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Parliamentary Bureau discusses lustration law

By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, September 15
A draft law on lustration, which envisages preventing former Soviet Special Agencies’ staff and senior Communist Party officials from taking certain positions in Georgian Government institutions, was discussed at the Parliament Bureau Session on Monday. Under the draft law, individuals who worked for the special agencies of the Soviet Union, officers of the Soviet Security Council, members of Central Committee of the Communist Party and Georgian Broadcasting Committee Chairmen will not be allowed to work in Parliament, the President’s Administration, the State Chancellery or Security Council or take senior positions in the Georgian Public Broadcaster and higher education institutions.

Officials say that a special commission will be created if the law is passed and all Parliamentary factions will have the right to nominate one member of this commission. It will collect information about who cooperated with the Soviet Special Agencies. If such a person provides evidence to the commission about his past cooperation voluntarily their confidentiality will be guaranteed, but they will still be disqualified from being appointed to the abovementioned positions.

While ruling party MPs support the adoption of this law some Parliamentary minority representatives have said that it will be “almost impossible” to collect full information about former agents and party workers. “80 percent of the Georgian archive of the Soviet Security Committee was destroyed in a fire in 1991 and the rest was taken away by Igor Giorgadze. Russia is now using that information. So when we approve this draft law do we ask Russia to give those archives back? Georgia requested this long ago, in the 90s, and Russia refused because it is using these agents today in Georgia. Will Russia give us information we can use against its own agents?” MP Levan Vephkhvadze from the Christian Democratic Movement asked.

National Movement MPs say the law should be precise. “This law should define very precisely to whom it will refer, to whom the restrictions on being appointed to certain posts will apply. As soon as these details are established, we will be able to say how this law should work,” Pavle Kublashvili told journalists on Monday.

Some non-Parliamentary opposition representatives have called the draft law “yet another PR stunt” by the Georgian Government. Petre Mamradze from Fair Georgia has said that the law will bring “no results”. “18 years have passed since the declaration of Georgia’s independence, 6 years since the Rose Revolution, and only now has the Government remembered the lustration law which it voted down in 2007,” Mamradze said. He added that the law, if passed, will be a mere formality, because “the real agents of foreign powers are in the Georgian Government right now.” Mamradze accused the Georgian Government of “supporting” the Russian authorities by undertaking a “reckless policy”.

A law on lustration was proposed two years ago by the opposition Democratic Front faction but the Parliamentary majority did not support it. MP Gia Tortladze, from the Parliamentary opposition, proposed the present draft a month ago.

Political analysts say adopting a lustration law is important “for a country like Georgia.” Independent political commentator Giorgi Khutsishvili has said however that a country needs strong democratic institutions and the rule of law before a lustration law can work properly. “While there is no freedom of opinion in the country it is very doubtful that law enforcement agencies will hold a fair investigation [to identify former special agencies employees],” Khutsishvili told The Messenger. “This law might be used as a means of pressurising people the Government dislikes. However I think there is sense in adopting this law, as it’s better to have it than not in Georgia,” he added.