The Daily Beat: 16 March
The foreign and commonwealth office press release reported that UK foreign secretary James Cleverly arrived in Tbilisi as a testimony to the UK’s commitment to protecting Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. While in Georgia, Foreign Secretary Cleverly is expected to focus on defense and security cooperation to counter subversive Russian meddling and boost resilience. To help strengthen democracy in Georgia, the UK is set to provide £500,000 for free and fair elections in 2024, protecting them from external interference, FCO announced.
“International Budget Partnership” (IBP), the world’s leading nonprofit organization, slammed Georgia’s prime minister Irakli Garibashvili for “misconstruing” their survey to justify foreign agents’ law. In a statement, IBP expressed disappointment that PM Garibashili “misconstrued” the country’s ranking in the Open Budget Survey to justify the Foreign Agents’ Law. “We do not condone the Georgian government’s use of the Open Budget Survey ranking to justify a draconian law that curtails independent civil society under the pretext of transparency,” IBP stressed in its scathing statement.
Netgazeti, FactCheck, and others noticed that the Georgian government has manipulated the Index of Economic Freedom by Heritage Foundation. Georgia dropped nine positions in the index compared to the previous year, and both the score and ranking have been both deteriorating since 2017. Yet the government triumphantly highlighted on its social media only one out of twelve subcategories – “Government Integrity” (which also deteriorated compared to 2022). By comparing the current score and ranking with 2012, the government knowingly manipulated the data to portray inexistent progress, the watchdogs say.
In its recently published report, Human Rights Center (HRC), a local watchdog, warned against an alarming trend of termination of powers for opposition MPs. “The guilty verdicts in politically motivated criminal cases suggest that the parliamentary majority may seek to weaken the opposition and terminate the mandate of certain deputies in the Georgian Parliament,” the HRC report reads. The document also indicated that investigations against opposition leaders are often launched during critical political events, such as elections, large opposition protests, or opposition initiatives to set up a parliamentary investigative commission.
The Personal Data Protection Service fined the Special Penitentiary Service GEL 500 (EUR 182) for publishing video recordings of imprisoned ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili. While the publication of Saakashvili’s recordings at the Vivamedi clinic by the penitentiary department in December and February “to protect the public interest” was largely substantiated, still, by the publication of the August 9 footage the Penitentiary Service “failed to ensure the proportionality of the principles of protection of personal data,” personal data protection service concluded.