The Prime Minister of Georgia’s initiative to establish a national Media Ombudsman has drawn widespread criticism from several experts and watchdogs. Given the timing, shortly after the Supreme Court handed over control of Rustavi 2 to it’s former owner, Kibar Khalvashi, the move is seen by many in the country as an empty gesture to give the impression that the government is concerned about independent journalism. [Read more…]
Azerbaijan is working on a draft law to amend legislation regulating the internet to increase tighten rules on online media. While the Azerbaijani government claims the amendments are aimed at ensuring information security and protection of human rights, activists see the proposed changes as restriction of the freedom of the internet.
On 5 March, the de facto government of Abkhazia closed two of the three remaining checkpoints between Abkhazia and Tbilisi-controlled territory — the Khurcha–Nabakevi (Bataiguara) and Orsantia–Otobaia (Bgoura) crossings.
Following a wave of protest over the Georgian Public Broadcaster’s (GPB) announcement on 6 February to cancel all programmes except for the news bulletin, the company reversed its decision on 6 March. According to a new action plan, all programmes will last until at least the summer. [Read more…]
On 5 March, about 50 people staged a protest against construction projects on beach in the Daghestani city of Kaspiysk. The activists doubt the city authorities’ assurances that the beach will be improved.
Seventeen non-governmental organisations in Georgia have issued a joint statement criticising the Supreme Court’s decision to transfer ownership of TV channel Rustavi 2’s to former owner Kibar Khalvashi. They state that the decision damages not only Georgia’s democratic development, but limits freedom of the media, a pluralistic media environment, and threatens the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration.
On 1 March, Georgian police conducted a mass inspection of Tbilisi’s pawnshops, which resulted in the confiscation of mobile phones, TV sets, and other electronic equipment. According to an official statement from the Interior Ministry, the confiscated items had been accepted by the pawnshops without the necessary documentation.
A memorial to Russian paratroopers killed 17 years ago in a battle with Chechen militants during the Second Chechen War has been erected near the village of Ulus-Kert, in Chechnya. The official opening ceremony was conducted in a solemn atmosphere, with the attendance of the leaders of Chechnya and Pskov Oblast, from where the fallen paratroopers came from.
The central food market in the Daghestani capital of Makhachkala has been temporarily closed by the authorities, as police conduct an inspection to find illegal workers.
Chechnya’s gas providers have intensified their efforts to collect debts from people who persistently avoid paying for municipal services. During inspections, new cases of illegal use of gas were found.