Georgia. In March, the Georgian military held a
twelve-day drill along with NATO troops. NATO Chief Jens
Stoltenberg was present, assuring that the promise of future
NATO membership for Georgia remains firm. Stoltenberg
dismissed the Russian Federation's threat of conflict over
Georgia becoming a NATO member.
Former Georgian President Micheil Saakashvili regained
his Ukrainian citizenship in May and returned to Ukraine.
Saakashvili is sentenced to prison for abuse of power in
Georgia, who wants to extradite him. The party he founded,
the National Movement, is the leading opposition party.
Thousands of protesters tried to storm Parliament in
Tbilisi in June, after a politician from the Russian
Federation was allowed to speak from the Speaker's podium at
an international parliamentary forum for Orthodox countries.
Opposition members demanded that Russian visitors leave
Parliament and accused the ruling party of Georgian dream of
inviting "Russian occupiers". About 10,000 protesters
gathered outside the building in an anti-Russian protest,
which became violent and met with tear gas and rubber
bullets from the police. Over 200 protesters and police were
injured, and several hundred people were arrested. As a
result of the protests, the President of Parliament
resigned. Moscow accused Georgia of Russophobic hysteria and
stopped Russian flights to Tbilisi, which hit hard on the
tourism industry. Check
Digopaul.com for map of Georgia.
The Russian Federation introduced tougher control of wine
imports from Georgia and threatened with severe consequences
if protests continued. Georgia and the Russian Federation
have not had diplomatic relations since the 2008 war, when
Georgia lost control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia where the
Russian Federation now has troops.
The anti-Russian protests continued and turned against
the oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili, the country's strong man
and party leader of the Georgian dream. It was required that
he and the government resign and that new elections be held.
Ivanishvili responded with the promise of a proportional
electoral system, which was also required in the protests.
The protesters continued with demands for new elections and
the departure of the interior minister after the crackdown
by the police on them. They were met by Prorian protesters
who also turned to Tbilisi's first Pride manifestation, some
25 LGBT activists with rainbow flags and placards. The
activists had been threatened and canceled a planned march.
The Orthodox Church is leading the strong opposition to LGBT
activism in Georgia.
Former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili was arrested
in July accused of rioting in violence in connection with
the attempts to storm Parliament. According to prosecutors,
the mass protests were part of a coup attempt.
The popular TV channel Rustavi-2 returned after its court
decision to its former owner, who was accused of wanting to
turn the leading opposition channel into a government
spokesman. Leading journalists were dismissed, and others
A report from Human Rights Watch in August sentenced the
working environment in Georgia's mines. The deaths in
connection with mining work have increased sharply since the
working environment laws were relaxed in 2006.
Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze resigned in September
with the statement that he fulfilled his mission. Assessors
said he no longer had the support of the Georgian dream
Instead, the party nominated controversial Interior
Minister Giorgi Gakharia as new head of government. The
proposal was said to come from Ivanishvili. The opposition
described it as shameful, and protesters gathered outside
Parliament. The national movement, founded by Saakashvili,
described Gakharia as Moscow's man, accusing him and
Ivanishvili of returning Georgia to the Russian Federation's
sphere of power.
Parliament unanimously approved Gakharia as new prime
minister after the opposition boycotted the vote. Gakharia
rejected his being Moscow's man and said he wanted to
strengthen Georgia's relations with the EU and NATO.
Gakharia appointed former Prime Minister Ivanichvili's
former bodyguard and former head of security services,
Vakhtang Gomelauri, to new Interior Minister. Thousands of
protesters gathered again in Tbilisi in protest against
Gakharia, the government and Georgian dream. They blocked
traffic on the city's main avenue with placards and slogans
against party leader Ivanishvili, who was accused of
The influential Orthodox Church was shaken by a series of
scandals during the year. One priest was convicted of
planning to poison a church leader, another priest accused
of TV church leadership for pedophilia, and a bishop claimed
that Prime Minister Gakharia planned to kill the powerful
patriarch of the church. Gakharia described the charges as
idiotic. Over 80% of the population belongs to the Orthodox
The church called for protests when the Swedish director
Levan Akin's film "And Then We Danced" premiered in Tbilisi
in October. The protests became violent, several people were
injured and several were arrested by police. The film is
about forbidden love in a homophobic society.
The proposal for a proportional electoral system was
voted down in Parliament in October. It triggered protests,
where some 20,000 people demanded the government's
resignation and re-election.