STATEMENT OF THE MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS
First of all, the Ministry of Internal Affairs condemns actions motivated by violence, including any form of violence against media representatives. We call on citizens gathered in the streets of the capital to observe law and order, adhere to the rightful requests of the police and protest any issue within the frames of the law.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs launched an investigation with regard to illegal activities carried out at the offices of the “Shame Movement” and “Tbilisi Pride” in Tbilisi under the Article 187 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which envisages damage or destruction of another person’s property.
OSCE Media Freedom Representative strongly deplores the continued practice of judicial persecution of journalists in Russia
VIENNA, 15 August 2022 – Following recent cases of criminal and administrative charges against journalists and media professionals in the Russian Federation, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Teresa Ribeiro, strongly deplores the continued practice of judicial persecution resulting in further decline in media freedom and access to information.
“Over the last few weeks, a considerable number of new cases of judicial persecution have been brought to my attention,” said Ribeiro. “These cases often refer to the alleged ‘dissemination of false information about the Russian armed forces,’ which is criminally punishable under a new law adopted following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
Marina Ovsyannikova, former producer at Pervyi Channel, has been charged with ‘dissemination of false information about the Russian armed forces’ and faces up to ten years imprisonment for a single-person picket she organized in front of the Kremlin on 15 July. Perviously, Fortanga’s editor-in-chief and journalist Isabella Evloyeva faced a criminal charge for a similar offence of ‘dissemination of false information’ based on her posts on Fortanga’s Telegram channel about the losses of the Russian army and the bombardment of a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, Ukraine.
“The charge of spreading ‘false information’ in connection with the Russian invasion of Ukraine is being instrumentalized for the purposes of silencing dissenting voices,” Ribeiro said.
Furthermore, administrative fines continue to be used to financially undermine media outlets and journalists. For example, authorities imposed a fine on Novaya Gazeta for ‘abuse of media freedom’ and threatened to invalidate its registration both as a print and digital outlet. Vladislav Postnikov, editor-in-chief of the Ekaterinburg-based independent news outlet, Vietchierniye Vedomosti, and Sergey Smirnov editor-in-chief of Mediazona were also fined on charges of ‘discrediting the use of Russian armed forces.’
On 9 August, Life.ru journalist and former correspondent for Kommersant and Izvestia, Alexandra Bayasitova, was put in pre-trial detention and charged with ‘extortion in order to get property’ (art. 163-6.3, Criminal Code). She faces up to 15 years imprisonment if convicted.
“Journalists must not be punished for carrying out their professional duties. In addition, pre-trial detention should not be used for putting unjust pressure on media workers. By violating OSCE commitments, Russian authorities deny their citizens access to essential information and create an atmosphere of fear and repression,” concluded Ribeiro.
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom, Twitter @OSCE_RFoM and facebook.com/osce.rfom.
Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs On the 14th anniversary of Russia's military aggression against Georgia in August 2008
Today, the 7th of August 2022, marks the 14th year after the full-fledged military intervention of the Russian Federation against Georgia in 2008. It entailed illegal occupation of the inseparable regions of Georgia - Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia and their recognition as so-called independent states by Russia.
After 14 years of the occupation, Russia does not fulfill the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement, and expands its illegal control in the occupied regions, continues the process of their militarization, actively undertakes steps towards their de-facto annexation. With building barbed wires and other artificial barriers along the occupation line, illegal detentions and kidnappings, gross violations of human rights and ethnic discrimination of Georgians it is undermining the security, human rights and humanitarian situation on the ground and is trying to isolate the people living in the occupied territories from the rest of Georgia and the international community.
Violation of fundamental human rights in Georgia’s Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, ethnic discrimination and the violation of the right of hundreds of thousands of IDPs and refugees to return to their homes in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia continues to be a heavy humanitarian burden of Russia’s illegal occupation. The impunity encouraged in the cases of deprivation of lives of Davit Basharuli, Giga Otkhozoria, and Archil Tatunashvili increases the risk of further violence on ethnic grounds.
Against this background, unrestricted access of international human rights bodies and the establishment of international security mechanisms on the ground, as well as access of the EU Monitoring Mission to Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, which is hampered by the occupation force, is becoming even more critical.
Against this challenging backdrop, the Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights from 21 January 2021 on the 2008 Russia-Georgia war was a pivotal event. It legally confirmed the fact of occupation and effective control over Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia by the Russian Federation. Therefore, Russia was held accountable for the blatant violations of human rights and basic freedoms on the ground. This decision, which is the first legal assessment of the 2008 Russia-Georgia War, reveals the futility of Russia’s longstanding effort to avoid legal responsibility for the illegal occupation of Georgian regions and its consequences.
Georgia unequivocally continues implementation of the policy of peaceful resolution of the Russia-Georgia conflict and is determined to use the diplomatic and legal instruments and continue close cooperation with its international partners to ensure unification and peaceful development of the country, facilitate confidence building between the communities divided by the occupation line and creation of a common European future.
Georgia is grateful for the unwavering support of the international community to sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and highly appreciates the contribution of international partners in the process of peaceful resolution of the Russia-Georgia conflict. This support is particularly crucial today when with its military aggression against Ukraine the Russian Federation continues ignoring the fundamental principles and norms of international law and undermines the entire European security.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls on the Russian Federation to cease illegal and provocative steps against Georgia, to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, to fulfill the obligations under the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement, to withdraw its forces from the territory of Georgia and to reverse the illegal decision on recognition of the so-called independence of the occupied regions.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs appeals to the international community to continue consolidated efforts for achieving peaceful conflict settlement and de-occupation of Georgian territories, the return of IDPs and refugees to their homes, and ensuring peace and security in Georgia and the region as a whole.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs extends its condolences to the families and relatives of the soldiers and civilians who died heroically in the 2008 war.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS HOSTED US AMBASSADOR TO GEORGIA, KELLY DEGNAN AT THE MIA ACADEMY
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of US-Georgia diplomatic relations, Ambassador Kelly Degnan visited the Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The guests were hosted by the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Giorgi Butkhuzi. The presentation of the infrastructural projects, which were implemented with the partnership and support of the USA, was held at the Academy.Ambassador Kelly Degnan and the representatives of the US embassy visited mock courtroom, cyber lab, mock border checkpoint, forensic tools, tactical training room and equipment.The US ambassador spoke about the importance of tactical training of law enforcement officers and the integration of international practices into the training process.Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Giorgi Butkhuzi expressed his gratitude to the Ambassador of the United States of America for US contribution to the Ministry’s capacity building over the years and close cooperation.At the end of the ceremony, the US Ambassador to Georgia, Kelly Degnan, handed over the Virtual Shooting Equipment (FATS) to the Police Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.The US embassy in Georgia has been cooperating with the Ministry of Internal Affairs for many years on the matters of road safety, cyber security, domestic violence, trafficking, tactical training, enhancing the capacities of MIA Academy, juvenile crime prevention, etc.Source: police.ge
Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia regarding the NATO Summit in Madrid
The Madrid Summit decisions, including both their practical and political dimensions, are of paramount importance to Georgia.
In view of the challenges facing us, the further development of NATO-Georgia practical cooperation and the deepening of the political dialogue are essential for the improvement of regional security. We hail the approval by the Allies of a set of tailored support measures for Georgia. The document envisages concrete steps to further enhance Georgia’s defence capabilities and to achieve NATO’s more effective engagement in this process. This new instrument, along with the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, will create a greater scope for bringing Georgia’s defence and security sector closer to NATO standards and to strengthen the country’s defence capabilities.
Georgia welcomes the adoption of a new strategic concept by the NATO Summit in Madrid. The new concept duly reflects the recent geopolitical shifts and the Alliance’s long-term response to the emerging threats. It needs to be highlighted that the new strategic concept gives due consideration to the topical importance of the Open Door Policy and to Georgia’s membership perspective, in line with the 2008 Bucharest Summit Decision, as well as to the fundamental principle that each sovereign country has the right to choose its own security arrangements, without external interference in any form.
Paramount importance needs to be attached to NATO’s unequivocal support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as confirmed repeatedly in several documents adopted by the Madrid Summit.
Georgia highly appraises the Madrid Summit decisions to further strengthen the security of the NATO Member States, as well as to ensure the Black Sea security.
We also welcome the Madrid Summit’s decision regarding the enlargement of the Alliance. We congratulate Finland and Sweden on being invited to join the Alliance. Their accession will make Europe safer and the Alliance – stronger. Being the actual implementation of the Open Door Policy, this process is essentially important for Georgia, as an aspirant country. We also hail the decision of the Alliance to continue to support Ukraine.
Georgia places a particularly high value on the messages voiced during the North Atlantic Council’s meeting signaling the Member States’ firm support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as for its Euro-Atlantic integration.
The decisions made regarding Georgia during the Summit will contribute to improving Georgia’s security and defence capabilities and will bring the country closer to its ultimate goal – NATO Membership.
MFA of Georgia
Public Defender’s Statement on Nika Gvaramia Case
On May 11, 2022, the final hearing was held in connection with the case of Nika Gvaramia, former Director General of Rustavi 2 Broadcasting TV Company Ltd. We would like to remind the public that on November 4, 2019, the Public Defender filed an amicus curiae brief with Tbilisi City Court relating to one of the episodes of the mentioned case. The document is based on key issues identified as a result of studying the case materials and reviews correlation between corporate-legal and criminal liabilities.
In the amicus curiae brief, the Public Defender indicates that the decision made by the manager of the enterprise (changing the terms of the contract, determining the amount of income), which was agreed with the owner of the enterprise, is considered a crime in the given case. According to the indictment, the director could have brought more income to the company but he did not do so, which is a crime.
The amicus curiae brief reviews the practices of the courts of the USA, UK, continental European countries and Georgia, according to which, such an entrepreneurial decision may not lead even to corporate liability, not to mention criminal liability. The decision made by the director might be to make less profit, but it might serve the best interests of the corporation and aim to insure against short-term or long-term risks.
In this case, corporate-legal liability should be ruled out, as the decision made by the director was not: (1) an action that was not agreed with partners (use of dominant position), (2) aimed at personal enrichment through fraud, and (3) risk analysis reasonably indicates that the move was in the best interests of the corporation. Moreover, criminal liability should also be ruled out, as the director has not committed a criminal action in order to make a profit. Clearly, changing the terms of the contract for the basic needs of the corporation does not constitute a crime.
Thus, the managerial decision made during the management of the enterprise cannot be evaluated without taking into account the specifics of the legal status of the director. The Public Defender hopes that this document will help the court fairly assess the case circumstances and make the right decision, taking into account the international experience and practice regarding the elements of director's responsibilities.