Georgian Press Review (October 16-22)

By Vestnik Kavkaza
Georgian Press Review (October 16-22)

The most resonant event of recent days in Georgia became the emergence of a video on the internet of the torture of a certain man by the previous authorities of the country in order to obtain the necessary evidence from him, which led to a series of attacks on the offices of the United National Movement in different parts of the country.

" On October 17th a Ukrainian website issued a video titled  ‘How reformers torture people to obtain the necessary evidence.’ This is material from a cache discovered in Megrelya. The video recorded evidence of sexual violence against men, after which the detainee gives confessions to the investigator. The web-page says nothing about the source of the video. The video, which lasts about five minutes, was picked up quickly by Georgian web pages. It caused public outrage. Media speculate on how the materials found in Megrelya by the Interior Ministry appeared on the Ukrainian web page. The Interior Ministry has opened an inquiry into the distribution of the recording on the Ukrainian site. As the department explained, the investigation is conducted based on the 2nd part of Article 157 of the Criminal Code,’’ the Kviris Palitra newspaper writes.

A representative of the parliamentary majority, Irakli Sesiashvili, has assured that the authorities of the country are not implicated in the spread of the video. ‘’The spread video has been transferred to the lawyers of the victims, as from a legal point of view, the record is evidence and a part of that case. I cannot say how the video got on the Ukrainian site, but the fact is that apart from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, others had the recording. One cannot blame the authorities for spreading the video, it was not in our interests," he said.

At the same time, according to the expert Vakhtang Maisiy, a former employee of the Interior Ministry of Georgia, Megis Kardava, who recently had a conflict with the UNM, could be implicated in the publication of this video. "The day after the parliamentary elections Megis Kardava and the ‘Master’ exported the original recording of torture from the country. Both are organizers and executors of the systemic crimes and, of course, they understood that for committing such cruelty they would spend many years in prison. As was said recently, Megis Kardava and the ‘Master’ had some kind of a conflict with the National Movement, due to the fact that the party did not pay them enough attention, Kardava and the ‘Master’ could revenge their colleagues,’’ Maisaya told.

However, this is not the only scandal in which the ruling party has been involved recently. It is also involved actively in various actions held in connection with the trial surrounding the Rustavi 2 TV company. The CEO of the company, Niki Gvaramia, actively calls on people to participate in these actions. "I appeal to those who value freedom of speech to support us ... If there are attempts to break through to the company, we will also oppose them using strength," the Resonance newspaper quotes him as saying. However, as the newspaper notes, all the opposition parties of Georgia, except for the UNM, are going to ignore this call.

"Almost all the leaders of the Free Democrats party are in the US and, therefore, not a single person can participate in the action personally, but the party leader Irakli Alasania expresses his support for Rustavi 2 from the United States. One of the leaders of the New Rights party, Manana Nachkebia, says that she is going to participate as a representative of the party and she will attend the trial, but she has not decided yet whether to participate in the protests or not. The party of Nino Burjanadze and the ‘Alliance of the Patriots’ will not join the action due to the fact that Rustavi 2 is a TV company owned by the National Movement, and to talk about the freedom of the media with the former Deputy Prosecutor General, Nika Gvaramia, they believe to be cynical. 

According to a representative of the United Democratic Movement, Giorgi Akhvlediani, the events surrounding Rustavi 2 can hurt only two political forces, so it does not bother him at all. A member of the parliamentary majority, the republican Levan Berdzenishvili, believes that the trial will decide the fate of the channel’s owner, and all must obey the decision of the court, and the question of shutting down the channel is not in the agenda at all," the newspaper reports. 

Georgian media is following the beginning of the investigation into the events of August 2008 under the auspices of the International Criminal Court with no less interest. Being asked by the Resonance newspaper, the chairman of the Association of Young Lawyers of Georgia, Ana Natsvlishvili, said that if the case goes to court it will be the first time that a defendant in the dock at the ICC will not be an African dictator, as has happened before. At the same time, in her opinion, even if the Georgian side is convicted, the Tbilisi authorities won’t be convicted, nor the republic as a whole, but only the representatives of its previous government, headed by ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili. "The Court has not yet considered European cases. If an investigation into the August war is started, this will be the first time that the Hague tribunal will go beyond the African continent. Natsvlishvili states that, unlike the Strasbourg Court, the Hague court raises the question of the state’s responsibility. The Hague court intends to identify specific crimes of particular persons and bring them to justice. At the same time, it does not study the actions of the rank and file soldiers, but explores the feasibility of the decisions taken by senior officials. According to the lawyer, there is no such post that would provide immunity before the court. All are equal before the Hague court. There are also no limitations. If objective facts prove that the person is guilty, he cannot escape responsibility," the newspaper transmits the position of the head of GYLA. However, it believes that the Court will be able to enforce the sentence in  case there is a guilty sentence. ‘’Of course, the court does not have an army or an independent police force to enforce the sentence. There were cases when they declared criminals on the wanted list, and it was not that easy to limit the freedom of these individuals. The court has a number of tools for such cases. For example, if the Hague tribunal announces that someone is wanted, all the states that are members of the Rome Statute are obliged to detain and transfer the wanted individual to the court, if he is on their territory. The number of such countries is quite large," she is quoted as saying by the publication.

The process of the European integration of Georgia as a whole and its individual aspects is still in the center of the media attention. In this regard, the newspaper  Rezonansi is interested in what the European Union funds allocated to the country are spent on. "A lot of big-budget projects are being carried out in the following areas: human rights, the formation and strengthening of organizations and institutions on women's equality, the administration and policy of providing the population with residential buildings, the promotion of higher education in the country, employment policy, the development of the legal sector and justice, the promotion of the existence of political parties, the promotion of the development of democracy, trade and related issues, modernization and the introduction of European standards in all areas of industrial policy, strengthening of the capacity of the Government of Georgia in terms of border management and migration, the promotion of the improvement of education for teachers, water and sanitation, care of hydroelectric power plants, prevention and readiness for disaster," the Information Center on NATO and the EU reports.

"This cooperation is based on specific priorities. The projects are varied. When we talk about EU assistance, it is not only about financial aid. In addition to financial, the EU provides technical and expert assistance. According to the areas of implementation, the projects are carried out in the direction of the economy, energy, education, environmental protection, agricultural development, promotion of justice, human rights, establishing a system of penal protection of borders and strengthening of security. The EU assistance is reflected in almost all areas. The EU is donor number one in terms of providing aid to Georgia, it helps us to make the level of life more compatible with European standards and make the prosperity of the country more stable. When we talk about the numbers, they are very impressive. From 1992 to the present day the EU aid is divided into three phases: the first phase – 506 million euros in 1992-2006. The second phase – 624 million euros in 2007-2013. The third phase – 410 million euros in 2014-2017. At this stage, the aid covers the following priority areas- – support for the justice sector, agricultural development, support for the reform of governance, support for the implementation of the agreement between Georgia and the EU. All assistance is calculated for specific priorities. It is important that the EU does not dictate its priorities to us, but only recommends different directions, the authorities determine the priorities to which it is necessary to direct this aid," the publication quotes the head of the center Elena Gotsadze. 

Georgian journalists also write about the international agenda’s topic number one, which is currently Syria. "Political scientists observing the dynamics of the Syrian conflict do not rule out that soon it may go beyond the region and turn into a third world war. According to them, there are few reasons to keep calm, since the military operations include many countries. As is known, Russian planes are bombing Islamist groups in the Syrian territory. But as it turned out, the Russian bombs are designed not only for the Islamists, but also for the Syrian opposition. Consequently, Russia's actions have been dubbed an attempt to save the Assad regime. The questions and opinions about the threat of a third world war are heard more and more. A growing number of political analysts believe that a third world war is a reality,’’ Resonance writes. The main role played is played by US-Russia relations. Much depends on the confrontation between these two countries. If they cannot find common ground, this will grow into a military confrontation, it could lead to World War III. The fact is that Russia is fueling the conflict. The factor of the ‘Islamic caliphate’ is added to this. ‘’The Syrian conflict has evolved from local to regional, and now the main thing is to prevent it from developing into a global conflict and somehow hold it within the regional war," the publication cites the words of Vakhtang Maisaya. In his turn, an expert Josef Tsiskarishvili is sure that for a settlement of this conflict it is necessary for the parties to start negotiations. "The only way out is to think twice. Nobody will be able to install a sole hegemony in Syria. It is necessary to begin peace talks or to achieve a stabilization with the help of the military forces of the United Nations or any other international organization. However, even in case of a fragile peace, it is a very long way to a real peace," he complained.