No room for the Assembly
By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, October 20On October 19 the initiative group of the Public Representative Assembly accused the Government of Georgia of preventing the Assembly from holding a public meeting planned for November 25. At a special press conference held by the initiative group, Assembly member Nona Gaprindashvili told the audience the details of the refusal of the Sports Palace to hold their meeting, the reason given that cultural events are planned for that time. Pointing out that the Assembly had requested to hire the hall for one day and given the administration a ten-day interval November 22-30 to chose from, Gaprindashvili said they were refused anyway. “We checked the information with the Georgian Basketball Federation and discovered that the Federation has planned no events except for Saturdays and Sundays at the Sport Palace,” Gaprindashvili told the media.
Tiko Mzhavanadze, Press Speaker of the Public Representative Assembly told The Messenger the decision of the Sports Palace administration couldn’t be explained without political reasons. “We are not at all surprised – this is the general reaction of today’s political regime in our country. The Government of Georgia has shown how their mechanisms of control are working against such meetings,” Mzhavanadze told us stressing that the Government has been neglecting both the State Constitution and the Charter of Freedom by violating the international standards of free speech of its citizens.
The Press Service of Tbilisi City Hall told The Messenger that the decision of the Sports Palace administration is not under its jurisdiction. Zurab Nakeuli, Executive Director of the Sports Palace confirmed the conversation with the Assembly about the refusal to hire the hall for the planned public meeting. Denying any political bias for his refusal Nakeuli spoke of the preparations necessary for upcoming cultural events at the Sports Palace. “The Sports Palace is a private legal entity with no wish to become engaged in politics,” Nakeuli explained to The Messenger.
According to information released by the Assembly they have faced problems in the regions, such as the broken promises of the Director of Kutaisi Drama Theatre, Giorgi Sikharulidze. Sikharulidze had told the Assembly he would arrange the details with the local City Hall, but supposedly failed in the negotiations and refused the Assembly. Claiming they would inform all international organisations and the diplomatic corps about the violations, the Public Representative Assembly members expressed their hope that the Government of Georgia would finally change their mind and not prevent them from holding planned public meetings. Otherwise they would hold their public meetings on the streets, uniting 35-40 thousand people.