Monthly Archives: January 2012

//January

Obama and Georgia’s Saakashvili did not discuss Iran

By | January 31st, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: , |

TBILISI, DFWatch - According to the Georgian president’s administration, Iran was not on the agenda of Monday's meeting between U.S. president Barack Obama and president Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia. Before the meeting many had been speculating that the two would be discussing the increased tension between Iran and the U.S., especially in light of how close [...]

Obama’s ‘transfer of power’ comment discussed in Tbilisi

By | January 31st, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Political Tbilisi is grabbing on to a phrase used by U.S. President Barack Obama yesterday after meeting the Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili about having a transfer of power after this falls parliamentary election in Georgia. “I want to express my appreciation for the work that’s been done in the past, but [...]

Obama talks about free trade after meeting Saakashvili

By | January 31st, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - U.S. President Barack Obama said after hosting the Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili in the Oval Office Monday that the United States will explore various trading options, including the possibility of a free trade agreement. The president made it clear that there still is a lot of work to be done and that a [...]

What are Georgia’s chances of NATO membership?

By | January 31st, 2012|Categories: Opinion|Tags: , |

A number of articles and statements have been boosting our hopes that NATO membership is within Georgia’s grasp. There are several arguments made to this effect, some more serious than others, writes Tedo Djapharidze, Georgia's former ambassador to the United States. This rhetoric surely reflects a commitment to this objective, which no one disputes; [...]

Sham Justice: Chamber of Control’s treatment of Georgian Dream

By | January 31st, 2012|Categories: Opinion|Tags: , |

A couple of days ago, Georgian Dream, a civil society agency established by the Georgian billionaire, Mr. Bidzina Ivanishvili, got notice from the Georgia Chamber of Control where the said government agency warned Georgian Dream to refund a total of GEL 1.1 million to Elita Burji Ltd. The failure to implement the Chamber of [...]

Whose election campaign will Georgia-U.S. summit benefit?

By | January 30th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - People in Georgia are looking forward to today’s meeting between the U.S. and Georgian presidents in Washington, both of whom are near the end of their terms. Analysts speculate that the summit may be part of either of their election campaigns, or is payback for Saakashvili accepting Russia as a member of the [...]

Georgian youth: Learn the truth about our country

By | January 30th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - As the presidents of the United States and Georgia are preparing for their first meeting in Washington, Georgian youth groups today rallied in front of the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi. Their message was that American authorities need to know more about what’s really going on in this country and not believe [...]

Georgia increases subsidy for political ads

By | January 30th, 2012|Categories: Elections, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The government in Georgia increases the state funding of political TV ads to create a more level playing field for this year’s election. But analysts say it’s not enough. An extra 2.2 million laris, or nearly 1.3 million US dollars, will be set aside in the state budget for subsidized political [...]

Legislative Novelties Leading to the Absurd

By | January 30th, 2012|Categories: Opinion|Tags: , |

An election reform which started out with the aim to create an equal and fair election environment in Georgia ended up creating discriminatory regulations, violating freedom of speech and property rights; imposed real threats for voters, media, NGOs and business organizations, writes Tamar Chugoshvili, chair of Georgian Young Lawyer's Association. Amendments made to the [...]

Historic Tbilisi square was dying, springs to life

By | January 30th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Gudiashvili square in central Tbilisi seemed dying for years, but in the last month has had a revival thanks to a protest against new plans to modernise it. Every other Sunday, protesters gather at the Gudiashvili, which lies just behind Freedom Square, as a symbol of protest against the people responsible [...]

The Georgian-style principle of subsidiarity

By | January 30th, 2012|Categories: Opinion|Tags: |

During his meetings with ordinary citizens (especially in the regions) the Georgian president often assures them he keeps a close eye on everything happening in the country, be it a new road or monument in a small town or village. "Nobody can do it but me," he says, writes David Losaberidze, project coordinator at [...]

Russian company patented Georgian wines in Germany

By | January 30th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia has reclaimed three brand names of wine that had been patented in Germany by a Russian company. The company, Moscow Wine and Spirits Company GmbH, had been selling the wine brands Tsinandali, Kindzmarauli and Khvanchkara. Irakli Ghvaladze, head of Sakpatent, Georgia's intellectual property agency, says these brands are of Georgian [...]

New deadlock in South Ossetian leadership contest

By | January 29th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - South Ossetian opposition leader Alla Dzhioyeva wants to have her inauguration on February 10. The location for the ceremony has not been announced. “I appeal to the acting president of South Ossetia requesting that the transfer of power is done in a civilized way, as fits a legally elected president,” Russian [...]

A critical time of choice for Georgia

By | January 28th, 2012|Categories: Opinion|Tags: |

Dear Amb. Yalowitz, I am writing to thank you for your compelling editorial in “Democracy and Freedom Watch” in which you rightly warn that my country is at a critical crossroads with upcoming parliamentary elections.  I too share your concern that free, fair and transparent elections are being threatened by an increasingly authoritarian rule [...]

Democracy, National Interests, Idealism and Realpolitik

By | January 28th, 2012|Categories: Opinion|Tags: |

Saakashvili is meeting Obama on January 30. The agenda announced on the White House webpage names issues such as: 20 years of diplomatic relations, the U.S. – Georgia Charter, Georgia’s contribution to operations in Afghanistan, U.S. support for Georgia’s territorial integrity, and upcoming elections, writes Giorgi Margvelashvili, rector of Georgian Institute of Public Affairs. [...]

Georgia hopeful about new ‘Swiss’ border checks

By | January 28th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian Speaker of Parliament Davit Bakradze hopes that Switzerland will be able to fully monitor the flow of goods across the border between Georgia and Russia. Bakradze said this at a meeting with the delegation of the Swiss Foreign Affairs Department. Russia occupied parts of Georgia's territories after the war [...]

Georgia’s ruling party responds to trickery accusation

By | January 28th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian speaker of parliament says lawmakers never rubber-stamp laws after receiving advice from the Council of Europe. Davit Bakradze was responding to criticism from a think tank that the ruling party manipulated the legislative process by changing a law after it had been submitted to the Council of Europe for [...]

Two thousand villagers waiting to know when to move

By | January 28th, 2012|Categories: Environment, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Villagers in Upper Svaneti are waiting for a report which is supposed to guarantee their forced resettlement follows a democratic process. But the country's energy minister said in December that no matter what the results are of the environmental and social impact assessment, the Khudoni hydropower project will be built. Khudoni, [...]

Confusion sets in over Georgian election reform

By | January 27th, 2012|Categories: Legal reform, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - As Georgia is heading for potentially the first real competitive election, confusion arose Friday over different versions of the same law. A think tank says the government significantly changed a draft law which was sent to the Council of Europe (CoE) for advice. The Georgian Development Research Institute, which was founded [...]

Georgia allows hunting of endangered species

By | January 27th, 2012|Categories: Environment, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia allows hunting of rare animal species, which could lead to their extinction, environmentalists claim. The legislative changes will also allow hunting in protected areas. Hunting and protection of species is regulated by a kind of laws used under the Soviet Union called normative acts and decrees. The law doesn’t directly [...]

The United States and Georgia: Freedom is in the Interest of Both

By | January 27th, 2012|Categories: Opinion|Tags: , |

When President Obama sits down with his Georgian counterpart Mikheil Saakashvili on Monday, the conversation they have will take but a small part of the busy and beleaguered American leader’s day, but could have far reaching consequences for Georgia, writes Irakli Alasania, leader of the Free Democrats Party and Georgia's former United Nations ambassador. [...]

Georgian authorities accuse opposition movement of fraud

By | January 27th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian authorities accuse the opposition movement of billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili of making a fraudulent business deal. The claim is put forth in a statement posted on the web pages of the Chamber of Control's financial monitoring unit, signed by its head Natia Mogeladze. Her unit has been controlling Mr Ivanishvili's movement [...]

Georgia asks Russia to close embassies in breakaway regions

By | January 26th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian president says diplomatic relations with Russia will only be restored if Russia closes its illegal embassies in Georgia’s two breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Mikheil Saakashvili's statement comes as a response to what Russian president Dimitry Medevedev said Wednesday; that he wants to restore diplomatic relations with Georgia, [...]

Will election year work as a reset button for Georgian democracy?

By | January 26th, 2012|Categories: Opinion|Tags: , |

Two presidents that came to power under the sign of change meet January 30th. Below are some thoughts elicited by my friend Ambassador K.S. Yalowitz’s letter, writes George Khutsishvili, director of the International Center on Conflict and Negotiation. We live in the election year 2012, and I belong to those who believe change is [...]

Georgia answers Medvedev’s invitation: ‘Any time’

By | January 26th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia’s foreign minister says his country never refused to restore negotiations with Russia. Grigol Vashadze made the statement during a session of the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly, while answering a question from an MP from the Netherlands. After a speech by Vashadzem the Dutch MP wanted to know what his [...]

Medvedev wants to restore diplomatic relations with Georgia

By | January 26th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Russian president Dimitry Medvedev says he wants to restore diplomatic relations with Georgia. But the president adds, only if he won’t have to shake hands with one person. That one person is understood to be Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili. Diplomatic relations with Russia and Georgia suspended after the war in 2008, [...]

Report: Press freedom is declining in Georgia

By | January 26th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: , |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia is no longer the leading country in the South Caucasus in terms of media freedom, according to Reporters Without Borders. Georgia is on a shared 104th place among the 179 countries listed. Last year, Georgia was number 100 on Press Freedom Index, as the ranking list is called. This year's [...]

Ex-pilots left without compensation despite Supreme Court backing

By | January 25th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - A group of about ten former pilots demand compensation from the government. For several years now they haven't received their compensation, they say, not even after Supreme Court ruled in their favor. Wednesday the retired pilots gathered in front of the president's residence and started a hunger strike, demaning compensation, and [...]

Firewood in Georgia: burning the candle in both ends

By | January 25th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgians use nine times more wood than what is sustainable, according to a new study. If nothing is done, it will lead to a catastrophe, according to Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN). Annual firewood consumption, measured in energy output, is 12 billion kWh, while the sustainable level in Georgia is only [...]

Saakashvili to also meet Biden and Boehner

By | January 25th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili plans to meet other top people while he's over to talk with President Obama, including the Vice President and the House Speaker. While in Washington, President Saakashvili will have meetings with other top people both in the U.S.'s legislative and executive branch, including Vice President Joe [...]

Georgian president questions Human Rights Watch report

By | January 25th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, says through his press speaker that he may not agree with everything Human Rights Watch (HRW) is writing about his country. HRW's World Report 2011 is sharp in its criticism of the situation in Georgia, much of which revolves around the police operation to clear a [...]

Ivanishvili’s wife gets back her Georgian citizenship

By | January 24th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Ekaterine Khvedelidze, wife of Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, is a Georgian citizen again, after the president decided not to appeal a court ruling. This paves the way for the Ivanishvili couple to formally register a political party and run in the election this fall. On December 27 Tbilisi City Court ruled [...]

What will be on agenda of Saakashvili’s Washington meeting?

By | January 24th, 2012|Categories: Opinion|Tags: , |

It is very fitting and important that Presidents Obama and Saakashvili meet in Washington on January 30, writes Kenneth S. Yalowitz, former U.S. Ambassador to Georgia. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Georgia and this is an excellent time to reflect on the [...]

Kitsmarishvili lost suit to claim Ivanishvili TV

By | January 24th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Tbilisi City Court did not grant Rustavi Media Management Company's request to sequester TV Company Igrika ltd. The reason is that Igrika ltd is no more the property of Ilia Kikabidze, general director of the independent TV company Maestro. A week ago Eroski Kitsmarishvili's Rustavi Media Management Company went to court, [...]

Georgians still trust their TV, despite hoax of the century

By | January 24th, 2012|Categories: Media, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Time Magazine called it one of the greatest hoaxes in history. But 33% of Georgians still trust the channel that scared them out of their wits. That's one the findings Eurasian Partnership Foundation's program called Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC) presented Monday. Internationally it's called the hoax news, but locally it [...]

Crisis avoided in South Ossetian power struggle

By | January 23rd, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The South Ossetian opposition leader Alla Dzhioyeva calls off her protest and enters talks with the regime. Dzhioyeva said that consultations between the opposition and authorities will continue, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti. On November 17 she withdrew from a compromise agreement and gave acting president Vadim Brovtsev until [...]

Ruling party mobilizing, gathering passport numbers

By | January 23rd, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's ruling party has already started mobilizing supporters, before a date for the parliamentary election has been announced. Georgian newspaper Mteli Kvira reports that the National Movement Party has begun compiling lists of of supporters around the various districts of Tbilisi. Party activists are going round collecting passport numbers of people who are [...]

A day in the life… of ‘Misha’

By | January 23rd, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Saturday was just another day for president Mikheil Saakashvili. But it dominated the news on Georgian national TV channels. The news was simply put that the president visited Rustavi, a small city just south of the capital Tbilisi, to talk to the locals about how things are going. This news story [...]

The electricity meter produces rubbish in Tbilisi

By | January 22nd, 2012|Categories: Opinion|Tags: , , |

Most of the government’s decisions are routine in nature and ordinary people rarely feel their effect in everyday life, writes David Losaberidze, project coordinator at Caucasus Institute for Peace Democracy and Development. From time to time, however, the government makes […]

Georgia will support West in case of Iran crisis

By | January 22nd, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - A Georgian parliamentarian from the governing party says his country will support the West in case of a confrontation between Iran and the U.S. Davit Darchiashvili, head of the Euro-integration committee, says that ‘in case of an Iran-U.S. confrontation, Georgia’s choice will be clear’, which means that ‘Georgia will be with [...]

Crisis in South Ossetia as candidate withdraws from compromise

By | January 22nd, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The winner in South Ossetia's cancelled election says she will not participate in the rescheduled election March 25. Instead, Alla Dzhioyeva told a crowd in Tskhinvali Saturday, she’s going to claim the presidency and hold her own inauguration. The exact date for the ceremony will be decided after January 23. “If [...]

Urges UNESCO to Abkhazia to save 10th century fresco

By | January 21st, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia is ready to make an exception from the travel restrictions and let a UNESCO mission enter Abkhazia in order to save a historical monument. According to Georgian legislation, the only way to legally enter or exit Abkhazian territory is by asking permission from Georgian authorities and cross over from Georgian [...]

Georgian media sign treaty for common defense

By | January 21st, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Independent Georgian media units Friday signed a memorandum of mutual defense, vowing that any harassment on any of its member will lead to coordinated action by all the others. It comes after a crisis at the small independent TV station Maestro, which is still broadcasting under emergency conditions; the result of [...]

Saakashvili: Prime Minister Putin is panicking

By | January 21st, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - President Mikheil Saakashvili says it's the Georgian nation the government of Russia has problems with, not the Georgian government, like it claims. Saakashvili's statement was a response to an appearance by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Wednesday, when he criticized one of his opponents because of his Georgian origin. Putin had [...]

Georgia not in talks about U.S. missile shield

By | January 21st, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze says there are currently no negotiations with the United States about deployment of missile defense installations on the territory of Georgia. After the announcement of a meeting between the presidents of the U.S. and Georgia on January 30, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin spoke about the [...]

Perilous work should be compensated, union says

By | January 20th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: , |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Nearly 18 000 employees in Georgia work under stressful or hazardous conditions, according to the Georgian Trade Unions, which suggests compensating them for financial loss due to early retirement. In many dangerous professions, there is a mandated upper age limit, but no compensation for the loss of income until they reach pension [...]

Freedom House: Georgian politics is on early 90s level

By | January 20th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - American human rights group Freedom House indicates that Georgian democracy has not recovered from the backlash, but remains at a comparable level to right after independence. Seen overall, the trend is that democracy is improving, but in the wake of the turbulence which Georgia experienced a few years ago it is still on [...]

Four Georgian survivors from ‘Edirne’ return today

By | January 20th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The four surviving Georgian crew members from a Turkish tanker that sank off the coast of Albania will return home today. Avto Basiladze, Koba Partenadze, Vladimer Varshanidze and Ioseb Katamadze were flown from Tirana to Istanbul yesterday and were given further medical examinations there before returning to Batumi sometime today. One [...]

Tbilisi welcomes missile defense despite warning

By | January 20th, 2012|Categories: News, Security|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - A Georgian parliamentarian from the governing party welcomes the idea of Georgia as location for parts of the U.S. missile defense system. Davit Darchiashvili, who heads parliament’s EU integration committee, said it while commenting statements by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that if America places parts of its missile defense in [...]

Abkhazian leader opposed to neutral passports

By | January 19th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The leader of Georgia’s breakaway region Abkhazia is opposed to so-called neutral passports being introduced. Neutral identity papers is a form of documentation used in Georgia for persons who are from the breakaway parts. Last summer Georgia’s parliament introduced a neutral passport that may be offered for people who live in [...]

International crisis topic when Obama meets Saakashvili

By | January 19th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - One of the topics of Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili and U.S. president Barack Obama's January 30 meeting will be ways of responding to international security challenges. It's the Georgian president’s administration which writes this in a press release Wednesday. Saakashvili and Obama have met several times before, but this will be [...]

Georgia’s eco-migrants are living dangerously

By | January 19th, 2012|Categories: Society|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia, which already has 250 000 internal war refugees, does not recognize eco-migrants. Thirty thousand families are left with faint promises from the government, and many choose to stay in life-threatening homes. Last August, Khatia Nazghaidze (3) drowned while her family was on a waiting list for immediate resettlement due to a [...]

Police action against Chinese settlement in Tbilisi

By | January 19th, 2012|Categories: Investigative reports, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - People at a Chinese settlement south of Tbilisi say the police came and questioned them two days after DFWatch wrote about the place. The Interior Ministry denies that the police was there. DFWatch December 6, 2011, reported on a Chinese market where women and children seemed to be living under cramped [...]

Lawsuit against Ivanishvili’s new TV

By | January 18th, 2012|Categories: Media, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The new TV station being established by people around Georgian opposition financier Bidzina Ivanishvili is being sued. It’s called Igrika and was recently bought by a company which is owned by the wife of Bidzina Ivanishvili, the billionaire who has said he plans to run in the election this fall and [...]

Obama to discuss fall election with Saakashvili

By | January 18th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - U.S. president Barack Obama will host his Georgian counterpart Mikheil Saakashvili in the Oval Office on January 30 to discuss the upcoming parliamentary election in Georgia, expected in October. They will discuss democratic reforms that will ensure that Georgia is a vibrant and stable democratic state. Other topics will be the [...]

Give us back our rights

By | January 18th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: , |

TBILISI, DFWatch – The government in Georgia removed almost all labor protection in 2006. Now there is a growing movement to reclaim the lost rights. Labor rights campaigners demonstrated in Tbilisi Tuesday against the lack of proper protection. People gathered near the Rustaveli statue with flyers and painted posters with slogans like ‘Labor Code [...]

Christian Democrats alarmed by Russian exercise

By | January 17th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia’s Christian Democratic Party warns against a Russian military exercise of unseen proportions planned for September. The exercise is called ‘Caucasus 2012’ and is organized by the Russian South Strategic Command, one of four geographical divisions making up Russia’s territorial defense. Caucasus 2012 will involve a larger geographical area than previous [...]

Gudiashvili Square protest continues

By | January 17th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - People gathered Sunday on Gudiashvili Square, the third protest against plans to develop the historic area. The rally was titled ‘Minifest as Manifest’ and saw another brandishing of paintings, handicraft and other artwork as well as refreshments and entertainment that continued into the night. Gudiashvili lies just behind Freedom Square, and [...]

Georgia warns against ‘offensive’ Russian exercise

By | January 17th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Russia’s South Strategic Command is planning the exercise ‘Caucasus 2012’ in September. Foreign military attaches were briefed about the exercise at a meeting in Moscow last December with the head of the Russian military’s chief of staff. It will involve not only army but also border guards, air force, interior ministry, security [...]

Cartu sues National Bank over delayed audit

By | January 17th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Bank Cartu of Georgian tycoon Bidznia Ivanishvili sues Georgian National Bank because an audit is being delayed, claiming political motivations. The National Bank started an audit of Cartu right after police seized two million US dollars and one million euros worth of cash last October, suspected of being part of a [...]

Georgians want to be member of EU, not move there

By | January 17th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - A new poll shows Georgians expect EU membership reasonably soon, but that very few want to seek employment in other European countries. Compared to 2009, a slightly larger majority think Georgia will become a member of the European Union within ten years. A third think this will happen within the next [...]

Georgian died after explosion on Turkish tanker

By | January 16th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: , |

TBILISI, DFWatch - One Georgian crew member and the Azerbaijani captain have died after a Turkish tanker sunk off the coast of Albania on Sunday. Georgia's consulate in Turkey reports that the body of 22-year-old Beka Urushadze has been identified. The Embassy reports that one more Georgian, Malkhaz Lazishvili, is still missing following the accident, and some [...]

Tbilisi mayor’s 2010 campaign to be scrutinized

By | January 16th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: , , |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian Chamber of Control is looking closer at the financial activities of an organization which campaigned for Tbilisi mayor Gigi Ugulava in 2010. The organization is called Our Vote to Gigi Ugulava and had several well-known Georgian singers among its members. This is the result of recent changes in the law [...]

Georgian government may play for time in Ivanishvili case

By | January 16th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The government in Georgia can gain one year by delaying a court case which will decide whether to allow an opposition financier to form a political party. By that time, the parliamentary election will be over.  The only legal way for the government not to allow Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili and his wife [...]

NATO Accession Not a Right, but a Reward

By | January 16th, 2012|Categories: Opinion|Tags: , |

While the Free Democrats strongly support the idea of Georgia’s accession to NATO, the government’s language with which the path to achieving this has recently been described, as "inevitable and irreversible," reflects the wrong attitude for success, in our view. As a club of democracies, NATO requires of its members sound and lasting commitment [...]

Opposition politician released

By | January 16th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia has released an opposition politician who was arrested Saturday on charges of illegal possession of weapon. Elguja Chkhaidze, the leader of the Free Democrats in the Lanchkhuti region western Georgia, was released Sunday after paying a 2 000 lari fine. Сourt proceedings in the case are scheduled for March 7. He is [...]

Opposition politician arrested in Georgia

By | January 14th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Police yesterday evening arrested the regional leader of the opposition Free Democrats party in the town of Lanchkhuti, western Georgia. Spokespersons for the party say the police did not allow Elguja Chkhaidze access to a lawyer after his arrest, violating his right to defense. During the search of his home the police found [...]

Georgian sailors held hostage return home

By | January 14th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The fifteen Georgians who had been held captive by Somali pirates returned home yesterday. They were released on Sunday. The Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili greeted the sailors in Turkey together with the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Three Turkish sailors were also freed along the Georgians. They have spent 508 [...]

Ivanishvili’s secret weapon: his own TV station

By | January 14th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Many people in Georgia have been expecting that the billionaire who is challenging president Mikheil Saakashvili’s position would have a card up his sleeve. Now it’s revealed: A new TV station. His wife Ekaterine Khvedelidze is part owner of a company which recently bought management rights to an already established TV [...]

Teachers in Georgia fired for political beliefs

By | January 13th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: , |

TBILISI, DFWatch – When Tamar Sukhiashvili, a teacher from the village Kakabeti, was told she was fired, it came as a surprise. The previous day, the school’s director had complimented her on her qualified work. The reason for her firing turned out to be that she held views supportive of the opposition. “I asked [...]

Green Party warns of ecological catastrophe

By | January 13th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Green Party claims a hydroelectric project in Turkey will divert too much water from Mtkvari, possibly creating serious environmental problems. A low water level in the river Mtkvari may lead to epidemics, because sewage water from Tbilisi and Rustavi will then make up the main mass of water, the party [...]

Georgia returns money taken in raid against bank

By | January 13th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The cash which authorities in Georgia took into custody in an armed police raid last October has been returned to businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili’s bank. According to a statement from Tbilisi Prosecutor’s Office dated Tuesday, the cash apprehended on October 18, 2011, has been transferred to Cartu Bank's account in accordance with the law, in [...]

Georgia and NATO integration

By | January 13th, 2012|Categories: Opinion|Tags: , |

Georgia is getting prepared for the NATO Summit in Chicago, when the Leaders of NATO member states will gather to discuss the current agenda of the Euro-Atlantic community, including enlargement issues. The outcome of the Summit is determined by exclusively one particular session, which in this case will be held in Chicago in May [...]

Who is building Georgia’s new parliament?

By | January 13th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The construction work on Georgia's new parliament building in Kutaisi is well underway, but who is actually building it, and how much will it cost? A recent push by a local civil rights group revealed that minister Ramaz Nikolaishvili does not give that information out to just anyone. Institute for Development [...]

National Bank shared information about Ivanishvili

By | January 13th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: , |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia’s party finance watchdog claims it obtained information about the financial activities of the Georgian Dream movement from the National Bank. The body released a report Tuesday which showed how much money opposition financier Bidzina Ivanishvili has spent on advertisement in various newspapers and TV not affiliated with the government. As DFWatch has [...]

Georgian opposition financier waiting, considering options

By | January 12th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Lawyers working for Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili claim there are 44 days left for the President and the Civil Registry to decide whether to give him back his Georgian citizenship. They also say France will only revoke his French citizenship after the businessman’s has had restored his Georgian citizenship. The businessman’s citizenship troubles [...]

Problems in the border areas

By | January 12th, 2012|Categories: Opinion|Tags: |

After the Russia-Georgian conflict of August war 2008 the administrative boundary line still remains as one of the most widely discussed issues for international and Georgian society. Before August 2008 Ossetians and Georgians travelled freely from one side to another, but since October 2008 when South Ossetia closed the administrative boundary line (ABL), which [...]

Georgia’s capital is on the move

By | January 12th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili is moving yet another state body closer to Europe -- at least a few dozen kilometers. This time it's the Ministry for Internally Displaced Persons which will be moved from Tbilisi to the town of Gori, which lies close to the occupied territories and just a few kilometers from [...]

Georgian tycoon-politician might use wife to form party

By | January 12th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Ekaterine Khvedelidze, wife of the Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili is going to set up a new political party and compete in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Khvedelidze said this today as she appealed for a judge to immediately enforce a court ruling which restores her Georgian citizenship. In October, her husband unexpectedly broke out [...]

Georgian media swept up in campaign finance clampdown

By | January 11th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Newspapers and TV not affiliated with the government in Georgia have been swept up in a major effort by authorities to restrict an opposition financier's influence. Civil rights groups warned in late 2011 that this could happen, and now it has. Georgia's new party finance law is being applied far outside of party [...]

The role of remittances in Georgian economy

By | January 11th, 2012|Categories: Opinion|Tags: |

Remittances constitute 6% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and outweigh the inflows of both grants and FDIs in Georgia, writes Irina Guruli, program coordinator at the Economic Policy Research Center. International remittances are personal flows of money by migrants to family and friends in their countries of origin. With more than 215 million people living [...]

Fox reaffirms UK’s military ties with Georgia

By | January 11th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: , , |

TBILISI, DFWatch - British conservative politician Liam Fox calls the administrative border around the Tskhinvali region ‘the occupation line between Free Georgia and Occupied Georgia.’ The MP for North Somerset and former Secretary of State for Defense was visiting the border border area when he made the comment January 9. During his stay in Georgia, [...]

Bankrupcy left workers in crisis

By | January 10th, 2012|Categories: Economy, News|Tags: , |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Nodar has been working in Georgia's mountainous Bakuriani region for three years with his team of construction workers. But the company which employs him, Nola, has only paid him 2 000 lari out of the 16 000 he is entitled to. “So many today are in the same situation as me," [...]

Media’s alleged Ivanishvili links scrutinized

By | January 10th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - National TV channels in Georgia are scrutinizing the links between political challenger Bidzina Ivanishvili and an opposition-friendly cable channel in Tbilisi. Imedi, Rustavi 2 and GPB, the three national TV stations in Georgia, claim to have uncovered links between Ivanishvili and other parts of Georgian media. One target of the allegations [...]

2012 Georgian Elections – Battle without Rules?

By | January 9th, 2012|Categories: Opinion|Tags: , |

National law-making pre-New Year incidents The history of how the Georgian parliament amended the law about Political Unions of Citizens is taking on more and more of a comic character. First, while amending this law parliament violated its parliament procedural regulations. Specifically, the second article of the law appeared in the text at the [...]

Saakashvili building megacity without plan

By | January 9th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili is starting to build an entirely new city from scratch, but there is no city plan yet. Contruction work is set to start within the year, but no map or street plan is yet in existence for architects and engineers to use. The president's administration has told [...]

Georgian media: One for all, all for one

By | January 9th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's crisis-stricken free media have agreed on a new plan to react against outside interference in their work. The plan comes after a cable channel had to escape to a different studio and newspapers in Tbilisi have seen many newspaper kiosks torn down, threatening their distribution. Former producer at Maestro TV [...]

Georgian hostages released in Somalia

By | January 9th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Fifteen Georgian sailors taken hostage by Somali pirates have been set free after 508 days of captivity. According to Georgia's Marine Transport Agency, no ransom was paid. But pirates who spoke to the news service SomaliaReport.com said a three million dollar ransom was dropped onto the ship Sunday morning. Right now, the fifteen [...]

Citizenship issue postponed indefinitely

By | January 8th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - A Georgian billionaire who wants to run in the election in fall may have to wait for a long time for his citizenship application. Bidzina Ivanishvili lost his Georgian citizenship in October, four days after declaring that he wants to challenge Mikheil Saakashvili's power. He needs a citizenship in order to legally run [...]

Georgian hostages in Somalia to be released

By | January 8th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

Fifteen Georgian sailors who have been held hostage by Somali pirates for a year and a half are expected to be released in a few hours. Their release comes after intense negotiations by a an inter-agency commission within the Georgian government and is reported today by Georgian Tv station Imedi. The 15 were captured [...]

Georgian soldier dies in Afghanistan

By | January 7th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - A Georgian corporal has died in Afghanistan while serving in the ISAF mission. This is the twelfth Georgian soldier who dies in the war. According to the Georgian Ministry of Defense, Shalva Palodze died of wounds received during a Taliban attack. Georgia is one of the biggest contributors to the NATO-led [...]

Political ‘interest’ prompted Ivanishvili audit

By | January 7th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: , , |

TBILISI, DFWatch – A political movement in Georgia must follow rules for party financing, because it wants to impact the election. The new head of Georgia’s campaign finance watchdog, Natia Mogeladze (pictured), says she ordered Ivanishvili's movement to report on its finances because they made statements indicating political intentions. “The motivation was their own [...]

Ivanishvili company claims harassment by customs

By | January 6th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: , |

TBILISI, DFWatch - A company owned by Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili claims the customs service is deliberately damaging goods as they arrive from abroad, and that this only started after he said he wanted to go to politics. His company Cartu Group says goods arriving through customs have a loss of 700 000 lari, [...]

Georgia relaxes detention practice

By | January 6th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: , |

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian interior minister Vano Merabishvili (pictured) claims he is relaxing a controversial practice called administrative detention. Prisoners will be able to make phone calls, receive family members, talk to their lawyer and have more time to shower and be in the open air, the minister promises. The reason for the [...]

Party finance boss’ neutrality questioned

By | January 6th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: , , |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Opposition parties in Georgia object against the appointment of an employee at the Ministry of Justice as new head of the party finance monitoring body. The objections come not only from the many fiercly anti-government parties, but also from those that signed an agreement with the government last summer about how to overhaul [...]

Full checkup for Ivanishvili’s nascent bloc

By | January 5th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: , |

TBILISI, DFWatch - One day after being given responsibility for enforcing Georgia’s new tough rules on campaign financing, Natia Mogeladze takes the bull by the horns and asks the country’s new opposition movement to see their finances. This is the first time a new, controversial law on party financing is being applied outside of party politics, [...]

Detainees may register at university

By | January 5th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Youth who are sentenced to administrative detention in Georgia will be guaranteed that they will be able to register as a university student while serving time. This has been decided by the Georgian interior minister’s in a decree, effective from January 1, 2012. According to the decree, a person sentenced to administrative detention [...]

Georgia rules out early election for parliament

By | January 5th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch – There is uncertainty about the exact date of Georgia’s parliamentary election, with some expecting that president Mikheil Saakashvili might decide to hold them earlier than October. The exact date is decided by the president and must be announced at least sixty days in advance. The constitution says different things; on the [...]

TV staff jailed in Tbilisi

By | January 5th, 2012|Categories: Media, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Two employees of a TV station in Tbilisi who were arrested four days ago have been sentenced by a court to fifty days pretrial detention. The two are employed by one of the two opposing sides of a crisis-struck Maestro TV. The independent cable station was split after its manager broke into the [...]

Parliament’s powers weakened, warn lawyers

By | January 5th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: , |

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) calls for the Minister of Justice to immediately amend a decree he issued which gives the government the right to change the wording a laws already passed by parliament. Last week saw an unusual legal manouver in Tbilisi, when the government changed the wording of a [...]

Little known official will lead campaign finance control

By | January 5th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: , |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia has appointed the official who will be in charge of enforcing a set of new tough rules on campaign finance, as the country is preparing to hold parliamentary elections in the fall. The responsibility to enforce the new rules has been handed to Natia Mogeladze, a lawyer about who little is known. [...]

New media protection group formed

By | January 4th, 2012|Categories: Media, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch – Representatives of Georgian media gathered today at the office of Obiektivi, an internet based radio and television outfit, to prepare the draft of a memorandum for a new media association, which will be called Solidarity for Freedom of the Media. The new association is the initiative of Mamuka Glonti, the co-founder [...]

Administrative detention a violation of human rights

By | January 4th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia’s law about administrative offenses is a violation of human rights and the problem must be addressed immediately, says a new report published Wednesday by Human Rights Watch (HRW). The report says that although the government is currently reforming the system, it should get in place emergency measures in order to ensure defendants' [...]

New restrictions on prisoner belongings

By | January 4th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Prisoners in Georgia will no longer have the right to watch DVDs and receive certain kinds of things in the mail but will have to buy those things in the prison shops. Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance Khatuna Kalmakhelidze made this decision by a special decree which is already in force. The [...]

Used cars is Georgia’s export article no 1

By | January 4th, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: , |

TBILISI, DFWatch – Used cars has become Georgia’s most important export article, accounting for 21% of all exports in 2011. Second and third are ferroalloys and fertilizers. The country’s exports rose by 40% in 2011, compared to the previous year. Georgia ended the year 2011 with an average inflation level of 8.5. In 2010 and [...]

Ask for solidarity

By | January 4th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Companies distributing newspapers in Tbilisi are calling for their colleagues who want to participate City Hall’s project ‘1000 Booths’ not to sumit bids for locations where there were newspaper kiosks before. Planeta Forte, Matsne and Elva Servis released a common statement regarding the auction, which is held today and will continue tomorrow. In [...]

Hijacked Tbilisi TV cut from sat link

By | January 3rd, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - A TV station in the Georgian capital has had its satellite link cut. The studios of Maestro TV were taken over November 30 by a businessman who held management rights to it, after which journalists and staff fled the premises. Since then, Meastro's satellite link has been used by the businessman to show [...]

Government to ‘edit’ laws in Georgia

By | January 3rd, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - The government in Georgia has given itself the right to edit the wording of laws after they are passed in order to avoid misunderstandings. Recently a new law brought democracy groups to the streets to protest, but afterwards lawmakers claimed that the contentious part of the law was based on misinterpretation. The law [...]

Eleventh Georgian soldier dies in Afghanistan

By | January 3rd, 2012|Categories: In brief, News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch - Corporal Besik Niniashvili was serving in Helmand province with the Third Infantry Brigade’s 31th light infantry battalion within the frameworks of the ISAF mission. According to a statement from the Interior Ministry Niniashvili was killed when a mine exploded. He had the medal of Military Merit, an honorary diploma, a medal for combat [...]

Electronic Record Management and Georgia

By | January 1st, 2012|Categories: Opinion|Tags: , |

Electronic communications occupy a very significant role in daily activities of state authorities. Accessibility of such kind of electronic data and archiving it must be regulated by law. At the same time access to e-information of state officials will be a very significant step forward to open government and transparency. Also, this will give opportunity to [...]