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CrisisWatch Database

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130 results found
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Georgia

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged

Georgian prosecutors 28 July filed charges against former president Mikhail Saakashvili for abuse of power; U.S. 29 July expressed concern. Several foreign govts emphasised due process needed to be rigorously followed in trials of former govt. Ex-Tbilisi mayor and opposition figure Ugulava detained and jailed 3 July on similar charges awaiting trial. PM Irakli Garibashvili 31 July said judicial proceedings will be "objective and transparent”. Ongoing political tensions between loosely affiliated Georgian Dream coalition and opposition United National Movement (UNM) following June local elections. Incident near Armenian Tbilisi church in mid-July with men wielding steel bars, concerns about long-dormant ethnic issues and response by police. EU Association Agreement ratified 18 July. Court in breakaway South Ossetia region 18 July jailed Georgian for spying.

Georgia

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

Local elections held 15 June: Georgian Dream coalition retained control over most local councils though with lower votes than expected; in S Ossetia parties favouring outright union with Russia fared best according to results released by de facto authorities. Pre-election period marred by violence against opposition National Movement candidates. 28th round of Geneva International Discussions on Abkhazia and S Ossetia broke down again 18 June; representatives from both separatist regions walked out after demanding discussion of return of over 200,000 ethnic Georgian IDPs to entities be removed from agenda. Georgia 27 June signed association agreement with EU. NATO 25 June announced will not invite Georgia to join NATO’s Membership Action Plan, formal step toward membership, at Sept summit; instead agreed to draw up cooperation package. U.S. congressional delegation visited 29 June, met with President Margvelashvili, PM Garibashvili, other officials; emphasised country’s “importance” to U.S..

Georgia

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

NATO SRSG for Caucasus and Central Asia 1 May praised Georgia’s efforts toward membership, said NATO looking at “next steps”. French President Hollande 13 May and European Council President Van Rompuy 14 May visited Tbilisi, met with President Margvelashvili and PM Garibashvili, discussed Georgia’s integration into EU and NATO; Van Rompuy announced Association Agreement to be signed 27 June. Approx 500 residents 29 May protested in Gardabani, demanded investigation into 28 May attack on ethnic Azerbaijanis by ethnic Georgians. EU 14 May hailed release of 17 Georgian nationals detained in breakaway South Ossetia region. Former health minister and opposition MP severely beaten in Tbilisi 27 May.

Georgia

  |  1 May 2014

Unchanged

FM Panjikidze said country plans to sign association agreement by June with EU, which has brought date forward several times from original plan for Oct. PM’s envoy for relations with Russia met with deputy Russian FM in Prague for 6th time since late 2012; latter said talks “constructive”, Russia has no intention of blocking signing of association agreement between Georgia and EU. Russia released 3 Georgians convicted on spying charges in 2010. 3 Georgian journalists detained by Russian troops close to South Ossetia (SO) administrative boundary line (ABL) 15 April, freed next day by entity officials. Georgia continued to complain of “provocative” Russian helicopter, plane and drone over-flights over villages on side of SO and Abkhaz ABLs that it controls. Defence minister warned of threat from “anti-state organisations” in Armenian-populated Javakheti area, attempting to create atmosphere of instability; analysts say almost no real separatist threat in area, or support in Armenia for such aspirations. Defence minister 30 April called on NATO to deploy “defensive assets” in Georgia.

Georgia

  |  1 Apr 2014

Unchanged

EU Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle met with FM in Tbilisi 4 March, pledged continued support for closer ties between EU and Georgia. Talks between Georgian and Russian officials to discuss possible high-level meeting postponed twice early March. Prosecutors summoned former President Saakashvili for questioning as witness in several criminal cases including investigation into 2005 death of former PM Zurab Zhvania; U.S.-based Saakashvili said he will not return to Georgia for questioning.

Georgia

  |  1 Mar 2014

Unchanged

Govt strongly protested quickened pace of “borderisation” by Russian troops in South Ossetia, said building of fortifications and fences along administrative border picked up immediately after end of Sochi Olympics. PM Garibashvili met European Commission President Barroso 3 Feb, said Georgia’s EU integration “irreversible” and expects to sign Association Agreement by Aug. Russian President Putin early Feb said open to talks with Georgian President Margvelashvili; officials reportedly preparing to discuss possible meeting. PM Garibashvili, FM and other officials visited U.S. late month for talks with U.S. VP Biden; President Obama unexpectedly joined meeting. Former PM Merabishvili sentenced to 5 years for abuse of office, bribing voters, inefficient use of funds. Trial in absentia of ex-defence minister under former President Saakashvili Davit Kezerashvili began, but France ruled out his extradition over corruption allegations.

Georgia

  |  1 Feb 2014

Unchanged

Parliament 23 Jan passed unanimous resolution citing “extreme concern” over developments in Ukraine, adding “Russia will not be able to force either Georgia or Ukraine to reject their European choice”. Amid ongoing dispute over Russian “borderisation” of administrative boundary lines along breakaway Georgian regions, President Margvelashvili 20 Jan expressed indignation over Russian announcement it would extend “border zone” 11km deeper into Abkhazia to maintain security for Feb Sochi Winter Olympics, said move politically motivated, contravened international law. Head of Russian-backed South Ossetia (SO) entity Leonid Tibilov unexpectedly dismissed cabinet 20 Jan, citing delays in reconstruction, social and economic problems, also acknowledging reported misappropriation of at least $1bn in Russian funds; mentioned growing signs that Russia and SO may agree on de facto Russian “annexation” of SO, said no need for referendum as called for by opposition.

Georgia

  |  2 Jan 2014

Unchanged

26th round of Geneva talks involving Tbilisi govt and Abkhazia and South Ossetia (SO) authorities ended in another deadlock 18 Dec, after previous round saw sides express cautious optimism on possible “non-use of force” agreement. Entity representatives blocking discussion of other issues including fate of Georgian IDPs unless such an agreement is reached, but Tbilisi insisting that Russia also signs agreement, pledge non-use of force; Russia refuses. Tbilisi again raised issue of “borderisation” of SO administrative boundary line by Russian troops, emphasising resulting hardship for local residents. European monitors early Dec reported almost 50km of heavy fortifications erected by mid-Nov, some 1km into Georgian-held territory, also Russian drone activity. European Council President Van Rompuy said EU willing to speed up signing of Association Agreement with Georgia by Aug 2014. Russian President Putin raised possibility of lifting visa requirements for Georgians. New series of charges and questioning of political figures from former governing UNM party began mid-Dec, including Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava charged with misappropriation of funds; former Deputy Prosecutor-General Davit Chkhatarshvili detained, charged with abuse of power and other charges over alleged role in 2012 prison abuse scandal. Former PM Merabishvili, arrested in May on charges including abuse of power, claimed authorities pressuring him to inform on former President Saakashvili. 

Georgia

  |  1 Dec 2013

Unchanged

Tensions with Russia increased, European Union Monitoring Mission expressed “concern” over Russian troops’ continued “borderisation” of administrative boundary of largely unrecognised “South Ossetia” entity. PM Ivanishvili quit and left politics, naming Irakli Garibashvili, 31-year-old interior minister, new PM 18 Nov. New President Margvelashvili, whose powers under new constitution mostly moved to parliament, sworn in. Country initialled Association Agreement with EU 28 Nov, hopes to formally conclude with signing in 2014.

Georgia

  |  1 Nov 2013

Unchanged

Ruling Georgian Dream coalition candidate Giorgi Margvelashvili won 27 Oct presidential election with 62% of vote; outgoing president Saakashvili’s UNM party candidate Davit Bakradze won 22%, former parliament speaker Nino Burdhzanadze 10%; turnout reported at 46.6%. PM Ivanishvili 22 Oct again said Saakashvili may face prosecution following election. Former defence minister under Saakashvili Davit Kezerashvili detained on Interpol warrant in France 15 Oct on corruption charges, govt seeking extradition. Former defence minister Bacho Akhalaia sentenced to nearly 4 years’ prison for abuse of office. NATO SG Fogh Rasmussen 2 Oct called on Russia to reverse recognition of breakaway Georgian regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia (SO), expressed concern over Russia’s demarcation of SO administrative boundary line and effect on local Georgians.

Georgia

  |  1 Oct 2013

Unchanged

Ahead of 27 Oct presidential election, 3 of 23 registered candidates seen as having realistic chances of getting enough votes to qualify for second round: PM Ivanishvili’s “Georgian Dream” candidate Giorgi Margvelashvili, Davit Bakradze of President Saakashvili’s UNM, and former parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze. PM Ivanishvili said country plans to sign association agreement with EU early 2014, says still wants to improve relations with Moscow. Tbilisi sent protest note to Russia 13 Sept over Russian troops’ continued demarcation of administrative boundary line (ABL) with Georgian region South Ossetia (SO). U.S. and EU have expressed concern over Russia’s borderisation activities. Russian “embassy” general consul and wife shot dead in breakaway region of Abkhazia 9 Sept.

Georgia

  |  1 Sep 2013

Unchanged

Russian President Putin visited breakaway Abkhazia 27 Aug for talks with local leader Ankvab, second meeting between the two in recent weeks; no results reported. Visit comes after Russia recently reduced funding to entity, where it has thousands of troops, over series of disagreements with de facto authorities. Putin visit drew official protest by Tbilisi via Swiss as countries have no diplomatic relations, and criticism from EU Monitoring Mission. Oct presidential election battle heating up, with more than a dozen candidates expected to vie for post held by term-limited incumbent Saakashvili. Ex-Saakashvili ally and former parliament speaker Burjanadze waging aggressive campaign, said PM Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream coalition govt should have done more to mend ties with Moscow, said “not afraid of being called pro-Russian”. Tensions in south when authorities late-Aug dismantled recently-constructed mosque minaret, saying it lacked proper building authorisation.

Georgia

  |  1 Aug 2013

Unchanged

Residents and IDPs from formerly ethnic Georgian Akhalgori district of South Ossetia (SO) mid-July reported Russian and SO military units no longer allowing vehicular crossings across that section of Administrative Boundary Line (ABL), until now only area still open to regular vehicle crossings. 24th session of Geneva talks between Georgia and Russia late June again ended in deadlock. Russian official 20 July alleged U.S. Navy operating “biological facility” near Tbilisi, threatened to halt recent improvements in trade relations with Georgia; said lab contravenes “biological weapons” treaties, represents “powerful offensive capability”. Followed earlier allegation that recent outbreak of African swine fever in Russia came from Georgia. Georgia and EU 22 July finalised details of planned Nov association and free trade agreement with EU. Rare private meeting early July between PM Ivanishvili and Davit Bakradze, frontrunner as United National Movement (UNM) candidate, and prominent Georgian Dream (GD) parliament speaker; Ivanishvili afterwards called for end to partisan political attacks. UNM primary vote in Zugdidi city disrupted by rock-throwing individuals, GD denied responsibility. Prosecutor-General in rare rebuff to PM Ivanishvili rejected his call to reverse June decision to release former prison official who published controversial videos released before 2012 elections that helped defeat Saakashvili’s UNM that showed guards torturing inmates.

Georgia

  |  1 Jul 2013

Deteriorated

Rising tension with Russia and domestically within cohabitation govt. Relations worsened with Russia over its demarcation of Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) separating Georgian-controlled areas from South Ossetia (SO). Georgia claimed Russia “annexing” territory by installing fences deeper into areas previously under Georgian control. Russian “border guards” also detained further Georgian citizens near ABL. Georgian FM expressed concern, delivered protest note to Russia through Swiss Embassy. Georgian Patriarch Ilia II 1 June appealed to President Putin; European Union Monitoring Mission and NATO also condemned “borderisation” by Russian troops. Putin in 11 June interview said Moscow willing to restore relations with Georgia “in full scale” and called for cooperation combating crime and terrorism, but “cannot imagine” reversal of recognition of Abkhazia and SO. Russian-Georgian envoys met again 5 June to discuss trade, economy issues, limited results. Rising tensions within cohabitation govt ahead of Oct presidential elections as Interior Ministry 16 June claimed to have found large arms cache in west, videos depicting torture and rape of 2 detainees by police in 2011; several people including 3 acting, 1 former law enforcement officers arrested. Govt said it showed “systemic nature” of abuses under President Saakashvili’s UNM party, which condemned violence in tapes while saying they were “planted” among arms, which were purposefully hidden after 2008 war with Russia. Pro-Saakashvili Tbilisi city officials arrested and charged over alleged corruption; NATO chief Rasmussen, visiting Tbilisi 27 June, expressed concern over developments in Georgia. PM Ivanishvili hinted he may quit politics after Oct presidential vote. Revelations came as speculation mounted that Ivanishvili govt may arrest Saakashvili. Deaths of 7 Georgian NATO troops in Afghanistan in targeted suicide bomb further fuelled domestic political tensions.

Georgia

  |  1 Jun 2013

Unchanged

Deputy interior minister arrested on blackmail allegations; agriculture minister temporarily stepped down over corruption investigation involving senior ministry officials; former PM Vano Merabishvili and former health minister Zurab Chiaberashvili, both senior allies of President Saakashvili, arrested for corruption. Prosecutor General late month said Saakashvili may also be questioned over alleged misuse of state funds. Saakashvili criticised reported govt statements on possible resumption of Russian gas imports, citing need for independence from Russia. FM criticised Russian installation of barbed-wire fencing along administrative boundary around breakaway region South Ossetia; countries set to discuss early June. Russian troops 30 May reportedly detained Georgian national near administrative boundary. National Olympic Committee agreed that Georgian athletes will participate in Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia. Govt announced creation of special investigative group to look into Aug 2008 war with Russia and “possible criminal activities during and after”.

Georgia

  |  1 May 2013

Unchanged

Russian FM Lavrov in media interview 11 April welcomed pragmatism on part of Georgian PM Ivanishvili, said Moscow ready to expand ties with Tbilisi, but its recognition of independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is irreversible. Several thousand supporters of President Saakashvili rallied in Tbilisi 19 April. 27 April by-elections to fill 3 vacant parliamentary seats all won by Georgian Dream candidates.

Georgia

  |  1 Apr 2013

Unchanged

Continued tensions with Russia despite rhetoric of rapprochement. Officials met for 2nd round of talks on normalization 1 March, however Russian President Putin 12 March met with Abkhazian de facto president Aleksandre Ankvab in Moscow to discuss cooperation, prompting criticism from Georgian FM Panjikidze. Parliament 7 March adopted resolution reaffirming country’s commitment to Euro-Atlantic foreign policy. Parliament 21 March approved motion removing president’s authority to dismiss govt and parliament. Georgia and U.S. held joint military exercise prompting Russian criticism; Tbilisi expressed “grave concern” over snap Russian military exercises in Black Sea late month. Latest round of Geneva talks with Russia late month reportedly ended inconclusively.

Georgia

  |  1 Mar 2013

Unchanged

Political tensions heightened early Feb when ruling Georgian Dream (GD)-dominated parliament 7 Feb postponed President Saakashvili’s annual address to MPs. Saakashvili next day tried to give speech at national library, however some 300 protesters, including some individuals recently released as political prisoners, appeared to block entrance, some assaulted opposition MPs. PM Ivanishvili and Saakashvili both issued conciliatory statements following clashes; parties came together to discuss constitutional amendments proposed by GD restricting president’s ability to effect change of govt without parliamentary approval, and opposition United National Movement (UNM) proposal to enshrine pro-Western foreign policy in constitution. Negotiators 20 Feb announced parties reached agreement, but implementation not possible due to disagreement on amnesty for public servants, proposed by UNM. Tbilisi mayor Gigi Ugulava charged with money laundering and misspending public funds; denies charges. Second meeting between Georgian and Russian officials on normalising relations scheduled 1 March.


Georgia

  |  1 Feb 2013

Unchanged

Georgian Orthodox Church Patriarch Ilia II visited Moscow 22-24 Jan, met with Russian President Putin; groups of Georgian entrepreneurs also visited Moscow to discuss economic relations. Defence minister Irakli Alasania relieved of his position as first deputy PM by PM Ivanishvili due to leaked internal discussion regarding his possible candidacy for position of president. Scandal broke after prosecutors announced high-ranking officials from previous govt had systematically blackmailed public figures after filming them engaged in homosexual activities; Saakashvili denied knowledge or involvement. 190 prisoners released as part of 13 Jan amnesty after being recognised as political prisoners by parliament Dec 2012.

Georgia

  |  30 Dec 2012

Unchanged

Detentions and questionings of former middle- and high-ranking officials continued: former PM Merabishvili taken for questioning 1 Dec for using fake passport travelling to Armenia; 2 former ministers, several others arrested and released on bail later in month in corruption investigation. NATO SG Fogh Rasmussen 5 Dec indicated he was content with reassurances from new govt over arrests. Sharp spike in popularity ratings for Ivanishvili and Georgian Dream coalition since elections. Significant steps towards Georgia-Russia rapprochement, culminating in 14 Dec meeting in Geneva between Russian Deputy FM Grigory Karasin and Georgian PM’s Special Representative for relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze. Abashidze said meeting envisaged creating new channel of communication and political dialogue; sides agreed to continue direct talks without assistance of international mediators. Talks to focus on trade and humanitarian areas of cooperation, Russia’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on back burner.

Georgia

  |  1 Dec 2012

Unchanged

Despite agreement by new PM Ivanishvili and President Saakashvili to work together, signs of cracks emerging over budget and arrests of former govt officials. Tensions between ruling Georgian Dream coalition and President’s office ignited by dispute over 2013 State Budget, drafted 6 Nov, which saw funding for President’s Administration, National Security Council and Tbilisi municipality slashed. Saakashvili’s UNM slammed funding cuts as “politically motivated”. Arrest of former Interior Minister Bacho Akhalaia on charges of exceeding official powers and torture marked beginning of string of detentions of former interior ministry officials on charges of illegal confinement, illegal surveillance, damage of property, exceeding official powers. Govt responded to international, domestic concerns by promising to observe due process; Ivanishvili said he would not insist on impeachment of president, but his Georgian Dream parliamentary majority will initiate early adoption of constitutional changes set to significantly cut presidential powers. Ivanishvili 22 Nov said govt intends to establish relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia; also said ready to meet Russian officials, though would not visit Russia. New govt appointed Zurab Abashidze as special envoy to Georgian-Russian affairs; Abashidze proposed “new, independent” format for Moscow-Tbilisi talks. Reports that Russian embargo on Georgian wine, water may be lifted.

Georgia

  |  1 Nov 2012

Improved

Georgian Dream (GD) coalition led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili claimed victory in 1 Oct parliamentary elections; polls hailed as historic, marking first democratic transfer of power since independence. GD claimed 55% of vote; President Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM), in power since 2003 Rose revolution, gained 40%. GD to occupy 85 of 150 seats in parliament, UNM 65. Saakashvili conceded defeat 2 Oct. International observers praised peaceful conduct of elections. New PM Ivanishvili initially called for Saakashvili, whose term ends Oct 2013, to resign immediately, then rescinded, said ready for dialogue. Parliament 25 Oct approved new cabinet, comprised mostly of technocrats. Ivanishvili 24 Oct said will quit politics in 18 months. New Minister for Reintegration Paata Zakareishvili outlined new strategy for conflict regions, including direct negotiations with de facto authorities. Policy of not discussing recognition of breakaway regions to continue. Abkhaz authorities issued report alleging Georgian involvement in “terrorist acts” aimed at destabilising Gali region in 2012, denied by Tbilisi; independent investigations impossible as Abkhazia and Russia have evicted international organisations from region, refuse to allow EU monitors to enter entity or look into claims. Change in govt prompted discussions about relations with Russia, but new FM quickly ruled out resumption in ties while Moscow continues to recognize South Ossetia, Abkhazia. GD leaders stress Georgia’s pro-Western orientation and emphasis on Euro-Atlantic integration will continue, but improvement of ties with Russia still a goal. In statement welcomed by Moscow, Ivanishvili confirmed Georgia will take part in 2014 Sochi Olympics.

 

Georgia

  |  1 Oct 2012

Unchanged

Ahead of crucial 1 Oct parliamentary elections, Georgia and Russia exchanged accusations that other side is engaged in military build-up around breakaway region South Ossetia (SO). EU Monitoring Mission 21 Sept issued statement saying no evidence of Georgian build-up but expressed concern over increased concentration of Russian forces along administrative boundary line (ABL); urged both sides to refrain from destabilising activities. SO authorities reported attack on “border post” near ABL 29 Sept, responded by detaining Georgian Interior Ministry official. Pre-election atmosphere tense: OSCE election observation mission warned that tone of campaigns of ruling United National Movement (UNM) and main opposition coalition Georgian Dream (GD) “confrontational and rough”; EU foreign policy chief Ashton and Neighbourhood Commissioner Füle also expressed concerns over tensions. NATO Sec Gen Rasmussen described vote as “litmus test” for Georgian democracy. U.S. and EU FM delegations visited Georgia to assess election environment. Political tensions escalated as opposition-run TV channels 18 Sept showed footage of abuse of prisoners in Tbilisi jail, sparking several days of protests in capital and other cities, international condemnation. Prisons minister, interior minister both resigned; several lower level officials detained; President Saakashvili demanded overhaul of prison system. Series of compromising videos aired by opposition- and govt-supported channels in attempt to discredit other side. Tens of thousands attended opposition rally in Tbilisi 29 Sept.

Georgia

  |  1 Sep 2012

Unchanged

President Saakashvili early-month announced 1 Oct parliamentary elections. Court 9 Aug jailed senior Georgian Dream (GD) official Melik Raisian for 6-years in absentia for fraud, 11 Aug fined GD parliamentary candidate Kakha Kaladze $10.3mn on suspicion of illegally funding opposition, 12 Aug fined GD leader Bidzina Ivanishvili $13mn on similar suspicion. Council of Europe late month expressed concern over GD claim govt froze party bank accounts. 3 security personnel, 11 suspected militants from Dagestan, Russia killed 29 Aug in successful operation to free 10 hostages near Lapankuri; President Saakashvili condemned kidnapping, blamed Russia. Abkhaz media 15 Aug reported 1 Georgian “saboteur” killed in Gali district, Abkhazia; Georgian sources reported 1 child kidnapped. South Ossetia (SO) President Tibilov mid-month reportedly announced plans to destroy abandoned Georgian villages in breakaway region; Georgian Deputy FM Kapanadze said plan “continuation of ethnic cleansing”. EU early month called Russian PM Medvedev’s 8 Aug visit to SO, “incompatible with the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Georgia.

Georgia

  |  1 Aug 2012

Unchanged

Police 11 July announced seizure of thousands of satellite dishes set to be distributed by opposition broadcaster Maestro TV as part of investigation into vote buying by opposition Georgian Dream coalition ahead of Oct parliamentary elections; scuffles occurred same day between Georgian Dream activists, ruling party supporters in Karaleti. Ruling United National Movement (UNM) called on opposition to sign joint pledge ensuring free and fair elections. FM Vashadze 16 July complained of “intensive militarisation” by Russia in breakaway regions of Abkhazia, S Ossetia. In Abkhazia, Gali Military Registration and Enlistment Officer Beslan Kirtadze killed 11 July by unknown gunmen. In S Ossetia, chief investigator with Prosecutor General’s Office, investigating 3 July attack on State Security employee, abducted 9 July in Tskhinvali, later found killed.

Georgia

  |  1 Jul 2012

Unchanged

President Saakashvili 30 June named Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili new PM. Opposition denounced seizure of some 300,000 satellite dishes during late-month police raids as attack against freedom of speech; authorities said action part of investigation into vote-buying by opposition Georgian Dream coalition. Court 11 June fined Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvi $90 million for violating electoral, political funding laws; fine later reduced to $45.4 million; Ivanishvi called decision absurd, refused to pay; court 29 June rejected appeal by Ivanishvi to restore Georgian citizenship. U.S. Secretary of State Clinton 5-6 June met President Saakashvili, pledged support for Georgian coastal defence, urged consolidation of democratic gains, said U.S. to recognise Abkhaz, South Ossetian “status neutral” passports issued by govt. Abkhaz FM 25 June said Georgia “terrorising” inhabitants in Gali district, urged U.S., UN, OSCE to pressure Georgia.

“Georgia’s billionaire politician to become poorer by $90-plus million”, Eurasianet, 12 June 2012.

Georgia

  |  1 Jun 2012

Unchanged

80,000-100,000 attended mass rally 27 May in Tibilisi marking start of opposition coalition Georgian Dream election campaign. Ruling United National Movement reduced residency requirement for Georgian-born EU citizens running for presidency to 5 years; Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvili refused to use amendment, said changes “propaganda tricks”, asked to be granted dual citizenship instead. State audit agency fined private company $3mn for allegedly making political donations to Georgian Dream. Russian Anti-terrorism Committee (NAK) 10 May reportedly discovered of arms cache in Abkhazia, alleged Caucasus Emirate leader Doku Umarov planning attack in Sochi in cooperation with Georgian security services.

Georgia

  |  1 May 2012

Unchanged

Ministry of Justice 4 April rejected request to reinstate citizenship of billionaire opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili through naturalisation, said only dual citizenship possible; opposition Christian-Democrats announced plans to initiate constitutional changes allowing Georgian-born EU citizens to run for office; ruling party voiced support for motion. President Saakashvili 10 April unveiled 1st domestically produced spy drone; 19 April announced plans for armed drones, 150,000 strong volunteer reserve force. NATO SG Rasmussen 3 April called Georgia “model partner”, reiterated NATO support for future Georgian membership. President Saakashvili 26 April said ready to resign if Russia withdraws from S Ossetia, Abkhazia. In S Ossetia, former KGB head Leonid Tibilov 19 April sworn in as new President after winning 54% in 8 April polls. In Abkhazia, authorities 12 April arrested 4 in connection with Feb assassination of President Ankvab; former Interior Minister Kchach 16 April committed suicide in Sukhumi, reportedly to avoid arrest over assassination attempt; another suspect 17 April reportedly attempted suicide before police arrest; further suspect Timur Khutaba 18 April found hanged in prison cell. 

Georgia

  |  1 Apr 2012

Unchanged

Russia 2 March refused to reciprocate unilateral Georgian removal of visa requirements for Russian citizens, instead demanded Tbilisi revise “Law on Occupied Territories” regarding presence of Russian troops in Abkhazia, S Ossetia in contravention of EU-brokered 2008 ceasefire with Moscow. President Saakashvili said diplomatic relations with Russia could not be re-established without Russian recognition of Georgian sovereignty over breakaway regions. Abkhazia 10, 24 March held parliamentary elections, independents reportedly won 74% of votes. S Ossetia 25 March held first round of presidential elections, run-off scheduled 8 April. Georgian police 4 March reportedly came under fire at guard post near Administrative Border Line with Abkhazia. Georgian Chamber of Control 11 March began large-scale interrogation of opposition party activists, ostensibly to ensure campaign finance transparency; Amnesty criticised move as politically motivated intimidation. Georgian billionaire opposition leader 20 March fined $1.65 million for illegally funding Georgian Dream movement to oust President Saakashvili.

Georgia

  |  1 Mar 2012

Unchanged

Newly-elected de facto president of Abkhazia Aleksandr Ankvab survived 5th assassination attempt unharmed 22 Feb; 1 bodyguard killed in highly coordinated roadside attack; actions described by Ankvab as attack on “state sovereignty” of Abkhazia by criminal groups; Abkhaz officials doubted any connection with Tbilisi central govt. Ankvab early-Feb received head of European Commission delegation to Georgia, criticised EU’s Abkhazia policy, said no reason for further meetings with EU officials. Tensions in South Ossetia following Nov de facto presidential elections after annulled victor in elections Alla Dzhioyeva hospitalised 9 Feb when masked security forces stormed her HQ, allegedly assaulted her day before her planned symbolic self-inauguration. 25 March “repeat” elections called after opposition leader Dzhioyeva’s victory thrown out by pro-Moscow local constitutional court; Dzhioyeva said will not run again. Restrictions tightened on foreign media. Concerns Georgia could be drawn into escalating conflict between Tehran and Israel after police 13 Feb defused bomb planted on Israeli diplomat’s car in Tbilisi (see Iran). Billionaire businessman-turned-politician Bidzina Ivanishvili and 3 partner political parties 21 Feb formed opposition coalition for Oct parliamentary elections.

Georgia

  |  1 Feb 2012

Unchanged

Situation stable in breakaway republic South Ossetia (SO) following Nov elections and standoff prompted by disqualification of apparent victor Alla Dzhioyeva. Dzhioyeva 18 Jan announced withdrawal from Kremlin-mediated 10 Dec agreement, requested acting president Brovtsev cede power to her, 21 Jan said planned 25 March repeat election illegal. Dzhioyeva and Brovtsev held “constructive” talks 23 Jan, Brovtsez replaced several ministers and advisers. Destabilisation and tensions in breakaway Abkhazia as Georgian, Abkhazian authorities exchanged accusations over 2 high-profile murders in Gali region 29 Dec, 9 Jan. In Tbilisi, new draft electoral code endorsed by parliament late Dec criticised by opposition and internationally for failing to incorporate opposition proposals, recommendations from international election observer missions; elections scheduled for Oct. Tbilisi expressed concern over news of Russian military drills “Kavkaz 2012” to be held Sept. President Saakashvili met with U.S. President Obama 30 Jan, discussed security cooperation, trade.

Georgia

  |  2 Jan 2012

Unchanged

Following disputed late-Nov de facto presidential election in breakaway republic South Ossetia (SO), supporters of disqualified apparent victor Alla Dzhioyeva continued to protest, 4 Dec announced they would stage an inauguration for Dzhioyeva. Incumbent president Kokoity’s term officially ended 7 Dec. Dzhioyeva and Kokoity 9 Dec reached Russian-brokered compromise deal: Dzhioyeva agreed to acknowledge legality of Supreme Court ruling and end protests; Kokoity agreed to step down, fire 3 officials. Uncertainty continued however after Dzhioyeva 10 Dec alleged Kokoity violated agreement with new appointments, and parliament failed to endorse agreement. During 18th round of Geneva talks, mediators proposed Russia commit to refrain from use of force, implement 2008 ceasefire agreements; instead, Abkhazia and SO, backed by Russia, proposed removal of issue of “international security arrangements” from discussions. Billionaire businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili 11 Dec launched new public movement Georgian Dream ahead of 2012 parliamentary elections; several thousand attended launch. Tbilisi court 27 Dec upheld Oct presidential ruling stripping Ivanishvili of Georgian citizenship. Parliament 27 Dec passed new election code, 28 Dec passed controversial amendments restricting party funding.

Georgia

  |  1 Dec 2011

Unchanged

Flaring tensions in breakaway republic South Ossetia after its Supreme Court 29 Nov annulled 27 Nov second round vote for de facto president, in which opposition candidate Alla Dzhioeva took surprise lead over Kremlin-backed Anatoly Bibilov in unofficial results, citing electoral violations. Parliament barred Dzhioeva from running in rescheduled elections March 2012. Dzhioeva supporters challenged legality of court ruling, hundreds protested outside Central Election Commission 30 Nov; security personnel fired shots into air. Following Georgian and Russian acceptance of proposal unblocking Russia’s entry into WTO, sides signed agreement 9 Nov. In largely symbolic victory for Tbilisi, European Parliament 17 Nov adopted resolution on EU’s Association Agreement with Georgia, referring to Abkhazia and South Ossetia as “occupied”, calling on EU to formally recognise them as such, calling Russia “occupying force”. Billionaire businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili, whose citizenship was revoked Oct following his announcement of intention to enter politics ahead of 2012 parliamentary elections, 1 Nov said he would appeal to President Saakashvili for restoration of citizenship.



Georgia

  |  1 Nov 2011

Unchanged

No tangible progress early month in 17th round of Geneva talks, established after Aug 2008 war to negotiate security between Georgian, Russian, Abkhazian and South Ossetian (SO) representatives. Breakthrough in negotiations over Russia’s WTO membership, after Georgia 27 Oct accepted Swiss proposal for international monitors at border between Georgia’s 2 breakaway republics and Russia. Bidzina Ivanishvili, billionaire businessman and former ally of President Saakashvili, announced intention to establish political party and cooperate with centrist western-oriented opposition Republican Party and Free Democrats; following announcement Civil Registry Agency declared Ivanishvili’s citizenship invalid, and police 18 Oct seized vehicle and arrested staff of Ivanishvili’s Cartu bank on money laundering charges. Opposition parties condemned govt attempts to “repress” Ivanishvili. 17 candidates running for 13 Nov presidential elections in SO. Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly 5 Oct adopted resolution calling on member states to refrain from recognising independence of Abkhazia, SO.  

Georgia

  |  1 Oct 2011

Unchanged

No improvement in relations with Russia; President Saakashvili’s 22 Sept speech at UNGA criticizing Russia’s Georgia policy and “terrorist acts” met with hostile rhetoric from Moscow. Russia’s state Duma 22 Sept ratified military treaties with breakaway Georgian regions of Sukhumi and Tskhinvali. Fifth round of Swiss-mediated talks over Russia’s WTO entry failed to yield result. European Court of Human Rights 22 Sept held hearing of application lodged by Georgia against Russia in connection with Aug 2008 war, alleging Russian military and separatist forces carried out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against civilians in breakaway republics; Russia dismissed allegations. Parliament released draft of new electoral code drafted by ruling United National Movement, which says it reflects provisions of reform deal reached late June with 2 of 8 opposition parties. 15 opposition supporters jailed 8 Sept for forming illegal armed group to help return fugitive former defence minister Irakli Okruashvili to Georgia during May anti-govt protests.



Georgia

  |  1 Sep 2011

Unchanged

In step further consolidating control in South Ossetia (SO) and Abkhazia, Russian President Medvedev 8 Aug submitted legislation to Duma to form customs union, recognize military bases in breakaway regions. Russian military 12 Aug opened new border post in SO. In context of Russia and Georgia WTO negotiations, Medvedev 4 Aug indicated WTO could serve as forum for restoring normal economic, diplomatic relations, but stressed Georgia could not change “political realities on the ground”. Georgian Deputy FM Sergei Kapanadze stated any agreement towards Russian WTO accession would be politically “status neutral”, voiced support for Swiss proposal involving exchange of advance information between countries, international monitoring. Russian FM Lavrov early Aug indicated for first time Russia ready to talk to current Georgian govt without preconditions. Russia criticized late July U.S. Senate resolution supporting Georgian territorial integrity, describing Russian presence as “occupation” of Abkhazia and SO. 26 Aug presidential election in Abkhazia, rejected by U.S. and EU, won by businessman Aleksandr Ankyab, former high ranking Communist party official regarded as more sceptical on Russian political and military influence in Abkhazia. Tbilisi criticised for forced evictions of IDPs from two locations prompting protests in capital.

Georgia

  |  1 Aug 2011

Unchanged

Continued deterioration in Georgia-Russia relations as countries exchanged further allegations: Georgia accusing Russia of supporting a spy network on its territory, politicians in Russia accusing Georgia of re-building military to threaten Abkhazia and South Ossetia, aiding radical Islamist insurgents in North Caucasus. Russia criticised June visit by U.S. warship to Batumi, Georgia. Police 7 July detained 3 prominent photojournalists on suspicion of supplying secret information to Russian Defense Ministry, prompting criticism from journalist groups. Suspects agreed to plea bargain deal 22 July, received suspended sentences. President Saakashvili 28 June announced “completion” of electoral reform discussions, after govt succeeded in gaining majority consensus for its proposed electoral system reform, effectively splintering Group of 8 opposition coalition; 6 opposition parties 10 July unveiled new coalition to continue campaign for political liberalization. Parliament 5 July passed civil code allowing religious minority groups to be registered as legal entities; President Saakashvili 7 July signed amendment into law despite protests from opposition, Georgian Orthodox Church.

Georgia

  |  1 Jul 2011

Unchanged

Rights groups claim dozens still missing in wake of violent late-May protests. Fate of 2 men found dead following protests still unclear: police report accidental electrocution, but protesters claim evidence of possible police involvement in deaths. Subsequent reports indicate riot police and military used excessive force against protesters; rights groups, U.S. govt and OSCE called for investigation. After govt ignored original 31 May deadline by moderate opposition “group of 8” parties to respond to proposals on electoral code, ruling UNM party representative 17 June met with representative of group, vowed to give concrete answers to proposals. At 16th round of internationally-mediated Geneva talks on security issues 7 June, Georgia repeated claims that Russia conducting “bombing campaign” in Georgia; Russia said would study allegations.

Georgia

  |  1 Jun 2011

Unchanged

Series of daily protests calling for removal of President Saakashvili began 21 May, attracting between a few hundred and a few thousand protesters mainly from one relatively marginal party. Dozens arrested as demonstrators clashed with police; 1 police, 1 protester killed 26 May in clashes when run over by opposition activist’s motorcade; dozens injured on both sides. Parliament 20 May recognised 19th century massacre and deportations of Circassians in Sochi region by Tsarist Russia as “genocide”. 2 Georgians reported wounded 18 May by SO militias who tried to detain them close to Administrative Boundary Line. De facto Abkhazia president Sergei Bagapsh died in Moscow 29 May following surgery

Georgia

  |  1 May 2011

Unchanged

1 Russian soldier, 2 Georgians killed 8 Apr in shootout in Gali region near de facto Abkhazia-Georgia border; Moscow alleged Georgians were security personnel from interior ministry, Tbilisi denied, said incident a dispute between criminal groups. Abkhazia 11 Apr called alleged Georgian actions “terrorism”, warned of increasing tensions in region. No independent observers allowed to investigate. Russian FM Lavrov in 25 Apr trip to South Ossetia (SO) said Russia ready to protect SO from Georgian “military provocations”. ICJ 1 Apr ruled it had no jurisdiction to hear Georgia’s case against Russia regarding abuses during Aug 2008 war, cited failure of parties to negotiate before proceeding to Court. President Saakashvili 1 Apr called for intensified security following end-March foiled terrorist attack in western city Kutaisi, blamed on “external forces”. U.S. annual human rights report 8 Apr identified some improvements in Georgia but noted continued abuse of prisoners, arbitrary detentions and restrictions on freedom of speech.

Georgia

  |  1 Apr 2011

Unchanged

Joint Abkhaz-Russian commission held border talks 28 March-1 April. Reports suggest Russia seeks to acquire 160km2 of Abkhazian territory; Tbilisi 18 March condemned talks as illegitimate. 15th round of Geneva talks on 2008 Georgia-Russia conflict 4 March ended in deadlock; issues include international peacekeeping in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, pledges on non-use of force. Follows Feb allegations by senior Russian official of Georgian involvement in Jan Domodedovo airport bombing. Senior opposition figure Nino Burjanadze 15 March called for peaceful revolution; opposition group People’s Assembly same day promised “concrete action” beginning early May. Russia 11 March detained 9 Georgian citizens for “illegally crossing the South Ossetian state border”. Tbilisi 22 March alleged Russian agents commissioned May 2010 assassination of interior ministry official Dimitri Kordzadze. Religious tensions rose in Abkhazia after suspected poisoning late March of local Mufti and his wife; followed earlier reports of young Muslim killed by mercury poisoning.



Georgia

  |  1 Mar 2011

Unchanged

Parliament 18 Feb began discussing draft new National Security Concept, which identifies “Russian aggression” as major threat to Georgian security. Parliament also discussed “Freedom Charter”, law increasing surveillance and police powers. Interior Ministry 16 Feb said it had arrested 3 further suspects in relation to late-2010 bomb blasts in Tbilisi including suspected key figure Merab Kolbaia; brings total arrests to 9. UNHCR 3 Feb reported no “major violations” of international standards occurred during Jan evictions of IDPs from Tbilisi; group of Georgian NGOs condemned report. Abkhaz local elections 12 Feb saw 39% turnout following opposition boycott; Tbilisi condemned vote as “pseudo-democratic”. Tbilisi, South Ossetia 20 Feb exchanged 14 prisoners, 7 from each side, held since 2008 war.

Georgia

  |  1 Feb 2011

Unchanged

Georgia Govt 15 Jan announced continuation of evictions from Tbilisi of IDPs from Abkhazia and South Ossetia (SO), following first wave June-Aug 2010. Opposition parties voiced support for IDPs, several people protesting evictions arrested 20 Jan after clashes with police. European Court of Human Rights 10 Jan dismissed 1,549 claims relating to Georgia’s conduct in Aug 2008 war with Russia, due to applicants’ failure to supply requested information. SO claimed decision “unjust”. Georgia 17 Jan boycotted closed Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) session on 2008 war, citing PACE’s failure to address Russian breaches of its previous resolutions. Russia deployed Tochka tactical missile unit at its base in SO late Jan. Abkhazia de facto defence ministry 19 Jan launched 2-day training exercise, simulating complete mobilisation of armed forces. SO, Russia 31 Jan launched combined military drills.

Georgia

  |  3 Jan 2011

Unchanged

Following President Saakashvili’s 23 Nov pledge not to use force to restore Georgian territorial integrity, Abkhazian and South Ossetian (SO) de facto leaders 6 Dec in separate statements expressed doubt in Saakashvili’s sincerity, but affirmed own commitment to non-use of force. Russia greeted overtures as sign of “equal relations”, continued to insist it is not party to conflict and will not make similar pledges as demanded by Tbilisi. EU, UN and OSCE co-chairs of Geneva international discussions cautiously welcomed declarations as creating “new context”, but achieved no substantial outcomes at fourteenth round of talks 16 Dec. Police 6 Dec arrested 6 for series of explosions in Tbilisi and west over past months; said suspects acted on instructions of Abkhazia-based Russian military officer. Reports early month of Russian Smerch rocket artillery unit deployed in SO, new FSB border base opened in Gali (Abkhazia). Russia announced plans to open total of 18 similar bases. De facto SO leader Kokoity 7 Dec adopted decree invalidating property rights of ethnic Georgians in Akhalgori district; dozens reportedly requested to vacate houses.

Georgia

  |  1 Dec 2010

Unchanged

NATO leaders at summit in Lisbon 19-20 Nov reiterated decision of 2008 Bucharest summit that country will become Alliance member once it meets criteria. U.S. President Obama 20 Nov held first bilateral meeting with President Saakashvili on sidelines of summit; reaffirmed support for country’s territorial integrity, discussed strategic partnership, U.S. “reset” of relations with Russia. Speaking before European Parliament Saakashvili 23 Nov expressed readiness to engage in comprehensive political dialogue with Russian counterpart, committed to non-use of force unless attacked. Govt 5 Nov arrested 13 suspected of spying for Russian military intelligence service; Moscow denied claims, calling them provocation aimed to discredit Russia ahead of summit. 2 blasts in Tbilisi 28 Nov, 1 close to offices of Labour party, left 1 dead. Followed series of explosions in capital in Oct, including near U.S. embassy. Authorities claim no suspects yet. 

Georgia

  |  1 Oct 2010

Unchanged

Parliament in emergency session 24 Sept approved draft amendments to constitution largely rejecting proposals made by Council of Europe Venice Commission in their preliminary assessment 17 Sept. Changes to constitution, denounced by opposition, will allow President Saakashvili to run for PM post and retain leadership of country after end of second and last term as president. Abkhaz de-facto VP Aleksandr Ankvab 23 Sept survived fourth assassination attempt since 2005; motive, perpetrator of attack unclear.

Georgia

  |  1 Sep 2010

Unchanged

Russian President Medvedev 8 Aug visited Abkhazia on second anniversary of Aug 2008 Georgia-Russia war, promised full political, economic and security relations with breakaway republic. U.S. officials 11 Aug claimed Russia had S-300 air-defence missiles stationed in Abkhazia for past 2 years; followed Russian announcement same day of missile deployment. FM Vashadze 25 Aug accused Russia of deploying S-300 missiles in South Ossetia; Russia denied. In sign of economic recovery after war, govt announced 5.5-6% growth in first half of year.



Georgia

  |  1 Aug 2010

Unchanged

U.S. Sec State Clinton 5 July, French FM Kouchner 15 July in Tbilisi voiced strong support for country’s territorial integrity. President Saakashvili 7 July held meetings with Ukrainian President Yanukovych, ex-President Yushchenko in Kyiv; 16 July met Belarusian President Lukashenka, using diplomatic gestures to express appreciation for their non-recognition of Abkhazia, South Ossetia (SO). Several incidents of brief detention of ethnic Georgians for alleged illegal crossing of administrative borders with Abkhazia, SO over month. Abkhaz de facto authorities 23 July reversed June decision to withdraw from international talks in Geneva over failure to sign agreement with Georgia on non-resumption of hostilities. Abkhaz leader Bagapsh mid-month expressed openness towards EU policy of “engagement but non-recognition”. EU High Rep Ashton in Tbilisi 15 July announced start of talks on association agreement to lead possibly to visa-free travel and free-trade regime. EU 26 July extended mandate of monitoring mission in country until Sept 2011. Amid strong resistance by opposition parties, constitutional commission established by President Saakashvili 21 July submitted for parliamentary approval new draft constitution to create parliamentary republic,  opening way for Saakashvili to run for PM post and retain leadership of country after end of second and last term as president.

Georgia

  |  1 Jul 2010

Unchanged

Abkhaz de facto authorities 23 June announced temporary withdrawal from international talks in Geneva citing lack of tangible progress. 11th round of talks since August 2008 war held 8 June, reached agreement only on date of next round. Reports early June of EU High Rep Ashton’s plans to abolish post of EU Special Representative for South Caucasus triggered protest by officials in region fearing downgrading of EU engagement.

Georgia

  |  1 Jun 2010

Unchanged

Incumbent mayor of Tbilisi and ruling party candidate, Gigi Ugulava, set for landslide victory according to preliminary results of May 30 local elections. Outcome of mayoral contest in Tbilisi, home to 1/3 of country’s population, believed to foretell results of 2013 presidential elections. OSCE monitoring mission said vote transparent, approaching international standards, but marked by systemic irregularities, uneven playing field. Russian PM Putin 8 May said Moscow ready for dialogue with “constructive political forces” in Georgia at ceremony to inaugurate World War II memorial in Moscow, replicating one blown up by Georgian govt in Kutaisi in Dec 2009. Ex-parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze and ex-PM Zurab Nogaideli attended ceremony. After series of releases, new detentions of Georgians by South Ossetia (SO) over month, 12 Georgians currently in prison in SO for allegedly illegally crossing administrative border.

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