A Joint Statement about the Attack on Zurab Chiaberashvili and Nodar Ladaria

We express deep concern about the attack on Zurab Chiaberashvili and Nodar Ladaria that took place on May 27 and call on the authorities to investigate this fact in a timely manner and effectively, as well as to hold all the offenders responsible. At the same time, we call on all politicians and public persons to refrain from making comments that contain hate speech and encourage aggression.

Recently, attacks and violence against citizens have become more frequent, which is clearly related to the ineffectiveness of measures taken by law enforcement bodies in response to such incidents and the inability of the state to apply adequate sanctions against offenders. The aforementioned trend causes concern in terms of ensuring life, health and safety of people, as well as with regard to unhindered exercise of civil and political rights and freedoms, because such violent acts are often connected with the political activity or political views  of victims of the crimes.

Timely and effective investigation into such facts and imposing adequate sanctions on offenders are necessary preconditions for prevention of violence. It is no less important to condemn such acts unequivocally and unconditionally in public discourse, which is, first of all, the responsibility of representatives of the authorities.

Proceeding from this, we are deeply concerned by the attitude of some representatives of the authorities to similar facts; the aforementioned persons try to justify criminal acts and even relate attacks and violence against people to “restoration of justice”, because the victims are members or supporters of an opposition party.

According to news reports, the Vice-Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, Manana Kobakhidze, when assessing this fact in her comments given to Radio 1, stated as follows: “It is a bad fact in itself. It is not the people who must restore justice. The people should not be compelled to start restoring justice themselves. If Chiaberashvili has committed a concrete crime, the verdict has been delivered and the verdict was the right response. I can’t say now what happened and what it was motivated by. There may have been some argument; it may have had a precondition. It is the job of law enforcers to investigate this. The fact itself is really unpleasant. This will once again give the National Movement a pretext for shouting that they are being persecuted on political grounds. I don’t know what happened; Chiaberashvili might have even assaulted them verbally. I don’t know.”

We believe that this is an irresponsible statement from a politician and an official that justifies and encourages hate, aggression towards people, and their persecution on political grounds. The statement consequently inflicts damage on the society and hinders the maintenance of a safe environment in the country and holding the coming elections in an equal, fair, and competitive environment, which is one of the main preconditions for democratic development of the state.

Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI)

Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI)

Media Development Foundation (MDF)

Apr/1428