Elections

By-election and local elections today in Georgia

by | October 31, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--By-elections for parliament and local elections went ahead in Georgia on Saturday with some minor irregularities. Two seats in parliament are up for election in Martvili and Sagarejo while there are local elections in Dmanisi, Vani, Khobi and Sagarejo.

News

Georgian president calls Saakashvili’s coup plan unacceptable

by | October 30, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian president views as it unacceptable to have a senior official in a foreign country interfering in domestic affairs and planning mayhem in Georgia. President Giorgi Margvelashvili’s briefing on Friday was held in response to the controversy

News

TV director and UNM politician to be questioned about coup plan

by | October 30, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s State Security Service, which has kept on probing into alleged coup attempt since October 24, summoned director general of opposition TV Channel Rustavi 2 and a prominent member of the United National Movement for questioning

News

Saakashvili: Ivanishvili will share Yanukovich’s fate

by | October 30, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s former president, who now serves as Odessa regional governor in Ukraine, commented over recently published two audios containing his conversation with his Georgian allies where he mentions possibility

News

Intercepted phone call indicates ex-president planning revolution

by | October 30, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The CEO of Georgia’s main opposition TV channel and a key opposition figure both confirm the authenticity of audio tapes about a ‘revolution scenario’. The recording has sent ripples across the country's political establishment

Media

Final court hearing about Rustavi 2 ownership postponed

by | October 29, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Trial over ownership of Rustavi 2 was postponed for Friday, amid eerie predictions of its director that the riot police has been put on alert in order to forcibly take over Georgia’s main opposition-leaning TV channel. Nika Gvaramia,

Economy

Georgia ranks 24th in Doing Business country list

by | October 28, 2015

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Georgia ranked 24th among 189 countries, and still the first among post-Soviet countries, except Baltic States, in Doing Business 2016, a World Bank annual report that measures the costs to firms of business regulations, published on Wednesday, a way below of its 15th  position last year.

News

Georgian parliament member praises Stalin

by | October 27, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A member of parliament from the ruling Georgian Dream coalition Monday evening openly praised Joseph Stalin and called him ‘the greatest Georgian’ of the 20th century. Gogi Topadze, leader of the Industrialists Party, met Giorgi Kandelaki,

News

Georgia’s parliament speaker skeptical to coup allegations

by | October 27, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The speaker of the Georgian parliament views with suspicion material published on a website in Ukraine indicating a coup plan against the government in Georgia. Speaker Davit Usupashvili claimed that if a criminal probe is conducted solely based on information provided by the Ukrainian blog

Media

Judge asks Rustavi 2 to estimate losses as lawsuit resumes

by | October 26, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The lawsuit about the ownership of an opposition television channel resumed in the city court in Tbilisi on Monday. The judge ordered Rustavi 2’s lawyers to present an estimate of expected losses after the court ordered the seizure of the company’s property.

Youth

Possession of marijuana decriminalized after Constitutional Court ruling

by | October 26, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Possession of up to 70 grams of marijuana is no longer a crime in Georgia, following a ruling in the Constitutional Court. The Court on Saturday struck down as unconstitutional a passage in the law that made it punishable by from 7 to 14 years

News

Saakashvili ally questioned about alleged coup plans

by | October 25, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s Prosecutor General’s Office Saturday questioned a former ally of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili on suspicion that he is part a coup plan. A transcript of an alleged conversation between Saakashvili and Giga Bokeria,

News

Contradictory testimony in Rustavi 2 blackmail case, prosecutors say

by | October 24, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Prosecutor General’s Office in Georgia says the director of the embattled television company Rustavi 2 and another person gave contradictory testimony on Thursday in a blackmail case. Rustavi 2 director Nika Gvaramia

News

Cabinet reshuffle and looming political crisis hint Abkhazia–Russia tension

by | October 23, 2015

The postponement of the full implementation of the treaty on ‘Alliance and Strategic Partnership’, cabinet reshuffles, and demonstrations of opposition parties hint at Abkhazia’s increasingly knotty relation with Russia.

Minorities

All defendants acquitted in 2013 anti-gay rights attack case

by | October 23, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court on Friday acquitted four people for organizing a violent anti-gay rights rally in 2013. The four, who also included clergy in the Georgian Orthodox Church, were on trial for urging protesters who disrupted a peaceful rally to mark the

News

Speaker of parliament calls on politicians to defuse tension

by | October 23, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s speaker of parliament calls on authorities and the opposition to avoid making statements that justify violence, as the tension continues surrounding a lawsuit about the ownership of opposition TV channel Rustavi 2. Following

Media

Rustavi 2 director questioned, source of alleged threats named

by | October 22, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian Prosecutor General’s Office Thursday evening named the person who allegedly passed on messages from the government to the director of a television company. Rustavi 2 director Nika Gvaramia said Wednesday that

News

Georgian president criticizes PM for ‘escalating the political climate’

by | October 22, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian president Thursday criticized the prime minister for a statement made the same day about the leaking of abuse videos and a lawsuit to determine the ownership of a television company. Instead of defusing the situation PM Garibashvili’s

News

One more rape video posted online as UNM offices attacked

by | October 22, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--More footage of rape and torture was published on a Ukrainian website Thursday evening, as attacks on the former ruling party’s offices continue throughout Georgia. Members and supporters of the National Movement believe that the footage

Media

Rustavi 2 director’s blackmail claim will be investigated

by | October 22, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Prosecutor General’s Office has launched an investigation prompted by a live TV speech on Wednesday in which the director of Rustavi 2 claimed he was blackmailed. According to the short statement by the Prosecutor General’s

In brief

Four detained for extortion, again

by | October 21, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Police in Georgia have detained four persons for for extortion. Wednesday, the Interior Ministry said that the four, Giorgi, 24, Giorgi, 25, Vladimer, 31 and Mikheil, 58, had threatened to kill their victim if he didn’t pay them 55,000 laris (USD 23,000).

Media

Rustavi 2 staff will resist if police try to enforce takeover

by | October 21, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A day before Tbilisi City Court is to announce a ruling in a lawsuit about Rustavi 2, the director of the TV company went on the air to tell viewers that he was threatened by representatives of the government. Instead of the ordinary news program

Caucasus region

‘Radicalisation’ obscures core issues faced by Pankisi inhabitants

by | October 21, 2015

Duisi, DFWatch - Counterextremism efforts in the Pankisi Valley fall short as they fail to address root causes of radicalisation processes in the region. Following the reporting on Georgian citizens leaving the country to join the ranks of foreign fighters in the civil war in Syria and Iraq, the question of religious radicalisation in the Pankisi Valley has become one of the most debated security issues in Georgia.

News

Georgia’s energy minister explains what Gazprom negotiations are about

by | October 21, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian Energy Minister Kakhi Kaladze on Tuesday sought to downplay criticism against his call for increasing the import of Russian natural gas, explaining that the extra supplies from Gazprom

Society

Tbilisoba – a celebration of the Georgian capital

by | October 20, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The street fair Tbilisoba was this year mostly concentrated in Rike Park and the old part of the capital. Tbilisoba has been celebrated in the second half of October every year since 1979. It usually includes squeezing grapes in massive

News

UNM regional offices assaulted amid rape video scandal

by | October 19, 2015

Tbilisi, DFWatch - United National Movement’s several regional offices were attacked in Georgia on Monday, in the wake of publication of disgusting video depicting rape of a detainee allegedly during the previous government. Small crowds of 30 to 100

News

More Georgians turn their backs to the EU

by | October 19, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch-- Georgians still prefer European Union over the Russian-led Eurasian Union, but the difference declined significantly over the last year, results of the last NDI polls show. Over the last year, the support of

Interviews

Unchallenged stereotypes blight Georgian–Armenian relations

by | October 18, 2015

DF Watch discusses roots and manifestations of the anti-Armenian sentiment in Georgia with director of Cultural, Educational and Youth Centre Hayartun, Levon Chidilyan. DF Watch: Mr Chidilyan, how representative is Hayartun for Georgia’s Armenian c

Politics

Poll shows Georgian voters increasingly apathetic

by | October 18, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--In a new poll, 35 percent of Georgians say they don’t know who they would vote for if there were a parliamentary election tomorrow. The poll, which was published by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) shows that both the Georgian Dream

Economy

Remittances in September down 33%

by | October 17, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Remittances to Georgia in September went down 32.9 percent compared to last year, according to the latest monthly report by the National Bank. Remittances, or money that individuals send home to relatives from particularly Russia and Europe,

News

Amendments in jury trial procedures discussed in Tbilisi

by | October 17, 2015

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Legal experts, lawyers, judges, and non-governmental organizations gathered at Holiday Inn in Tbilisi to discuss draft amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedures concerning jury trial worked out by the Ministry of Justice.

News

Journalist detained for putting up poster mocking Ivanishvili

by | October 16, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Police in Georgia on Friday detained an opposition-leaning journalist for putting up a poster mocking billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili. Tamar Chergoleishvili, founder of a television company strongly supportive of the National Movement, was detained with two others as they stuck a poster on

Economy

Chinese investors planning new toll road through Rikoti

by | October 16, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Chinese investors are considering building a new toll road through Rikoti Pass, connecting the eastern and western parts of Georgia. The regional development minister said Thursday during the Silk Road Forum that passing a road through Rikoti may

Minorities

New Armenian church opens in Javakheti

by | October 16, 2015

Javakheti’s Armenian community celebrated the opening of a new church in the village of Didi Aragiali. A ceremony of opening a new church in the village of Didi Aragiali of Ninotsminda municipality inhabited by ethnic Armenian majority was held on 13 October, news portal jnews.ge reports.

News

ICC prosecutor arrives in Georgia to conduct 2008 war probe

by | October 15, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of the International Criminal Court (ICC) arrived in Georgia Thursday, to determine if there is basis for a trial for war crimes in the 2008 war. Bensouda earlier this week filed a 160 page long request to authorize an investigation

Minorities

Georgia’s religious minorities file lawsuit with Constitutional Court

by | October 15, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Eight religious organizations in Georgia have filed a lawsuit with the Constitutional Court, demanding to get rid of legislation that provide beneficial tax terms for the Orthodox Church. Georgia’s Tax Code, as well as an agreement between

News

Georgian parliament considers bill to restrict early marriage

by | October 15, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian parliament is to consider making it mandatory to get a court’s permission for persons of the age 16 to 18 to get married. The bill was put forth by parliament’s judiciary committee and is based on a recommendation

In brief

Georgia’s foreign trade turnover in Jan-Sept down 13%

by | October 14, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s foreign trade turnover in the first nine months of 2015 went down by 13 percent compared to last year, according to a preliminary monthly report published by the National Statistics Department. According to the monthly report,

News

South Ossetia plans to open new border crossing

by | October 14, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The breakaway region South Ossetia plans to open a new border crossing to make it easier for relatives to keep contact. This will be the fourth border crossing between the breakaway area and Georgia proper, and will connect the villages Khelchua

News

Georgia to allow human rights inspectors to take photos in prisons

by | October 13, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian government will from next year allow the Public Defender’s Office to take pictures inside prison. This will allow photographic evidence to be obtained in cases where there is suspicion of abuse, or when sanitary conditions

Economy

Constitutional Court suspends new bank supervision agency

by | October 13, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s Constitutional Court has suspended the work of a newly created agency that was to take over the supervision of private banks; previously the responsibility of the National Bank. The ruling was made during a lawsuit against the parliament

Society

Georgia has highest proportion of undernourished in South Caucasus

by | October 12, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia has the highest proportion of undernourished among South Caucasus countries, according to a new report. From 2014 to 2016, the level of undernourished is estimated to be 7.4 percent. This is higher than both Armenia (5.8 percent) and

In brief

Georgian president appoints new political adviser

by | October 12, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Giorgi Margvelashvili on Monday presented Pikria Chikhradze as his new political adviser. Chikhradze is active in the New Rightists Party and is most known for her work as a youth activist in the National Liberation Movement,

News

ISIS commander from Pankisi reported to have died in Iraqi air raid

by | October 12, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--An Iranian news agency reports that Omar Al-Shishani, an ISIS commander who originally comes from Pankisi, Georgia, has died in an Iraqi air raid. The reports have not yet been confirmed. IRNA reports that Iraqi fighter jets wounded

Environment

One man dies in landslide in southwestern Georgia

by | October 12, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--One man died in a landslide in southwestern Georgia on Sunday. The victim, 58 year old Otar Davitadze, was on night watch supervising machinery in an open pit mine when a landslide hit in the village Akhalsheni, Khelvachauri.

News

U.S. designates Akhmed Chatayev as a terrorist

by | October 11, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The United States has listed a Chechen with Russian citizenship who was released by the Georgian government in 2012 as connected to the Islamic State. The updated list of individuals affiliated with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, states

News

Construction work starts on new children’s hospice in Tbilisi

by | October 10, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Construction work began Saturday in the north of Tbilisi on what will become in Georgia’s first palliative care center for children. The initiators of the new hospice marked the start of construction work in the village Dighomi, a Tbilisi suburb.

In brief

Saakashvili welcomes ICC investigation into 2008 war

by | October 9, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The International Criminal Court said Wednesday that a prosecutor will begin studying the events in the 2008 Russia-Georgia war to investigate possible war crimes. The probe will look at crimes committed by both parties in connection

Caucasus region

North Caucasus Watch (19 September – 1 October 2015)

by | October 8, 2015

Daghestan Bodies of five residents of Suleyman-Stalskiy district were found in local forests by power agents. According to the official information, the men had their hands tied and were killed by the insurgents as a retaliation for cooperating with the police. Authorities also announced that a

Environment

Strong rain triggered landslides in Adjara, Georgia

by | October 8, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Strong rain overnight Thursday caused flooding and landslides in the Adjara region, in the southwest of Georgia. In Kobuleti, a Black Sea coastal resort, railway traffic was cut off and landslides triggered in the highlands. No casualties have

NGO news

NGOs warn of selective justice after activists’ detention

by | October 7, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) warn against selective justice from authorities and call on the government to treat everyone equally. The NGOs’ express concern about the detention of the three activists from Tavisufali

News

Prison Ministry welcomes investigation into procurements

by | October 7, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Prison Ministry on Tuesday welcomed an objective investigation into its procurements. According to a report by the State Audit Office on Monday, the same company won all 14 food-related tender in 2013 and 2014. The report also

News

Free Democrats against holding snap election

by | October 6, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Free Democrats has rejected a proposal by the National Movement to hold a snap election one year before the next scheduled one. UNM activists demonstrated Monday evening outside the residence of former Prime Minister

News

State Audit Office finds suspicious procurements in Prison Ministry

by | October 6, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The State Audit Office Tuesday published a report which indicates that there may have been violations in the Prison Ministry’s public procurements. The report covers the years 2013-2014 and shows that in 14 bidding rounds announced by the ministry,

News

Georgia is neglected as victim of Russian aggression: President

by | October 6, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili says there is too little attention being paid to Georgia as a victim of Russian aggression. He told the television channel Rustavi 2 upon returning from the recent United Nations general assembly that

News

UNM demands snap election, a year before scheduled one

by | October 6, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s former ruling party the National Movement demands a snap election, a year before the next scheduled parliamentary election. At a demonstration by party activists outside the residence of businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili Monday, Giga Bokeria

News

Family suspicious about circumstances of soldier’s death

by | October 5, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The family of a soldier who died from a gunshot wound a few days ago refuse to believe that it was a suicide. The deceased, Tamaz Tamarashvili (33) was a private in the Fifth Brigade of the Georgian armed forces. Monday, his family and relatives

In brief

Three pro-UNM activists detained after assaulting MP

by | October 5, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Three activists were detained Friday for assaulting a member of parliament. The detainees are Nika Narsia, Mirian Deisadze and Kakhaber Gabunia, all members of the youth group Tavisupali Zona (Free Zone), which on many occasions

Environment

Bad weather caused damage in three parts of Georgia this weekend

by | October 5, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia was hit by a spell of bad weather Saturday night, with hailstorm, strong rain and high winds. The hailstorm in Akhaltsikhe, in the south, lasted for almost one hour. In several villages, crops were destroyed and houses damaged.

Sport

Georgian Football Federation elects new president

by | October 4, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A lengthy and intense debate in the Georgian Football Federation Saturday ended in the election of Levan Kobiashvili as new president. GFF’s former president Zviad Sichinava resigned after the UEFA Super Cup match in Barcelona-Sevilla in Tbilisi.

News

Court hearing leaves Rustavi 2’s future unsettled

by | October 3, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A court hearing in Tbilisi in a lawsuit about control over Georgian television company Rustavi 2 ended without much progress Friday. The preparatory hearing in Tbilisi City Court concerned a lawsuit by businessman Kibar Khalvashi against Rustavi 2.

News

Gori city assembly votes against re-erecting Stalin statue

by | October 2, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The city assembly in Joseph Stalin’s hometown Gori on Friday voted against the idea of re-erecting a six-meter high statue of the dictator. The statue was unveiled in 1952 on the central square in Gori. After the end of the Soviet Union

In brief

13% more visitors to Georgia in September

by | October 2, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The number of visitors to Georgia increased 12.6 percent in September, compared to the year before, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ department for analysis. The total number of visitors in September was 568,663. Out of this, 227,130

News

Sukhumi and Tbilisi commemorate war-related anniversaries

by | October 2, 2015

As the question of political status of Abkhazia remains a major challenge to peace and security in the region, the two societies commemorate the events of 1993 in radically different manners. As twenty-two years have passed since the end of the war in Abkhazia,

Media

Rustavi 2 director asks for donations after another setback in court

by | October 1, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court on Thursday ordered the seizure of the shares in the company that owns the television channel Rustavi 2. The court ordered the seizure of all shares in TV Sakartvelo, which holds 51 percent of the shares in Rustavi 2. The latter

Economy

23 million bottles of wine exported so far in 2015

by | October 1, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--By September 28, Georgia had exported 23.3 million bottles of wine so far in 2015. 3.5 million bottles were exported in September, according to the Agriculture Ministry; the highest monthly rate in 2015. The export of wine has tripled, compared

Minorities

DF Talk: Being transgender in Georgia

by | October 1, 2015

Natia Gvianishvili, director of NGO Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group and Nika Ghviniashvili, manager of NGO LGBT Georgia Resource Centre talk about transgenderness and the issues faced by transgender people in Georgia. What is transgenderness? Natia Gvianishvili:

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