Politics

The government needs renewal, says GD founder Ivanishvili

by | December 31, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--There is a need for new people in the Georgian Dream government, businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili said Wednesday evening, in his first public comments on the change of prime minister and other recent developments in the coalition

News

Police officer injured in shooting dies

by | December 31, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A female police officer who was injured in a shooting on Wednesday in Telavi died later the same day. Maia Javakhishvili was injured during a shooting in front of a police station, while her partner, Captain Gela Lamazoshvili, died on the spot.

In brief

19 year old shoots, kills police officer

by | December 30, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A policeman was shot and killed on Wednesday outside the police station in Telavi, a town in Georgia’s eastern Kakheti region. The officer, Gela Lamazoshvili, died on the spot. A female police officer was also injured in the shooting

News

Tbilisi’s waste collectors on strike

by | December 30, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Part of the capital’s waste collectors and street sweepers went on strike on Wednesday morning, demanding a 50 percent pay increase. Employees showed up today at the office of Tbilservice, the company responsible for keep Tbilisi clean.

Politics

Georgian parliament approves new Kvirikashvili government

by | December 30, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian parliament approved the new government on Tuesday by 86 votes against 28. Lawmakers debated the government program all day, sparring with new Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili into late night hours. Both the two

News

South Ossetia prepares to add ‘Alania’ to its name

by | December 30, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The leader of the breakaway region South Ossetia has ordered a proposal to be put before the elected assembly about changing the entity’s name to South Ossetia - Alania. Along with the proposed name change, a referendum

News

Citizens’ appeal for pardoning fmr Tbilisi mayor rejected by president

by | December 29, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A citizens’ appeal to pardon former Tbilisi mayor Gigi Ugulava has been rejected by President Giorgi Margvelashvili. Ugulava has been in detention since July 2014. His supporters argue that there have been committed several violations

Politics

Incoming PM defends economic policy

by | December 29, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's prime minister in waiting defended his handling of the economic crisis as he answered questions from parliamentarians on Monday ahead of a confirmation vote today, Tuesday. As expected, Giorgi Kvirikashvili's tenure as economy minister

News

Pentagon denies capture of IS commander from Pankisi

by | December 29, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Pentagon has denied the capture of Islamic State commander Omar Al-Shishani, a citizen of Georgia whose birth name is Tarkhan Batirashvili. A spokesperson for the U.S. Defense Department told Ria Novosti that the information

News

IS commander from Pankisi reportedly captured by US/Kurdish commandos

by | December 28, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tarkhan Batirashvili, a.k.a. Abu Omar al-Shishani, a notorious IS field commander from Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge, was reportedly seized by Kurdish and American commandos in Northern Iraq on Friday. Abu Omar’s arrest was reported by the Russian

News

Controversial appointment of judge to the Appeals Court

by | December 28, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s High Council of Justice on Friday appointed a new judge to the Appeals Court who was criticized as one of the court officials who decided to go easy on of those involved in the murder of a bank employee in 2006. The murder of Sandro Girgvliani

Politics

New PM plans no changes in cabinet – for now

by | December 27, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Giorgi Kvirikashvili, the designated new prime minister of Georgia, plans to present his cabinet tomorrow. The list is expected to be almost identical to the current government, but he does not rule out changes in the future. The former vice prime minister

Minorities

Petition for new mosque in Batumi collects 5,000 signatures in one day

by | December 27, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Supporters of a second mosque in Batumi began collecting signatures Friday. The city on Georgia’s Black Sea coast is largely Muslim but the only mosque has been overcrowded for decades. Signatures were collected at a corner of the Orta Jame

News

Credit card fraud ring busted in Georgia

by | December 26, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Finance Ministry’s investigation service have detained a group of ten people for manufacturing fake credit cards and stealing more than 1.5 million laris. Investigators describe the case as ‘a large-scale international crime.’ The ten are suspected of illegally

Politics

President supports Kvirikashvili as new PM and asks parliament for approval

by | December 26, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Giorgi Margvelashvili Friday supported the ruling coalition’s nominee, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, as candidate for new prime minister and asked parliament to approve him. The president’s administration supported Kvirikashvili’s candidacy

News

Georgian president pardons 238 prisoners

by | December 26, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian president pardoned 238 prisoners on Friday, 18 of whom were women and three minors. According to Zviad Koridze, head of the president’s pardon commission, 172 prisoners will leave jail today. 11 of them are women and two are minors.

In brief

Man who had surgery says police hit him in the face

by | December 25, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Prosecutor General’s Office has launched an investigation into an incident where a man was allegedly beaten by police officers. The Public Defender wrote on Thursday that a person had surgery at the central hospital in Tbilisi on November 10,

In brief

Georgia’s association agreement with EU comes into force

by | December 25, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Belgium became the last member country to add its consent to Georgia’s association agreement with the European Union on Thursday. The agreement has now been ratified by all 28 member states as well as EU's own institutions

News

Giorgi Kvirikashvili named as candidate for PM

by | December 25, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian Dream coalition has agreed on Giorgi Kvirikashvili as their candidate for new prime minister, as replacement for Irakli Garibashvili, who resigned Wednesday evening. Kvirikashvili is former vice prime minister and minister of foreign affairs.

In brief

New Georgian government expected before New Year

by | December 24, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The deadline for parliament to approve a new government is 14 or 15 January, 2016, but the procedure may finish before New Year, Georgia’s speaker of parliament said Thursday. Irakli Garibashvili announced his resignation last night

Politics

GD coalition to discuss new PM at session Friday

by | December 23, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The candidate for new prime minister will be discussed at a session of the Georgian Dream coalition on Friday, the speaker of parliament said Wednesday evening after the PM announced his resignation. Speaker Davit Usupashvili

News

Georgian PM resigns without specifying reasons nor naming successor

by | December 23, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili announced his resignation in a brief TV address on Wednesday, after more than two years in the post. He did not state any specific reasons for leaving, nor offer advice on who his successor should be, which ultimately

News

Georgian PM expected to resign, to hold special briefing at 8pm

by | December 23, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili may announce his resignation at a special briefing planned at his office on Wednesday, at 8pm Tbilisi time. The PM's resignation was reported earlier by Georgian news agencies, and although

News

Prisoner participates in singing contest, is pardoned and given car

by | December 23, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A woman who has twice been convicted of robbery is a participant in the talent show Voice of Georgia. Tuesday, she was told live during the show that she has been pardoned and given a car. The Voice accepted Teona Kolbaia during casting

In brief

Police looking for taxi driver who assaulted women passengers

by | December 23, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Police in Georgia have identified a taxi driver in Tbilisi who allegedly beat a woman who rejected his attempts at physical contact. The suspect has not yet been apprehended, but an investigation has been launched based on article 125

News

Margvelashvili declares 2016 the Year of the European State

by | December 23, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--President Giorgi Margvelashvili on Monday declared 2016 as the Year of the European State. He made the announcement at a ceremony to celebrate the 25 year anniversary of founding of the National Guard. The president said

News

Russia introduces simplified visa rules for Georgians

by | December 22, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Russia is beginning a process of simplifying visa rules for Georgian citizens, a few days after the EU published a positive final report about fulfillment of a visa liberalization action plan. The Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday that

News

Georgian politician bit off colleague’s ear

by | December 22, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A local politician in Georgia bit off part of the ear of a colleague during a fight on Monday. Emiko Peikrishvili, the former head of Kareli municipality in the Shida Kartli region, bit off a small part of the ear of Ilia Kelekhsashvili, assistant to the current municipal

Sport

Georgian football official dies after being hit by police car

by | December 22, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A Georgian football official died in a car accident Tuesday morning. Davit Petriashvili (46) was hit by a police car in the center of Tbilisi and died on the spot. Petriashvili who used to manage relations between the Georgian Football Federation

News

Man sentenced to life for murdering policeman

by | December 21, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A man in Georgia was Monday sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering a policeman and trying to murder four other police officers. According to Shalva Khachapuridze, a lawyer representing the murder convict Shalva Abuladze,

News

Tbilisi woman denies murdering husband and son

by | December 21, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A woman suspected of murdering her husband and son denies committing the crime, claiming that she doesn’t know what happened but was trying to save her husband when she found him. The woman was questioned about the case and the court

Environment

E60 through Georgia cut off by flood for the third time

by | December 21, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A section of the E60, the main highway east-west through Georgia, has once more been cut off because a river spilled over its banks near Kutaisi. The damaged section is the 206th km of the Tbilisi-Senaki-Leselidze road, the same section which

Politics

NDI poll shows small Georgian Dream lead, voters still indifferent

by | December 21, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A poll published on Monday shows the ruling Georgian Dream coalition back in the lead, and a surge in voters' apathy slightly abating. The latest National Democratic Institute (NDI) poll, carried out in late November, early December, shows that if there

News

Proposal to prevent NGOs and media from ‘insulting traditional values’

by | December 21, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A Georgian businessman has proposed to create a commission to prevent media and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from insulting the country’s traditional values. Levan Vasadze, who formally has status as ‘knight’

In brief

Tbilisi woman allegedly killed husband and son

by | December 21, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A woman was arrested in Tbilisi on Sunday suspected of murdering her husband and five-year-old son. According to investigators, the woman, who is about 26 years old, injured her two year older husband by hitting him in the head with

In brief

Man arrested for robbing churches in Kakheti

by | December 20, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Police in Georgia have arrested a man accused of robbing four churches in Kakheti, a province in the eastern part of Georgia, a few days ago. Investigators say the man, who is about 21 years old, was arrested at night while attempting to rob

NGO news

Groups find shortfalls in Georgia’s attempts to live up to EU agreement

by | December 18, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Non-governmental organizations on Friday presented a report about how Georgia is doing in fulfilling its requirements under an association agreement signed with EU in 2014. The report outlines progress in some fields, but also problems

Security

Georgian Defense Ministry announces contracts for military service

by | December 18, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian Defense Ministry this week announced vacancies for joining the military on a contractual basis. The contracts offered have a four year term and are available for persons between 18 and 35 year, and youth who have served compulsory military

Europe

EU Commission approves visa-free travel for Georgians

by | December 18, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The EU Commission announced Friday that Georgia has fulfilled a stepwise plan toward visa liberalization. This could mean that as early as in mid 2016, Georgian citizens will be able to travel without a visa to countries in the Schengen area, which apart

News

Ukraine’s Avakov in shouting match with Saakashvili at council meeting

by | December 17, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov Wednesday published a video showing a quarrel between him and Mikheil Saakashvili, Governor of Odessa, and former President of Georgia. The video shows them bickering and Avakov

Security

Alleged IS plot, Russian helicopter overflight topics at IPRM

by | December 17, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--An alleged New Year’s terror plot by Islamic State and an airspace violation by a Russian helicopter were some one of the topics at a regular field meeting about the conflict over the breakaway territory South Ossetia on Wednesday. The meeting

News

Over thirty witnesses questioned in pardon-fixing case

by | December 17, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The question of whether politicians tried to use their influence to fast-track the pardoning of certain prisoners was no closer to being settled Wednesday, after prosecutors had questioned at least 30 people. Prosecutor Koka Katsitadze said he doesn’t

In brief

Storm rips off roof in Tbilisi, leaving three families homeless

by | December 16, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--High winds destroyed the roof of a house in Tbilisi on Wednesday, leaving three families homeless. The wind also tore down a tree on Dadiani Street, which damaged electricity transmission lines, as a result of which households living on the street were left

News

Two year old swallowed firecracker hidden in bag of chips

by | December 15, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The National Food Agency calls on parents to be careful during the Christmas period after a two-year old accidentally swallowed a firecracker hidden inside a package of sweet corn chips. The boy didn’t notice the firecracker among the chips and swallowed it.

News

Former pardon commission head questioned again

by | December 15, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The the former head of the president’s pardon commission was questioned at the Prosecutor General’s Office on Monday. Aleko Elisashvili claims he was pressured by authorities to give a favorable decision in the cases of specific prisoners,

In brief

Georgia’s foreign trade down 14% Jan-Nov

by | December 15, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s foreign trade turnover in the first eleven months of 2015 was 14 percent less than in the same period last year, according to preliminary figures published by the National Statistics Department. The total turnover amounted to USD 8,892 million,

News

Vice speaker confirms asking to fast-track prisoners’ bid for pardon

by | December 14, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The vice speaker of the Georgian parliament confirms that she approached the president’s pardon commission and requested to have certain prisoners pardoned. The admission came after a newspaper published information based on

Economy

First train on new China-Turkey route welcomed in Tbilisi

by | December 14, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The first train along a new route from China to Turkey, bypassing Russia, arrived in Tbilisi Sunday morning. The arrival of the 21 wagon train, whose final destination is Istanbul, marks the official opening of the Silk Road, the Georgian

News

Four dead bodies discovered in Georgia near border with Turkey

by | December 13, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Four dead bodies were discovered in Khelvachauri in southwestern Georgia on Saturday, four kilometers from the border with Turkey. The four bodies were frozen and almost covered in snow, and allegedly belong to citizens of Bangladesh.

News

Georgia’s Ministry of Economy scores lowest in openness survey

by | December 12, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Ministry of Economic Development is the most closed public institution in Georgia, in terms of providing public information. This is one of the findings in a new report published Friday by the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI).

News

Did government officials interfere with pardoning of prisoners?

by | December 11, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Government officials tried to pressure the president’s pardon commission into releasing certain prisoners, former commission head Aleko Elisashvili claims. The current head of the pardon commission, Zviad Koridze, says he can confirm Elisashvili’s

News

Georgia’s Public Defender outlines problems on Human Rights Day

by | December 11, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--On December 10, the International Human Rights Day, the Public Defender as usual published a brief report about the situation in Georgia in terms of human rights. DF Watch compiled an overview of the most important issues discussed in the report.

In brief

Georgian volunteer killed in Ukraine’s Donbass

by | December 10, 2015

Two Ukrainian militiamen, including Irakli Kutelia, an ethnic Georgian volunteer, were killed on Wednesday afternoon and seven others were injured as their infantry fighting vehicle ran over a mine near Donetsk, Ukrainian and Georgian media report.

Economy

Georgia: Direct foreign investments slump 33% in third quarter

by | December 9, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Direct foreign investments in Georgia was 33 percent lower in the third quarter of 2015 than in the same period last year, according to preliminary data from the National Statistics Department. Direct foreign investments amounted to USD 489 million

Caucasus region

Armenian democracy in freefall after fraudulent referendum

by | December 9, 2015

Widespread electoral fraud allegations and the growing gap between the political élites and the society confirm worrying trends in Armenia’s democratic development. On Sunday, 6 December a nationwide constitutional referendum was held in Armenia.

News

Georgian man will not face trial for marrying 13 year old

by | December 9, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A man who married a 13 year old girl and now has two children by her will not face trial for sexual relations with a minor, prosecutors have decided. Nadim Paksadze, who is now 21, was under investigation for marrying a minor, which has become

In brief

Construction worker dies at Sinohydro’s Kobuleti bypass road

by | December 9, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A construction worker died on Tuesday during work on a bypass road near Kobuleti in western Georgia. The 40-year-old man is said to have fallen from a 20-meter tall bridge and died from multiple injuries. An investigation has been launched

News

274 Georgian prisoners in Turkey may be gathered in one facility

by | December 8, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia is in negotiations with Turkey about locating all 274 Georgian prisoners in that country in the same jail. The Georgian prison minister visited Turkey’s justice minister Tuesday and discussed conditions of Georgian prisoners,

In brief

995 have applied for asylum in Georgia

by | December 8, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--By October, 995 persons had applied for asylum in Georgia, while 1,192 people were living here under protection of international law, according to a new report by the Public Defender. The report, which was published on Monday, shows that

News

Georgian Orthodox Church clarifies statement about pardoning prisoners

by | December 7, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian Orthodox Church issued a short statement Sunday evening explaining that Patiarch Ilia II never meant to ask for legislative amendments to grant him the right to pardon prisoners. December 5, the patriarch attended a performance by women prisoners at Rustaveli Theatre,

In brief

Strike ends at BP South Caucasus pipeline expansion

by | December 7, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A strike among workers on the BP South Caucasus pipeline expansion has ended without drama as management fulfilled the main demand, but workers who were fired have not been given their jobs back. Three days ago, nearly 200 workers

News

Patriarch of Georgia asks for power to pardon prisoners

by | December 6, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The head of the Georgian Orthodox Church has asked for the power to pardon prisoners. Catholicos Patriarch Ilia II said Saturday that he thinks a patriarch should be able to pardon prisoners and added that he has spoken with the prime minister

News

Georgia revokes Saakashvili’s citizenship

by | December 4, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The current president of Georgia on Friday revoked the citizenship of his predecessor, Mikheil Saakashvili, who is now governor of Odessa in Ukraine. Georgian legislation doesn’t allow dual citizenship. Since Saakashvili became a citizen of Ukraine

In brief

Man arrested in Tbilisi for stealing computer from mosque

by | December 4, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Police Friday detained a suspect who allegedly robbed a mosque in Tbilisi. The suspect, a 22 year old man, secretly snuck into a mosque in the old part of Tbilisi and stole a computer from a room used by Mullahs, and then went into hiding, according to the Interior Ministry.

Minorities

Shots fired at Jehovah’s Witnesses house in Tbilisi – again

by | December 3, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--For a second time in one week, gunshots have been fired at a congregation hall used by Jehovah’s Witnesses in Tbilisi. Monday morning, someone fired shots at the Kingdom Hall building in Vazisubani, a suburb in the Georgian capital.

News

200 workers on strike at BP South Caucasus pipeline expansion

by | December 3, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--About 200 workers went on strike Wednesday morning at BP’s South Caucasus gas pipeline expansion project in southern Georgia. Their demands are to increase their reduced working hours and reduced salaries, and to get paid for working on weekends

News

Seven percent more visitors in Georgia so far this year

by | December 2, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--There were 6.9 percent more visitors to Georgia during the last eleven months, compared to the same period last year, according to the Interior Ministry. There is no official data about how many of visitors are tourists, but the MIA counts the number

News

Georgia confirms arrest of four linked to IS

by | December 1, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian intelligence service Tuesday confirmed the arrest of four persons for links to Islamic State. Levan Izoria, Deputy Head of the State Security Service, said at a briefing that the four openly support the ideology of the terrorist organization known as ISIS.

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