Monthly Archives: February 2017

NATO concerned about closure of Abkhazia checkpoints

By | February 28th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: , , |

Nabakevi border crossing to Abkhazia. TBILISI, DFWatch–NATO is concerned that the closure of two crossing points between the breakaway region Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia may have adverse impact on the local population. A spokesperson for the alliance on Tuesday asked for the de facto authorities […]

EU gives final go-ahead for Georgians to enter Schengen without visa

By | February 28th, 2017|Categories: Europe|Tags: |

All that’s needed is a new biometric passport. (Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–A visa waiver system for Georgian citizens was given the final approval by the EU Council on Monday, and now only formalities remain until 3.7 million citizens of the Caucasus nation can enjoy up to 90 days trips to Europe’s vast borderless Schengen area […]

Georgian judo team takes two gold at Düsseldorf Grand Prix

By | February 27th, 2017|Categories: Sport|Tags: , |

Beka Gviniashvili. (Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–The Georgian judo team performed brilliantly at Düsseldorf Grand Prix with two gold medals and second place ahead of Russia and France. The team from Japan won the competition with five gold medals. Vazha Margvelashvili (-66 kg) and Beka Gviniashvili (-90 kg) […]

Second Georgian contractor held captive in DRC named

By | February 27th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: , , |

Pilot Vyacheslav Pluzhnikov is being held by a Tutsi rebel group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo after a helicopter crash. (Imedi.) TBILISI, DFWatch–The second of two Georgian pilots who were taken prisoner by rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been identified as Vyacheslav Pluzhnikov. Pluzhnikov has a background from the Georgian air force. He was arrested for alleged espionage […]

Patriarch’s head of security resigns, citing ‘intrigues’

By | February 27th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: , , , |

Patriarch Ilia II and Soso Okhanashvili. (Tabula.) TBILISI, DFWatch–In the latest twist in the scandal about an alleged assassination plot within the Georgian Church, the head of the patriarch’s security detail confirmed Sunday that he has resigned from his post. “I went to his holiness… [and] asked for his blessing to left the position,” […]

Aerosmith concert in Georgia sold out in three hours

By | February 26th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: , |

TBILISI, DFWatch–Tickets for an Aerosmith concert in Georgia on May 20 went on sale Saturday and were sold out in three hours. Tickets were bought not only by Georgians, but also customers from neighboring Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey. Tickets for the concert, which will take […]

Georgian opposition party will not face charges for planting pot

By | February 25th, 2017|Categories: Politics|Tags: , |

TBILISI, DFWatch–Members of an opposition party in the former Soviet republic of Georgia will not be prosecuted for planting cannabis in their office on New Year’s Eve because the saplings contained too little of the forbidden narcotic substance. The New Year’s Eve pot […]

Azerbaijan’s president confident pipeline across Turkey will go ahead

By | February 24th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: , , |

TBILISI, DFWatch–Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev is certain that nothing can prevent the construction of a new pipeline from his country to the European mainland. As a major producer of natural gas, the Caspian Sea nation has much to gain from the planned Southern Gas Corridor, […]

Two Georgians held captive in DR Congo after military helicopter crash

By | February 23rd, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: |

The two captured Georgian contractors were in a Mi-24 military attack helicopter belonging to the DR Congo armed forces. (davric/Wikimedia.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Two Georgian private contractors are being held captive in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, after the military helicopter they were in crash landed in the east of the country nearly a month ago. Georgia’s Ministry of Defense said Wednesday […]

Georgia’s church poisoning case still a mystery

By | February 23rd, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: |

Prosecutors played secret recordings for Church leaders at the Patriarchate. (Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Breaking an earlier promise, Georgia’s top prosecutor did not release new evidence about an alleged assassination attempt in the Georgian Orthodox Church upon the return of the patriarch, leaving the public in the dark and the case shrouded in mystery. […]

State Oil and Gas Company Spending Questioned

By | February 22nd, 2017|Categories: Economy|Tags: , , , , |

Georgia Oil and Gas Corporation building on Kakheti av. ( Between 2012 and 2014, the Georgia Oil and Gas Corporation (GOGC) spent 3.8 million lari (about $US2.26 million) to finance patrols watching to make sure nobody was stealing gas from oil or gas pipelines. […]

Georgia may ban smoking indoors and at sports arenas

By | February 21st, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: |

Tobacco Control Alliance demonstrating in Tbilisi in March, 2016. (Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Lawmakers in Georgia are pondering a blanket ban on smoking indoors which will also cover sports stadiums and all forms of public transport. If the bill is passed, smoking will be prohibited inside all kinds of buildings, except for private homes, laboratories […]

Georgia’s parliament has 41 millionaires

By | February 20th, 2017|Categories: Politics|Tags: |

Leader of Alliance of Patriots Nato Chkheidze is worth 51 million lari, according to the report. (Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–41 members of the Georgian parliament are millionaires (in GELs); 37 persons from the Georgian Dream majority and 4 members of two opposition parties, United National Movement and Alliance of Patriots. There are six millionaire ministers […]

New details expected in ‘cyanide affair’ as patriarch returns from Berlin

By | February 20th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: |

Catholicos-Patriarch of All-Georgia Ilia II. (Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia expects new details to emerge about an alleged assassination attempt in the higher circles of the Orthodox Church, as Patriarch Ilia II has left the hospital in Berlin and is expected to arrive in Tbilisi at around 6pm Monday local time. […]

Ex-laywer elected new Free Democrats leader

By | February 19th, 2017|Categories: Politics|Tags: , , |

Shalva Shavgulidze is the new Free Democrats leader. (Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–A former lawyer has been elected chairman of the embattled Free Democrats, perhaps the most staunchly pro-western party in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. The Free Democrats’ failure to win any seats in the 2016 parliamentary elections coupled with […]

Rustavi 2 rallies supporters to defend freedom of expression

By | February 19th, 2017|Categories: Media|Tags: |

News anchor Zaal Udumashvili. (Rustavi 2.) TBILISI, DFWatch–A rally is underway in the center of Tbilisi to show solidarity with Rustavi 2, as a decision is expected in the Supreme Court that could change its ownership, and – according to supporters of the TV company – bring its criticism of the government to a halt. […]

Georgia’s biggest opposition TV station goes dark to protest ‘injustice’

By | February 18th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: , |

A banner posted on Rustavi 2. TBILISI, DFWatch–The biggest opposition TV station in the former Soviet republic of Georgia has voluntarily suspended its broadcast for two days to protest what it claims is an attempt by the government to silence it. “It was not an easy decision[…] but today we are left […]

Massive snowfall causing problems in western Georgia

By | February 17th, 2017|Categories: Environment|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch–Massive snowfall is causing problems in western Georgia, especially the two regions Samegrelo and Svaneti, where the snow cover in some places exceeds one meter. An avalanche cut off an important road connecting Zugdidi and Mestia, the administrative centers […]

Target of Georgia Church poisoning attempt was patriarch’s adviser

By | February 16th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: , , |

Shorena Tetruashvili ( TBILISI, DFWatch–Top prosecutors in Georgia now say the target of an assassination attempt within the Orthodox Church was not the patriarch, but one of his advisers. In an interview with the newspaper Rezonansi, POG spokeswoman Natia Sukhiashvili specifically […]

Wizz Air launches low-cost flights between London and Kutaisi

By | February 16th, 2017|Categories: Economy|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch–Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air is launching cheap flights between London Luton and Kutaisi, a city in the western Imereti region of Georgia. United Airports Georgia announced the direct flights Kutaisi-London-Kutaisi two times per week, on Thursdays […]

Georgia reacts to arrest of priest on murder attempt charges

By | February 15th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: , |

Prime Minster Giorgi Kvirikashvili. (Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgians are reacting to the detention of an Orthodox priest whom prosecutors accuse of trying to poison a high church official, widely believed to be the head of the Georgian Church. The story immediately went viral in Georgia, where the Orthodox Church […]

13 UNM activists arrested at rally outside Tbilisi City Hall

By | February 14th, 2017|Categories: Politics|Tags: , |

TBILISI, DFWatch–A demonstration in front of Tbilisi City Hall on Monday turned violent when activists for the United National Movement (UNM) tried to break into City Hall in order to meet Mayor Davit Narmania. Thirteen members of the opposition supporters were […]

Georgian priest arrested for planning to murder high church leader with poison

By | February 13th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: |

Giorgi Mamaladze. TBILISI, DFWatch–An archpriest in the Georgian Orthodox Church was arrested at Tbilisi airport, accused of trying to poison a person in ‘the Church’s highest hierarchy’ with cyanide. Archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze was arrested as he was trying to board a plane […]

Georgian man sentenced to twenty years in prison in breakaway region

By | February 13th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: |

(DF Watch.) TBILISI, DFWatch–A court in South Ossetia has sentenced a Georgian man to 20 years in a Tskhinvali jail for ‘sabotage and terrorist activities’. 49 year-old Giorgi Giunashvili, a native of the village Disevi inside the breakaway region, was arrested by Tskhinvali forces […]

Georgian parliament overturns president’s veto of judicial bill

By | February 13th, 2017|Categories: Legal reform|Tags: , , , |

(Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Opposition parties in the former Soviet republic of Georgia warn that the independence of the courts will be weakened after the ruling party overturned the president’s veto against a judicial reform bill. The so-called third wave of judicial reform was vetoed […]

Russian-backed enclave plans referendum about naming itself after medieval tribe

By | February 13th, 2017|Categories: Caucasus region|Tags: , |

Leonid Tibilov, the de facto President of the enclave Republic of South Ossetia. (RES.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Russian-backed separatists who have ruled a region of Georgia since the early 1990s plan to name their self-declared republic after a nomadic tribe that conquered swaths of Europe and North Africa in the Middle Ages. If the 50,000 population approves […]

51 people jailed for entering Georgia’s breakaway territories the wrong way

By | February 11th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: , , , |

The bridge over the river Inguri is currently the only legal way to enter Abkhazia. (DF Watch.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia has jailed 51 persons over the last nine years for entering Abkhazia or South Ossetia from the wrong direction. The ombudsman now calls for a review of the law. Georgia’s Law on the Occupied Territories […]

UNM activists rally outside Supreme Court to save their TV station

By | February 11th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: |

(Tabula.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Activists from Georgia’s former ruling party gathered in front of the Supreme Court building in Tbilisi on Friday to support their TV station, Rustavi 2, in a private lawsuit that could dampen down its criticism of the government. The activists marched down […]

Rustavi 2 airs allegations against former deptuty chief prosecutor

By | February 10th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: , |

Nika Gvaramia, director of Rustavi 2, the pro-Saakashvili television channel on which the unproven accusations were given extensive air time. TBILISI, DFWatch–A fiercely anti-government TV station in Georgia aired allegations against a former high-level prosecutor purporting that he had tried to sell a secret recordings of a former prime minister and billionaire. The word fight was launched during […]

Four transgender women attacked at Tbilisi nightclub

By | February 8th, 2017|Categories: Minorities|Tags: , |

(Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Four transgender women are being treated for cuts after an attack at a nightclub in downtown Tbilisi, the capital of the former Soviet republic of Georgia. The incident occurred at 7am Monday on Elbakidze Street, near Rustaveli, one of the main metro stations in the city. […]

UNM to rally to stop Supreme Court ruling against Rustavi 2

By | February 8th, 2017|Categories: Media|Tags: , |

UNM’s Nika Melia. (Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Activists from Georgia’s former ruling party are rallying in Tbilisi on February 10 in order to prevent the Supreme Court from ruling against the top people in the largest opposition TV station. UNM’s Nika Melia said on Wednesday that the party of ex-President […]

Text messages ‘prove’ Saakashvili ally pressured Georgia Supreme Court judges

By | February 7th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: |

Davit Sakvarelidze, a Georgian who has worked as prosecutor both in his home country and in Ukraine, is accused of sending text messages to two Supreme Court judges in Georgia. He currently lives in Ukraine. TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia’s top prosecutor on Tuesday presented text messages allegedly sent from Ukraine as proof that a close ally of former President Mikheil Saakashvili had tried to put pressure on two Supreme Court judges in a lawsuit that could silence […]

Georgian sentenced to 13 years for killing a transgender woman

By | February 7th, 2017|Categories: Crime|Tags: , |

Zizi Shekiladze. TBILISI, DFWatch–A Georgian man has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for stabbing and killing a transgender woman acquaintance in Tbilisi last year. Tbilisi City Court decided to sentence 31 year-old Giorgi Murjikneli to 10 years in jail for  viciously attacking and cutting […]

Georgia cracks down on private school linked to Gulen network

By | February 6th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: , , |

Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. (Photo by the Georgian PM office.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgian authorities have suspended the accreditation of a private school with links to the Turkish Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom Ankara has accused of plotting the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The council of the National Center […]

Georgia Supreme Court judges silent about who pressured them

By | February 5th, 2017|Categories: In brief|Tags: , |

(Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Two Supreme Court judges in the former Soviet republic of Georgia have still not revealed who tried to put pressure on them in a case about the ownership of a large TV station critical to the government. Judges Besarion Arveladze and Paata Katamadze, […]

Abkhazia suspicious of Georgia’s offer of visa-free travel to Europe

By | February 4th, 2017|Categories: Europe|Tags: |

(Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia offers inhabitants in the breakaway region Abkhazia to be included in a visa waiver scheme to the Schengen area. Sukhumi calls the offer manipulation. The EU parliament on Thursday voted in favor of extending […]

Two of Georgia’s Supreme Court judges claim they were pressured

By | February 3rd, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: , , |

Rustavi 2 director Nika Gvaramia. TBILISI, DFWatch–Two judges in the Supreme Court of the former Soviet republic of Georgia have filed a formal request to the country’s top prosecutor to investigate an attempt to influence them. The case led to an exchange of strong claims and counterclaims on Friday, […]

Imedi-GDS merger heralds further consolidation in Georgian TV

By | February 3rd, 2017|Categories: Media|Tags: , , |

Ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili appearing on 2030, the main news show on GDS. TBILISI, DFWatch–Imedi TV, one of Georgia’s largest TV stations, has bought GDS, a smaller company linked with billionaire and former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. Imedi confirmed that it had purchased 100 percent of shares in the broadcasting company […]

EU parliament greenlights visa-free entry for Georgians

By | February 2nd, 2017|Categories: Europe|Tags: |

Tbilisi international airport. (Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–The plan to extend visa-free entry into Schengen to more than 3 million citizens of the former Soviet republic of Georgia passed another hurdle today, as the EU’s parliament approved the plan with a clear majority. At a plenary session the 751 member assembly session endorsed […]

Georgian fighter seeks asylum in Ukraine to avoid extradition

By | February 2nd, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch–A Georgian volunteer soldier in Ukraine is looking for political asylum in Ukraine, as he believes his life’s in danger if he returns to his home country Georgia. Former Vice Colonel Gia Tsertsvadze is wanted in Russia for a murder in 2003. Recently […]

President, civil rights groups reject new surveillance regulations bill

By | February 1st, 2017|Categories: Politics|Tags: , |

Eka Beselia. (Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–A working group within the Georgian parliament on Monday proposed to establish a new agency under the State Security Service to monitor telephone and internet communications, as well as conduct video and audio eavesdropping. […]

2 military helicopters with Georgian crew crash in eastern Congo

By | February 1st, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: , , |

DRC Mi-24 military attack helicopter. (davric/Wikimedia.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Two Mi-24 military helicopters with a combined crew of at least four crashed on Friday in North Kivu province near the border with Rwanda and Uganda, authorities reported on Monday. Tbilisi based military magazine Arsenal wrote that […]