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Freedom House Declines Georgia’s Democracy Score

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, April 13
An influential, US-based and government-financed Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Freedom House has declined Georgia’s democracy score from 4.61 to 4.68 in its latest Nations in Transition 2018 report released on Tuesday.

The ratings are based on a scale of one to seven, with one representing the highest level of democratic progress and seven- the lowest.

The regress was caused due to the Independent Media rating decreased from 4.00 to 4.25 because of the “apparently politicized editorial policies at Georgian Public Broadcasting, continuing pressure on the critical television channel Rustavi 2, and ownership consolidation among pro-government private television stations.”

The second reason was the Judicial Framework and Independence rating decline from 4.75 to 5.00 due to the “illegal deportation of dissident Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli to Azerbaijan and a high-profile case in which a foreign company faced punitive fines after a deeply flawed judicial process.”

“The year 2017 was, overall, a period of slight setbacks for Georgia’s democratic development. Georgian authorities found it difficult to strike a balance between the contradictory goals of advancing democratization on the one hand and consolidating power on the other,” the Freedom House reported.

The report claimed that Georgia “will not experience any political earthquakes in 2018”.

“The year will be shaped by the upcoming presidential election, which will be the last time when a Georgian president is directly elected by people,” the Freedom House stated.

The report claimed that for the Georgian Dream ruling party, “which has mastered the craft of popular semi-democratic politics,” the main challenge in 2018 will be tackling the economic and social hardship that “feeds public dissatisfaction more than any political issue”.

The Georgian Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze stated at a special press conference dedicated to the report yesterday that the Freedom House survey “contains false information” and echoes the views of those people in Georgia “who are trying to display destruction as construction.”

Kobakhidze stated that the alleged reason of the false info could be the NGOs acting in Georgia, “in the mask of liberal values,” providing Freedom House and other foreign organizations with incorrect data.

Kobakhidze named “one of the mistakes” from the report.

“The authors of the resort accuse the Georgian court of the Mukhtarli’s case, when the court system had nothing to do with the case,” Kobakhidze said.

The opposition praised the report for reflecting the reality.