On August 8 the Tbilisi City Court ruled that the dismissal of Dinara Vachnadze from her post at the Georgian National Museum was illegal and ordered the Museum to compensate her with back pay, according to the Social Justice Center (SJC), the civil society organization representing Vachnadze in the case.
The SJC reported on 9 August that Vachnadze is just one of the 70 employees dismissed in the “mass personnel purge following the appointment of Tea Tsulukiani as the Minister of Culture.”
Per the SJC, the Court did not take into account the position presented by the Museum which questioned Vachnadze’s competence. In addition, the Court did not consider the evidence presented by the Museum to appropriately explain that the reorganization process within the Museum took place fairly and objectively.
The CSO noted that Vachnadze had worked at the National Museum since 2006 and had held a high-ranking position since 2017 overseeing the managing of collections and national treasures.
The SJC emphasized that a year after the mass dismissals, Vachnadze’s case is the first precedent, which “will be of particular importance for the labor disputes of other dismissed workers in the field of culture” in the coming months.
The CSO said that they are representing Vachnadze in another case which pertains to her being appointed to a lower post before being fired. SJC added that they are also overseeing the cases of other employees dismissed from the National Museum and the Georgian National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation.
Some of the 70 employees dismissed from the National Museum last year appealed to the court at the end of January 2022. At the time, they claimed that the reorganization process was “unfair and intransparent.” In addition, they believed that Culture Minister Tsulukiani’s policy as an employer was based on keeping loyal employees and not on actual qualifications.
It is significant that Tsulukiani, after being appointed as the Minister of Culture, has been repeatedly accused of “persecuting” free opinion in the agencies under her authority and firing employees on “political grounds.”
One of the last such cases in May of this year involved the dismissal of about 40 employees from the Museum of History of Georgia named after Simon Janashia under the pretense of reorganization. At that time, the Labor Union claimed that the process of reorganization in the National Museum was being carried out in “an intransparent and dishonest manner” and that the employees were being fired “illegally.”
Timeline of Developments:
- May 2022: 40 More Dismissed from Museum System, Labor Union Says
- February 2022: Museum, Culture Ministry in Fresh Research Grants Controversy
- January 2022: Sacked Employees to File Lawsuit Against Culture Ministry
- July 2021: Writers Appalled Over Attempted ‘Party Control’ By Culture Minister
- March 2021: Tea Tsulukiani Appointed Culture Minister