Public Defender Argues for Banning Far-Right, Pro-Russia Party

The Public Defender’s Office of Georgia announced today that it presented a draft Constitutional lawsuit to relevant bodies that could lodge the lawsuit in the Constitutional Court aimed at banning the Conservative Movement party, an offspring of the Russia-friendly far-right group Alt-Info. The Public Defender itself has no authority to appeal to the Constitutional Court of Georgia.

The Public Defender said the party must be outlawed as “many of their previous and subsequent statements contain signs of overthrowing the constitutional order, stir up various types of strife, encourage violence, or contain signs of violence themselves, and represent propaganda for war.”

In the statement, the Public Defender pointed out that the group leaders organized homophobic pogroms on July 5, 2021, when far-right mobs assaulted over 50 journalists, chased LGBT+ activists and allies in Tbilisi, and forced the cancellation of the planned pride parade.

It also underscored that a year after the crimes committed on July 5, 2021, the Prosecutor’s Office has done nothing to bring the organizers to justice, despite video material clearly depicting the explicit involvement of alt-right leadership in organizing group violence. They now “continue to participate in new illegal activities,” the statement said.

The Public Defender recalled that to date, 53 people are known to be victims of the July 5, 2021 violence, while criminal prosecution has been initiated against 27 people. Noting that it continues to study the convictions of those involved in violence on July 5, the Public Defender said it faces hindrances to gain full access to case materials despite repeated requests.

Ruling Party Chair Reacts

Governing Georgian Dream party chairperson Irakli Kobakhidze stated that banning a political party is “one of the most serious forms of interference” in the basic right of freedom of parties.

Speaking to journalists at a briefing on July 6, MP Kobakhidze emphasized that while GD does not hold any sympathies towards the far-right group, and the interference “may be legitimate, it is still a serious form of interference.”

But the governing party chair seized to opportunity to criticize the Public Defender, saying that the constitutional mandate compels the body to act as a lawyer and observe how an individual’s rights are protected “even when dealing with an unacceptable person.”

“In such a case, the Public Defender should act as a lawyer,” he stressed. “But the Public Defender […] took upon herself the function of a prosecutor, which is exactly contrary to her mandate.” 

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NB: This article was updated. Remarks by MP Kobakhidze were added.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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