Ombudsman of Georgia: dozens of civil servants dismissed for ties with former PM's party
According to the Public Defender of Georgia Nino Lomjaria, dozens of civil servants were fired during the pre-election period possibly as a result of discrimination for their political views. In particular, during this period 62 employees were subjected to various forms of pressure.
According to her, most of these people confirmed the facts of pressure and dismissal to the representatives of the Public Defender’s Office and as the reason they named kinship, friendship or good relations with members of the party of former Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia.
However, Lomjaria also noted that some of them, despite confirming the fact of pressure, did not give consent to the Public Defender’s office to investigate their cases:
“Employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, municipal services, law enforcement agencies, structures created by various municipalities, and other government agencies were dismissed”.
According to the Public Defender, citizens confirm that the authorities asked them to write a letter of resignation – some of them agreed to and some did not. People who did not write the letter of resignation were fired for other reasons. According to the Ombudsman, disciplinary proceedings have been initiated against some of them.
“In this case, there are signs of a crime under the Criminal Code – political persecution. On August 31, 2021, the Public Defender transferred the cases of 34 people to the General Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia and the Ministry of Internal Affairs for investigation and appropriate response”, the statement reads.
According to Lomjaria, it is unacceptable to persecute people for their political views and opinions and dismiss them from their positions on these grounds. Therefore, the Ombudsman appeals to the heads of central and local self-government bodies and other state institutions to refrain from dismissing people for political reasons.
The Ombudsman also wrote to the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, demanding to promptly investigate the issue of the possible persecution of these persons and provide appropriate response.
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Giorgi Gakharia resigned as prime minister on February 18 and announced the creation of a new party “For Georgia” on May 29.
Soon after Gakharia’s resignation, his supporters began to actively talk about the repression of the former prime minister in the field of public service. Several dozen people left the civil service and joined Gakharia’s team, including the former mayor of Zugdidi.
As Gakharia himself explained, one of the main reasons for his resignation was the court’s decision to arrest the leader of the largest opposition party, United National Movement, Nika Melia. He stated that he considers the arrest of Nika Melia unfair in conditions when there was a danger of political escalation and did not agree on this issue with the ruling Georgian Dream party.