Monthly Archives: October 2011

Tycoon fights to keep historic palace

By | October 31st, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - A scuffle developed outside an important Tbilisi landmark before the weekend, as officials tried to stop Georgian tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili’s renovation work on the building. The castle of King Rostom, who reigned parts of present day Georgia in the late 16th century, has been under renovation for the last few years, but work [...]

Should we expect more unexpected initiatives regarding party financing?

By | October 31st, 2011|Categories: Opinion|Tags: |

On 22 October, local non-government organizations met representatives of the Analytical Department of the Ministry of Justice. At the meeting, the Ministry declared that it intends to present legislative initiatives regarding party financing to the parliament of Georgia which would reflect the recommendations offered by local and international organizations (GRECO, CoU) meant to deal with corruption [...]

Drawbacks of a speedy legislative process

By | October 31st, 2011|Categories: Opinion|Tags: |

After the “Rose Revolution” a period of numerous reforms started in Georgia. Mostly, reforms required to amend legislation and thus, to hold parliamentary discussions. Unfortunately, the Parliament of Georgia step-by-step lost a role of a place, where professional discussion should take place on every presented amendment. First reason of that is an ownership of constitutional majority [...]

“We Are Unafraid of Saakashvili’s Attempt at a Pre-Halloween Massacre”

By | October 31st, 2011|Categories: Opinion|Tags: , |

More than a decade ago, Mikheil Saakashvili got his start in Georgian politics in the Tbilisi city council – before the Rose Revolution and the toppling of Eduard Shevardnadze that brought Saakashvili and his United National Movement (UNM) to power. Despite all the changes Georgia has witnessed since that time, back then the capital [...]

Election reform is postponed

By | October 30th, 2011|Categories: Elections, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The election reform has been postponed for two months. It should have ended by the end of October, but is delayed until the end of December. The government explains the delay with the need to wait until the Venice Commission publishes its final conclusion. A few days ago, Venice Commission chairman Tomas Markert, [...]

Georgian challenger’s allies fired from city hall

By | October 29th, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - As his last best option for entering Georgian politics was blocked, Bidzina Ivanishvili's allies are experiencing unprecedented trouble as two officials aligned with him in the Tbilisi city council are fired from their positions. As if it was not enough that Bidzina Ivanishvili's citizenship was taken away, it is creating a firestorm of [...]

West to Georgia: More Balanced Labor Regulations Needed

By | October 28th, 2011|Categories: Legal reform, News|Tags: |

TBILILSI, DFWatch - Georgia has received a stern message from Western diplomats to amend its Labor Code during a conference dedicated to facilitate social dialogue held in Tbilisi on Thursday. The European Union's mission in Georgia made its position quite clear: If Georgia doesn't change its Labor Code, it will get neither EU Association Agreement nor [...]

CoE criticizes proposed new election law

By | October 28th, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Venice Commission has asked the government to change the proposed new Electoral Code, after going through all the issues envisaged in the proposed new law, both things that were agreed with the opposition and the ruling party's eleventh-hour "surprises". Council of Europe envoys made their critical stance clear at a special briefing [...]

Georgia opens way for Russia to WTO

By | October 28th, 2011|Categories: News, Security|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia has agreed to a proposal from Swiss intermediaries which if adopted will lead to Russia becoming member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Russian position is not yet known. Russia joining WTO has become more of a pressing issue during the last few years. What stood in the way was the [...]

MIA offers deal over journalist beatings

By | October 28th, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: , , |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian police accepts responsibility for damages journalists suffered as law enforcers violently dispersed a peaceful demonstration May 26. After the second court hearing of the trial at Tbilisi city court Wednesday, the Interior Ministry representative suggested to the journalists and media organizations affected by the violence to come to an agreement. Natia Kapanadze, [...]

“We don’t know who Ivanishvili is”

By | October 27th, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: , |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Few Georgians doubt that Bidzina Ivanishvili is who he says he is, but now the government refuses him to officially reregister his gun in another person's name, saying they are unable to establish the businessman's identity. The licence to carry a gun was given the businessman November 1, 2010, while was still a Georgian [...]

The 2011 political wine season

By | October 27th, 2011|Categories: Opinion|

The year 2011 proved itself strange. Saakashvili’s government had long been creating many difficulties for its citizens – economic, legal, political. Unhappy people hoped for the opposition. The opposition split into two parts; one focusing on protest rallies, the other on improving the election environment. Neither was able to undermine or even shake Saakashvili's government. People [...]

Government goes mum on campaign financing

By | October 27th, 2011|Categories: News|

TBILISI, DFWatch - When the government recently killed financier Bidzina Ivanishvili's plan B for entering politics, it claimed only to be acting on the advice of the Council of Europe. Now it turns mum on exactly where and when the CoE has made such a recommendation. After his citizenship was taken from him, the only way [...]

New law kills businessman’s plan B

By | October 26th, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: , |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The government is going to take away financier Bidzina Ivanishvili's last chance to enter Georgian politics, according to a group of experts and NGOs who have seen the details of a new proposal that will make it illegal for organizations and businesses to fund political parties. The proposal comes out of the Ministry [...]

Challenger: Saakashvili is too impulsive

By | October 25th, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian billionaire who seems to have a chance at taking over power in Georgia gets more personal in his second interview with Georgian media, criticising president Mikheil Saakashvili for making important decisions based on his own personal whims. According to Bidzina Ivanishvili, the government’s decisions are made abruptly, and as an example [...]

Government gives rights to nationals living abroad

By | October 25th, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: , |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgians living abroad will get the right to visit their home country without a visa, get a grant to study in their homeland and to represent Georgia at sports events. A person gets the new rights after receiving a special status, which means they will become equal with Georgian citizens in some regards, [...]

Court cuts short businessman’s citizenship plea

By | October 25th, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: , , , |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The popular newcomer in Georgian politics was promptly denied having his citizenship restored today by a Tbilisi court, thereby seemingly blocking his progress towards power in the country. Tbilisi City Court ruled against repealing a presidential decree of October 11 which took away Bidzina Ivanishvili and his wife’s Georgian citizenship. The court's ruling [...]

If Georgia wants to have fair elections…

By | October 24th, 2011|Categories: Opinion|Tags: |

A number of circumstances determine fairness of elections in Georgia. Among them are the electoral system, transparency of political party financing, the scale of the use of administrative resources for the purpose of party campaigning, accuracy of the voters’ list, the level of civic education, the existence of free media, independent judiciary, active civil society and [...]

Writer quits after threats against family

By | October 24th, 2011|Categories: Media, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The script writer for a new TV show has broken off his cooperation with businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili, due to threats against his family. Zviad Bliadze was recently signed up to be the writer for an animated satire show that is to be financed by Ivanishvili, called Dardubala. But his family members were threatened [...]

“Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Wood”

By | October 24th, 2011|Categories: Opinion|Tags: |

How Will Saakashvili Chart His Path Into the History Books? The last couple weeks have probably not been fun ones for Georgia’s government, or, more aptly, the political machinery that has long ensured its lock on power. Until now, with comfortably high poll ratings from 2008 to the present, President Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement didn’t [...]

Fired for expressing their opinion

By | October 23rd, 2011|Categories: Media, News|Tags: , , , |

TBILISI, DFWatch - In 2011, several journalists have lost their job for simply expressing their opinion on the internet. The ability to freely acquire and distribute information should be recognized as a basic human right. That was the message from media commentators from the three south Caucasus countries who had gathered in Tbilisi this weekend to [...]

Fears ‘wave of repressions’ in prisons

By | October 22nd, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia imposes three months isolation for prisoners who misbehave. The opposition fears that the government is getting ready for a ‘new wave of repressions’. There are suspicions now of what the motive is for the new bill to change the Imprisonment Code. After the amendments come into force, the prisoners may be cut [...]

Challenger’s plan: ‘Significant changes’, then leave

By | October 22nd, 2011|Categories: Europe, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The man who challenges Saakashvili's power in Georgia will get rid of the current president's people and inoculate the country from something like this ever happening again, then leave office to join the opposition. For the first time speaking with Georgian press, businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili said he will fire the Interior Minister and [...]

Access to public information in Georgia

By | October 22nd, 2011|Categories: Opinion|Tags: |

“According to the survey, which was carried out in 80 counties of the world, Georgia is the first country after New Zealand in terms of the most effective and transparent functioning of the state office. Nothing to say about Russia, Venezuela and other countries, even France, Germany and Japan are behind us in the list of [...]

State of the Judiciary in Georgia

By | October 21st, 2011|Categories: Opinion|Tags: |

The quality and degree of democracy and freedom in a state, among some other factors, depends on the level of judicial independence. The principle that the judiciary must be independent from both legislative and executive branches of government is built in a constitutional idea of the separation of powers. Furthermore, judicial independence is one of the [...]

USA: democratic transfer of power is needed

By | October 21st, 2011|Categories: News, Politics, World|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - America will be expecting to see a democratic transition of power in Georgia in the presidential election in 2013, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said during a press briefing here in Tbilisi yesterday. Reactions have varied from the opposition seizing on the use of the phrase "transition of power" as [...]

Besieged businessman met by wall of silence

By | October 20th, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - They have taken away his citizenship, accused his bank of laundering money, arrested a friend of his son and disarmed his bodyguards, but in all of these cases the authorities in Georgia are not commenting beyond stating the facts. Since he almost two weeks ago set out on a mission to remove president [...]

10 years after the peace plan

By | October 20th, 2011|Categories: Opinion|Tags: , , , , |

Almost 10 years have passed since the UN, in an attempt to help solve the Abkhaz conflict, launched the Document on "Distribution of Competences between Sukhumi and Tbilisi". Basically, this was an effort to have the Abkhaz and the Georgian sides to the conflict sit down at the negotiating table and work out modalities for a [...]

Media watchdog chairman accused of conflict of interest

By | October 19th, 2011|Categories: Media, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The chair of Georgia's media regulatory commission keeps back from interfering when TV stations break the advertising rules. His inaction as a watchdog leader is to his own personal benefit. The chair, Irakli Chikovani, has a 35% share in Magi Style Media Ltd, which sells TV airtime to advertisers. Therefore, the chairman's private [...]

Financier signing up political advisors

By | October 19th, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's richest is carefully laying the groundwork for his entering politics and wresting the Caucasus nation out of the grip of president Mikheil Saakashvili. One crucial piece in his plan is to put together a pool of advisors around him in order to bounce ideas around and gauge the atmosphere among the population. [...]

Myths about the Georgian Economy

By | October 18th, 2011|Categories: Opinion|Tags: |

During the reforming of post-revolutionary Georgia’s economy, significant experience has been accumulated in this field, both positive and negative. A plethora of myths about post-revolutionary Georgia have been created. The most accepted myths about Georgia’s economy need to be debunked. Myth 1: “Georgia—A Country of Neo-Liberal Reforms” Georgia received this status thanks to the enumerated successes [...]

Political newcomer target of armed police operation

By | October 18th, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Police in Tbilisi Tuesday afternoon arrested six employees of CartuBank in an armed operation against the bank which belongs to the businessman who ten days ago said he would challenge president Saakashvili's almost total power grip over the country. Government friendly TV Rustavi 2 reports that several are detained for money laundering, and [...]

Opposition feels targeted by ban on loyalty gifts

By | October 18th, 2011|Categories: Elections, News|Tags: |

Georgia's ruling party has made it illegal for a political candidate to let him or herself be caught up in backroom deals with campaign contributors. The opposition thinks it's done to undermine their financing. While the laws against corruption here as in other countries applies to elected officials, Georgia has widened criminal liability to also include [...]

Does the road to peace go through tasty food?

By | October 18th, 2011|Categories: News, Society|Tags: |

Can the Caucasus region be united through good taste? That was one of the questions as food producers from all over the region gathered in Tbilisi for a peace festival over the weekend, with the aim of building peace and develop food business in the Caucasus region. Various types of tea, cheese, wine and honey from [...]

Saakashvili dodges freedom of information requirement

By | October 17th, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: |

The Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili has decided to make his people pay for accessing public documents. Like in most Western countries, Georgia has a law guaranteeing citizens free and unfettered access to public information. But now the leader has made it a little bit harder for people to find out about just what authorities are up [...]

Financier’s citizenship ends up in court

By | October 16th, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: |

The financier Bidzina Ivanishvili has decided to go to court in order to get back his citizenship which was taken from him right after he announced he would use his considerable wealth and influence to challenge the ruling party's grip over the country. “We made a decision to file the lawsuit with the court against the [...]

Georgian tycoon gathers support

By | October 15th, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: |

In Georgia, a businessman who one week ago set out to unseat president Mikheil Saakashvili is quickly gathering supporters while the small Caucasus nation is eagerly awaiting his TV appearance. One of the country's most well-known literary figures, Chabua Amirejibi, as well as a well-known fotballer, have thrown their support behind the financier. Since releaseing his declaration [...]

Groups boycott right-to-vote reform

By | October 15th, 2011|Categories: Elections, Legal reform, News|Tags: |

Three rights groups refuse to take part in a new system meant to guarantee every Georgian the right to vote, because they think the reform may make things worse. Parliament has just decided to establish a new system for going through the voters rolls and make sure that every citizen who has a right to vote [...]

Troop replacement in Afghanistan

By | October 15th, 2011|Categories: News, Security|Tags: |

Georgia's light infantry Battalion #31 has just left for Afghanistan. It consists of 749 soldiers and will replace Battalion #33. The troop Georgian replacement takes place within the framework of the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) operation in the country. The Georgian peacekeeping battalion will carry out its mission alongside American troops in Helmand province. They [...]

Improving the election environment in Georgia

By | October 15th, 2011|Categories: Opinion|Tags: |

Georgian society has a history of discussions, disputes, criticism and disagreements around the election environment and election legislation. As an new election approaches, the Parliament of Georgia starts a process of amending the Election Code, and as a rule, a few months prior to the elections significant amendments are made to the legislation. Again the county [...]

Tskhinvali weighs in on Georgian financier’s revelations

By | October 14th, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: |

A top official working for the regime in Tskhinvali says he agrees with revelations the financier Bidzina Ivanishvili put forth in a lengthy open letter published Wednesday as part of his effort to unseat president Saakashvili and give the country back to its people. A close advisor to so-called South Ossetian president Eduard Kokoiti told the [...]

Georgian soldier dies in accident

By | October 14th, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: |

A 19 year old Georgian soldier has been killed in an what appears to be an accident at a base in Zugdidi, a town on the Black Sea coast near the border with Abkhazia. The accident took place at a base for the paramilitary forces of Georgia's Ministry of Internal Affairs. At the Interior Ministry's Samegrelo-Zemo [...]

Billionaire’s citizenship was unlawfully revoked, lawyer says

By | October 13th, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: |

The stripping of a businessman's citizenship right after he made a dramatic call to remove Mikheil Saakashvili from power moved one step closer to turning into a legal battle Thursday, as Bidzina Ivanishvili's lawyer presented five documents said to prove that Georgia was breaking the law when revoking his citizenship. "We request a clear and specific [...]

CoE to Georgia: No more surprises, please

By | October 13th, 2011|Categories: Elections, Legal reform, News|Tags: |

Two observers from the Council of Europe (CoE) have asked Georgia's ruling party to stop coming up with surprise changes in a draft law without going through the normal democratic procedures. At least according to one of the opposition politicians, two rapporteurs from the Monitoring Committee of the CoE's Parliamentary Assembly asked Georgia's ruling party to [...]

Georgian media answers hopeful patron

By | October 12th, 2011|Categories: Media, News, Politics|Tags: |

Journalists Wednesday responded to the wealthiest Georgian Bidzina Ivanishvili's call for them to form an alliance to unseat Mikheil Saakashvili, while experts debated whether Georgia had the right to revoke his citizenship. Tuesday night, the tycoon-turned-politicians had the support of at least the viewers, if not the staff, of two small cable TV stations which have [...]

“Resign. You are exhausted, Misha”

By | October 12th, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: |

“Stop, Misha, you are standing on the edge of the abyss, stop!” was the fincier Bidzina Ivanishvili's message to Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili Wednesday. As the financier, who is one of the world's richest, released his second statement on a mission to unseat the Georgian leader, he clarified his position towards the different oppositional groups in [...]

Disenfranchisement of a Georgian Tycoon: Was It Lawful?

By | October 12th, 2011|Categories: Opinion|Tags: |

In just a couple of days after Bidzina Ivanishvili, a Georgian billionaire known internationally as Boris Ivanishvili, had announced his plans to establish his own political party, to run for the parliamentary and presidential elections due in 2012 and 2013, to win decisively both elections, and to set up a new one-party government, the Georgian authorities [...]

Georgia bars billionaire from entering politics

By | October 12th, 2011|Categories: News, Politics|Tags: |

The authorities in Georgia have stripped the country's richest man of his citizenship, just as he was preparing to launch a new opposition movement aimed at unseating president Mikheil Saakashvili in elections the coming two years. Revoking Bidzina Ivanishvili's citizenship effectively means that he can't legally take part in political activities nor fund political parties, nor [...]

Unemployment Georgians’ biggest worry

By | October 11th, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: |

Two thirds of Georgians think of themselves as unemployed. Living conditions are so dire that the question of territorial integrity has become secondary. But Georgians still welcome the government’s reforms, National Democratic Institute (NDI) Georgia director Luis Navaro said as he met journalists to present the results of a fresh survey. The three top priorities for [...]

TV channels vying for financier’s political debut

By | October 11th, 2011|Categories: Media, News|Tags: |

The public broadcaster and two independent TV stations are competing to carry the political debut of Georgia's richest man. First, the public broadcaster released a statement saying it invites the Georgian billionaire on to their Channel 1 to answer the questions from journalists. The financier had asked before the weekend to be let on the channel. [...]

Competition watchdog must do more with same budget

By | October 10th, 2011|Categories: Legal reform, News|Tags: |

Government wants to reform the antimonopoly service and give it new tasks. But its budget is to stay the same next year. Experts think it's doubtful whether there will be any real change in how the service operates, which the European Union is demanding from Georgia. A well-functioning antimonopoly service is the most important [...]

Grassroots movement welcomes financier’s entry into politics

By | October 9th, 2011|Categories: News, Politics|Tags: |

After being rejected by the journalists of Maestro TV, financier Bidzina Ivanishvili's has found new allies in the anti-Saakashvili grassroots movement behind last May's demonstrations. The People's Assembly in a statement says Ivanishvili represents a fresh, new start to Georgian politics, and that his program fully matches the goals of the assembly. People's Assembly is a [...]

Three detained Georgians released

By | October 9th, 2011|Categories: News, Security|Tags: |

The daily life of ordinary people continues to be plighted by borders which were drawn unilaterally by Russia in 2008.

Georgia’s richest to launch opposition movement

By | October 8th, 2011|Categories: News, Politics|Tags: |

The financier Bidzina Ivanishvili is satisfied so far with the impact he has had, after announcing he would challenge the ruling party in the next election by founding a new party and buying a TV station. According to his press secratary, Irakli Tripolsky, Ivanishvili’s first statement "caused deep resonance in the society". Next step will be [...]

Investor-politician gets cold shoulder from Georgian media

By | October 8th, 2011|Categories: Media, News|Tags: |

The billionaire businessman who said he would run in the next election has received a cold shoulder from two independent TV stations he said he wants to buy. Bidzina Ivanishvili's extensive written statement about his political goals, which was published on Friday October 7, focuses particular attention on Georgian television. While criticizing President Saakashvili's regime, Ivanishvili [...]

French President greeted by astroturf crowd

By | October 7th, 2011|Categories: News, World|Tags: |

President Nicolas Sarkozy finally arrived in Tbilisi Friday from Baku. It was the final stop on his tour of the South Caucasus. Security was tight around Freedom Square. People who wanted to attend the event had to arrive two hours earlier. The square had been decorated with French, Georgian and EU flags for the occasion. In [...]

Sarkozy to Georgia: more reforms needed

By | October 7th, 2011|Categories: News, World|Tags: |

French president Nicolas Sarkozy told Georgians Friday that the country must strengthen democracy through further reforms if it wants to move closer to EU membership. A few thousand people were in or around Freedom Square in the center of Tbilisi while Sarkozy held his speech this afternoon but many seemed uninterested and left before he even [...]

Confusion over parliament’s first session in Kutaisi

By | October 6th, 2011|Categories: Legal reform, News|Tags: |

There is rising confusion after President Saakashvili said that the first parliamentary session in Kutaisi will be on the next national day, May 26, 2012. He said this two days ago at the opening of a new House of Justice in the city. But according to the Georgian constitution, parliament can only convene in Kutaisi after [...]

New law may restrict consumers’ rights in Georgia

By | October 6th, 2011|Categories: Legal reform, News|Tags: |

Parliament is to consider a new law about product safety which might require scrapping an old law, and a big chunk of the country's consumer rights with it. The new bill is called "Code on Product Safety and Free Flow" which envisages to set up a special commission to monitor product safety in the market. "This [...]

Prosecutors given new powers to check money transfers

By | October 5th, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: |

Prosecutors in Georgia will get powers to monitor suspicious money transfers before they are carried out. But this will require a court warrant. Parliament’s decision means that after getting a court's approval, the prosecutor's office can ask that a bank account be subject to a strict control regime: every time there is a transfer [...]

Georgian government to boost civil society

By | October 5th, 2011|Categories: Legal reform, News|Tags: |

The Georgian government is to start handing out funds to select players in the whole non-public sector, after a decision in parliament. Power to hand out money will reside with ministries. The effort is not limited to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), but may also include educational institutions and branch offices of foreign think tanks as well as [...]

Journalists take Georgian police to court over May 26 beating

By | October 4th, 2011|Categories: Media, News|Tags: |

Three journalists and four media companies filed an administrative lawsuit at Tbilisi city court Tuesday morning against Georgia's Ministry of Internal Affairs, asking to be compensated for the injuries they sustained in the night of May 26, when police violently dispersed a protest rally ahead of an Independence Day parade. The journalists presented the court with [...]

Political Tbilisi skeptical to proposed new election system

By | October 3rd, 2011|Categories: Elections, Europe, Legal reform, News, Politics|Tags: |

Work to improve the Georgian election environment has ended as a draft has been sent off to the Council of Europe's Venice Commission for review and the government promises that parliament will not start its review until the results of the review are clear. It's hard to say what the Venice Commission's conclusions will be and [...]

Rush law amendment is to limit property rights

By | October 2nd, 2011|Categories: News|Tags: |

Owners of derelict or abandoned buildings in Georgia may have their property taken from them under a new bill which is being rushed through parliament. The law change will encroach on property rights guaranteed by the Georgian constitution. Owners of buildings will be required to complete the construction within a certain period, as envisaged in the [...]

Ruling party’s latest election law maneuver a setback for democracy

By | October 2nd, 2011|Categories: Elections, Europe, Legal reform, News|Tags: |

Three non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are seriously concerned after the government's sudden changes to the draft for a new election law. Now that rights advocates have had time to look closer at the changes, which were worked out behind everyone's backs and revealed a week ago, their conclusion is that this is a disappointment to everyone who [...]