PM Kobakhidze calls on law-enforcement officers to exercise utmost patience
PM Kobakhidze calls on law-enforcement officers to exercise utmost patience

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze has commented on both the Second Reading of the Draft Law of Georgia On Transparency of Foreign Influence and the events that unfolded yesterday.

Below is the PM’s statement as delivered.

“I want to reiterate that the Draft Law of Georgia On Transparency focuses solely on requiring NGOs and relevant media outlets to submit financial declarations annually. This piece of legislation stands to significantly bolster Georgia’s state sovereignty. Furthermore, it will play a crucial role in preventing the kind of violent actions by political minorities that we witnessed yesterday.

Since 2020, NGOs have played an active role in two failed attempts at revolution. It’s important to recall that in 2020, NGOs falsified parallel vote count results, manipulated data regarding redundancies in the County Protocols, and spread misinformation about delayed publication of election results by the CEC. This misinformation, funded entirely by foreign sources, laid the groundwork for radical opposition to disrupt Parliament and call for snap elections. Specific media outlets affiliated with the United National Movement (UNM) also conducted campaigns funded by foreign sources, aiming to delegitimize election results. The attempted revolution that began in October 2020 only concluded in October 2021, when the public reaffirmed their trust in the The Georgian Dream party during local government elections.

The second attempt at revolution coincided with the onset of the conflict in Ukraine. In April 2022, representatives from radical parties, NGOs and various media outlets convened in Bakuriani. Together with renowned expert on violent revolutions, Peter Ackerman, they devised a revolutionary plan, slated to unfold after Georgia was unjustly denied candidate status in June. This plan was set into motion when Georgia indeed faced unfair denial of candidate status in June 2022. NGOs revealed their true intentions, stepping onto the political stage to demand the government’s resignation and the formation of a technical government. These revolutionary efforts persisted until Georgia finally attained candidate status in December 2023.

Over the span of three years, radical parties, NGOs and certain media outlets remained active within the country. Despite their disruptive presence, Georgia’s nominal economy doubled in dollar value from 2021 to 2023. However, without the hindrance of revolutionary efforts, the economy could have expanded by at least an additional 5 billion USD during this period. This would have resulted in an extra billion dollars annually for the state budget, enabling significant expansion of existing state programs and projects. Thus, the opacity surrounding NGOs not only poses political challenges for Georgia but also serves as a substantial impediment to economic development and budgetary growth.

Saying nothing about the opacity surrounding NGOs and relevant media outlets, it allows them to engage in activities fundamentally detrimental to the interests of the Georgian state and society. These include promoting drug use, propagating LGBT agendas, continuously attacking the Orthodox Church, interfering politically with religious matters, attempting to destabilize state institutions, and obstructing the implementation of strategic economic projects, among others.

Preventing a few violent actions by the radical opposition now is preferable to allowing Georgia to spiral into radicalism and perpetual polarization. It’s our responsibility as the Government of Georgia to honor the mandate given to us by the voters to govern the country and ensure stability and progress for all.

Furthermore, as previously noted, the radical political minority is currently expending the violent resources they had intended to reserve until the end of October. This effectively thwarts the revolutionary scenario they had prepared for the elections.

Transparency stands as one of the fundamental European values. There’s no evidence to suggest that requiring NGOs to publish a declaration once a year contradicts European principles. Nevertheless, certain foreign politicians and officials persist in spreading defamatory and negative statements regarding the draft law on transparency.

Once again, I urge the ambassadors representing respective countries in Georgia: if they have any arguments, let’s engage in a public discussion about the Draft Law. We have been and remain prepared to consider reasoned recommendations from our partners at any time. The fact that these countries both interfere directly in Georgia’s internal political debates and yet their official representatives decline to participate in public discussions speaks volumes. It suggests they lack substantive arguments against the Draft Law. Such laws apply universally, and if they have concerns, they should actively engage in dialogue. However, we continue to face unwarranted warnings against passing the law. In such circumstances, it is deeply un-European and un-Western for them to persist in spreading slanderous statements and resorting to dry blackmail tactics.

All those who have made defamatory statements must bear responsibility for the violence perpetrated by a radical political minority, as witnessed yesterday. The collective UNM shares full responsibility for their violent actions, with radical parties organizing and leading these actions, along with NGOs and their representatives. We caution everyone to recognize and acknowledge their moral and legal responsibility in these matters.

The responsibility lies with all those entities who, for an entire year, glorified violence and its perpetrators, portraying the members of the violent youth groups within the collective UNM as sincere young individuals. These violent youths are financed by figures like Kezerashvili, Khazaradze, and specific foreign donors. Among them are the UNM, Lelo, and Akhali Youth Organizations, comprising approximately 100 violent youths. Additionally, there are other violent groups such as Talgha [The Wave], Jiutebi [Stubborn], Nabiji [Step], Tbilisi Pride, GenZ, Tsertili [Full stop], Dafioni, Students for the European Future, Movement for Freedom, Sirtzkhvilia [Shame], Franklin Club, and Academy of the Future, which collectively encompass around 200 violent youths loyal to the collective UNM.

I urge all citizens to distance themselves from the violent actions perpetrated by these groups, which are driven solely by narrow-party and anti-state motives.

It’s noteworthy that despite millions of dollars poured into these violent gangs over the years, they’ve only managed to recruit approximately 300 violent youths in the end. I’m confident that this resource will largely be depleted by October as well.

Regarding yesterday’s violent action, it was meticulously planned and executed following Ackerman’s manual. The rally exhibited its violent and unlawful nature through the picketing of the Parliament of Georgia and the physical violence and insults directed at law-enforcement officers. Participants resorted to throwing various objects, including glass bottles and stones, at the policemen, further emphasizing the unlawful and aggressive nature of the protest.

As a result of the violent actions perpetrated by the political minority, namely the collective UNM, it became necessary to hospitalize 6 policemen yesterday. One of them suffered a fractured eye socket and required emergency surgery.

Following yesterday’s violent action, 4 protestors were taken to clinics with minor injuries. They were promptly discharged from the clinics after receiving treatment.

Certainly, witnessing Levan Khabeishvili’s injuries was distressing. Also, several regrettable incidents were reported during the dispersal of the gathering. Unfortunately, violence tends to perpetuate more violence. The responsibility for the physical injury of each individual lies with all those who, during this time, have encouraged and condoned violence, including those who promoted violence against law-enforcement officers, approved the violent acts such as Elisashvili’s approach, and verbally abused government representatives using extremely derogatory language.

Overall, the radical opposition, along with wealthy entities like NGOs and their media outlets, primarily resort to violence as their weapon of choice. This pattern was evident during the tenure of the collective UNM while in power, and it continues to be their distinguishing characteristic. Everyone is held strictly accountable for violence under the law. Their inability to engage meaningfully with the law on transparency, instead resorting to crude labeling, further underscores their inherently violent nature.

I extend my gratitude to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the policemen who, despite facing large-scale violence and insults, were able to effectively prevent further violence and safeguard public safety to the best of their abilities.

Indeed, it is anticipated that the actions of the radical political minority will once again assume a violent and unlawful character today. This may manifest through attempts to picket state buildings and resorting to violence against police officers, accompanied by insults directed at them.

Georgia upholds democratic values, ensuring the strict protection of the right to peaceful assembly and expression. However, I urge everyone to refrain from engaging in violent and illegal actions. Any perpetrators and violators will be held accountable before the law.

I call on the law-enforcement officers to exercise utmost patience. I understand that it can be challenging to endure violence and abuse without reacting. However, I urge everyone to demonstrate maximum patience when facing any violent or illegal actions by protesters. Any excessive use of force by law-enforcement may be exploited by the radical opposition to deflect attention from their own violent actions.

The imminent adoption of the Law of Georgia on Transparency will establish a robust foundation for fostering long-term peace and tranquility in the country.

The ultimate pacification of the country is essential for bolstering Georgia’s democratic system, fostering irreversible economic development, and facilitating Georgia’s integration into the European Union.”