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Fear of illegal eavesdropping in Public

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, May 1
Illegal surveillance and eavesdropping were the topics discussed at the large-scale conference held at the Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel on April 29.

The meeting was attended by the Prime Minister of Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili, Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili, Interior Minister Irakli Gharibashvili,MPs, members of the diplomatic corps, media organizations and civil society representatives.

People gathered at the conference agreed that the mechanisms both on the legislative and executive level should be created to provide tight public scrutiny in order to prevent illegal surveillance and eavesdropping.

PM Ivanishvili underscored that the former government of Georgia adopted the basis for the illegal actions. Ivanishvili underscored that illegal eavesdropping was “the ideology” of the United National Movement (UNM) government.

“They did not hide that they were carrying out eavesdropping through our phones or other measures,” Ivanishvili said, stressing that the action was strictly condemned by the new government of Georgia and the public should not have the feeling any longer that they are being listened to.

Minister Garibashvili said that under the previous leadership, there was a separate unit within the Interior Ministry that was carrying out illegal surveillance and eavesdropping.

He emphasized that a huge cache of audio and video recordings, gathered through illegal surveillance on political figures are still stored at the ministry.

“We cannot destroy this archive until the investigation ongoing against some former officials is complete. As soon as the investigation is over we will destroy all the materials,” Gharibashvili stated.

The minister stressed that the Interior Ministry cannot guarantee that all forms of eavesdropping will be halted, as in some cases it is important in the investigation process.

“However, it will happen only regarding some concrete cases under the court’s permission,” Gharibashvili suggested.

Parliamentary Chairman pushed forward the initiative on the creation of a strong legal basis against the problem. He stressed that it would be difficult for the new government to convince people that they are no longer being listened to.

“The civil sector should ensure the action and persuade the public in this regard and the government should carry out the actions to destroy the practices,” Usupashvili said.

“There are lots of issues at stake and it is very good that such discussions have started,” Usupashvili stated.

According to editor-in –chief of Rezonansi newspaper, Lasha Tughushi, the problem is still serious in public and needs urgent settlement.

“We were whispering, avoided speaking about certain things on the phone…the feeling was so strong that it still exists in public,” Tughushi said.