The University of Georgia and Free University Respond to the Accusations of the Ruling Party
The University of Georgia and Free University responded to accusations by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and “Georgian Dream” chairman Irakli Kobakhidze that students were used to carry out violent actions against the state during rallies against draft laws on “foreign agents.” The universities called the statements by the Majority MPs “insulting,” “not serious,” and “immoral.” On March 14, the University of Georgia filed a lawsuit against Garibashvili and Kobakhidze for defamation, misinformation, and damage to the university’s reputation.
Statement of the “University of Georgia”
“We are extremely concerned about the statements that we have heard about our students in recent days. This campaign based on lies aims at discrediting the university, its students, discrediting the values that we have been serving for years, discrediting humane and democratic values, discrediting education, progress, freedom, quality, humanity, and work”, said Rector of “The University of Georgia”, Konstantine Topuria in response to the statements of the Prime Minister and the chairman of the ruling party, during a press conference held on March 14.
According to him, by discrediting the university, they are trying to “smear” their students, whom they are proud of and “who really stand on the bright side of history.” “Such attitudes towards our students are unacceptable and offensive. They are young people who have grown up with independent, free, democratic values, with so much knowledge and skills that it is impossible to influence them, control them, and use them as blind weapons.”
According to Topuria, “diminishing their role and free will damages the dignity of the students”. “The university, its professors, and students will always be the guardians of democracy, freedom, and the independence of Georgia; on the moral side, on the bright side of history, and we will do everything so that no one can insult our main dignity – our students,” he added.
The rector of the university also noted that “it is unfortunate that the government is caught up in the captivity of the ideological propaganda that Putin’s propagandists have been spreading for a long time. As if the political process is planned somewhere in the hostile West, in Europe, in America, by Freemasons or other mythical enemies and is carried out by their satellite NGOs, while the people and, among them, students and famous scientists, are only blind, deceived weapons.”
Konstantine Topuria also noted that the accusations of the Prime Minister and the Georgian Dream, that the buildings were given to the University of Georgia for 1 GEL, are lies. “We bought these buildings at a public auction for about 4 million USD. We got the money to buy these buildings with a bank loan. It is a lie to say that these buildings were used by the Technical University. There were were unfinished sstructures and frames, in which no educational process or activity could take place. “For the rehabilitation of these buildings, the University of Georgia took out a loan line of 12 million dollars from American financial institutions,” he said.
According to the rector, they have filed a lawsuit in the city court against the prime minister and the leader of the ruling party “for defamation, disinformation and damage to business reputation”. “All this is being done so that no one treats our students, now or in the future, as if their university was created through a corrupt deal,” he stressed.
The “Franklin’s Club”, a non-governmental organization based at the “University of Georgia”, responded to the “absurd” statements of the MPs about the “poisoning” and “brainwashing” of young people and stated that “this disinformation is clearly aggressive, black-hearted in nature and serves to create an image of the Franklin Club as an enemy”. “Such propaganda is completely irresponsible towards young people who voluntarily receive education with us, the majority of whom are schoolchildren,” the club said.
Statement of the “Free University”
“In our opinion, this is a deliberate attempt to involve the most successful university in political processes, which is frivolous and immoral. It is a shame that the leader of the country’s ruling party is trying to do this. As for the students, they are adults, we respect their identity and we have never asked them to do anything. Our aim is to educate the students. Where they go next is up to them, and of course we cannot and will not interfere,” the Free University said.
The university also called Irakli Kobakhidze’s statement about the transfer of state property to it for GEL 1 a “deliberate lie”, and noted that “the Agrarian University [on which the Free University was founded] was bought by the ‘Knowledge Fund’ for GEL 18 million, with the obligation that its profile should not change and that it should remain a university”. “All this, from the beginning to the end, was a frivolous statement and slander,” the Free University stressed.
- 14/03/2023 – GD Leader Kobakhidze Accuses Opposition, Former Ombudsman, Critical Media and Youth Groups of “Liberal Fascist Campaign”
- 13/03/2023 – PM Garibashvili Links Tbilisi Protests to “Destructive, Anarchist” Forces
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