Monthly Archives: March 2017

Open Society criticizes Hungary’s government for anti-NGO law

By | March 31st, 2017|Categories: NGO news|Tags: , , |

Open Society Foundations criticizes the  Hungarian government and accuses it of trying to silence academic freedom by proposing a law against internationally funded NGOs, which will make it ‘impossible’ for the Central European University in Budapest to operate. […]

Too young to tie the knot

By | March 30th, 2017|Categories: Minorities|Tags: , |

Seven of Taso Tsatiashvili’s daughers were married before they turned 18. (DFWatch.) IORMUGHANLO, DFWatch–Although Georgia has brought in a more restrictive marriage law, the problems of child marriage and arranged engagements persist, especially in areas with a minority population. A study carried out by the United Nations Population […]

CSOs’ statement on alleged revocation of self-governing status from seven Georgian cities

By | March 29th, 2017|Categories: NGO news|Tags: , , |

Statement of Civil Society and Media organizations against alleged revocation of the status from the-now seven self-governing cities in Georgia […]

Georgia detains Ukrainian ex-official linked to Yanukovich

By | March 29th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: , , , |

Veteran energy ministry official Igor Kiriushin (59) is accused of embezzlement of over 2 billion hryvnia. (Kievgrad.) TBILISI, DFWatch–An ally of the exiled former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich has been detained in Tbilisi by Interpol on suspicion of corruption. Igor Kiriushin (59), a veteran official at the Ukraine’s Ministry of Energy, was detained at Tbilisi airport on Saturday […]

Georgian vulnerability to the EU’s uncertain future

By | March 28th, 2017|Categories: Opinion|Tags: , , , |

Tatia Dolidze is Georgia’s Youth Representative to the United Nations. As the EU is experiencing the greatest identity crisis in its 60 years of existence, it is important to remember that  European integration is a history of crises and compromises. The current crisis is a good chance for the EU to address its democratic deficit, […]

Georgians celebrate start of visa-free travel to Europe

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

From left to right: PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Irakli Kobakhidze, Mamuka Mdinaradze, Lasha Abashidze. (Interpressnews.) (Interpressnews.) (Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–There were celebrations in the capital Tbilisi on Monday as Georgian nationals may travel without a visa to Europe’s vast borderless Schengen area from March 28. Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili was among government officials who attended a two […]

Rustavi 2 owners offer to hand shares over to staff

By | March 25th, 2017|Categories: In brief|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch–The owners of Georgia’s biggest opposition TV station have offered to hand over a controlling stake in the company to its staff. The brothers Giorgi and Levan Karamanishvili published an open letter to the staff of Rustavi 2 staff on Friday, offering them shares in the embattled TV company. […]

Activists claim police are planting drugs on government critics

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

Among the protestere was Ana Margvelashvili, daughter of the president of Georgia. (Rustavi 2.) TBILISI, DFWatch--The daughter of the president of Georgia claims police framed her friend because he has been involved in political work for the president. It used to be an oft-heard story during the Saakashvili presidency: regime critics who are set up by police [...]

11-year-old girl killed by car in Tbilisi

By | March 22nd, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: |

(Ministry of Internal Affairs.) TBILISI, DFWatch–An 11 year old girl was killed in a car crash on the outskirts of Tbilisi on Tuesday. The tragic accident occurred in the morning hours Tuesday on Aghmashenebeli Lane on the northern outskirts of the city. The car, presumably a BMW, […]

Houses damaged, trees overturned by overnight storm in Tbilisi

By | March 21st, 2017|Categories: In brief|Tags: |

TBILISI, DFWatch–Strong wind hit Tbilisi Monday evening, uprooting tens of trees and damaging houses and street signs. Monday night at 10pm, the wind reached a speed of up to 32 meters per second in the capital. This qualifies as a hurricane, […]

Georgian president vetoes controversial surveillance bill

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

(DF Watch) TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili on Monday vetoed a surveillance bill which civil society groups claim does not go far enough in reining in the powers of the secret police. Also opposition parties have criticized the bill. They suspect that it will give […]

Eight more detained as blame game continues after ‘parking fine riot’

By | March 19th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: |

(Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Police detained eight more people on criminal charges on Saturday as the blame game continues for last weekend’s violent riot in Batumi. Altogether, the number of detainees has now reached 100, all of them men, the local newspaper Batumelebi reports.   […]

Hungarian tourist killed by avalanche in Georgia

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

A screenshot from Imedi TV showing the tracks where the victim skied along with a group of tourists near Gudauri. TBILISI, DFWatch–A Hungarian tourist died in an avalanche in Georgia on Friday while skiing near Gudauri, a mountain resort north of Tbilisi. Authorities did not identity the victim beyond describing him as a man aged around 40. The accident occurred when a group of tourists […]

Spanish police detain 48 in raids against Georgian robbery gangs

By | March 17th, 2017|Categories: Crime|Tags: , , |

(National Police Corps of Spain.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Spanish police have arrested dozens of Georgian nationals suspected of home burglaries in an elaborate operation said to be targeting ‘the Georgian mafia’. The police released information on Thursday but operations were carried out earlier, […]

Six more arrests in wake of Batumi ‘parking fine riot’

By | March 17th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: |

(Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Police in Georgia arrested six more people on Thursday who are suspected of having been involved in a riot in the Black Sea city Batumi last weekend that started with a disagreement over a parking fine. The six are expected to appear in court on Friday. […]

Two drug arrests of UNM-linked youth raise calls of politicized justice

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

Khatia Dekanoidze as head of Ukraine’s national police. TBILISI, DFWatch–Two young men related to government critics were arrested in Tbilisi on Tuesday on drug charges. Their mothers think it was politically motivated. One of the detainees is the son of Khatia Dekanoidze, a justice specialist who introduced Georgian experience with police reforms to Ukraine […]

Sen. McCain encourages Georgia to preserve pluralistic media

By | March 15th, 2017|Categories: In brief|Tags: , , |

Georgian court's decision regarding Rustavi 2 looks like 'an attempt to silence opposition voices', US Senator John McCain said to Voice of America's Georgian service. "I am deeply concerned that the Georgian Supreme Court’s decision regarding Rustavi 2 appears to be an attempt to silence opposition voices in the press and curtail the country’s vibrant, pluralistic, [...]

Tbilisi and Brussels: tending to the democracy we have fired up

By | March 14th, 2017|Categories: Opinion|Tags: , , , , , , |

Ambassador Tedo Japaridze is a former Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations in the Parliament of Georgia. Every time someone in Brussels criticizes the Georgian government, a chain reaction begins in Tbilisi.  With specs of truth, the opposition starts a fire designed to scorch the reputation of Georgia, while certain media will provide ventilation. It is not long before the whole […]

Rioters will be strictly punished, Georgia’s interior minister warns

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

Clean up work after a riot Saturday night and Sunday morning in Batumi. (Interpressnews.) Those responsible will be strictly punished, Interior Minister Giorgi Mgebrishvili warned. (Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Most who were detained in a riot in Batumi, Georgia have now been released, but the interior minister warned that they will be strictly punished. Seven people are still incarcerated after a court placed them in preliminary administrative detention, […]

Government and opposition trade accusations over Batumi riot

By | March 12th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: |

From left to right: Batumi Mayor Giorgi Ermakov, PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili and head of the Adjara government Zurab Pataradze in Batumi on Sunday. (Interpressnews). (Batumelebi.) TBILISI, DFWatch–The government and the largest opposition party in Georgia are blaming each other for being behind a riot that shook the Black Sea resort city Batumi last night, injuring dozens and leaving the burgeoning tourist destination in disarray. A special unit […]

PM Kvirikashvili blames ‘destructive political forces’ for Batumi riot

By | March 12th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: , |

Sporadic rioting continued into the night in Batumi, a port city on Georgia’s Black Sea coast. (Batumelebi.) TBILISI, DFWatch–“A common incident has been utilized by destructive political forces to escalate the situation,” Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili stated at an emergency briefing at about 5 am on Sunday appealing the crowd in Batumi to calm down. “Unfortunately, those forces […]

Around 20 police and protesters injured in riot over parking fine in Georgia

By | March 12th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: , |

TBILISI, DFWatch–Around twenty police and protesters are injured after a riot broke out in Batumi, Georgia, Saturday evening over a disagreement about a parking fine. The riot began after a man refused to accept a fine for parking in the wrong place […]

Campaigners in Georgia urge president to veto surveillance bill

By | March 11th, 2017|Categories: NGO news|Tags: , |

(DF Watch) TBILISI, DFWatch–An activist group in the former Soviet republic of Georgia urges the president to veto a secret surveillance bill and plans to sue the government in the European Court of Human Rights over the bill. The bill on secret surveillance was adopted […]

Remembering Bob Walsh: A man who brought big ideas to life in Georgia and around the world

By | March 10th, 2017|Categories: Opinion|Tags: , |

Bob Walsh The Memorial Service, remembering Bob Walsh, will be held on March 11 in Seattle… So today, indeed, is a sad, tough, rough day because Bob Walsh was my friend for 30 years. Maybe it was for even longer, it seemed that he was a part of my entire life. […]

Escalating rhetoric between Georgia’s parliament and president

By | March 9th, 2017|Categories: Legal reform|Tags: , |

Speaker of Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze. (Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–A meeting summoned by the Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili has become the latest episode in the downward spiral of deteriorating relations between him and the ruling Georgian Dream party. On Thursday, Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze […]

Prosecutors release secret videos in the Georgia’s church poisoning case

By | March 8th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: , , |

Prosecutor Jarji Tsiklauri at the briefing. (POG.) TBILISI, DFWatch–The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia on Wednesday presented its theory of how a priest allegedly was planning to murder an adviser to Patriarch Ilia II, backing the allegations up by secretly obtained videos. The central part of the evidence […]

EU denies link between Georgia visa waiver and refugee centers proposal

By | March 8th, 2017|Categories: Europe|Tags: , |

EU Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos. (Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–A member of the European Unions executive branch denies that there is any connection between a proposal to host refugee centers in Georgia and the recent decision to allow visa-free travel to the Schengen area for Georgian passport holders. […]

ECHR suspends Rustavi 2 takeover ‘until further notice’

By | March 7th, 2017|Categories: In brief|Tags: , , |

A letter by ICHR to Rustavi 2 lawyer published on Facebook by Rustavi 2 director Nika Gvaramia TBILISI, DFWatch–The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday confirmed a decision by one of its judges to suspend a ruling by Georgia’s Supreme Court about changing the ownership of the opposition-leaning TV company Rustavi 2. “A Chamber constituted from the Section […]

Georgia rejects idea of hosting refugee center for EU

By | March 7th, 2017|Categories: Europe|Tags: , , |

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz meets his Georgian counterpart during a visit to Tbilisi on February 3, 2017. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia distances itself from a controversial statement by the Austrian minister of foreign affairs, who proposed establishing refugees’ centers outside the borders of the EU, including in Georgia. “There are no plans to set up refugee camps […]

Georgian PM proposes creating new media ombudsman post

By | March 6th, 2017|Categories: Media|Tags: , , |

PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili. (Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia’s prime minister proposes creating an office of media ombudsman. The PM’s proposal comes at the same time as the situation surrounding a lawsuit about the country’s most popular TV company remains in a deadlock. After a meeting with PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili […]

Georgia’s embattled TV station Rustavi 2 plans new rally on Saturday

By | March 6th, 2017|Categories: Media|Tags: |

A scene from the February 19 rally. (Rustavi 2.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Embattled Georgian TV channel Rustavi 2 plans another rally in Tbilisi on Saturday to protest what it claims is an attempt by authorities to silence free speech in the country. On March 3, Georgia’s Supreme Court upheld a decision to change ownership of Rustavi 2. […]

Leaders of Georgia’s Orthodox Church gather to discuss poisoning plot

By | March 5th, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: , , |

TBILISI, DFWatch–When top clerics within the Georgian Orthodox Church gather for a Holy Synod on March 9, there are several difficult problems on their agenda, notably a priest accused of planning to murder someone in the patriarch’s inner circle. Petre Tsaava, the Metropolitan of Chkondidi, has spoken about corruption in the Church in a series of TV appearances. ( The Synod is the highest authority […]

Gvaramia: ECHR has suspended Georgian Supreme Court ruling

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

TBILISI, DFWatch–The director of Georgia’s largest opposition TV company says the European Court of Human Rights has decided to temporarily suspend a ruling by the former Soviet republic’s Supreme Court which changes the ownership of the company, Rustavi 2. […]

State Department: US is concerned by the impact of Supreme Court decision in Rustavi 2 case

By | March 3rd, 2017|Categories: Brief|Tags: , , , , |

"The United States is concerned by the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision regarding Rustavi 2, which could limit the access of opposition voices to Georgian broadcast media. A pluralistic media environment is essential for Georgia’s democratic growth and Euro-Atlantic aspirations. We urge the Georgian government to take steps to ensure that the media environment remains free, open, [...]

Georgia’s president advises all sides invlolved in Rustavi 2 case to refrain from hasty steps

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

TBILISI, DFWatch–The Georgian president on Friday stepped into the tense situation surrounding the largest TV station in the country, urging all sides to refrain from undertaking ‘immediate’ action. The decision led to a protest […]

Georgia’s ruling party postpones switch to indirect election of president

By | March 3rd, 2017|Categories: Legal reform|Tags: |

Irakli Kobakhidze. (Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgian Dream is backing down on a previous pledge to phase out the use of direct elections to select a president already from next year. Instead, the ruling coalition plans to introduce the change from the 2023 election. “The rules of presidential […]

Vigil held as Georgia’s embattled TV station vows to block takeover

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

(Rustavi 2.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Opposition activists and supporters of Rustavi 2 held a vigil at the studio complex last night, after the Supreme Court upheld a decision to hand ownership of the embattled TV company over to a private investor who critics fear will silence the government’s […]

Georgia Supreme Court upholds decision to change Rustavi 2 ownership

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

Rustavi 2 director Nika Gvaramia. (Interpressnews.) TBILISI, DFWatch–The Supreme Court in the former Soviet republic of Georgia has controversially upheld a decision to take away ownership of the country’s biggest opposition TV channel and hand it to a private investor. Critics say the decision will effectively silence […]

Georgia Supreme Court begins review of Rustavi 2 case Thursday

By | March 2nd, 2017|Categories: Media|Tags: , |

Rustavi 2’s director Nika Gvaramia. (Palitra TV.) TBILISI, DFWatch–The Supreme Court in the former Soviet republic of Georgia on Thursday begins to review a highly publicised lawsuit about the ownership over the country’s biggest TV channel. The case concerns who shall control 100 percent of shares in Rustavi 2, […]

Georgian PM signs visa waiver document with EU

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

Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, and Georgian PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili shaking hands after signing the visa waiver agreement. (Government of Georgia.) TBILISI, DFWatch–After years of negotiations, Georgia’s prime minister finally signed an agreement with the EU on Wednesday which gives his country’s citizens the right to visa-free travel to the Schengen area. The visa waiver plan will be published in the EU […]

Detained Georgian priest curses prosecutors and law enforcers

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

Jarji Tsiklauri, spokesperson for the Prosecutor General’s Office. (Palitra.) TBILISI, DFWatch–Prosecutors in Georgia are still unable to interrogate archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze who is accused of murder attempt of an unidentified person from patriarch’s inner circle. “Instead of responding to our critical questions, he cursed us, […]