News

Serbia prepares to lift visa requirements for Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan

by | December 31, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--While Georgian citizens are waiting for the final decision about a visa waiver system with the European Union, Serbia prepares to waive its visa rules for citizens of not only Georgia but also its two neighbors in the South Caucasus. “It was decided

News

De facto president hints Abkhazia might pull out of Geneva talks

by | December 30, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Abkhazia’s de facto government may pull out of the only format of negotiations between Georgia, Russia and the two breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia, de facto Abkhaz president Raul Khajimba warned on Tuesday. The former KGB officer

News

Abkhazia shuts down two border crossings with Georgia proper

by | December 30, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Authorities in Abkhazia decided at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday to close Nabakevi and Otobaya border crossings which connect the breakaway region to Georgia proper. There are now only two crossing points that are operational, only one of which

News

Georgian court convicts Abkhaz border guard of murder

by | December 29, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A border guard working for the de facto authorities in Abkhazia, one of two Georgian breakaway regions, was Wednesday found guilty by the district court in Zugdidi of murdering a Georgian man at a border crossing checkpoint last May. Border guard Rashid Kanji-Ogli

News

Georgia’s ruling party declares ‘pragmatic’ policy toward Russia

by | December 29, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--As Georgia’s parliament prepares to declare the country’s foreign policy, the opposition National Movement has lashed out at the ruling party for wanting a ‘pragmatic’ policy toward Russia. Georgia aspires to NATO and EU membership, parliamentarians are preparing to declare,

Media

Maestro TV to merge with Imedi and GDS

by | December 28, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--One of Georgia's largest TV channels confirmed on Tuesday that it has successfully concluded negotiations to merge with two other channels that are linked to former PM Bidzina Ivanishvili. Maestro TV was a voice of independent journalism

News

Lado Bedukadze, who leaked prison videos in 2012, to become TV host

by | December 28, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Lado Bedukadze, a  former prison guard who has caused controversy in several of Georgia’s elections, will become a TV host on a newly established broadcaster. Bedukadze will host a short segment on a completely new channel called

Youth

Constitutional Court decides prison is too harsh punishment for marijuana use

by | December 26, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s Constitutional Court has struck down a law which sent many young people to prison for using marijuana. Being charged with possession and consumption of marijuana will no longer land you in jail in Georgia, after the Constitutional Court

Minorities

Catholics and Protestants welcome Christmas several places in Georgia

by | December 26, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The arrival of Christmas was observed Saturday night at several churches in Georgia with Midnight Mass at the Catholic Assumption of the Virgin Mary Church in Tbilisi and in the Protestant Holy Trinity Church in Batumi. The ceremony in Batumi

Politics

Georgia’s largest opposition party on the verge of breaking up

by | December 25, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s biggest opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), is on the verge of splitting in two, as its key figures claim the party is in the midst of a ‘coup attempt’. Givi Targamadze, the former chair of the defense and security

Opinion

In Memoriam of Sen. John Glenn

by | December 24, 2016

It is with great regret that we received the news of the passing of Senator John Glenn, a man who best expressed the pioneering spirit of the American nation.

Minorities

Christians begin open air prayer on disputed ruins in Mokhe

by | December 23, 2016

ADIGENI, DFWatch--A dispute about the ruins of a mosque in the village Mokhe in the south of Georgia has deteriorated further after Christians began conducting prayer on the site. Muslims began holding Friday prayers on the ruins two months ago and did not stop

Investigative reports

Georgia is Low-Cost Home for Bitfury

by | December 22, 2016

Bitfury, one of the biggest companies in the bitcoin industry, operates two bitcoin production centers in Georgia. Bitfury CEO Valery Vavilov promotes the company by listing all the advantages of operating in Georgia. They include:

In brief

Man dies in avalanche in Svaneti

by | December 22, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A man died in an avalanche in Svaneti, in northwestern Georgia on Wednesday. The accident happened in Khaishi on the road between Jvari and Mestia. Rustavi 2 reported that the victim was a local minibus driver who had stopped his vehicle to look at the pileup

News

Data Akhalaia sentenced to 12 years for 2006 triple murder

by | December 22, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court on Wednesday sentenced former intelligence official Data Akhalaia in absentia to 12 years in jail in connection with the Navtlughi special operation in 2006. Data Akhalaia is seen as a close ally of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili

In brief

Policeman in Borjomi road rage incident suspended

by | December 21, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs has suspended a police officer who allegedly beat a journalist from Iberia TV a few days ago. Journalist Giorgi Gasviani two days ago told of how he was beaten by a policeman and two others after his car slipped on the icy road.

Europe

Council of the EU confirms agreement on visa-free travel for Georgians

by | December 21, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The prospect for Georgians to enter Europe without a visa came closer on Tuesday as the visa waiver agreement was approved by the Council of the EU’s Committee of Permanent Representatives, or COREPER. Tuesday’s decision

News

Georgian leaders condemn assassination of Russian ambassador to Turkey

by | December 21, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s prime minister made a made a quick visit to Istanbul on Tuesday a day after Russia’s ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov was shot and killed by a Turkish off duty police officer. PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili called the assassination ‘unprecedented

Economy

Two Georgians jailed accused of USD 25 million microfinance fraud

by | December 20, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court on Sunday ordered the pre-trial detention of two Georgians who are suspected of embezzlement of more than USD 25 million from thousands of microfinance customers. The court rejected a motion to release the accused

News

Fire on Kutaisi-Batumi passenger train under investigation

by | December 20, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Police in Georgia are investigating a fire which broke out Sunday aboard a passenger train en route from Kutaisi to Batumi on the Black Sea. The blaze occurred near the village Khajalia. Although the train carriage was severely damaged,

News

Georgian journalist tells of road rage by police

by | December 19, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A journalist in Georgia claims police beat him and pointed a gun at him following a traffic incident. The incident happened in Borjomi, a town in the southern part of Georgia, Iberia TV reported on Monday. Journalist Giorgi Gasviani, who works for

News

The Trump Organization cancels hotel deals in Georgia, Azerbaijan

by | December 19, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has decided to extricate his business from potentially conflicting relationships before he moves into the White House by revoking a licensing deal for a hotel in Georgia and its neighbour country Azerbaijan,

News

Opposition in Abkhazia ends protest, deal struck with de facto authorities

by | December 17, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A more than 14 hour long protest ended on Friday with negotiations between opposition leaders and the embattled de facto leader of the Georgia’s breakaway region Abkhazia. On December 15, hundreds of people converged on the government building in Sokhumi,

In brief

Snow and ice causing flight delays at Kutaisi airport

by | December 17, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Several flights were delayed at Kutaisi International Airport on Saturday due to ice. The airport informed that the flight to Thessaloniki, Greece was cancelled, while also  flights to Warsaw, Poland and Budapest, Hungary were delayed for one day.

Roads update

Restrictions on some mountain roads due to snow and ice

by | December 16, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--There are still road restrictions many places in Georgia due to the weather. Here is the latest update from the Road Department. Trailers and semi-trailers are prohibited from driving on the Mleta-Kobi section of the S-3 road from Mtskheta to Larsi,

Politics

Healthcare and infrastructure top priorities in Georgia’s 2017 budget

by | December 16, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Following fierce debate between opposition and ruling Georgian Dream members, Georgia’s legislative body on Wednesday approved the 2017 state budget by 102 votes in favor and 10 against. The upcoming state budget envisages GEL 9.489 billion

Crime

18th and 19th Century books stolen from Georgia’s National Library

by | December 16, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Police in Georgia arrested a man on Wednesday for stealing two historical books from the National Library the day before. The books the 64-year-old is accused of stealing date back to the 18th and 19th Century, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) wrote in a statement.

Society

75% of murdered women were stalked for a year: Report

by | December 15, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--75% of women who are murdered in Georgia were stalked by the murderer for 12 months prior to their death, according to a new report. This shocking statistic appears in a new report by the feminist group Safari, which urges the government to use its new

Politics

Georgian opera singer Paata Burchuladze ends stint as politician

by | December 15, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Paata Burchuladze, a Georgian opera singer who formed a political coalition which participated in the October 8 election, announced his departure from politics on Wednesday. Local media outlets wrote that the new leader of the party will be historian Nika Machutadze.

Politics

Georgia’s former ruling party fires senior functionaries

by | December 15, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The infighting in the United National Movement (UNM) continued on Wednesday as 20 members from the main opposition party's central administration were dismissed. The dismissal impacted mostly those who side with Saakashvili loyalist Chiora Taktakishvili,

Politics

President boycotts constitutional commission, calls for public hearing

by | December 14, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili may refrain from participating in the work of the state constitutional commission and instead start ‘actively lobbying’ for launching a public discussion regarding constitutional amendments,

News

Georgian-born militant dies in Syrian war

by | December 14, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--There were reports on Tuesday that 20-year-old Ramzan Baghakashvili from Pankisi Gorge in the northeast of Georgia has died in Syria. Baghakashvili, who was from a village Dumastura, left Georgia for Syria two years ago with another teenager.

News

What’s behind a one-man protest outside the government office?

by | December 13, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--For two days, Nika Cherkezishvili has spent the night outside the government office in Tbilisi, refusing to leave until he gets a meeting with Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili. What caused Cherkezishvili begin a one-man protest is that he claims

Environment

Locals rescue two youth from the snow after avalanche

by | December 13, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Two young people were pulled out of the snow alive Monday evening after being caught by an avalanche in a mountainous part of Georgia’s Adjara region. Locals helped the two survive the ordeal. They did not have life-threatening injuries but were taken to hospital.

News

Young camerawoman found dead in her apartment

by | December 12, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A 27-year-old camerawoman working for Georgia’s Public Broadcaster was discovered dead in her apartment in Kutaisi Sunday night. Sopho Bobokidze’s death was first reported by her friends in social media. A health problem is the likely cause

Youth

Protest for drug liberalization leads to detentions in Tbilisi

by | December 12, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A protest against Georgia’s strict drug policy led to clashes with police and two people being detained in Tbilisi on Saturday.  Protesters gathered in front of the parliament building on Rustaveli Ave in Tbilisi to demand a softer drug policy.

Crime

Woman shot and killed by ex-husband

by | December 12, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A woman died in Georgia’s eastern Kakheti region on Friday after being shot in the head by her ex-husband. The incident happened as the man visited the victim’s house, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) said on Saturday. During an argument

News

Georgian man gets in trouble with Svanetians for posting naked selfie

by | December 12, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Social media in Georgia have lit up with debate about a young man’s naked self-portrait in the highland region Svaneti. Was it an insult to local traditions? The debate was sparked by a video posted on Facebook which shows the man apologizing

In brief

Georgian PM appoints veteran diplomat as foreign affairs adviser

by | December 12, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has appointed veteran diplomat and former chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in Georgia’s Parliament Tedo Japaridze as foreign affairs advisor. Japaridze served as foreign minister in 2003 to 2004,

News

EU states remove last obstacle to visa waiver scheme for Georgia, Ukraine

by | December 10, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The European Union on Thursday finally agreed on a visa waiver suspension mechanism, the last obstacle to the long-awaited visa free travel scheme to go into effect for Georgian and Ukrainian nationals. On December 7, the EU’s three governing bodies, the European Council,

Roads update

Mountain roads in Georgia closed for trailers because of snow

by | December 8, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--There are road restrictions all over Georgia due to bad weather, the Roads Department warned Thursday. Trailers and semi-trailers are prohibited from driving between the 1km and 50km mark on the S-8 Khashuri-Akhaltsikhe-Vale road,

Crime

Georgian man sentenced to ten years in jail for murdering US tourist

by | December 8, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The district court in Telavi, in Georgia’s eastern Kakheti region, on Thursday sentenced a man to 10 years in jail for murdering a US citizen last August. The court determined that on August 12, 2016, Mikheil Chincharashvili met the US tourist

Interviews

Yalowitz: No radical changes in US-Georgia relationship under Trump

by | December 7, 2016

DFWatch recently had a Skype interview with Kenneth Yalowitz, former US Ambassador to Georgia (1998-2001). Mr. Yalowitz emphasized that Georgia is a country which expects problems and delays on the way toward democratic reforms, while firmly moving forward

News

Convention to combat violence against women still not ratified after two years

by | December 7, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--In 2014, Georgia signed an international convention to end violence against women and impunity of perpetrators, but two years later the country has still not ratified it. After Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani had signed the Istanbul Convention on

News

Under-staffing indicated as cause of miner’s death in Chiatura

by | December 6, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A 53-year-old man died in an accident in a manganese mine in Chiatura on Saturday. Paata Ghavtadze died from injuries while leaning out of the locomotive he was driving in the poorly-lit Itkhvisi mine in the mining town in the Imereti region in central Georgia.

Minorities

Compromise it took two years to plan failed to solve mosque dispute

by | December 5, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Muslims in Mokhe in southern Georgia do not accept a compromise suggested by a government commission and continue to pray on the ruins of a mosque in the village. Local Muslims and Orthodox Christians have disagreed for two years

News

One dead, eight injured as truck slams into minibus

by | December 4, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--One person died and eight were injured Saturday in an accident in the south of Georgia. The accident happened on the Tbilisi-Akhaltsikhe highway near Atskuri at about 13:00. The local newspaper Sknews.ge reported that a truck crashed with a minibus

Investigative reports

Investigation reveals misspending of Government Reserve Fund

by | December 3, 2016

The Georgian Government Reserve Fund aimed at funding unexpected and urgent situations, has spent 62% of its budget for programs already funded by the national budget and for which there seems to be no need for emergency spending, investigative website Ifact reports.

In brief

19.3 percent more tourists so far in 2016

by | December 3, 2016

Almost 5.9 million international visitors arrived in Georgia during 2016, which is 7.9 percent more than in the same period last year, the head of Georgian National Tourism Administration said on Friday. Out of these tourists (who stayed in the country during 24 hours and longer)

News

UNESCO recognizes Georgian alphabet as part of humanity’s shared heritage

by | December 1, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian alphabet has been recognized by UNESCO as part of humanity’s cultural heritage. The decision to include three variations of the Georgian alphabet in the United Nations agency’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

Europe

Martin Schulz optimistic about visa liberalization for Georgia

by | December 1, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili met President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz on Wednesday. Schulz is leaving EU politics when his term expires in January in order to focus on the federal elections in Germany next year,

Politics

UNM barely avoids splitting in two after talk of ditching Saakashvili

by | December 1, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The faction supporting Mikheil Saakashvili narrowly won a debate at a National Movement party conference on Wednesday. A  resolution was passed to hold a party convention in the format favored by the country’s former president.

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