News

Georgia aims to maintain 10% share of Gazprom natural gas transit

by | March 31, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia has offered Gazprom to continue the transit of natural gas to Armenia. under the same conditions as before. The details of the offers are not known, but the negotiations between the Georgian government and Gazprom will finish

Politics

Republicans and Georgian Dream to run as independent parties

by | March 31, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Two of the parties in the governing Georgian Dream coalition have decided to run as independent parties in the upcoming parliamentary election. The Republican Party declared Thursday that they plan to participate in the election independently,

News

New Georgian sex tape posted online

by | March 31, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--One more sex tape was uploaded to Youtube on Thursday, targeting a Georgian politician. The video was posted on the personal Facebook pages of a journalist and an actor and later removed. The police questioned actor Beso Zanguri. Journalist

Youth

TSU rector resigns after weeks of protests

by | March 31, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Vladimer Papava, the rector of Tbilisi State University (TSU), resigned Wednesday, but denied that he had done so because of pressure. “A lot of things influenced this decision. Their hunger strike and your demands, but many other things,” Vladimer Papava said.

Security

Georgian official blames Russia for sex tape scandal

by | March 30, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A deputy head of the Georgian counterintelligence on Monday hinted that Russia could be behind leaked surveillance videos recently used to threaten government members, although he did not rule out any theory. The videos were uploaded

Youth

Intelligence official denies the presence of agents at TSU

by | March 30, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The conflict at Tbilisi State University (TSU) seemed to be over a few weeks ago, but now Georgian intelligence has jumped into the fray, announcing that it hasn’t had agents at TSU since the beginning of this year. The presence

News

Ukraine fires deputy chief prosecutor, a Georgian

by | March 30, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Davit Sakvarelidze, a former Georgian official, has been fired as deputy chief prosecutor of Ukraine. He was fired for violating the ethics of a prosecutor, and for interfering in the business of another prosecutor, according to the the website

News

Reports: Georgian women more present in business than in government

by | March 29, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Georgia scores high in international rankings of women’s participation in business management, although few Georgian women hold political office.

Minorities, News

CEC approves referendum bid about same-sex marriage

by | March 29, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Central Election Commission (CEC) has approved a proposal to hold a referendum about whether to allow same sex marriage in Georgia. The proposal, which was submitted by a group of seven people, will not automatically

News

Sukhishvili performed at Russian oligarch son’s Moscow wedding

by | March 29, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Russian media reported that Elton John, Sting, Jeniffer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias, Beyonce and others performed at the wedding of the son of Russian oligarch Mikhail Gutseriev March 26 in Moscow. It caught some attention in Georgia

News

Over 1,400 minors became parents in Georgia last year

by | March 29, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--More than 1,440 minors became parents in 2015 and there were registered 611 marriages of people from 16 to 18 years, according to a report published Monday by Georgia’s ombudsman. In 2014, there were registered 665 marriages involving minors.

Caucasus region

One more human rights activist released from Azerbaijan prison

by | March 28, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Azerbaijani authorities released from prison Intigam Aliyev, a lawyer and human rights activist, on March 28, as the court in Baku commuted his 7.5 years-long term to a suspended 5 year sentence, Radio Liberty Azerbaijan reported.

In brief

‘No tragedy’ if GD coalition falls apart: Kaladze

by | March 28, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian Dream — Democratic Georgia, a key political party within the Georgian Dream coalition, may opt for running independently in the upcoming parliamentary elections, Kakha Kaladze, Minister of Energy stated Saturday, thus adding fuel to the fire in the widespread

In brief, Minorities

Georgian PM takes part in Armenian Easter celebrations

by | March 28, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili visited the newly renovated Cathedral of Saint George in Tbilisi’s Old Town, in order to join Armenian Easter celebrations. Adherents of the Armenian Apostolic Church are almost exclusively ethnic

In brief

Tbilisi City Hall will pay for Sameba Cathedral restoration

by | March 28, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Hall announced its plans to sponsor restoration works at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, known colloquially as Sameba (‘Trinity’), which was damaged by fire earlier this month. Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili asked the Minister

Economy

Car dealers demonstrate against ban on right-hand drive vehicles

by | March 27, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Car dealers demonstrated in Rustavi on Friday against the government’s initiative to ban the registration of cars with right-hand drive from 2017. The protest took place at Georgia’s largest car market, located in Rustavi,

News

Former police official Erekle Kodua sentenced in absentia

by | March 27, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A former government official was Thursday sentenced in absentia by Tbilisi City Court to two years in jail for exceeding official powers. The Prosecutor General’s Office says Erekle Kodua, who chaired the Special Operative Department (SOD) of the

Minorities

In pictures: Georgian Catholics mark Easter

by | March 27, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - This year, a number of Christian minorities in Georgia, including the Catholics, Armenians, and Protestants observe Easter, the most important Christian holiday, more than one month before Orthodox Christians. Before Easter, Catholics observe a forty-day long fasting period known as the Great Lent. The last week immediately before Easter is known as the Holy Week, which includes Holy Thursday, commemorating the Last Supper, Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion, and Holy Saturday, when the faithful gather for an all-night vigil by the symbolic Lord’s tomb awaiting His resurrection. On Holy Saturday morning, some believers bring baskets with a sampling of Easter foods for a priest to bless. This custom is mostly associated with Georgia’s Polish community, among whom the custom is known as święconka. According to the most recent data, less than one percent of the population in Georgia are Catholics, about 10 percent are Muslims, and four percent Armenian Christians. More than 83 percent are adherents of the Georgian Orthodox Church. The majority of Georgia’s Catholics live in the southern district of Samtskhe–Javakheti, although there’s a small Catholic community in Tbilisi ...

Minorities, News

Public hearing process begins for constitutional ban on same-sex marriage

by | March 26, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A parliamentary commission has launched a public debate about a proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The first meeting was held on Friday in Telavi, in the eastern Kakheti

Environment

Apartment block planned on cemetery for German prisoners from WWII

by | March 25, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A construction company plans to build residential apartments on what according to locals is a cemetery for German prisoners of war from World War II. According to the environmentalist group Guerrilla Gardening Tbilisi, construction is planned

Economy

Gori wind farm expected to start producing electricity in December

by | March 25, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Construction of wind a farm in Gori, 80km west of the capital, will be completed by the end of 2016, according to the Energy Ministry. Deputy Energy Minister Irakli Khmaladze said the power station

Economy

Georgia’s foreign trade Jan-Feb down 2%

by | March 25, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s foreign trade turnover in the first two months of 2016 was 2 percent less than last year, totaling USD 1,413 million. According to a new monthly report by the National Statistics Department (GeoStat), export was down 13 percent to USD 281 million,

Minorities

Pankisi imams won’t endorse early marriages

by | March 25, 2016

The issue of early marriages highlights existing religious divisions in Pankisi valley and competing views on the community’s relation with the Georgian state. In a conversation with local Radio WAY (‘We’ in Chechen), member of Pankisi’s Council of Elders Khaso Khangoshvili declared that early marriages won’t be endorsed by Pankisi’s ‘traditional’ imams any more, Kakheti Information Centre (ICK) reported. ‘We decided that imams of the traditional mosque won’t solemnise early marriages any more. We took into account a couple of factors. Firstly, having a family is a burden too heavy for a girl younger than 18 who is still a school pupil. She should be able to finish her studies. Secondly, according to our tradition, the role of woman in the family is fairly important and it’s too big of a responsibility for a minor. And finally — our country’s legislation already forbids early marriages’, Mr Khangoshvili explained in a comment for InterPressNews. The majority of approximately 10 thousand Kists who inhabit Pankisi valley profess Islam. One part of the community, usually the older generation, identifies as ‘traditional’ Sufi Muslims, while the ...

News

Abkhazia field meetings to be resumed after near four-year break

by | March 24, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The parties have agreed to resume talks aimed at solving problems in the border areas near the Georgian breakaway region Abkhazia. Agreement to resume the talks, called Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM), was reached

In brief

Georgia postpones ban on registration of right-hand cars till 2017

by | March 24, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia postpones banning on registration of cars with right-hand drive until January 1, 2017, to allow enough time to car importers to reshuffle their business and carry out commitments under the existing contracts, Deputy Minister of Interior said during

News

Tkibuli miners threaten new strike

by | March 24, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s Trade Unions warns that workers in the coal mines in Tkibuli may go on strike again. Workers were on strike for two weeks in February, but an agreement was reached a few weeks ago. The trade union says the the mining

In brief

Ivanishvili won’t return to politics: Kaladze

by | March 24, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Former Georgian PM Bidzina Ivanishvili will keep promise not to return to politics, Minister of Energy and the first vice Prime Minister, Kakha Kaladaze stated on Thursday, diffusing speculations in the media that the oligarch would be included

News

Interpol drops arrest warrant for Georgia’s former security chief

by | March 23, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor states that former chief of security had Interpol’s red notice removed against him due to his refugee status, not ‘political persecution’, despite his family’s claims. Interpol removed an arrest warrant that was

News

Two suspected of stealing oil from BP’s pipeline in Georgia

by | March 23, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Two persons have been detained for allegedly stealing crude oil from Baku-Supsa Pipeline (BSP), which is used to transport Azerbaijani oil to Georgia’s Black Sea terminal and is operated by  British Petroleum. The crime

News

Netherlands extradites former Georgian counterintelligence officer

by | March 23, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Netherlands on Tuesday extradited a former Georgian intelligence official known as ‘Mastera’. Giorgi Dgebuadze, a former official of the Constitutional Security Council (Kudi), was transferred by the request of Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office.

News

Georgian Orthodox Church calls sex-tape blackmail malice

by | March 23, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian Orthodox Church said in a statement Tuesday that the publishing of sex-tapes in the media is ‘deliberate malice.’ Two videos were recently published on Youtube, showing well-known Georgians engaging in sex. The tapes

News

Georgia strengthens security at airports and borders after Brussels attacks

by | March 22, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia is strengthening security measures in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Brussels on Tuesday. At least 34 people were killed in Brussels on Tuesday. Three bombs went off in the morning; two at Brussels airport and one at a metro station

News

Georgian politicians react to Brussels attacks

by | March 22, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Georgia’s main political figures pay condolences and stress the importance of strong intelligence services in wake of today’s terrorist attacks in Brussels. At least 34 people died in today’s terror attacks that shook Brussels, Belgian public broadcaster VRT reported.

Media

Dispute about control over Maestro settled

by | March 22, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Agreement was reached on Monday between the owners of Maestro TV to allow the channel to continue using its logo, settling a several months long dispute. The agreement was announced in a statement by Gia Gachechiladze (‘Utsnobi’), who owns

News

Saakashvili calls on his party in Georgia to introduce gender quotas

by | March 22, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president who is governor of Odessa in Ukraine, has advised his party home in Georgia to have 50 percent women on the election list for the upcoming parliamentary election, which will be held later this year.

News, Society

Down Syndrome Day marked in Tbilisi

by | March 21, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia marked International Down syndrome Day on March 21 with a march that started in Vake Park and ended at Tbilisi State University. This year’s main message worldwide and in Georgia was about friendship and socialization of people with Down’s syndrome.

News

Iraqi media: Body of Omar al-Shishani found

by | March 21, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Ten bodies of Islamic State fighters were found east of the Iraqi city of Ramadi, including the body of Tarkhan Batirashvili (Omar al-Shishani), the Iraqi TV channel Al Sumaria reported. General in the Iraqi army Islail Mahlawi told

Minorities

In pictures: Nowruz celebrations in Marneuli

by | March 21, 2016

MARNEULI, DFWatch--Hundreds of people celebrated the coming of spring in the city of Marneuli, populated predominantly by ethnic Azerbaijanis. Nowruz (Novruz bayramı in Azerbaijani) is a major holiday of Persian and Zoroastrian origins, celebrated nowadays

News

Georgia’s Russia envoy Abashidze answers president’s criticism

by | March 21, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Diplomat Zurab Abashidze has expressed astonishment at a statement by President Giorgi Margvelashvili that he had not properly handled a critical remark by a Russian diplomat. Abashidze, whose full title is Prime Minister’s

In brief

Prayer service suspended at Sameba Cathedral after fire

by | March 21, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Prayer service has been temporarily halted at Sameba Cathedral after a fire burned about 1,200 square meters on the ground floor of the building on Sunday. However, prayer will offer in four little churches on the territory of Sameba that are

News

Georgian president faults envoy’s handling of Russian diplomat’s reprimand

by | March 21, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian president on Monday criticized his country's envoy for failing to respond adequately to criticism from a Russian diplomat during a bilateral meeting in Prague last week. President Margvelashvili

News

Margvelashvili praises TSU students for their commitment

by | March 21, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian president on Sunday praised the students at Tbilisi State University for their commitment to social issues after the end of a near week-long sit-in. President Giorgi Margvelashvili recalled sending advisers to the university during

In brief

Fire burns 1,200 square meters at Sameba Cathedral in Tbilisi

by | March 21, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--An area of more than 1,200 square meters was burnt at Sameba Cathedral in Tbilisi on Sunday after a fire started on the ground floor of the cathedral. More than a hundred firefighters worked to extinguish the fire, which started at about 14:00 and lasted

In brief

Inequality lowers Georgia’s happiness score: Report

by | March 20, 2016

TBILISI, DFwatch--According to the World Happiness Report 2016, published today, Georgia is in 126th place out of 157 countries included in the study. The result places Georgia as the 'least happy' country of the former Soviet Union, while Uzbekistan

News

Campaigners demand action against secret surveillance blackmail

by | March 19, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Activists from campaign Es Shen Gekheba rallied against use of people’s private life for intimidation and blackmail and demanded concrete steps from the government. Up to one thousand activists walked through Tbilisi’s Rustaveli Avenue

In brief

Georgian leaders send condolences to Russia after Rostov-on-Don plane crash

by | March 19, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian President and Prime Minister expressed their condolences to the families of victims of a deadly plane crash in Rostov, Russia. “I express my deepest sympathy to the victims of Flydubai passenger plane crash in Rostov, where dozens

Youth

Tbilisi State University initiates impeachment procedures

by | March 18, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The academic council at Tbilisi State University (TSU) has started impeachment procedures against the rector after a meeting with members of the student’s union (Tvitmmartveloba). Classes were resumed Friday at TSU after more than a week of conflict

Youth

Classes resume at TSU, but conflict still simmers

by | March 18, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--After a week-long student sit-in, teaching has resumed at the main building of Tbilisi State University (TSU), while the opposing groups continue to fight for their demands. Friday, Professor Gogi Gogsadze at the Social and Political Studies Faculty

News

House used for checkpoint should be compensated: Ombudsman

by | March 18, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian ombudsman says the Ministry of Internal Affairs failed to compensate a man for using his house as a checkpoint in a village bordering South Ossetia. In a statement published Friday, the ombudsman writes that the

Minorities

LGBT rights activists protest against politicization of the definition of marriage

by | March 18, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian Dream MP slurs Identoba’s activists who stage a protest against proposed constitutional changes in the definition of marriage. A group of activists from NGO Identoba (‘Identity’) gathered today in front of the Parliament

News

String of concerts planned in election year, including Robbie Williams

by | March 18, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--As the parliamentary election draws nearer, Georgia’s Culture Ministry is planning a string of concerts, beginning in April, which will feature world famous musicians. Negotiations have been launched with Robbie Williams and Eros Rammazotti.

News

Georgia lets Russian MP visit Tbilisi despite ban on Abkhazia & SO visits

by | March 18, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A Russian member of parliament will be allowed to attend a meeting of the parliamentary assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Tbilisi between July 1 and 5, although he has violated

Economy

Koba Gvenetadze appointed new head of Georgia’s National Bank

by | March 17, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s president has appointed a new head of the National Bank (NBG). The appointment was signed by President Giorgi Margvelashvili on Thursday. Outgoing NBG head Giorgi Kadagidze will be replaced Koba Gvenetadze, a former politician

News

Building of new fire trench discussed at South Ossetia field meeting

by | March 17, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--As representatives of Georgia and the breakaway region South Ossetia sat down on Tuesday for a regular field meeting, one of the major topics of discussion was the situation in the village Jariasheni, where construction work is in progress.

Youth

Students leave Tbilisi State University after nearly a week’s sit-in

by | March 17, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The protests at Tbilisi State University are over. Auditorium No 115 and members of student government (Tvitmmartveloba) have left the main building after occupying it for about a week. Police, security guards and journalists also left the building. The student

News

Russian diplomat criticizes Georgian leaders for anti-Russian rhetoric

by | March 17, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A Russian deputy foreign minister has criticized Georgian politicians for engaging in anti-Russian rhetoric, warning that patience has its limits. Gregory Karasin made the statement in Prague on Wednesday after meeting with Georgian

Minorities

In pictures: Yazidi cemetery in Tbilisi

by | March 16, 2016

The only Yazidi cemetery in Tbilisi is located on a hill overlooking the city in Upper Chughureti district. Until less than a year ago, the area around the cemetery used to be a site of illegal garbage disposal. It was finally rehabilitated in June 2015.

Youth

Negotiation attempts fail to solve TSU student protest

by | March 16, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--For more than a week, students have been protesting at Tbilisi State University and the tension continues to escalate. TSU is split in two, with the police and security guards protecting every entrance to the two-wing building occupied by students.

News

More people charged in Georgia sex tape scandal

by | March 16, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Prosecutor’s Office Saturday evening arrested two persons for illegally storing and spreading videos depicting individuals in intimate settings. The office said that apart from the two who were arrested Saturday - Zurab Jamalashvili

Youth

Student conflict escalates as rector refuses to resign

by | March 15, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--On the fifth day of protests, two opposing student groups continue to occupy a building at Tbilisi State University. Both groups grew increasingly frustrated with a decision by police not to allow anyone to enter the building except accredited journalists.

Minorities

Armenian-language radio gains ground in Georgia

by | March 15, 2016

Director of Armenian-language radio Aliq Media, Arsen Kharatyan discusses challenges facing minority-language media in Georgia and the anti-Armenian sentiment in the country. DF Watch: Can you tell us about the history of the radio?

News

Two men detained for distributing secret surveillance videos

by | March 15, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Two people have been detained for allegedly collecting, storing and distributing videos depicting the private lives of people. The Prosecutor General’s Office confirmed the detentions, and later issued a statement which said that the two are detained for

In brief

US confirms Shishani’s death

by | March 15, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Pentagon officials confirm the death of the Islamic State’s prominent field commander Tarkhan Batirashvili (Omar al-Shishani), CNN reported. On 9 March, major Western news outlets reported that Mr Batirashvili, 30, was ‘likely killed’ in

Youth

Opposing sides clash in corridors of TSU as student protest continues

by | March 15, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--After several clashes during the day, the tension at Tbilisi State University continued on Monday, between the student government, called tvitmmartveloba, and another group of students calling themselves Auditorium 115. Even though

News

NGOs demand tougher measures to stop surveillance videos

by | March 15, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--NGOs in Georgia demand the creation of an investigative tool to combat the spreading of videos depicting people’s intimate lives and they want international experts to be involved in this. The initiative comes from organizations which are part

News

Georgian president promises to defeat ‘dark forces’ behind sex tapes

by | March 14, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili on Monday promised that the ‘dark forces’ attempting to blackmail free society will be defeated and fittingly punished. “I guarantee that the fight against those criminals will be won,” he said at a briefing

News

Georgia sex tape scandal not over, new video posted Monday

by | March 14, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Strangers Monday posted one more video online showing sex scenes involving a public person. The Youtube video was accompanied by a warning that more videos will be posted soon. Youtube was cut off for some time for Georgian users.

Youth

Gaprindashvili withdraws candidacy after student protests

by | March 14, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--After four days of students occupying a building at Tbilisi State University, Giorgi Gaprindashvili announced that he is withdrawing his candidacy for university chancellor. “I am ready to step [aside] considering the interests

Brief

Shishani ‘clinically dead’: Syrian monitor

by | March 14, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Islamic State’s field commander Tarkhan Batirashvili, mostly known under his nom de guerre Abu Omar Shishani, has been ‘clinically dead’ for several days, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.

News

Russians building new road near South Ossetia boundary line

by | March 14, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Russians are constructing a new road near the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) with Georgia’s breakaway region South Ossetia, at the village Jariasheni. The State Security Service Sunday informed that the construction

News

Ex-prosecutor reveals systematic sex surveillance and blackmail

by | March 14, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A former Tbilisi prosecutor claims that the military inspection at the Defense Ministry used to collect videos depicting intimate situations of gay men during Saakashvili’s presidency, to use for blackmail. Maia Mtsariashvili, a former prosecutor,

Youth

Sanikidze calls for inquest into intel agents at TSU

by | March 13, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Education Minister Tamar Sanikidze is considering asking parliament to hold an inquest into the presence of intelligence agents at Tbilisi State University. Saturday evening, Sanikidze met students at TSU who for the last three days

In brief

Georgian man charged with faking power of attorney to steal land plot

by | March 12, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A man was detained on Saturday, charged with appropriating a plot of land in Tbilisi which belongs to an Egyptian citizen. The investigation service of the Finance Ministry informed that a Georgian citizen called Giorgi fabricated documents in order

News

Harsh punishment for spreading secretly recorded sex video: Georgian PM

by | March 12, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili on Saturday warned people who uploaded a sex video of an opposition politician to the Internet that they will be harshly punished. In a statement issued on Saturday the PM explains that this will be an example

Youth

Students occupying university building in Tbilisi

by | March 11, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Protesters continue to occupy a building at Tbilisi State University, demanding a transparent process for electing the university’s management amid allegations of interference by the State Security Agency. On the second day of protest,

News

Compromising video of opposition politician posted on Youtube

by | March 11, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A video depicting the sex life of a politician from the opposition was Friday posted on Youtube and privately sent to several Georgian journalists by e-mail. Some of the media outlets disclosed the name of the person in the video, but later apologized.

Minorities

Life of Muslim Meskh repatriates at South Ossetian boundary line

by | March 11, 2016

Tsitelubani, DFWatch - The Iskanderov family members tell the story of life on the move, Meskh activism in Georgia, and challenges of life at the ABL. When DF Watch first knocked on Salim Iskanderov’s door, he was suspicious.

Youth

Students clash with police over candidate for university assembly

by | March 11, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Students clashed with security guards and police at Tbilisi State University on Thursday while trying to prevent the election of a new chancellor of the university senate. The assembly of the senate had to be canceled. Students continue

Minorities

Man attacks Jehovah’s Witnesses in Kutaisi

by | March 11, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A man attacked a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Kutaisi, western Georgia, on Thursday. The inebriated attacker beat him and tore book and, leaflets and smashed the JW stand. The incident took place on Thursday morning near

News

Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia exchange prisoners

by | March 11, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia exchanged prisoners with South Ossetia and Abkhazia at the Enguri on Thursday. According to the Ministry of Reconciliation and Civil Equality, agreement was reached with the de-facto governments of Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Economy

Direct foreign investments in Georgia down 23% in 2015

by | March 10, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Direct foreign investments in Georgia went 23 down percent in 2015 compared to the previous year, according to preliminary figures from Georgia’s National Statistics Department, GeoStat. According to the report, the amount

Education

17% of teachers pass professional exams, up from 4% in 2015

by | March 10, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The vast majority of Georgian school teachers have failed their professional exams. On Thursday, Businesscontact.ge published statistics which shows that the teachers in primary school had the worst exam results of all. Teachers

Europe

Georgians, please behave well in Europe: justice minister

by | March 10, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani called on her country’s citizens not to shame themselves after the visa liberalization comes into force and the borders of Schengen will be open for Georgians. Tsulukiani told journalists after

News

ISIS’s Georgian-born commander ‘wounded, not dead’: Report

by | March 10, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) announced that according to its sources military commander of the Islamic State, Tarkhan Batirashvili, was seriously injured in an American airstrike on 4 March, yet not killed, Reuters reported.

Minorities, News

Free Democrats support constitutional ban on gay marriage

by | March 10, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Free Democrats, an opposition party which until 2014 was a member of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition, supports a Constitutional amendment that will define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Four members

Europe

EU Commission proposes visa-free travel to Schengen for Georgians

by | March 9, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The EU Commission on Wednesday proposed to lift visa requirements for Georgian citizens. If approved by the Union’s legislative bodies, Georgians may be able to visit the Schengen area without a visa from this summer.

News

EU Commission to announce visa liberalization for Georgia

by | March 9, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The EU Commission is expected to announce its proposal for visa-free travel for Georgians today at a press conference in Brussels. The press conference is scheduled for today at 20:30 Tbilisi time. There is a three hour difference between

News

Georgian medical student confirmed dead in the Syrian war

by | March 9, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A Georgian member of Jabhat an-Nusra is confirmed dead after spending one month alongside Syrian Turkmen in Syria’s Latakia region. 30-years-old Beslan Mukhtarov was confirmed as the 17th Georgian citizen who was

News

Georgian defense minister: We have been informed of al-Shishani’s death

by | March 9, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli says the U.S. government has informed that there is an assumption that Tarkhan Batirashvili, known as Omar al-Shishani or Omar the Chechen, was killed on Friday, but they are studying the situation.

News

March 8 rally in Tbilisi calls for more women in politics

by | March 9, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Labour rights and women’s political participation were the central issues during the International Women’s Day rally in Tbilisi. The rally included speeches and performances organised by a coalition of various feminist, LGBT,

News

CNN, Reuters report Georgian-born IS militant’s killed by U.S. forces

by | March 9, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Several media reported Tuesday that Georgian-born militant Omar al-Shishani, one of the Islamic State’s top commanders, has been killed by U.S. forces. CNN, Reuters and other media reported that Shishani, whose birth name is Tarkhan

Youth

Protest in Tbilisi University against ‘student government privileges’

by | March 8, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Activists demand transparent funding mechanisms for student government’s projects over allegations of misspending. On Monday, 7 March, approximately 300 activists gathered in front of the administrative building

News

Ombudsman highlights remaining challenges on Women’s Day

by | March 8, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--On the International Women’s Day, Georgia’s Public Defender highlighted problems related to protection of women’s labor rights, supporting women’s participation in decision-making and elimination of violence against women. Ucha Nanuashvili

News

Alexi Petriashvili gives first comments since attack

by | March 8, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--An opposition politician who was shot last week left the hospital on Tuesday and made his first statements to the press. Alexi Petriashvili, former member of government and party secretary of the opposition Free Democrats, said he didn’t know

Roads update

Rockslide blocks SH-7 road between Zugdidi and Mestia

by | March 8, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The SH-7 road in northwest of Georgia is closed after a rockslide near the village Tsitskhvari. A large mass of rock and soil slid onto the SH-7, which runs between Zugdidi in Samegrelo and Mestia in the Svaneti region.

Minorities

Lecture on homophobia disrupted at Free University in Tbilisi

by | March 8, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A public lecture about homophobia was called off at the Free University in Tbilisi as result of a protest by a radical religious group that claimed the lecture was propaganda. Identoba, an organization working to defend the rights of sexual and

Minorities, News

GD coalition agrees on constitutional block against gay marriage

by | March 8, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Leaders of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) coalition on Monday agreed to support a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The constitutional amendment was discussed at a session

News

Suspect detained in attack on opposition politician

by | March 7, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian police announced Friday that a man has been detained suspected of the brutal assault on Alexi Petriashvili, former member of government and prominent member of the opposition Free Democrats. At a special briefing at the MIA,

Economy

Air Arabia, Scat, El Al, ARKIA and Dniproavia eye Batumi airport

by | March 7, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Air Arabia, Scat, El Al Israel Airlines, ARKIA and Dniproavia are considering flights to Batumi airport on Georgia’s Black Sea coast. Guram Jalaghonia, head of the Civil Aviation Agency, told Business and Political Insight (BPI) on Monday

Media

Court approves Levan Gachechiladze as new director of Maestro TV

by | March 7, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Public Registry on Monday registered Levan Gachechiladze as director of Studio Maestro. The registry said in a statement that Gachechiladze was appointed director of Maestro as a result of a decision made by the Appeals Court on March 1.

News

Georgian Islamic State suspect sentenced to 14 years

by | March 7, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A court in Tbilisi sentenced three men to prison on Monday for associating with or assisting a foreign terrorist organization. Aiup Borchashvili, former imam of the mosque in the village of Jokolo in Pankisi valley, was sentenced to 14 years

News

Anti-Russian protest gathers thousands in Tbilisi

by | March 7, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Several thousand people joined the National Movement on Sunday in a protest against the Georgian government’s negotiations with Gazprom. People formed a 7 km long human chain from the government office to the former Russian embassy

Roads update

Large vehicles prohibited on S-3 road that connects Georgia and Russia

by | March 5, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--There are restrictions on heavy vehicles on a section of the S-3 road north of Tbilisi leading to the Russian border. Due to heavy snowfall, it is prohibited for trailers, semi-trailers and vehicles with more than 30 seats to drive between

News

Month-long strike at Ksani factory ends as solution reached

by | March 5, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A strike at a glass factory in Ksani near Tbilisi has ended after 29 days. Workers demanded increased salaries, collective contract and office space for the local trade union. They achieved a 7.5 percent pay raise and from January 1, 2017 will

Minorities

Batumi Muslims rally demanding permit to construct a mosque

by | March 5, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Batumi Muslims continue to rally for permission to build a new mosque in the city. The only existing mosque, called Ortajame, is not large enough and people have to pray on the street. Several hundred Muslims gathered outside

News

New domestic flights between Kutaisi and Natakhtari near Tbilisi

by | March 5, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--From March 10, there will be two flights per week between Natakhtari airport near the capital and Kutaisi. Flights will be carried out every Tuesday and Thursday between Natakhtari and Kutaisi, Georgia’s third largest city, about

News

Republican Party will remain part of GD coalition

by | March 4, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Republican Party will remain in the Georgian Dream coalition, Speaker of Parliament Davit Usupashvili said Thursday after meeting Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili. The reason for the meeting was a recent statement by the prime minister

NGO news

Tbilisi NGOs ask Brussels to specify reform criteria

by | March 3, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Eight non-governmental organizations in the Georgian capital ask the EU to specify exactly how to measure the reforms the country is carrying out after signing an association agreement with the EU in 2014. The association agreement involves

News

Prime minister seeks to calm feud within ruling coalition

by | March 3, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian prime minister sought to calm down a feud within his coalition on Thursday, detailing his views in a statement posted on Facebook. Gogi Topadze, leader of the coalition partner the Industrialists, accused the defense minister of having

Minorities

CoE criticises Georgia’s record on religious minorities and LGBT rights

by | March 3, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A new report published by the Council of Europe (CoE) highlights persisting issues of hate speech, racism, xenophobia, direct violence, and systemic discrimination in Georgia. On Tuesday, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance

Environment

Hotel construction permit in Tbilisi park revoked by court

by | March 3, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--On Wednesday, after a two-year-long legal dispute, Tbilisi City Court revoked the construction permit for Budapest Hotel, which is planned to be built in Vake Park in Tbilisi, journal Liberali  reported. Wednesday’s ruling concerned a lawsuit

Minorities

Christians and Muslims in Adigeni agree to share cemetery

by | March 2, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Muslims and Christians have reached agreement about a cemetery in a village Adigeni, in the south of Georgia, after a tense standoff. The communities agreed to have one common cemetery, which will be separated by a line. Jambul Abuladze,

Economy

Azot chemical plant in Rustavi shuts down for a month

by | March 2, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Azot chemical plant in Rustavi with more than 2,000 employees has shut down for a month due to economic factors. The plant, which lies in Rustavi, a town 20km south of the capital, expected Azerbaijan’s state oil company Socar to reduce

In brief

155 prisoners pardoned in Georgia

by | March 2, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian president pardoned 155 prisoners on Wednesday. 105 of them will leave jail today. The commission met on February 21-22, and considered 1,178 cases. 105 were completely pardoned, while the rest had their sentences

News

Tbilisi metro workers threaten strike

by | March 2, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Some of the employees of Tbilisi’s metro demonstrated at Didube on Tuesday, demanding better working conditions and higher salaries, following a drop in the value of the national currency lari. Metro workers warn that they may go on strike

News

Georgian NGO umbrella organization elects new leader

by | March 2, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s National Platform, an umbrella organization for more than 100 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), has a new chairman: Kakha Gogolashvili, director of European Research Center. He replaces Lasha Tughushi,

News

EU Commission to propose visa-free travel for Georgia on Wednesday

by | March 1, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The EU Commission will publish legal document on Wednesday about visa free travel for Georgians to Schengen countries, according to Zviad Kvachantiradze, leader of the parliamentary majority. “Tomorrow, Brussels will finally officially publish

News

Defense minister ready to answer questions about alleged election fraud

by | March 1, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli is prepared to cooperate with the investigation into allegations of fraud in the by-election in Sagarejo last October, which was won by her fellow party member. “Anyone who wishes

Minorities

MIA opens investigation into Christian-Muslim cemetery conflict

by | March 1, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) has launched an investigation into the religious conflict in Adigeni in southern Georgia, where Muslims and Christians disagree about whether to have a separate graveyard for Muslims. The investigation

News

Georgian kvevri to be on display at UN in Geneva

by | March 1, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The United Nations will have traditional Georgian wine making vessel on display outside its building in Geneva from March 1 in connection with the organization’s 70th anniversary. Georgia gifted UN’s Geneva office a kvevri; a large earthenware

News

Solution reached in Tkibuli miners’ strike

by | March 1, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A solution was reached Monday evening in the labor dispute in Tkibuli after more than four hours of negotiations. Mine workers in the western Georgian town went on strike more than two weeks ago, demanding a pay raise. The negotiations

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