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Troubled times in Georgia

Georgian riot police arrest opposition supporters during an anti-government rally in Tbilisi, Georgia, on 26 May.| EPA/ZURAB KURTSIKIDZE

It was French Enlightenment social commentator and political thinker Charles de Montesquieu who said: "There is no crueller tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice."

Fast forward to 26 May 2011 and a violent protest in Georgia, which left the leader of the country's opposition parties calling on the EU to "understand that Europe has a new dictator".

The comments, by Nino Burdjarnadze, came after a five-day opposition protest against the country's president, Mikheil Saakashvili, ended in violence.

The protest was organised by Burdjarnadze, the leader of the People's Assembly party, and other opposition leaders. A total of 37 people were hospitalised, eight of them police officers.

For many, this sequence of events has merely served to confirm what they have been saying for some time, namely that Georgia is currently under a dictatorship.

Burdjarnadze said the government's response to the "peaceful" protest highlighted "serious" problems in the country.

It is not difficult to see why she says the country has descended into a cruel dictatorship – there are serious problems with press freedom and an absence of fair and democratic elections.

"I do not want Georgia to descend into the same sort of mess that we now see in places like Libya. But it is a fragile stability that currently exists which could explode at any time."

Burdjarnadze is a former speaker of the Georgian parliament and has twice served as the country's head of state, so her comments should not be taken lightly.

She came to Brussels recently for a series of meetings with MEPs and other EU officials in a bid to lobby support for the Georgian opposition parties, calling on the EU and its member states to show more interest in and understanding of the current situation in Georgia.

The violent way in which the Georgian government tried to put down a peaceful and democratic protest on 26 May illustrates the scale of the problem – it could be said that every day of Saakashvili’s reign represents a threat not only to the state and national interests, but also to regional stability.

Georgian citizens face ever-increasing problems on a daily basis, including hunger, poverty and increasing prices.

At the same time, Sakashvili and his direct circle are getting rich – there is no real democracy in the country, and the constitutional rights of citizens are being violated.

According to a US State Department report from 2010, the main human-rights abuses reported during that year included abuse of prisoners and detainees, poor prison conditions and arbitrary arrest and detention.

There were reports of selective application of the law and crimes allegedly involving government officials or supporters were only slowly investigated and often remained pending, said the report.

The UK’s Europe Minister, David Liddington, is among those who have voiced concern, saying that he was saddened to hear of the recent violence. He encouraged the Georgian government to fully investigate the events.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said the "fact that the police would abuse, detain and question reporters engaged in their professional duties is worrisome".

The Georgian opposition wants to see the EU support their demand for changes through free and fair elections, but they are also realistic enough to know that symbolic changes in the election code are just a minor part of the election environment.

The local elections of 2010 were a good illustration of this – none of the remarks and recommendations of the OSCE mission regarding the violations or shortcomings of the elections have been addressed or taken into consideration by the authorities.

Even the results of the ten-month so-called dialogue on improvement of the election code with part of the opposition parties are exactly the way which Burdjarnadze envisaged.

She aptly sums up the situation: "The opposition is right to appeal to the EU to pay attention to the fact that there can be no fair and free elections when political parties and our entire society are restricted under a tightly controlled and virtual ‘democracy’ where the police and judiciary are politicised, where there is no independent media and where there is overt pressure on political opponents and blackmail of business interests."


Saakashvili has Georgia turned into a neo-Bolshevik nation - opposition leader

Georgia under President Mikhail Saakashvili first underwent a spectacular reform, but has now turned back into a typical post-Soviet state, oppressing its own people, believes Nino Burdzhanadze, former parliamentary speaker, now an opposition leader.


Нино Бурджанадзе: Белорусскую оппозицию на Западе слушают и слышат

Беларусь уже не последняя диктатура Европы, заявила председатель партии "Демократическое движение — Единая Грузия" Нино Бурджанадзе в интервью БелаПАН.

"Помню, как про Лукашенко писали, что это "последний диктатор Европы". Увы, оказалось, что это не так. Я со всей ответственностью заявляю, что 26 мая в Европе родился новый диктатор в лице Михаила Саакашвили, и я могу предоставить этому десятки доказательств - документов и кадров", - заявила Бурджанадзе.

განსხვავებული ადგილები, განსხვავებული სტანდარტები

ტატიანა ჟდანოკი

ორჯერ, 2006 და 2007 წლებში, NEW EUROPE-ს გვერდებიდან ევროპელ პოლიტიკოსებს სხვადასხვა ქვეყნებში ადამიანის უფლებების დაცვასთან დაკავშირებით ორმაგი სტანდარტების გამოყენებაზე უარის თქმისკენ მოვუწოდებდი. მეტიც, ამ საკითხში ხშირად ევროპარლამენტიც კი შერჩევით მოდგომებს ირჩევს.

Нино Бурджанадзе: Беларусь — уже не последняя диктатура Европы

Эксклюзивное интервью председателя партии «Демократическое движение — Единая Грузия» Нино Бурджанадзе информационной компании БелаПАН.

Разгон мирной демонстрации протеста, оппозицию обвиняют в попытке государственного переворота, а та, в свою очередь, обличает жестокость власти, заявляя о репрессиях и нарушении конституции. Речь идет не о послевыборной Беларуси, а о ситуации в Грузии

Нино Бурджанадзе, председатель партии «Демократическое движение — Единая Грузия». Родилась в Кутаиси 16.07.1964. Кандидат юридических наук. В 2001-2008 годах — председатель парламента Грузии. В 2003-2004 и 2007-2008 годах — исполняющая обязанности президента Грузии. В 2000-2008 годах занимала пост председателя Парламентской ассамблеи Организации по безопасности и сотрудничеству в Европе (ПА ОБСЕ). Замужем, имеет двоих детей. Супруг — Бадри Бицадзе, бывший начальник Пограничной полиции Грузии.

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