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Former Employees of Cultural Preservation Agency Talk “Repressive Cleansing” of Staff

Former employees of the Georgian National Agency for Cultural Preservation under the Ministry of Culture have spoken out about the “repressive cleansing” of staff that has taken place in the agency.

One of the first to speak out about recent dismissals from the agency was restorer Anna Sherozia. She authored a 1 November Facebook post that revealed that about 20 employees, including restorers, archaeologists, art historians, historians, and other specialists, had been laid off as a result of “another repressive purge” at the agency.

“Speaking specifically about myself, from 2016 until now, I was the only restorer of archaeological and ethnographic materials in the agency (which includes 18 museums and museum reserves),” Sherozia noted.

According to Sherozia, most of the fired employees are planning to start a legal dispute to protect their rights, as well as “our heritage” and scientific research.

Another dismissed employee told Formula TV on 2 November that the order for her dismissal stated the reason as being the closure of her place of employment. “This is a very harmful decision for the country in general because the institutional memory is being destroyed. When there is a desire for the state to develop, for the country to achieve success, these types of decisions are simply incomprehensible to me,” she emphasized.

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Meanwhile, a third dismissed employee dubbed the recent dismissals a “relentless attack” and added that it is “emptying the field of professionals, depriving it of work, neglecting people’s knowledge, expertise, and experience.” “This is part of a unified represessive system,” he said.

Agency’s Response

The Agency responded to the allegations on 1 November by stating that they have finished the optimization process started on 19 September, as a result of which the number of full-time employees increased by 9 to 268, and the number of employees under labor contracts increased by 22 to 150. Additionally, they pointed out that the average salary for 24 positions provided by the state was increased by GEL 350, and the salary of a full-time employee is no longer less than GEL 1,000.

In addition, they stated that in order to increase the effectiveness of the agency’s management, 5 regional units were created in the monitoring service for the regular inspection of cultural heritage monuments, to which 26 new employees were added.

According to the agency, as a result, more autonomy was granted to the museums and museum reserves agency. In particular, they will “develop and implement cultural, educational, touristic programs, concepts for museum expositions, as well as prepare cognitive, scientific, informative publications and events related to museums/museum reserves.”

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