“There is mounting evidence of a monopoly of decision-making power resting in the hands of a single person (often referred to as an ‘oligarch’),” local CSO Transparency International (TI) Georgia argues in its December 11 report, which asserts that state capture is evident in all three branches of the government.
The watchdog says the Georgian Dream party’s “near-total control” over all branches and levels of government is itself a significant challenge for democratic governance, adding that the problem is aggravated by the governing party essentially being “a tool for its leader’s [Bidzina Ivanishvili’s] pursuit” of own personal ends.
TI Georgia reckons that there are “collusive networks” of people that have solidified the ruling party’s authority over the legislature, as well as the judiciary, hindering the development of “a sound system of democratic checks and balances.”
According to the report, the “captured state institutions” are used to fabricate criminal cases for election purposes, undertake large-scale “vote-buying,” persecute political opponents, establish control over business sectors and persecute businessmen who refuse to play by the rules, to harass critical media outlets as well as to guarantee impunity for wrongdoers on the collusive networks’ side.
The watchdog cites notorious court cases, including the cartographers’ case, TBC Bank case, Omega Group case, criminal probes into Mtavari Arkhi TV Director Nika Gvaramia, and TV Pirveli founder’s father Avtandil Tsereteli as an illustration of law enforcement agencies and the judiciary being used to achieve political objectives.
According to the CSO, “the 2020 parliamentary elections were supposed to remedy the situation,” but instead turned out to be the “worst” held under the GD government.
Irrespective of how the post-election impasse resolves, it will be necessary to dismantle “informal structures of power,” and launch an effective anti-corruption policy, TI Georgia highlights.
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