Berlin, 16 October 2018 – Transparency International is alarmed by recent indications of increased state capture in Georgia and verbal attacks on civil society by prominent members of government.
On 3 October 2018, Transparency International Georgia reported that leaked audio files appear to show the existence of a scheme designed to control the Georgian tobacco market to the benefit of high-level government officials, the ruling Georgian Dream party, and members of the judiciary.
Following the revelations, and a call by the leading civil society organizations for the Georgian authorities to launch an investigation into the allegations, in an apparent attempt to divert attention, the Executive Secretary of Georgian Dream and chairperson of the Georgian Parliament, Irakli Kobakhidze, labelled the leaders of the civil society organizations, including TI Georgia, “supporters of Fascism.” A coalition of Georgian civil society have since called on Kobakhizde to refrain from making groundless accusations and to ensure a full investigation into the allegations of corruption and informal governance.
Transparency International Georgia is an independent and non-political anti-corruption organisation that has been accredited to the Transparency International movement since 2000.
“For many years, Georgia has been one of the top performing countries in its region on anti-corruption and good governance, even hosting the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Summit in Tbilisi this summer,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International. “The recent backsliding on democratic governance is extremely troubling. It would be a great shame if Georgia’s progress towards improved rule of law would turn instead towards kleptocracy and impunity for corruption.”
In analysis of the country’s 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index score earlier this year, Transparency International already noted a lack of enforcement of anti-corruption laws and regulations in Georgia, and a lack of investigations into corruption allegations against influential politicians.
Particularly in the run-up to the 28 October elections, Transparency International joins its Georgian chapter in urging the government to refrain from making baseless accusations that could hamper the work of civil society election observers. The government must also fully investigate allegations of grand corruption arising from the leaked audio files.
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