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Poll shows rising perception in Georgia that people fearful of voicing political views

By Eter Tsotniashvili
Monday, June 16
A Gallup poll suggests the perception in Georgia that most or many people are fearful of expressing their political views doubled between 2006 and 2007.

Political analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze says this is part of a trend that began shortly after the 2003 Rose Revolution that swept President Mikheil Saakashvili to power.

“It is caused by the—let’s say repressions—that followed the revolution,” he told the Messenger.

“Many people were arrested and in many cases there was talk that they were arrested for their political views,” he said.

“Everyday, just by watching news programs, we hear: he was arrested; he ran abroad and so on... people know one thing—that frankness is not for Georgia,” the analyst added.

However, government officials take a different line.

Deputy Minister for Integration Issues Elene Tevdoradze said that in the wake of the Rose Revolution Georgians were more comfortable voicing their political views.

She says this accounts for the relatively low percentage of people who thought that most or many Georgians were afraid of airing their political views in 2006.

But she said that the events of November 7, when police cracked down on anti-government protesters may have induced an increased perception of fear of airing political views.

The Gallop polling results for Georgia reflected a wider trend across the former Soviet Union.

In ten out of 14 former Soviet republics surveyed, there was a significant increase in the perception that most or many people were fearful of expressing political views between 2006 and 2007.

The greatest increase was noted in Georgia and Lithuania.