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Watchdogs Accuse Speaker Kobakhidze of ‘Discrediting’ Civil Society Groups

Eight leading Georgian civil society organizations released a joint statement on October 8, condemning Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze’s CSO-related remarks as continuation of ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia’s “aggressive rhetoric” against the civil society sector, and an attempt to “delegitimize” and “discredit” the organizations.

The CSOs, including GYLA, TI and ISFED, said the “aggressive rhetoric” has “intensified” in the aftermath of their October 1 statement, in which they indicated at “a severe crisis in the governance system, clear signs of high level corruption and informal, clan rule.”

The CSOs pointed out that since Kobakhidze made the statement at party headquarters, hence, in the capacity of its executive secretary, it “left an impression that his positions were discussed and shared by the ruling party, which bolsters the severity of the problem.”

The CSOs then stressed that rather than “giving systemic and legal response” to problems, some GDDG members “have been trying to divert attention from the essence of the problem to those speaking of the problem, thus trying to remove major problems from the agenda.”

“It is worth considering, that the country is in the pre-election period, which increases societal polarization and risks of manipulations with political issues; and in these circumstances, unimpeded work of election watchdogs is critically important,” the CSOs also said.

The authors then called on the ruling party to refrain from obstructing the work of election watchdogs with their “groundless accusations.” They also urged the GDDG politicians to use “all political and legal instruments at their disposal,” and demand timely reaction from respective authorities “on alleged facts of corruption, informal rule and impunity.”

Parliament Speaker Kobakhidze slammed the organizations in his special press briefing today, saying the absence of “clear” CSO position on Rustavi 2 TV director’s “fascist” remarks on Salome Zurabishvili was indicative of their “politicization and political bias.”

Kobakhidze’s statement today came less than a week after the head of legislature has slammed the civil society organizations over their Omega Group-related statement, saying their leadership was partisan, their objectives self-serving, and their claim to represent public opinion – unsubstantiated.

This post is also available in: Georgian Russian

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