TI Georgia: Ministry of Internal Affairs should withdraw officers from other state institutions
The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) today, according to a report by Imedi TV, denied TI Georgia’s finding that the Ministry is continuing a practice of previous governments and maintains an officer positioned inside both the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) and the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC), in violation of Georgian law. The MIA representative reportedly referred to TI Georgia’s statement as “not serious”.
The presence of Ministry of Internal Affairs representatives in independent government entities reflects an approach that once was popular during the Soviet Union and it was used by the government of Eduard Shevardnadze as well as after the Rose Revolution. Furthermore, the authorities appear to have failed to launch an investigation into the allegations of several GPB board members about outside pressure being exerted on them, including, according to the Chairman, Emzar Goguadze, by a MIA representative working at the public broadcaster. The MIA said that the person named by Goguadze, Irakli Tsibadze, a security adviser at the GPB, had never worked at the Ministry.
This approach highlights a lack of respect towards the independence of entities like regulatory bodies or the public broadcaster.
At a televised meeting of Bidzina Ivanishvili with media representatives on October 17, 2013, Lasha Tugushi, the publisher of Rezonansi, asked the Prime Minister whether the practice of having special officers from the MIA working in various other state institutions would be continued.
Ivanishvili confirmed their existence, responding: “You are bringing up a painful topic, Lasha. I cannot reveal everything here, but I had discussions about this during government meetings on two separate occasions. There were both jokes and critical comments made about this issue. I cannot disclose any details, but we are trying to end this practice and we will do it in the nearest future. I agree with you, this should not be happening. We will reach maximum transparency in the ministries”. (Video here).
TI Georgia believes that the MIA representative positioned at the GNCC, who has been nicknamed “the General” by employees of the regulator, is Zaza Mazmishvili, who is listed on the GNCC’s website as an Adviser to the Chairman of the Commission and started working at the regulator on May 1 of this year – at a time his boss, GNCC Chairman Irakli Chikovani, had not been in the office for several months.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs also has an employee named Zaza Mazmishvili, who filed a public asset declaration in mid-May of this year and who, his disclosure form suggests, did not work for the government the year before (declarations have to be filed within a month of starting the job). TI Georgia also found a presidential decree from 2002 that mentions a Zaza Mazmishvili who at the time served as the head of the Military Intelligence Department of Eduard Shevardnadze’s Ministry of State Security.
We ask, once again, the Ministry of Internal Affairs to investigate allegations of pressure on the GPB Board and to withdraw its representatives from other government agencies and to respect the legally guaranteed independence of institutions such as the GPB and the GNCC.
We believe that while the Prime Minister himself expressed concern over the existence of special officers of the MIA at various institutions, it is not serious from the side of the MIA to deny this.