News

Was Istanbul airport attack organized by militant with links to Georgia?

by | June 30, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The terrorist attack at Istanbul Atatürk Airport on 28 June, which claimed the lives of 44 victims and three suicide bombers and left 239 people wounded, is believed to have been organized by Akhmed Chatayev, a Russian national

Politics

Opinion polls differ wildly 3 months ahead of Georgian election

by | June 30, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Two opinion polls show vastly different levels of support for the two main contenders in Georgia’s parliamentary election, scheduled for October 8. A poll conducted by Georgian Dream gives the party a lead of 35 percent, with the United National

News

Another Georgian Islamist militant killed in Syria

by | June 30, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A 39-year-old man from Pankisi Valley in northeastern Georgia has reportedly been killed fighting on for the terrorist group Islamic State (IS) in Syria. The death of Omar Margoshvili, reported by Information Centre of Kakheti on Wednesday,

News

22-year-old Georgian Islamist militant killed in Syria

by | June 29, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A 22-year-old Georgian man is reported to have died in the Syrian war, fighting alongside one of the Islamist rebel groups. Information Centre of Kakheti (ICK) wrote on Tuesday that Aslanbeg Borchashvili was from Dumasturi, a village in Pankisi Valley

News

Georgian parliament gives amnesty to 116 elderly prisoners

by | June 28, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian parliament on June 24 passed an amnesty bill which will release female prisoners older than 65 and male prisoners over 70, if they are convicted of lesser crimes. The bill was proposed by the National Forum faction in parliament

Politics

Georgian Dream slams minister’s decision to end conscription

by | June 28, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli’s decision on Monday to end compulsory military service sparked a variety of negative comments from members of the ruling party, Georgian Dream. Khidasheli is a member of the Republican Party,

Security

Georgian defense minister signs decree that ends compulsory military service

by | June 28, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli on Monday controversially signed a decree ending compulsory military service with immediate effect. In April, Khidasheli said she expected the professional army system to be introduced in 2017.

Environment

Early evacuation averted tragedy as new landslide hit Georgia-Russia border

by | June 27, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia airlifted 60 people to the border crossing at Larsi on Sunday. The travellers had been stuck in Kazbegi since Thursday night, when a mudslide cut off a section of road in Dariali Valley. The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) said around 60 people

Opinion

Mshybzia! Futile activism serves the interests of elites

by | June 27, 2016

The new Georgian social media campaign aimed at reaching out to Abkhaz society is an example of a futile activism informed by nationalist narratives which are being used by Georgian political elites to distract society from the core issue of unresolved ethnic conflict

Media

Employees of Imedi TV call news chief’s replacement ‘unacceptable’

by | June 26, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The head of the news division at Imedi TV was unexpectedly replaced on Thursday. News chief Maia Tabagari was moved to a post as consultant to the general director, while journalist Nino Lezhava (pictured) was brought in as her replacement,

News

MIA: Suspect in Khurcha murder could become ‘liquidated’

by | June 24, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian minister of internal affairs, Giorgi Mghebrishvili has claimed he has information that the suspect in the Khurcha killing could become ‘liquidated’ in a plot to discredit Georgia. “Abkhazia’s de facto Prosecutor’s Office appealed

News

Georgian parliament rejects sexual harassment bill

by | June 24, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian parliament on Thursday rejected a proposal to criminalize sexual harassment in the work place and in public places. During the last year, about 50 complaints about sexual harassment have been filed with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and two with the Ombudsman’s Office.

News

Ivanishvili fund manager accused of putting money in personal accounts

by | June 23, 2016

By Occrp Bloomberg News is reporting that Patrice Lescaudron, a Credit Suisse Bank money manager who former Georgia Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili blames for the loss of over $US500 million, has confessed that he transferred $US3.5 million of client money to his wife’s bank account in Monaco and to the account of a company he controlled in Dubai.

News

Georgia’s top prosecutor concludes Kitsmarishvili committed suicide

by | June 23, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Prosecutor General’s Office in Georgia said Wednesday it had solved the case about the politician and founder of the television station Rustavi 2 who was found dead in his car with a gunshot wound to his head in 2014.

News

Ministry of IDPs employee detained for corruption

by | June 22, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--An employee of the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees was detained by the State Security Service (SUS) under the charge of bribery. According

News

Suspect on the run in attempted femicide case

by | June 22, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Khelvachauri District Court issued a warrant for a suspect wanted in the case of an attempted femicide which happened on June 10. According to the General Prosecutor’s Office,

News

Mayor Narmania: Tbilisi sidewalks may be free of parked cars from September

by | June 20, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--City authorities in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi are considering removing parking spaces that were allocated on the city’s sidewalks a few years ago. Pedestrians may look forward to having the sidewalks cleared of cars already from September.

News

Ivanishvili Says Money Managers Cost Him $500 Million

by | June 20, 2016

By Dave Bloss and Nino Bakradze OCCRP Former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili is now claiming he lost more than $US500 million due to mismanagement by Credit Suisse Bank and by directors of an offshore asset fund he controlled.

News

Georgia protests against planned Abkhaz Cultural Institute in Italy

by | June 17, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's ambassador to Italy, Kakha Sikharulidze, says the Georgian breakaway region Abkhazia will not be allowed to open a cultural institute in Rome. The planned Abkhaz Cultural Institute in Rome is an initiative by the de facto Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Interviews

Interview: ‘Thinking Citizen’ and ethnic Azerbaijani activism in Georgia

by | June 17, 2016

Ruslan Asad is an Azerbaijani civil society activist and a co-founder of the Thinking Citizen (Düşünən Vətəndaş) project, which brings together young representatives of Georgia’s ethnic Azerbaijani community. He told DF Watch about the project’s aims, successes, and future plans in the context of issues faced by the community.

News

Merkel: Suspension mechanism before visa liberalization

by | June 17, 2016

‘Visa liberalisation for Georgia is not a distant matter,’ the German chancellor Angela Merkel stated during a joint conference with the Georgian prime minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili in Berlin on 15 June.

News

‘Saakashvili ordered beating of MP who criticized him to set an example’

by | June 16, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili on Tuesday testified that ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili ordered the beating of a parliament member to make an example of what would happen to others if they dared openly criticize him.

Environment

Svan council convenes to stop hydro power plants

by | June 15, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Resistance against the Nenskra hydro power project in Georgia’s northern Svaneti region has caused locals to restore the traditional ruling body lalkhor in order to increase the community’s impact on the national decision-making process. A congress

NGO news

Georgia: Leaving Care

by | June 15, 2016

TBILISI, Georgia — Darina Eradze was just eleven-years-old when her mother had no other choice but to place her in care.  After years of living with a father with psychological problems, Darina says that her older brother and herself were beaten on an almost daily basis. Things became even worse when after putting their house down as collateral for a business loan, he lost it and the family was evicted. Her father would sleep in parks while Darina and the rest of her family would seek out abandoned buildings.

Economy

UAE signs USD 32 million contract with Georgia’s Delta

by | June 14, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The United Arab Emirates has signed a contract to buy military equipment worth USD 32 million from the Georgian state-owned company Delta. Delta’s former director Ucha Dzodzuashvili said the first batch of equipment

Economy

Georgian businessman to open McDonald’s in Armenia

by | June 13, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A Georgian businessman may open the first ever McDonald’s restaurant in rival Armenia, Sputnik Armenia reports. The news agency reports that the opening of the first of the chain’s restaurants in Armenia was decided at a meeting

In brief

Angela Merkel to visit Georgia ‘in the near future’

by | June 13, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--German Chancellor Angela Merkel might visit Georgia this summer, Interpressnews reports. The news agency is quoting Reiner Haseloff, the minister president of the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt, as he met Georgian media

News

Georgia’s CEC greenlights another referendum bid about marriage

by | June 13, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s Central Election Commission on Sunday gave preliminary approval for one more referendum about same-sex marriage. This is the second referendum bid about this issue and if approved it will be held in parallel with the parliamentary

News

Two Georgians detained by Russian border patrol in Bershueti

by | June 13, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Two Georgians were detained on Saturday by officers of the Russian FSB’s border service patrolling the perimeter of the breakaway region South Ossetia. Roin Zautashvili and his son Giorgi were detained for border violation in the village Bershueti

In brief

Still no decision on EU visa waiver

by | June 11, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The European Union once again failed to reach an agreement on abolishing visas for Georgian citizens who want to enter the Schengen area.

Media

Rustavi 2 loses ownership case in Appeals Court, vows to continue fight

by | June 10, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Appeals Court in Georgia upheld a decision by Tbilisi City Court to transfer ownership of the largest opposition TV station, Rustavi 2, to Kibar Khalvashi, a former owner. Khalvashi successfully sued claiming that Rustavi 2 was forcibly

Politics

Ivanishvili plans to build new hotel on the border with Abkhazia

by | June 10, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has revealed a plan to build a luxury hotel in western Georgia on the border with the breakaway region Abkhazia. He told journalists on Friday that he also has some other plans which he will disclose when they are approved.

Economy

Foreign investments in Georgia in Jan-Mar: up 103% from 2015

by | June 10, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's direct foreign investments in the first quarter of 2016 was 103 percent more than in the same period last year, Georgia's National Statistics Office writes in a preliminary report. Investments in the first quarter amounted to USD 376 million.

News

Germany delays visa waiver plan again, cites Georgian burglar gangs

by | June 9, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Germany on Wednesday again blocked visa-free access to the Schengen area for Georgian citizens, with reference to police reports that Georgian asylum seekers play an important role in organizing burglaries. After the decision became

News

Georgia’s traditionalists form new coalition ahead of election

by | June 9, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s traditionalists have formed a coalition for the October 8 parliamentary election. The initiative came from the Alliance of Patriot, whose leader Irma Inashvili came close to winning a contested local by-election last year, fraught with accusations

News

Tbilisi’s embattled vegan cafe is searching for a new location

by | June 9, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi’s embattled vegan café Kiwi is looking for a new location after neighbors complained about its environment and guests. One of the employees of the café told DFWatch that the owner two weeks ago barred them from putting tables outside,

News

UN: Georgian IDPs have right to return to Abkhazia and South Ossetia

by | June 8, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--For the ninth consecutive year, the United Nations General Assembly on June 7 passed a resolution calling for the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the wars in Georgia in the early 1990s. The first resolution

In brief

Chair of EU parliament supports visa liberalization for Georgia

by | June 8, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, on Wednesday used his Twitter account to voice support for Georgia getting visa-free travel with the Schengen area without delay. Mr Schulz’s statement comes shortly after EU states decided to delay

News

Georgia’s score declines in Global Peace Index

by | June 8, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia is ranked 85th among 163 of the world’s countries in the latest Global Peace Index published by the think tank Institute for Economics and Peace. Seven more European countries scored lower than Georgia, including all of Georgia’s

Caucasus region

Azerbaijani Insiders Benefited from Currency Collapse

by | June 8, 2016

by Dave Bloss, Miranda Patrucic, Khadija Ismayilova and OCCRP Azerbaijan 06 June 2016 The First Family of Azerbaijan and a close business partner made a series of financial transactions in the days and weeks before a crippling 2015 devaluation of the national currency that eventually earned them at least 100 million manat (US$ 64 million) in just two deals while additionally protecting their banks and companies.

News

Activists launch #visafree Twitter campaign for Georgia and Ukraine

by | June 8, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A group of activists rallied in Brussels on Saturday in support of Georgian and Ukrainian citizens being allowed to travel visa-free to the Schengen area. The rally came days after the European Union put the visa waiver program

News

GD’s electoral campaign in full swing as Ivanishvili praises PM

by | June 7, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The former prime minister and businessman, Bidzina Ivanishvili discovered ‘a person of his dreams from the time of his youth’ in Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, he said during a press conference at TechPark on Tuesday.

Opinion

Strengthening the European Agenda – A view from Georgia

by | June 7, 2016

In today’s world, the citizens as well as the leaders of organisations are faced with ever dynamic and fast shifting socio-economic and political climates, individuals as well as organisations are challenged to their limits in terms of successful and sustainable leadership to navigate within such a turbulence setting. Leaders, institutions, and citizens are tested by fast paced shifts in socioeconomic and political conditions. Navigating through turbulence is a litmus test.   

News

Femicide bill rejected by Georgian parliament’s human rights committee

by | June 7, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The human rights committee in parliament on Monday rejected a proposal by two MPs from the majority faction to make femicide a crime. It would have taken seven votes for the committee to approve the draft. Only three voted for it;

In brief

Suspect in femicide case detained by police

by | June 7, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Police in Tbilisi arrested a man on Tuesday who is accused of murdering his wife the day before. The 36 year old man is charged with premeditated murder. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs,

In brief

Woman hotel worker murdered in Tbilisi

by | June 7, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A woman was shot outside a hotel in Isani on the outskirts of Tbilisi on Monday. She was taken to hospital with serious injuries but later died at the hospital. The woman was working in the kitchen

Minorities

Georgians support gay rights, but want gay rights rallies banned

by | June 6, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Over half of Georgians think the state should protect the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and other sexual minorities, but four out of five want it to be illegal to demonstrate for LGBTI rights, according to a new survey by Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group (WISG).

News

Ivanishvili invites 10 TV channels to his residence for a joint interview

by | June 6, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - After negotiations between former PM Bidzina Ivanishvili and two opposition TV channels fails, the billionaire and Georgian strongman issues a statement inviting 10 major TV channel to a press conference. The conference is scheduled on Tuesday at Ivanishvili Sololaki residence at noon.

News

Civic groups brace to appeal Constitutional Court bill

by | June 6, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Civil society organizations brace for appealing revised constitutional court bill, and express their discontent with the final version of the bill that includes the president’s objections. President Giorgi Margvelashvili vetoed a bill on Constitutional Court on May 31,

News

Tbilisi hard rock festival disrupted after outrage by clergy

by | June 5, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - International Rock Festival was disrupted on Saturday on the Tbilisi outskirts after a power blackout that, the organizers believe, was probably arranged by the clergy.

News

Ukrainian journalist died climbing Mkinvartsveri

by | June 4, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - The Ukrainian journalist, Pavlo Syvokon, 32, died in the Caucasus mountains near the townlet of Stepantsminda while climbing Mount Kazbeg, or Mkinvartsveri in Georgian (5,047  m ). According to the other climbers,

News

EU puts visa waiver on hold. “We don’t want to stop the whole process”

by | June 4, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - On Wednesday, European Union once again failed to agree on waiving visas for Georgian citizens within the Schengen zone, Reuters reported. Last minute objection from Germany,

News

Minister of education and science replaced, still remains in ‘the team’

by | June 3, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili Friday announced resignation of the Minister of Education and Science, Tamar Sanikidze, and introduced a new candidate to the post, Aleksandre Jejelava, the Chairman of Management Academy.

News

Ivanishvili and Burchuladze accuse each other of lying

by | June 3, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and famous Georgian operatic bass, Paata Burchuladze exchanged mutual accusations of lying. “I would advice Paata Burchuladze not to lie,”

In brief

Hundreds gather in Tbilisi against ‘inhumane drug policy’ of the state

by | June 3, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Hundreds of people, mostly youth, gathered at the government building in Tbilisi Thursday evening to protest ‘inhumane drug policy’ and demand decriminalization of the light drugs and to soften the drug legislation in general. The annual protest bringing together youth, politicians, journalists, NGO activists is held every June 2, since 2013. The main message of the rally was as usual to stop arresting people for using light drugs, i.e. marijuana. Number of Georgian singers and bands performed for the people, who gathered to express their anger against the state's harsh drug policies. They demand to eliminate criminal responsibility for using drugs, as well as for purchasing and storing  small amounts for personal consumption, and to abolish a 'shameful practice' of stopping people on the streets for compulsory drug testing.  

Brief

Prosecution requests bail for Kortskheli violence suspects

by | June 2, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Prosecution wouldn’t request pre-trial detention for the athletes involved in Kortskheli violence, Irakli Shotadze, Chief Prosecutor, said to journalists on Thursday. Instead, the Prosecutor’s Office would request a bail for six martial artists, charged with beating of opposition politicians and their supporters in Kortskeli, a village in Samegrelo, during by-elections in May. “Likely, the Prosecution will send a formal request for a bail today,” Shotadze said, adding that the suspects were charged with a criminal offense under Article 239 of the Criminal Code, which means hooliganism. Five athletes have been charged with the first paragraph of Article 239, which means group hooliganism and is punished by fine, or compulsory community service for 180-200 hours, or to imprisonment up to 5 years. The sixth person, Vladimer Gegeshidze, a member of Georgia’s Greco-Roman wrestling team, was charged with par. 3 of the same article that means prison term from 4 to 7 years.

News

Six athletes charged with beating high profile opposition figures

by | June 2, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Ministry of Internal Affairs on Wednesday indicted six athletes for a violent incident about a week ago in Samegrelo, when several high profile opposition figures, including members of parliament, were severely beaten during the local municipal by-elections. In a short statement, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) said that six persons are charged with hooliganism. All of them acting or former athletes in martial arts. Five face fines or other lesser punishment, while Vladimer Gegeshidze, a member of the Georgian Greco-Roman wrestling team, faces up to seven years in jail. No-one has been arrested so far. At the polling station in Kortskheli, a village near Zugdidi, a group of ruling Georgian Dream supporters assaulted members of the United National Movement . Former Tbilisi mayoral candidate Nika Melia and the party’s Foreign Relations Secretary, Giga Bokeria where brutally beaten, along with several other UNM parliamentarians, activists and supporters. A local TV channel, Odishi TV, published a video of the assault.

News

Tbilisi Zoo receives kangaroos and other new animal species

by | June 1, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi Zoo received 22 new animals on Monday. The animals were a gift from zoos in Germany and Belgium. There are seven South American coatis, two Indian porcupines and ten striped mongoose from Germany, while three blue wildebeest

News

14.9% increase in visitors to Georgia in May 2016

by | June 1, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - 14.9 percent more people visited Georgia in May, compared to the same period last year, Georgian National Tourism Administration states in its monthly report released on Wednesday.

In brief

Parliament won’t override president’s veto

by | June 1, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Ruling Georgian Dream coalition will not initiate motion to overturn presidential veto on the recently adopted law that significantly restricts power of Constitutional Court, Zviad Dzidziguri, Vice Speaker of the parliament, said on Wednesday.

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