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Commentary around Vetting, Judiciary

The European Commission, as well as local CSOs and opposition politicians, have repeatedly called on the Georgian Government to ensure the full independence of the judiciary and reform the system, including by introducing the extraordinary system of integrity checks for judges, with the involvement of international experts, the so-called “vetting” mechanism. However, the ruling Georgian Dream party has declared the issue “closed” and “unconstitutional” and even pushed back with demands to remove the sanctions against the judges and to apologize to them. Parliamentary Majority Leader Mamuka Mdinaradze on April 2 claimed that the U.S. sanctioning of Georgian judges reinforces the “petty campaign” against the judiciary that he said “is being driven by the NGO sector or the opposition UNM, along with its branches.”

In addition to Mdinaradze, other members of the GD referred to some unnamed NGOs and foreign forces of influence as leading the campaign to “discredit” the judiciary. The pro-government media Imedi and POSTV published a picture of three judges who had publicly declared their support for vetting at the Trevi Fountain in Rome together with the Resident Legal Advisor of the US Embassy in Tbilisi, claiming that the US Embassy representative was taking the pro-vetting judges on luxury trips abroad. Some GD members also picked up on this conspiracy. collected some of the most recent statements from across the Georgian political spectrum on the situation in the judiciary and vetting.

Georgian Dream

Irakli Kobakhidze, Prime Minister of Georgia: “It is not good when certain types of privileges are used to interfere with the independence of the judiciary. You remember the case of Judge Chkhikvadze, when he was asked to give a report on a concrete case, and his visit to a certain country was canceled. [Prime Minister Kobakhidze is referring to the case of Judge Lasha Chkhikvadze, who in 2022 claimed that the U.S. and MEP Michael Gahler had asked him about his decision to imprison the then opposition-leaning Mtavari Arkhi TV head, Nika Gvaramia]. This very fact also shows that from the point of view of some people, privileges, including visits, are seen as an instrument to interfere with the independence of the judiciary, which is a very bad practice. This practice must be prevented.”

Mamuka Mdinaradze, Georgian Dream parliamentary majority leader [March 31, on the judges’ visit to Italy]: “Perhaps it would be interesting to know more details about this, what the representatives of the Embassy and the judges themselves say, in relation to what, why they are [together in Italy], are they on a business trip or not; after that I would draw a more concrete conclusion, although any interference of any kind…means interference in any case…if some group is singled out as being the supporters of vetting and [if] there are some incentives for this, it is very unfortunate and more information about this would be interesting.”

Mamuka Mdinaradze, [March 24, on vetting]: “For us, this issue is closed. If someone brings any kind of arguments, any kind of evidence that Georgian judges need additional checking, then we could come back to this issue, but this issue is closed; and one of the main reasons for this is that in Georgia, decisions about the Georgian [Government] branches and in general about Georgia, and not only the Government branches, are made by Georgians themselves in this country; and for us it is unacceptable that any decisions can be made by representatives of a foreign country, no matter which country it may be, even any of our friendly countries. This is out of the question, this is not allowed, this is a bad precedent in general.”

Shalva Papuashvili, Speaker of the Parliament: “It is very unfortunate that due to some NGOs, which have the aim to gain political power, the participation of the foreign organization in the issues of the judiciary today is equal to the attack on the judiciary, hostile rhetoric against judges and moral terror against their family members, i.e. with everything that is anti-European.”

Kakha Kaladze, Tbilisi Mayor: “Let’s be direct: there are forces that want to subordinate courts and judges, to control everything themselves. Everything is crystal clear. We know everything about how campaigns are financed in this country, what this [process] is based on and for what purpose it is made. I think that the Georgian people have also analyzed everything very well and understand it very well and have put a name to everything. Georgia has the Constitution and its own laws, and we respect them. We are a sovereign country, an independent country and our ancestors fought for our independence, we have shed our blood for it. It is categorically important for us to maintain our sovereignty. Georgia is not a governorate or a state of any country. We are an independent country, we have our Constitution and everyone should be kind enough to respect all this.”

Gia Volski, GD MP, First Deputy Speaker of Parliament: “We must take a firm position that Georgia does not deserve to be humiliated, including by this vetting mechanism for the judiciary… Clear statistics show us that the Georgian judiciary does not deserve a humiliation, such as vetting, but is even exemplary in a number of recently published data”.

Davit Matikashvili, GD MP: “We expect our partners to rectify this injustice, to restore justice and to remove sanctions against those judges who were designated with false information, disinformation, bullying, thousands of wrong attitudes”.


Teona Akubardia, parliamentary faction Reforms Group: “Georgian Dream” is defending itself to be able to defend the clan in the judiciary, which is the way to its survival, and that is why it is attacking the European Union.”

Ana Tsitlidze, United National Movement: “The frentic shielding and fighting of Ivanishvili’s party to defend the judges sanctioned by the U.S. for being clannish and corrupt, is another clear confirmation that the power of Ivanishvili’s party rests on the judiciary.”

Khatia Dekanoidze, parliamentary faction Euro-optimists: “Georgian Dream” has portrayed Murusidze-Chinchaladze and all those sanctioned judges, who are presented as more powerful under this Government than under the previous one, as victims… “Georgian Dream” is in fact a power rested on the clan of judges.”

Grigol Gegelia, Lelo for Georgia: “We see once again very clearly how the Russian government of the Georgian Dream defends the clan of judges who first under the previous Government and then under the present Government destroyed the ideas of law and justice. These are the people who are afraid of integrity, who are afraid of any mechanism of clearing up integrity.”

Giorgi Gakharia, For Georgia: “In fact, by doing what “Georgian Dream” is doing in terms of this vetting, it is putting our sovereignty at risk… In fact, integrity can be checked either with the participation of foreigners or without their participation… Until the integrity check, we need to pass constitutional reforms, solve the problems of the High Council of Justice and the Supreme Court, believe me, our judiciary will become healthy by itself, because there are so many honest people, and the vetting, the check of integrity, especially with the participation of foreigners, would not be the issue at all”.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian)


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