up the players, teams and also the score. Even though he later apologized, Sandro

Politics

Georgian government to have a ‘mountain minister’

by | June 11, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The ruling Georgian Dream coalition wants to create a new minister post in the government: mountain minister. The initiative is quite fresh, and the public and opposition MPs have not yet formed an opinion about the idea because not many details are known.

News

Georgia’s fugitive justice minister finally speaks out

by | June 11, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--One of the most influential members of government during Mikheil Saakashvili’s presidency, Zurab Adeishvili, has finally given an interview. Adeishvili, who was sometimes called a ‘grey cardinal’, told Saakashvili-friendly Rustavi 2 about his own and

Politics

NGOs propose women’s quota in parliament

by | June 10, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Non-governmental organizations have registered a legislative proposal in parliament on Wednesday that will obligate political parties to include women on their party lists for the parliamentary election. Currently, 77 out of the 150 members of parliament

News

Citizens of 94 countries can stay for a year in Georgia

by | June 10, 2015

Tbilisi, DFWatch - After almost a year-long struggle with the new immigration requirements, the government of Georgia made a U-turn and granted visa-free stay for citizens of 94 countries, as well as British/French dependant/overseas territories, on June 8 'for full 1 year'. 

News, Youth

Music festival KaZantip returns to Crimea

by | June 10, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The popular Ukrainian festival KaZantip, which took place in Georgia last year after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, may this year return to Ukraine but with a different name. An alternative music festival will take place in Anaklia, where the festival was held in 2014.

Politics

Georgian president to veto bank supervision bill

by | June 10, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian president is preparing to veto a bill to form an independent supervisory agency to oversee the banking system, because it contradicts an association agreement which Georgia signed with the EU last year. Recently, the government

News

The dark past of Saakashvili’s appointee in Odessa

by | June 9, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A former Georgian deputy interior minister who is affiliated with a violent police operation in August, 2012, is to be appointed head of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry’s branch in Odessa. Gia Lortkipanidze served under President Mikheil Saakashvili when he

News

Saakashvili to get one more former associate in Odessa administration

by | June 9, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--One more former Georgian government official is to be appointed to a high position in the new Ukrainian government, a Ukrainian media outlet reports. According to Unian.net, Gia Lortkipanidze may be appointed as head of the Interior Ministry Department in Odessa.

Economy

Foreign investments in Q1 down 34% in 2015

by | June 9, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--There was 34 percent less direct foreign investment in Georgia in the first quarter of 2015 than in the same period last year. According to preliminary figures from the Georgian National Statistics Department, GeoStat, the amount of foreign investments in the first quarter was

News

Georgian soldier breaks own world record for planche push-ups

by | June 9, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A 23 year old Georgian double amputee has broken his own world record for planche push-ups. Corporal Temur Dadiani lost both legs in 2011 while serving in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. Sunday, he managed to do 44 push-ups in one minute; 8 more

In brief

Relatives blame doctor for baby’s death at Batumi hospital

by | June 8, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Relatives of a baby who died at Batumi Maternity Hospital have accused the doctor of malpractice. The mother of the baby, a 32 year old woman, was brought to the hospital four days ago. Her family says the doctor refused to perform a caesarean section

News

Georgia’s ruling coalition postpones removal of ‘majoritarian’ system

by | June 8, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's ruling coalition agrees to some changes in the election system, but won't scrap the so-called majoritarian system, a demand by NGOs and opposition parties. By postponing the removal of the 'majoritarian' system, the coalition heeded the advice

News

Five brothels busted in Batumi, seven detained

by | June 8, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Police in Georgia have busted five more brothels over the weekend, this time in Batumi, a city on the Black Sea coast. Seven people were detained. As is common, video was posted on the police.ge website showing the detainees, and the women prostitutes

Environment

Hard rain destroys vineyards in Georgia

by | June 8, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Hard rain continues to batter Georgia and over the weekend partly destroyed vineyards in villages Argokhi, Maghraani and Babaneuri in Akhmeta region, eastern Georgia. Hail stones also damaged the roofs of several houses in the villages Zemo

Society

Tbilisians call for urban development plan to save city’s old districts

by | June 7, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisians demonstrated Saturday against several construction projects which in their opinion will damage the authenticity of the city, especially in the old districts. The list of protest issues included destroying the city’s green cover, and destroying

Environment

Storm continues to cause damage in Georgia

by | June 6, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Hailstorm and rain continues to destroy crops, kill poultry and livestock and flood houses in several parts of Georgia. Last evening, a hailstorm hit the Dusheti region and the flooded river carried away poultry and livestock. “It was raining with hail for

News

Probation official shoots himself in the head

by | June 6, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--An official working in the National Probation Agency died Friday night after an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Besik Tskhadadze, head of the National Probation Agency’s Tbilisi bureau, was taken to the Republican Hospital but died

News

Ivanishvili considered arresting the head of the National Bank

by | June 5, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili says he once planned to arrest Kadagidze due to ‘personal’ business, but changed his mind by request of representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The revelation comes after weeks of criticism

News

PM proposes naming Tbilisi airport after poet Shota Rustaveli

by | June 5, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili suggests naming Tbilisi airport after Shota Rustaveli, a 12th to 13th century Georgian poet. Garibashvili wants to name the airport, currently known as Alekseevka, after Rustaveli in connection with the poet’s 850 year anniversary

News

Georgian govt begins to clean up property rights violations

by | June 5, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government is reviving one of its election promises from 2012: to restore justice. Property taken from five people during Saakashvili’s presidency will be returned. Before coming to power, Georgian Dream promised that they would ‘restore justice.’

News

Ten pupils fall ill with mysterious disease at Tbilisi school

by | June 5, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Several pupils fell ill at a Tbilisi schools Wednesday and had to be taken to the hospital. Their health condition is currently satisfactory, but it is still unknown what caused their illness. The incident happened at Public School No 139, where ten fifth grade

In brief

15% more visitors to Georgia in May ’15 than last year

by | June 5, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The number of visitors to Georgia in May, 2015, was 14.7 percent more than in the same month last year. According to the Interior Ministry, the number of people crossing the border in May was 454,545. In the first five months of 2015, the total number of people

News

Georgian artists are not welcome in Britain

by | June 4, 2015

Tbilisi, DFWatch - A group of Georgian artists, invited to perform a play about immigration in the international theater festival in the UK, got their visa applications rejected. Mareike Wentzel is a German actress and performance artist, who frequently visits Georgia and works on various art projects here. She was the one to encourage her former students from the Center for Contemporary Art, the New Collective, to send an application to the Flare festival in Manchester. Their performance about problems and stories of female immigrants in England,  was one of 23 selected for the emerging artists’ festival out of 300 applicants. But, despite having an official invitation letter from the festival organizers, the New Collective got rejection letters instead of visas to the UK. “I am not satisfied that you are a genuine visitor to the UK and will leave the UK at the end of your visit or that you have sufficient funds available to cover your costs whilst in the UK without working or accessing public funds,” reads the letter from the UK Visas and Immigration office. “We were all aware of the ...

In brief

Dog shelter flooded in Tbilisi

by | June 4, 2015

Tbilisi, DFWatch - At least 13 dogs drowned in flood on Wednesday night  in Tbilisi at Tamaz Elizbarashvili’s dog shelter. A heavy rain flooded river Vere and the water flushed the shelter's ground floor. Patrol police crew and several employees came at the shelter at night to help the pets, but some of the dogs had already been swept away.

News

Public defender drafts law to have courts decide early marriage

by | June 3, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s public defender recommends amending the Civil Code so that only the courts may give permission for 16 to 18 year olds to marry. The public defender has prepared a draft bill which was submitted to parliament on May 25. Youth between 16 to 18 may

Youth

Legalize pot rally in Tbilisi gathers hundreds

by | June 3, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Hundreds of mostly young people gathered outside the government office in Tbilisi, Georgia, Tuesday to demand the decriminalization of marijuana. The annual protest brought together youth, politicians, journalists, non-governmental organizations and others.

In brief

One man, 500 sheep and 40 cows dead in mudslide in Georgia

by | June 3, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--One man and about 500 sheep and 40 cows were caught up in a landslide in the village Khone, in Khevsureti on Tuesday. According to Information Center of Mtskheta, shepherd Giorgi Shetekauri is missing after the glacial mudslide. Rescue workers

News

Ukrainian media: Saakashvili to appoint his key ally as Odessa chief prosecutor

by | June 3, 2015

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Zurab Adeishvili, a key figure in the Saakashvili government throughout its rule in 2003-12, may soon be appointed as a chief prosecutor of Odessa Oblast, Ukrainian media reports. Although the information hasn't been confirmed officially, various media

News

Tbilisi not planning to object to Saakashvili’s appointment in Ukraine

by | June 2, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian government is not planning to send a note of protest to Ukraine after former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was appointed governor of Odessa. Saakashvili, or "Misha" as he is called at home, lost government power in an election

In brief

Three Polish tourists rescued by helicopter near Russian border

by | June 2, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Three Polish tourists have been airlifted by helicopter from Mount Tetnuldi near the Russian border, after being trapped by heavy snowfall at 4,200 meter’s height. News of the rescue operation appeared on the website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Monday evening,

Minorities

Zezvaoba – a traditional horse race between Kists and Georgians

by | June 2, 2015

ALVANI, DFWatch--The last Sunday of May is a day of celebration in the Tush villages Kvemo Alvani and Zemo Alvani in Kakheti. Zezvaoba is the festival to honour the warrior Zezva Gaprindauli, who lead the Tush alongside the Georgian army against Persians at the Bakhtrioni

News

‘We’ll cancel Saakashvili’s citizenship when we want’

by | June 2, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian government is not in a hurry to go through with the formal procedures that will strip ex-President Mikheil Saakashvilli of his native citizenship after being appointed governor of Odessa and acquiring Ukrainian citizenship. “Let this issue hang over his head like

News

Former Georgian PM purchases famous painting, donates to museum

by | June 2, 2015

Former Prime Minister, Bidzina Ivanishivli, purchased a painting of the iconic Georgian artist, Niko Pirosmani at Christie’s Auction for £962,500 (about USD 1.486 million) and donated it to Tbilisi Museum of Arts on Monday. “Niko Pirosmani’s ‘Arsenal Hill at Night’

News

Three Polish tourists trapped on mountain in north Georgia

by | June 1, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Three Polish tourists are trapped on Mount Tetnuldi, in the north of Georgia, due to heavy snow. Rescue workers are trying to find them. Tetnuldi is in the Zemo Svaneti region, only a few kilometers from the border to the Kabardino-Balkar Republic of the Russian Federation.

In brief

Pharmacies fined for secretly recording customers

by | June 1, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Three chains of pharmacies in Georgia have been fined 500 laris each for recording conversations at their 24 hours outlets without notifying customers. According to the Personal Data Protection, 365 pharmacies of the chains Aversi-Geopharmi, PSP

In brief

Putin meets with leader of Georgian breakaway region

by | June 1, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Russian President Vladimir Putin was set to meet the de facto president of South Ossetia on Monday in Moscow. According to the press office of the South Ossetian leader Leonid Tibilov, the two plan to discuss bilateral relations and cooperation

News

Georgian president highlights violence against women on Police Day

by | June 1, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--In a speech celebrating Police Day, President Giorgi Margvelashvili drew attention to the recent increase in murders of women, which he considers a challenge not only for the police, but for the whole nation. “2014 was a year of particular violence

Photo gallery

Zezvaoba – a people’s celebration of 17th century hero

by | June 1, 2015

Zezvaoba is a celebration held every year in the villages Zemo Alvani and Kvemo Alvani. It is a commemoration of Zezva Gaprindauli, one of the leaders of the Bakhtrioni uprising against the Persians in 1659. A ritual called Dalaoba is part of the program. There is also a horse race. Participants are mostly Georgian and Kist, a subgroup of Chechens. This year there was award ceremony at the end of the race for the six finalists. Afterward, there was a concert. The winner of Sunday's race was a Kist boy, Kerim. He was given the red flag as a reward. [fbalbum url="https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.659930894107492.1073741931.118241504943103"]

News

Saakashvili plans to switch back to Georgian citizenship later

by | June 1, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Former President Mikheil Saakashvili says he doesn't need Georgian citizenship in order to make a comeback in his home country. Former President Eduard Shevardnadze didn't have citizenship when he came to power in 1993; neither did Bidzina Ivanishvili in 2012, he pointed out.

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