The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) announced on 27 October that the Public Defender’s Office established that four former employees of the National Museum under the Ministry of Culture – Ekaterine Kiknadze, Dinara Vachnadze, Nino Khundadze, and Davit Nioradze – were treated in a discriminatory manner.
According to GYLA, the four individuals in question were the authors of one of the projects which were listed to have won in the Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation competition at the end of January 2022. In order to prevent critical ex-employees from implementing projects, however, the Minister of Culture, Tea Tsulukiani “developed a mechanism to remove specific individuals with differing views from research projects.”
“In particular, the regulation granted the directorate the right to apply to the financier about the financed projects and request the grant amount. The Directorate has also been given the right to decide whether to admit a researcher to the museum for the purpose of carrying out a research project,” GYLA noted.
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According to the organization, the majority of the directorate implemented the “discriminatory intention” of Minister Tsulukiani. As a result, while contracts were signed with the authors of 12 winning projects, the aforementioned project of the four employees was rejected.
Per GYLA’s explanation, the four employees were part of the group of signatories of the petition related to “the most important issues surrounding the Art Museum.” “On the part of the Museum’s new administration, persecution of the petition’s signatories was clearly visible in the results of the reorganization,” they added.
GYLA also highlighted that the Public Defender’s conclusion indicated that the sequence of events confirmed that four former employees of the Museum were denied funding because of their positions. Accordingly, the Public Defender asserted that the individuals’ right to private life and freedom of expression was violated.
Per GYLA, the Public Defender’s recommendation to Minister Tsulukiani and the directorate are as follows:
- The requests to receive the funding should be done through the Shota Rustaveli Foundation.
- To not allow discriminatory treatment against an individual on the basis of their opinion.
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