Can a public servant support the opposition?
By Messenger Staff
Friday, June 1The most recent scandal in Georgia is that of the sudden dismissal of NAEC Director Maia Miminoshvili by the Minister of Education. On May 28, shortly after a grandiose rally by the Georgian Dream opposition coalition in Tbilisi, Dimitri Shashkin fired Miminoshvili. Officially, he said that they were of different minds on policy issues – but there is some evidence that the firing was politically-motivated.
Miminoshvili's son was in attendance at the opposition rally. Her brother is also a supporter of an opposition party. Both of these men are independent adults, living separate lives from Miminoshvili. Yet it appears that their actions have, in the eyes of the government, tainted the rest of their family. Although the government officially states that no one has been fired because of their political views, there have been many similar instances in the past that throw this assertion into doubt.
But is it possible for a public servant to support an opposition party, and actively work against the administration that employs them? NGOs involved in the protection of human and voters' rights argue that it is unfair that an employee is unable to take a personal political stand, as this is a form of prosecution of political beliefs – one that violates not only universal human rights, but the Georgian Constitution as well. The Georgian Young Lawyers Association believes that the only group of civil servants who should keep their political views private – whether they be pro- or anti-government – are law enforcement officials.
Representatives of the Ministry have not commented further on Miminoshvili, only to flippantly dismiss accusations of political bias. This reflects a Soviet mentality that has not been fully expunged from Georgian society – that public servants should unquestioningly support the ruling power and the decisions of their ministers. Unfortunately, this approach is still being promoted by the administration, as it suits their interests and, in their mind, yields results.