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Some MPs detect a trace of MIA in the draft on surveillance

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, November 27
Parliament has launched the discussion of two drafts on surveillance and eavesdropping presented by majority MPs. Members of the parliamentary majority are not unanimous over the drafts. Moreover, the Republicans state that the draft initiated by majority MPs Beselia-Popkhadze-Sesiashvili that envisage giving access to surveillance to the Interior Ministry (MIA) very much looks like it was written by Deputy Head of MIA Levan Izoria. They claim that the draft offered by Republican Vakhtang Khmaladze, through which the MIA will be deprived of the access (key) to the activity is more democratic.

Republican MP levan Berzdenishvili, who expressed his doubts that the Beselia-Popkhadze-Sesiashvili draft was written within the MIA, said that the Republicans will actively take part in the discussions of both projects.

“We believe that the draft suggested by Khmaladze, which envisages granting the key to the Communication Regulatory Commission is more democratic and sets human rights above state security. It is regrettable that the head of the Human Rights Commission Eka Beselia gave more privilege to the security issue,” Berdzenishvili said and explained the reason why the Republicans plan to be actively involved in discussions of both projects.

“In the case that the Khmaladze project is not confirmed, the Beselia-Popkhadze-Sesiashvili project should be refined,” Berdzenishvili said.

Khmaladze plans to withdraw his project in the case the authors of the first project take the remarks of lawmakers into account and amend their draft.

“If the Personal Data Inspector monitors and controls the surveillance process and if the key will be handed to the Communication Regulatory Commission, my draft will become similar to the Beselia-Popkhadze-Sesiashvili initiative and in this case I will withdraw it,” Khmaladze said.

Responding to the accusations, Beselia said that statements made with regard to Izoria and the draft prepared through her participation were not correct. She emphasized that caring about state security is a part of human rights.

NGOs are still against leaving the key with the MIA. The same approach is shared by the United National Movement and the Free Democrats.

Illegal surveillance and eavesdropping was widely used under the previous government. Hours of illegal footage obtained during the UNM administration was destroyed by the Georgian Dream coalition. However, the control for carrying out the activity is still in the hands of the MIA. NGOs wanted the key to be given to the court and mobile operators. The initiative was criticized by the Prime Minister, who pointed out that the mobile operators are of foreign origin and giving the key to them would pose a risk to state security. The Beselia-Popkhadze-Sesiashvili draft envisages the existence of two keys and they should be given to the MIA and Personal Data Protection Inspector, which means that surveillance will not be carried out without the approval from both sides. The second initiative belongs to MP Khmaladze and supports giving the key to the Communication Regulatory Commission. The initiative drafted by the NGOs was not registered.