Georgian NGO’s: Ivanishvili a threat to civil society
By Ana Robakidze
Tuesday, February 3
Georgian NGOs that believe former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili remains the “informal” ruler of the country. In the official statement released on February 2 and signed by 46 Georgian NGOs, it is said that Ivanishvili’s recent remarks regarding civil society is alarming and even threatening.
In his recent TV interview, the former PM said there are many questions regarding the leading non-governmental organization and their chairpersons and his organization will prepare and present to the society research on the activities of the head of the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) Nino Lomjaria, head of Transparency International Georgia Eka Gigauri, and former head of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) Kakha Kozhoridze.
“We believe that Bidzina Ivanishvili’s statement is not the position of a citizen, but instead of an informal head of state... We call on the authorities and politicians to refrain from pressuring non-governmental organizations and actions directed against them,” the statement says.
The NGOs suspect that the government’s remarks against the NGOs which has become frequent in recent months, is a part of a deliberate campaign against Georgian NGOs.
“Such an attitude harms not only democratic values and ideas to which civil society member and non-governmental organizations serve, but also strengthens groups, which oppose these values. Such a trend is extremely alarming and hampers democratic development of the state... We call on the authorities and politicians to refrain from pressuring non-governmental organizations and actions directed against them.” the statement reads.
Commenting on the NGOs’ statement, PM Irakli Gharibashvili said that his government has ensured the freedom of speech and expression and everyone is free to express his opinion about anything and anyone.
“I cannot understand why Ivanishvili’s statement was the reason to cause harassment among the non-governmental organizations,” the PM said on February 2. He added that Ivanishvili himself is a part of the civil sector, as he runs his own NGO. Therefore, it should not be a surprise if one organization expresses its opinion about the other one.