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Ivanishvili ‘attacks’ NGOs

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, February 4
Former Prime Minister and the founder of Georgian Dream Party Bidzina Ivanishvili stated a couple of days ago that his NGO will soon release some research concerning several influential NGOs operating in Georgia. The government viewed nothing alarming in the statement, while the NGOs and the opposition described the announcement as a menace.

In his interview for Imedi TV, Ivanishvili claimed that the activities of various NGOs, especially their leaders have raised question marks. He named the head of Transparency International Georgia, Eka Gigauri, Chairperson of the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) Nino Lomjaria and former leader of the Young Lawyers’ Association, and currently the president’s advisor in legal issues, Kakha Kozhoridze as “suspects.”

In response to the statement, 49 NGOs released a joint statement claiming that Ivanishvili still remains Georgia’s informal ruler.

“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 members and non-governmental organizations serve, but also strengthens groups that oppose these values. Such a trend is extremely alarming and hampers the democratic development of the state...” the NGOs said.

Commenting on the issue Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili referred to freedom of speech and stressed that Ivanishvili had a right to reveal his views openly as an ordinary citizen.

“I cannot understand why Ivanishvili’s statement caused such scandal among the NGO sector,” the PM said

The member of the opposition United National Movement Nika Rurua suggests that Ivanishvili is threatening those NGOs from which he had expected more support.

“Before taking office the organizations criticized the United National Movement together with Ivanishvili and his team. Since the coalition came to power, the NGOs have continued their doing their usual jobs, and that appears to be unacceptable for Ivanishvili who dislikes those opposing him,” Rurua said.

The analysts stress that the activities of the above mentioned three NGOs significantly contributed to the Georgian Dream’s success in the 2012 parliamentary elections. They also state that introducing the ‘Must Carry’ principle in the pre-election period that obliged cable companies to broadcast opposition channels was due to the activeness of the NGOs.

If Ivanishvili really presents critical materials with regard to the NGOs, the step might cause an unfavorable responses from the international community, and that in turn might affect the people who are in the government.

On the other hand one should remember there is also the non-governmental governmental organizations (NGoGO), where the government finances the NGO which in turn supports the officials. All this takes place under the cover of civil society activities.

The dilemma is: Are these above mentioned NGOs really independent? Are they playing the UNM’s game? Does Ivanishvili want them to be under his control? There could be other questions as well…