News

Theories swirl about what started Tbilisi shopping centre fire

by | January 31, 2017
After_the_fire_Childrens_World

TBILISI, DFWatch--Several theories were circulating about the cause of a massive fire Monday morning near Tbilisi’s central railway station, which is estimated to have done several million US dollars’ worth of damage, but there is still no firm information about why it started.

News

Terminated employees protesting in front of Georgia’s Defense Ministry

by | January 31, 2017
defense protest front

TBILISI, DFWatch--Hundreds of people protested outside the Defense Ministry on Monday against a mass layoff affecting over two thousand people, demanding fair treatment and respect for labor regulations. Protesters demand to get their jobs back and claim the ministry

Security

Georgia dismisses over 2,000 defense employees

by | January 30, 2017
defense_ministry

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has carried out its biggest layoff ever, as more than two thousands employees were dismissed on Monday. Both military and civilian personnel were affected by the mass layoff. The ministry explained the firings

News

Massive fire at Tbilisi shopping mall spreads, rips through central bazaar

by | January 30, 2017
fire_vagzal_childrens_world_front_2017-01-30

TBILISI, DFWatch--Thirty fire fighters in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi are trying to extinguish a massive fire that broke out Monday morning at a shopping mall near the city’s central railway station. The blaze has spread to surrounding buildings and engulfed

News

Georgians in Abkhazia protest closure of border crossings

by | January 29, 2017
abkhaz protest

TBILISI, DFWatch--Authorities in Abkhazia have closed Nabakevi and Otobaya border crossings connecting the breakaway region to Georgia proper. The closing of the two checkpoints was announced by Lasha Tsaava, head of the legal department of the de facto

News

Georgia’s president pardons former Defense Ministry officials

by | January 28, 2017
pardon_cables_case

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian president on Friday pardoned five former defense ministry officials who were convicted of embezzlement in a politically charged case. The release of the five from prison Friday evening concludes one of the most significant

Education

Bologna inclusion lifted quality of Georgia’s education system

by | January 28, 2017
Bologna_process_Center_for_Social_Sciences2

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia has bolstered the quality of its higher education and research, thanks to its inclusion in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), the authors of a new report argue. By joining the EHEA, popularly referred to as the Bologna process,

News

Georgian soldier freed by Kiev despite Russian extradition request

by | January 26, 2017
gia_tsertsvadze_prison_cell_front

TBILISI, DFWatch--A Georgian volunteer soldier in Ukraine was released from pre-trial detention Thursday evening, thus avoiding extradition to Russia, where he is accused of a murder in 2003. Gia Tsertsvadze thanked his supporters as he left prison but declined making further comments.

News

Georgian PM lectures EPP head on separation of powers

by | January 26, 2017
giga_bokeria_joseph_daul_gigi_ugulava_davit_bakradze_givi_tsereteli

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s prime minister gave an EU politician a lesson in the separation of powers in democracies on Tuesday, explaining that a government cannot interfere in decisions made by the courts. Giorgi Kvirikashvili, the head of government

News

Georgian volunteer soldier’s arrest in Kiev stirs controversy in Georgia

by | January 26, 2017
gia_tsertsvadze_-front

TBILISI, DFWatch--The top prosecutor in Ukraine is calling off a criminal case against a Georgian man who volunteered to fight in the war in Donbass. The man is accused of a murder in Sochi in 2003 and risks extradition to Russia. His defense lawyer at the trial

News

Vano Merabishvili quits post in Saakashvili’s party

by | January 24, 2017
vano_merabishvili

TBILISI, DFWatch--A former interior minister and close ally of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili resigned as secretary general of the National Movement on Monday, the latest episode of a turbulent few months for the party that reformed Georgia over the course of a decade.

News

Georgia ushers in bill to criminalize FGM after news report

by | January 24, 2017
FGM_in_Kvareli_aida_mirmaksumova

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in the former Soviet republic of Georgia has proposed a bill which will make it a crime to carry out female genital mutilation. The bill comes after a journalist revealed last fall that the practice was still in use in a few villages in the east of the country.

Politics

Republican Party appoints woman to key position

by | January 24, 2017
respebi

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Republican Party in the former Soviet republic of Georgia on Saturday appointed a woman former lawmaker as new political secretary. The appointment the 39-year-old lawyer Tamar Kordzaia is seen as a move to promote gender equality in politics.

Interviews

Paul Goble: I fear that Trump will largely ignore countries like Georgia

by | January 22, 2017
paul-goble

To assess the latest developments in the domestic and foreign affairs of Georgia, Voice of America’s (VOA) Anna Kalandadze interviewed Washington-based long-standing Eurasia observer Paul Goble. The Georgian-language interview first appeared on VOA.  Here is an English version:

News

Tbilisi joins global Women’s March against Trump

by | January 22, 2017
womens_march_2017-01-21

TBILISI, DFWatch--Like many other cities around the world, also Tbilisi held a women’s march on Saturday, following the inauguration of Donald Trump as new US President. The march was aimed at raising awareness about women's rights and other civil rights issues and started

News

Saakashvili-supporters regain control of the National Movement

by | January 21, 2017
convention

TBILISI, DFWatch--The pro-Saakashvili wing of the opposition National Movement party took control of the party on Friday at a high-profile convention that concluded a months long internal feud. According to party officials, over 7,000 delegates took part in the event at Tbilisi Sports Hall.

News

First end-of-life care unit for children opens in Tbilisi

by | January 20, 2017
maka_chichua_childrens_hospice

TBILISI, DFWatch--After years of fundraising and hard work, a new end-of-life care unit for children living with life limiting illnesses has finally opened in Tbilisi. The center is a hospice for minors who need a specific type of palliative care. At the opening ceremony on Tuesday,

News

Georgia’s ruling party bounces in first post-election poll

by | January 19, 2017
NDI

TBILISI, DFWatch--The ruling party bounces in a new opinion poll published on Wednesday by the National Democratic Institute (NDI). Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG) now dominates Georgian politics with nearly half of voters sympathetic to it. The poll was

Security

Lawyer’s group asks Georgian government to disclose Gazprom deal

by | January 18, 2017
sulxan_saladze

TBILISI, DFWatch--A group of lawyers in the former Soviet republic Georgia calls on the government to disclose a controversial deal it recently struck with the Russian-owned energy giant Gazprom over switching monetized payments for transiting Russian gas to Armenia.

Economy

Gazprom deal threatens Georgia’s fundamental interests, president warns

by | January 17, 2017
anti-gazprom2-jan-16-2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili views a controversial deal recently struck between the Georgian government and the Russian-owned energy giant Gazprom as less favorable than the previous agreement, and ‘harmful' to the political and economic

News

Saakashvili believes Georgian tycoon Ivanishvili masterminded UNM’s failure

by | January 17, 2017
mikheil_saakashvili_

TBILISI, DFWatch--Following the high-profile breakup of Georgia’s largest opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili on Monday sat down with Tbilisi based television channel Rustavi 2 and gave his first interview about

Opinion

About a former KGB operative’s lawsuit

by | January 17, 2017
igor giorgadze

Igor Giorgadze, the former Security Minister of Georgia, and an extremely controversial person in the country’s modern history, has sued DFWatch for an article published on July 23. First of all, he objects to the title of the English version of the article, which refers to him as ‘public enemy number one’.

News

Poll shows stable support for EU and NATO among Georgians

by | January 17, 2017
NDI

TBILISI, DFWatch--Support among Georgians for joining NATO and the European Union has fallen slightly but remains high, according to a new opinion poll published on Monday by the National Democratic Institute (NDI). The survey was carried out in

Minorities

In pictures: Sunday prayer in Batumi mosque

by | January 16, 2017
Orta_Jame_Mosque_December2016

BATUMI, DFWatch--One Sunday in December, Muslims are cramming into the Orta Jame mosque in Batumi. Despite a three decades long effort to get permission to build a second mosque, they still have only one mosque to go to despite the city’s sizable Muslim population.

News

Saakashvili’s UNM splits in three factions in parliament

by | January 15, 2017
azer_suleimanovi

TBILISI, DFWatch--The party that ran the former Soviet republic Georgia for nearly a decade has split into three factions in parliament after a long internal feud over the role of its former leader Mikheil Saakashvili. For a few days, there was doubt over whether what

News

Gazprom to switch to monetary transit fee for using Georgia pipeline

by | January 14, 2017
anti-gazprom_demonstration

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia has agreed to less favourable conditions for allowing its territory to be used by Russian energy giant Gazprom to transit natural gas to Armenia. The resulting deal is is expected to be met with harsh criticism from the opposition and local energy experts.

Europe

EU parliament committee approves visa-free access for Georgians

by | January 13, 2017
eu commission brussels

TBILISI, DFWatch--3.7 million Georgian nationals came one step closer to getting visa-free access to EU’s vast borderless Schengen area on Tuesday, as members of the LIBE committee in the EU parliament added their seal of approval to the plan. The Committee on Civil Liberties,

Crime

Republican Party presents legislation to combat violence against women

by | January 13, 2017
Republicans-logo

TBILISI, DFWatch--In the former Soviet republic Georgia, the Republican Party has proposed legislation that will make femicide a separate crime - a gender-based hate crime which is causing alarm in the country. The Republicans, a party formed by Soviet dissenters in the 1970s,

News

Party which reformed Georgia during a decade breaks apart

by | January 12, 2017
Gigi_Ugulava_1tv

TBILISI, DFWatch--Three months long infighting in Georgia’s main opposition party concluded with dozens of members announcing their departure and formation of a new opposition party on Thursday. 38 heads of municipal and regional organizations

News

Police move on libertarians for NYE cannabis planting stunt

by | January 12, 2017
police_girchi_marijuana_2017-01-11

TBILISI, DFWatch--Police in the former Soviet republic Georgia entered the office of a libertarian party on Wednesday, seizing 84 cannabis plants that were planted eleven days earlier in a publicity stunt to promote the decriminalization of drugs. The three officers spent

News

Breakaway South Ossetia prepares for presidential elections in spring

by | January 11, 2017
tskhinvali

TBILISI, DFWatch--Campaigning will soon begin for the election to become new de facto president of Georgia’s breakaway region South Ossetia. The secessionist parliament of the region must schedule the date of the election and start the campaign before January 29.

News

Breakup of Saakashvili’s UNM party seems inevitable

by | January 11, 2017
national_movement_office

TBILISI, DFWatch--Leading figures in Georgia's main opposition party the United National Movement (UNM) seemed to acknowledge that a split is inevitable in comments made on Tuesday. "This party is no longer united. When people don’t say hello

News

Son of former opposition leader charged with assaulting Rustavi 2 director

by | January 10, 2017
rati_gachechiladze

TBILISI, DFWatch--The son of a former opposition politician in Georgia was Monday officially charged with having assaulted the director of the largest opposition TV channel. The suspect Rati Gachechiladze (29) pleaded guilty and was released on 5,000 laris (USD 1,800) bail.

Interviews

Atlantic Council Vice-President: Perhaps it’s time to go on the offensive

by | January 9, 2017
Damon-Wilson-1-8-2016

To assess the visit by three top US Senators, John Mccain (R- AZ), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Amy Klobucher (D-MN) to Georgia and Ukraine, Voice of America’s (VOA) Anna Kalandadze interviewed  Washington-based Damon Wilson, Executive Vice-President of US Atlantic Council.

News

Rustavi 2 head assaulted at father’s funeral meal by son of Maestro director

by | January 8, 2017
nika_gvaramia

TBILISI, DFWatch--The director of Georgia’s largest opposition-leaning TV channel was physically assaulted at a restaurant in Tbilisi Saturday evening. The attack took place as Rustavi 2 director Nika Gvaramia was preparing to leave a restaurant after the funeral of his father.

Media

Ad showing murder of Santa goes viral in Georgia

by | January 7, 2017
dead_santa_frontpage

TBILISI, DFWatch--A New Year’s commercial in Georgia has caused controversy for showing Santa Claus being murdered in front of a child. Now, the Public Defender calls on the advertisement company to stop airing the ad. The video (16+) ‘Santa

Media

Georgia’s Public Broadcaster selects new head who has links to Ivanishvili

by | January 7, 2017
Maglaperidze

TBILISI, DFWatch--The supervisory board of Georgia’s Public Broadcaster (GPB) on Thursday selected as new director a candidate with close ties to the ruling party and personal links to billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili. The decision to appoint Vasil Maglaperidze

News

Former Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava released from prison

by | January 6, 2017
Gigi_Ugulava_released_from_prison_2017-01-06

TBILISI, DFWatch--The former mayor of Tbilisi was released from prison Friday evening. Tbilisi Court of Appeal partially reduced his sentence to 1 year, 3 months and 22 days. As the detention is counted from September 18, 2015, his term expired on January 6.

News

Ivanishvili-linked GDS TV to shut down political programs

by | January 6, 2017
Bidzina Ivanishvili

TBILISI, DFWatch--A pro-government TV channel in Georgia is suspending its political programs in the wake of a merger of the country’s three major mainstream TV companies, a local online news website reports. GDS is closing down its ‘2030’ program,

Minorities, News

Culture house in Pankisi may close following ‘intentional’ fire

by | January 6, 2017
iza_bekauri

TBILISI, DFWatch--A culture house in the Pankisi Gorge in the northern part of Kakheti may close after a fire that staff say was deliberately started. The fire on Tuesday didn’t cause much damage, but a spokesperson for the organization which runs the center

Economy

Influx of visitors to Georgia jumped 8 % in 2016

by | January 5, 2017
visitors_front_page

TBILISI, DFWatch--Almost 6.3 million people visited Georgia from abroad in 2016. This is 7.9 percent more than last year, the head of Georgian National Tourism Administration announced on Tuesday. Out of the total number, over 2.7 million stayed in the country for 24 hours or longer

Minorities

Fire at Pankisi culture center was ‘intentionally set’

by | January 4, 2017
fire_culture_center_duisi_pankisi

TBILISI, DFWatch--A fire that broke out at a culture house in the Pankisi Gorge was intentionally started, a spokesperson for the center told a local radio station. The building is located in Duisi, the largest village of Pankisi, a mountainous area of Georgia inhabited predominantly

News

‘Come get us’ – Libertarians invite police action after NYE weed planting

by | January 4, 2017
zurab_japaridze

TBILISI, DFWatch--Leaders of a small libertarian party in the former Soviet republic Georgia ask authorities to hold them to account after a marijuana planting stunt four days ago meant to force a softening of the country's drug policy. So far, the activists have not

Security

John McCain reaffirms U.S. security guarantee during visit to Georgia

by | January 2, 2017
john_mccain

TBILISI, DFWatch--Three American senators wrapped up their trip to Georgia on Monday by sending not-so-well wishes for the new year to Russia and its president Vladimir Putin. The two Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham and the their Democratic colleague

News

Georgian opposition party plants marijuana on New Year’s Eve

by | January 2, 2017
girchi_zurab_japaridze_marijuana

TBILISI, DFWatch--The leader of an opposition party in the former Soviet republic Georgia made a small marijuana plantation inside the party office on New Year’s Eve as part of a campaign to decriminalize soft drugs. Zurab Japaridze, leader of a newly formed party called

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