Transparency International, a global anti-corruption coalition, released a statement on October 16, condemning the “recent indications of increased state capture in Georgia and verbal attacks on civil society by prominent members of government.”
TI stated that as Georgia’s October 28 Presidential Elections are approaching, the organization joins “its Georgian chapter in urging the government to refrain from making baseless accusations that could hamper the work of civil society election observers.”
“The government must also fully investigate allegations of grand corruption arising from the leaked audio files,” the statement reads.
Alarming indications of increased state capture and of verbal attacks on civil society in Georgia. We join @TIGeorgiaEng in calling for investigations into corruption allegations.
— Transparency Int’l (@anticorruption) October 16, 2018
According to TI Chairperson Delia Ferreira Rubio, “for many years, Georgia has been one of the top performing countries in its region on anti-corruption and good governance,” while “the recent backsliding on democratic governance is extremely troubling.”
“It would be a great shame if Georgia’s progress towards improved rule of law would turn instead towards kleptocracy and impunity for corruption,” Delia Ferreira Rubio said.
Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, who has emerged as the key GDDG spokesperson during the presidential campaign, has lashed out at the CSOs, saying their leadership was partisan, their objectives self-serving, and their claim to represent public opinion – unsubstantiated.
Also today, TI Georgia announced that its Executive Director Eka Gigauri has received a private “threatening message from a specific individual” on October 13 containing “derogatory language, as well as threats of physical retaliation,” and addressed the Prosecutor’s Office to launch investigation.
“Threatening and insulting private messages intensified after high-level government officials, including the Chairperson of the Parliament and a number of MPs, began an aggressive campaign against the non-governmental organizations last week,” the TI Georgia said in a statement.
TI Georgia also emphasized that similar attempts to discredit CSOs occur “mostly when criticism is voiced against the government,” and noted that “any form of criticism is allowed in a democratic society, however, there should be an immediate response when such criticism includes threats.”