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Analysts critical of Government's summer actions

By Ernest Petrosyan
Wednesday, August 24
The Independent Experts’ Club broke their silence by releasing a joint statement signed by some of its members regarding the recent events happening in Georgia.

“The governments’ so-called “summer” stirring in each direction over the recent years is frightening”. We again are witnessing the announcement and further implementation of subjective, prompt, and socially unacceptable decisions by the country’s parliament, government, and local authorities”, said the statement signed by the particular members of club.

The statement also emphasizes, the active social protest aimed at preventing those particular unfair steps of the authorities, which give grounds for optimism unlike in former years. The statement presents the club’s common assessment and views referring to the most important issues, which resonated strongly across Georgian society over the summer months.

The adoption of the law on Religious Minorities Status was the most painful issue for Georgian society, which caused a wave of protest in Georgia, which was distinguished by the Georgian Patriarchy in order to avoid civil confrontation. The experts’ club accepts the adoption of the above mentioned law. However, the club members condemn the tactless strategy, which on the one hand was assessed as a power demonstration of the authorities against the Patriarchy, and on the other hand - as an attempt to hinder the dialogue between churches. This all seemingly undermined the positions of the Georgian Orthodox Church in other countries,” said the statement.

Experts also condemned the government’s macro economic policy, which envisages the selling of objects of strategic importance. Experts consider that the current realities do not attract business oriented commercial structures. However, there is a risk that in the process of privatization some unhealthy foreign political interests may arise, and thereby Georgia may lose its geopolitical function, unless appropriate legislation is drafted to protect the country from such threats.

The eviction of IDPs was also raised at the meeting. The statement condemns the government’s eviction process of IDPs, which violates human rights, assessing it as inhumane treatment and “IDP phobia”. The existing situation in the penitentiary system is also note worthy. According to experts, the current legal 'zero tolerance' model against the background of the 'zero responsibility' from the reinforcement structures towards citizens lead to the creation of the structural criminal process in the penitentiary system. The local media, NGOs and other international organizations are aware of multiple stories of ill-treatment from the prison administration towards prisoners and there is speculation that high-ranking officials are permitting such behavior.

The freedom of the media continues to be the subject of experts’ criticism. Experts assess the handing over of the management of the TV tower to an inexperienced firm could threaten the freedom of the media. Experts demand special regulations to be worked out, which will give certain guarantees to consumers, otherwise, it can be assessed as a limitation of freedom of speech.

The financial inspections in Palitra TV holding were also assessed by some as a pressure over the Media.

The statement, inter alia, discusses the issues of the reporters accused of espionage, the Russian-Georgian talks over the WTO and the recent dismissal of Shota Rustaveli State Theatre Art Director Robert Sturua. The Independent Experts’ Club will release a further statement on these issues in due course. The statement is signed by the analysts: S. Tsiskarishvili, G. Khukhashvili, I. Sesiashvili, L. Papava, Z. Shatirishvili, Z. Piralishvili, T. Chikovani, T. Japaridze.