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.
At least twenty journalists have been attacked by hate groups gathered in a counter-rally against today’s Tbilisi Pride March, according to the latest media reports.
Those attacked include journalists and cameramen from television channels TV Pirveli, Formula TV, Rustavi 2, Imedi TV, Georgian Public Broadcaster, Mtavari Arkhi and online media outlets On.ge, Netgazeti and Tabula, reports say.
TV Pirveli said counterprotesters smashed its equpments, while Tabula Magazine noted its journalist Mako Jabua was hit by a stick. Several journalists reportedly sustained various degrees of injuries.
The Interior Ministry said it has launched investigations into cases of interference with journalist’s professional activities (Article 154, Criminal Code) and violence (Article 126). The statement did not specify how many incidents have taken place.
The statement also called on Tbilisi Pride activists not to hold the March “in an open public space” because of the “scale” of the ongoing counter-rally.
“The situation poses a real threat to the life and health of representatives of the media and hampers their journalistic activities,” stated the Public Defender of Georgia following the attacks.
Ombudsperson Nino Lomjaria called on the law enforcement agencies to “use legal mechanisms” to remove alleged offenders from public spaces, and reminded the state authorities of their constitutional obligation to protect freedom of peaceful expression and assembly “including by responding to counter-demonstrators’ violent actions.”
Stefan Schennach (Austria, SOC), General Rapporteur on media freedom and the safety of journalists for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), has today expressed concern over the detention of journalists, an appalling phenomenon which has been observed for many years especially in Turkey and in Azerbaijan.
The PACE recent report on “Threats to media freedom and journalists’ security in Europe” observes that Turkey is the country which has the highest number of imprisoned journalists, at present 95 according to the Council of Europe Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists. “Journalists are placed in arbitrary pre-trial arrest and detention, and are held for months, sometimes for years, before their cases come to court. Such detentions are the result of politicised targeting of journalists for their critical reporting; they are an obvious violation of freedom of expression and of journalists’ right to liberty and security”, said Mr Schennach.
Moreover, in the context of the current pandemic crisis, detention in penitentiaries constitutes an unjustified risk to health, and even to life. A recent bill proposes that approximately one third of 300,000 Turkish detainees be released, but it excludes those detained for terrorism-related offences, and therefore the majority of the 95 journalists in detention, as they are charged with or convicted of terrorism-related offences, although with no solid justification.
As for Azerbaijan – where there are currently 10 journalists in detention – several journalists are arrested on the ground of fabricated accusations. Elchin Mammad, editor in chief of the Yukselish Namine newspaper, was arrested on 30 March 2020 “for having stolen jewellery”. Since 2015, he has repeatedly been under judicial or police investigations, interrogations, house and office searches. Today, if convicted he faces up to seven years in prison.
Another Azerbaijani journalist and blogger with Kanal24 Internet TV, Ibrahim Vazirov, was arrested on 13 April 2020, days after police had demanded he delete online reports about the social and economic impact of Covid-19. In previous weeks, the journalist had been producing video reports critical of the government’s quarantine measures. A similar case happened to Mirsahib Rahiloglu, a journalist with the Reportyor.info, who had published interviews with citizens expressing frustration at the lack of financial support during the lockdown. He was arrested for “violating lockdown rules” and detained for 30 days. Natig Izbatov, a journalist with online news outlet 7gun.az, was arrested as he was filming interviews with people about the economic effects of the lockdown. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail for violating lockdown rules, despite having official documents which gave him permission to work as a journalist. Moreover, he was allegedly assaulted at the police station, his telephone had been searched and footage and recordings deleted.
“The current situation in Turkey and Azerbaijan is unacceptable. In both these member States, freedom of expression, including freedom of the media, has been violated for several years. Therefore, I call on both Turkey and Azerbaijan to urgently stop these attacks on journalists, in order to uphold the standards established by the Council of Europe and stick to the values promoted by our Organisation,” the General Rapporteur concluded.
Journalists from the Eastern Partners countries discover Moldova’s experience in transition to green energyFriday, 01 June 2018 16:27
Twelve journalists from Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan visited the Republic of Moldova on 21-24 may to learn about the results of the Energy and Biomass Project, funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme. The visit took place in the framework of the EU4Energy Initiative.
The journalists visited a kindergarten in the town of Nisporeni, where 270 children have hot water thanks to solar panels installed with the help of the Energy and Biomass Project. During winter, the entire surface of the kindergarten is heated with green energy produced in the Republic of Moldova.
To heat its rooms, the kindergarten, together with the city hall, buys pellets produced in Moldova, meaning the money it spends on energy remains in the country.
Another stop on the tour was the briquette production line in the city of Balti. Ludmila Abramciuc and Ivan Damaschin are beneficiaries of the Energy and Biomass Project grant programme, thanks to which they were able to buy, and repay in instalments, the necessary equipment for biofuel production.
The journalists also attended a lesson on renewable energy at a school in Chiscareni village, Sangerei district. Together with the students of “Nicolae Casso” school, they answered questions on the green energy sector, as well as making a parabolic solar collector. Professor Nicolae Spanu guided the team through this.
The school in Chiscareni village is also the first public institution in the Republic of Moldova to have switched to biomass heating. In 2005, thanks to a project funded by the World Bank, a biomass power plant using straw bales was installed at the school. To this day, the institution continues to benefit from clean energy.
Meanwhile, the community has connected other public institutions to green energy. The kindergarten in the village has electricity produced by photovoltaic panels and hot water from solar collectors. Next winter, the city hall will replace its stoves with a biomass heating system, installed with the help of European funds through the Energy and Biomass Project.
The EU-funded and UNDP-implemented Energy and Biomass Project in Moldova is part of the EU4Energy Initiative and aims to contribute to the reliable, competitive and sustainable production of energy from biomass, which is the most viable and available source of renewable energy in the Republic of Moldova.
EU4Energy covers all EU support to improve energy supply, security and connectivity, as well as to promote energy efficiency and the use of renewables in the Eastern Partner countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine). It does this by financing projects and programmes that help to reform energy markets and to reduce national energy dependence and consumption. Over the long term, this makes energy supply more reliable, transparent and affordable, thus reducing energy poverty and energy bills for both citizens and the private sector.
The Speaker met media to echo the statement by the former PM, Bidzina Ivanishvili on activity of the Constitutional Commission made on September 12. He called the statement as false and noted that it is double shame as the source is the former PM.
“I would like to believe that he is not a victim of misleading facts and interpretations and it is not him who deliberately states false information. We, politicians can bring more benefits to the country but we can bring more harm as well and the shortest way of harm to the society is when our words lose weight. I do not want the words of the politicians, political leaders including B. Ivanishvili to lose weight with the statements he made yesterday concerning the State Constitutional Commission, the Chair of the SCC and the merit of the Republicans therein”.
The Speaker called the statement as “groundless” and “bogus” accusations concerning failure of the SCC in definition of the rule of direct Presidential election. He called on the opponents, namely Georgian Dream leaders for fact-based case argument – “let’s argue about the facts and stop building the statements on false and if you fail to find any other defect in me, do recognize it”.
The Speaker introduced the documental papers of the SCC activity and the correspondence. During SCC activity of 4 years and 19 months, 101 concrete documents have been composed and uploaded on the Parliamentary web-site. More than half of the papers were elaborated by Vakhtang Khmaladze and the Republicans and only few by Georgian Dream MP, Manana Kobakhidze who despite her active participation in working group, failed to obtain quorum. “The SCC failed to make decisions because it was de-facto boycotted by UNM having no worries during the last 4 years except self and GD, pledging the country and unfortunately, putting the Constitutional issues aside”. He introduced the letter addressed to the GD political council and provided an extract to media:
- The extended term of the Commission is up to expire. I do not convene the sitting and thus I violate the Statute of the Commission during 8 months. I call on my colleagues in the GD Political Council: competent people started sneering at us because the Coalition fails to demonstrate a common position on any primary issue, which results from most of the Coalition partners waiting the GD positions being non-formulated on any of the issues. The most alarming is that non-formulation of party positions is entailed not with variety of the positions but failure of due development and summarization of the positions in GD.
“Since the statements by others have been accumulated in the SCC by V. Khmaladze, NGOs and experts, I e-mail to the Coalition members and leaders: “see attached material on Constitutional changes to exercise. Let’s consider them in Faction regime and then at the joint sitting” – and I have detailed information on every issue related to the Constitution. Response – zero! Then, along with young experts, V. Khmaladze and others I developed a new document accumulating all normative documents detailed and considered for my colleagues never putting an eye on the Constitution during 4 years. I write: “current edition, offered change. For results, asked by you at the Commission sittings, I explain that the issues should have been just “marked” – agree, disagree or abstain. Hoping to speak at the Commission sitting, naming others but only myself and V. Khmaladze that two of us support something. Response – zero! I have been told that I have done nothing and failed the SCC activity! It is a shame Mr. Ivanishvili. How can you hope for people to believe you after this statement and I do not want Georgian people to have fate of leaders without authority. The vacuum is immense enough in political space”.
The Speaker spoke about Presidential election and noted that during 1993-1995 Constitutional reform, the Republicans had intact position about indirect election of the President. “We used to tell that directly elected President would do no good for the country. We witnessed it – it did no good. The Parliamentary model shall envisage the President to be elected not by people but directly”. He recalled the statements by V. Khmaladze in 2013 concerning indirect Presidential elections and spoke about reactions it entailed.
The Coalition and B. Ivanishvili explained the statement by Republicans with enhancement of their positions in the Parliament and the will to weaken the President. “Now the Republicans are blamed of direct election of the President. What should we do? Should we 9 times duplicate our votes and record in the Constitution about otherwise election of the President? It goes beyond political debates and I cannot even tell what it is. But we speak about Georgia, Georgian Constitution, political process. Such attitude to the Constitution, state and law is inadmissible”.
The Speaker ended with the address to B. Ivanishvili.
“This is my response to what he probably misunderstood or was misled or misinterpreted. When I said that I am not interested in disclosure of such issues because we were together assuming responsibility and suffering- me and Mr. Ivanishvili – I want to speak to the society about my future visions of the country, our defense, economics, security, happiness etc. instead of the hell we’ve been through 4-5 years. I mean that if anyone tries to publish false and groundless information about the hereof evens, I will have to elucidate, provide documents and it is what our society needs because it will do no harm to me, with such groundless accusations. Maybe, B. Ivanishvili and others know better how to maintain the value of stocks and property but I know how to keep valuable my words”.
The meeting resumed with questions.
“Rustavi 2” journalist, Natia Goksadze asked about urgency of the SCC activity issue by former PM recently instead of making statements at due time by Republicans for instance. The Speaker elucidated that the reason is unknown for him and the question should better be asked to B. Ivanishvili. As to why the Speaker did not mention it earlier, he stated that each fact he spoke of or does not mention today, could be an interesting material for journalists but he is to do his work in the Parliament instead of entertaining people.
“During this months and the last 1.5 year I used to write in within the Coalition because of the result, the draft Constitutional Changes, supported by GD instead of making statement after a week’s work that they do nothing. State cases need statehood approach which means debates, arguments within. You cannot imagine how emotional I was. I wanted the draft to be supported by the Coalition to pass to the Parliament. I summed up the SCC activity together with you because we have the result as it is. The decision was not made and all the minutes of the meeting are public and available. I and other responsible politicians and state figures in GD or Republicans refused to speak about many issues and you say I should speak publicly… meanwhile, we are in pre-election campaign and we discuss some issues in public format but I do not think that consideration of false information should be publicly discussed. Let’s speak about the draft changes. Let B. Ivanishvili express his position, whether he has a good candidate for the next elections, if we wants direct Presidential elections in this case of indirect if he has a bad candidate. Let’s speak about his position on Constitutional issues tomorrow. It would be better”.
“Imedi” journalist asked about the statement by MIA on provocations by some political parties in pre-election period. The Speaker noted that MIA is responsible for order in the country and it is no surprise if the Minister makes preventive statements. “I think the Minister is a discreet person with a good vision of MIA role in pre-election process. We need not general consumptions from the Ministers about expected provocations but the facts or accomplished case, or prevented offense, etc. otherwise we may facilitate to tension of the situation”.
“Maestro” journalist asked about possible candidacy to the Secretary of the Security Council to be Vano Machavariani and the position of the Republicans. As a response, it was stated that the President has not conversed with the Speaker about this issue and he should not as it is up to him. “Security Council is a suffered instance. So, I would like to see the Secretary who can ensure due operation of the NSC under the conditions we have. However, I hope that the worse is behind. By the way, we even had a law on NSC which was suspended in 2013 with the request of B. Ivanishvili when we were bringing the legislation in compliance with the Constitution. We adopted changes to 170 laws according the new Constitution granting authorities. B. Ivanishvili told me that the President is upset about the hallow draft, reserving no rights to the President. I told him to be calm as the draft would be resumed after elections. We did so and not the positions were contrary. NSC is an important agency and the Secretary shall be serious, intelligent and experienced”.
He answered the questions about Republicans-former PM relations and noted that B. Ivanishvili was the best partner for Republicans for a long time in GD. “In 2011, when he made the statement about coming to politics and said he wanted cooperation with Republicans and Free Democrats. Then we had a reasonable conversation about: multi-party democracy, Parliamentary system, foreign orientation, self-governance, values, human rights etc. and we had a good partnership when reforming in self-governance and when no one wanted it except a few persons when we were adopting the anti-discriminative law and making other decisions. So, we had a productive cooperation for some period. We well understood that 2012-2016 Parliament and the Government was the authority combating Saakashvili’s regime and since 2016, we saw the future based on other principles”.
The Former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili is dissatisfied with the work o the Constitutional Commission and the movement 20/30. According to him, actually the constitutional changes failed.
“In general the team hoped that the Constitutional Commission could do more. Constitutional changes were actually failed. Even this has its objective and subjective reasons,”-Ivanishvili said. He also spoke about the "20/30".
"I established the society 20/30. I had hoped for more, I wanted something to come from the center, to create a critical mass. I have repeatedly talked in my statements, that the community should create a critical mass. When I founded 20/30 I hoped that more would be done but I don’t like the results. I even don’t know if the society needs such organization or movement,”-Bidzina Ivanishvili said.
According to the Former Prime Minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, the National Movement will have problems for barriers in the parliamentary elections. He made this comment on the meeting with the journalists today. As he noted, he have been making researches and knows what is happening in reality.
“I think that you will have the problems with barriers in the elections. I am sure despite the researches you made. I make researches every month and I know what happening in reality,”-Bidzina Ivanishvili said to the Rustavi 2’s journalist.
The Former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili offers the critics to attend economical forum on June, 21. This statement was made by him today, at the meeting with journalists.
“I want to invite all who know economics and who are positively disposed with the government. Let’s covet it all. Let’s prove the specialists what could be done and what was not done by the government. This forum was held in 7 times and this issue was discussed 7 times too. I thought that the specialists would have an ideas but nothing have happened yet. I offer them to attend economical forum,”-Bidzina Ivanishvili said.
According to him, he has no aggression with opposition. He thinks how to help to them.