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Georgia Slides Towards Consolidated Authoritarianism - Gaga Tutarashvili

Georgia Slides Towards Consolidated Authoritarianism

What today means for Georgia?

One hundred years ago, Russian Communist regime invaded Georgia and took control over Tbilisi, where students, young people were struggling to resist bloody occupation, but small the country had its limits, when the enemy had hundreds of thousands of soldiers and ammunition. One hundred years ago Democratic Republic of Georgia adopted its first constitution, respecting human rights and civil liberties, equality, separation of power and secular principles of US Constitution and its first amendment. 

After one hundred years, today Georgia with a GDP only less than 5000 dollars per capita, a pandemic and poverty – fights for survival, not against Russian occupying forces itself, but against Russian ‘matrioshkas’ in Parliamentary chairs, Government and Judiciary. It is not deep explaination of the situation, if we do not mention the main ‘marionette’, Russian style oligarch – Bidzina ivanishvili, who ‘left’ Georgian politics after ‘transparent’ winning in last years parliamentary elections. Truly, elections were very transparent in terms of buying over, intimidating and bullying voters. It’s a fact, that Georgian Dream Party rigged elections, without it there could be 8% difference in last results. 

What’s after?

As you know, in 2019, June, Russian member of Duma visited Georgia and took a parliamentary chair. That caused legitimate anger by Georgians, who aren’t absent-minded. Protesters demand was chairman of Parliament, Kobakhidze’s resignation. Government used special forces to dismantle peaceful protesters. Mako Gomuri – Symbol of this protest lost her eye, because special forces used rubber bullets by aiming protester’s heads. Many people were injured, lost their eyesight. Nika Melia – leader of main opposition party United National Movement was entering Parliament building for negotiations, when dismantling started, but after than the Prosecutors Office of Georgia accused him for organizing violence against Government. A Judge did not used discretion to arrest him until the final trial, but prosecutor decided to give him a GPS Bracelet. 

After it was clear, that Government manipulated and rigged elections, Nika Melia publicly throwed away the bracelet – a symbol of injustice. That day, prosecutor started changing the court ruling to arrest Melia for not paying pledge and throwing a bracelet away.

Some days ago, court ruled in favor of prosecutor’s position, which was not surprising. After ruling, the former Prime-Minister Gakharia resigned and told the media that there was misunderstanding between him and GD officials about the "Melia case", confirming judiciary dependence on ruling party’s opinion. The Ministry of Internal Affairs published a statement of postponing Melia’s arrest until the new Prime-Minister takes office. 

Opposition leaders including: Nika Melia, Giga Bokeria, Gigi Ugulava, Zurab Japharidze and others gathered in UNM’s HQ to stand against politically motivated ruling in the center, not to accept execution political opposition. 

Yesterday, the one-party Parliament confirmed the new office of Government with former Prime-Minister and prominent puppet of Ivanishvili – Irakli Gharibashvili. Gharibashvili was Prime-Minister after Ivanishvili resigned in 2013, he is one of the persons in Georgia, who Ivanishvili trusts the most. Prominent puppet Gharibashvili is very harsh, when he speaks about the opposition and different opinions. His prominence comes from 2012 core principles of Georgian Dream – Lie, fear of opponents and nihilism. It does not matter which party you’re choosing, they are all same. Political and social nihilism that GD planted is based on this principles, if everyone is the same – so what is the reason for changes?

Prominent puppet Gharibashvili in his first speech as a candidate for Prime-Minister, very clearly told that he will restore order and execute court ruling. This was a very clear message for everyone in the country and in the west – Georgia slides towards consolidated authoritarianism, it has one-party Parliament, Government controlled judicial system, weak economy, but a billionaire who plays in backstage.  

In 1991, Georgia restored independence, after the civil war, Russian invasion of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the country adopted the constitution in 1995 and the situation deescalated. In 30 years of restored independence Georgia remained solid a ‘hybrid regime’, nor democracy, nor authoritarianism. Simply it was hanging on this way without any exceptions, but even with this frozen transition, it was very clear for everyone, that there is not any ground for fully consolidated authoritarianism. We had a free and transparent electoral democracy, but problems with judicial independence and “checks and balances”. This antipodal reality took Georgia in the frozen way of a transition. 

But today. . . 

Today, arresting the main opposition party leader, takes Georgia onto a new level of a political system – An Authoritarian State. There is no other way than for our Western allies to help us on this dangerous path to a firmer and stricter rule of law, otherwise we will become an authoritarian country, but today the US embassy in Tbilisi is silent.

Update US Embassy Georgia

By Gaga Tutarashvili, Ilia State University, Master of Public Law and Policy