Protests after Georgian Parliament passes bill on 'transparency of foreign influence' continue in Tbilisi, Georgia on May 24

Georgia: Authorities must immediately investigate attacks on government critics

Reacting to a violent attack by unknown men on a civic activist in Georgia just hours after he was accused in a social media post by the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament of participating in an “organized and politically motivated campaign of terror”, Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:

“Following dozens of similar violent incidents, the attack on Zuka Berdzenishvili, just hours after he was personally called out by the Speaker of the Parliament as a threat to the government, raises serious concerns. Such actions by government officials can easily be interpreted as a green light to commit violence against government critics with impunity.”

Following dozens of similar violent incidents, the attack on Zuka Berdzenishvili, just hours after he was personally called out by the Speaker of the Parliament as a threat to the government, raises serious concerns

Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

“We are deeply troubled by the Georgian government’s false pretence that the criticism they face is a violent anti-establishment plot. Their mounting crackdown on dissent is not a form of defence, it is an assault on human rights and a breach of Georgia’s international human rights obligations. Criticism of the authorities, however harsh, is protected speech, and all public officials have an obligation to endure high levels of criticism and scrutiny.

“The Georgian authorities must put an end to the cycle of violence, immediately investigate all violent attacks and ensure that the perpetrators, whoever they are, are brought to justice in fair trial proceedings.”

Background

On the morning of 11 June, Zuka Berdzenishvili, a civic activist, was attacked by three unknown men near his home in Tbilisi, suffering head injuries. This occurred just hours after the Speaker of the Parliament, Shalva Papuashvili, published a post on social media naming Berdzenishvili as one of the “outraged citizens” participating in an “organized and politically motivated campaign of terror” against members of the ruling party, Georgian Dream. According to Papuashvili, Berdzenishvili had been making threatening phone calls to members of parliament, claims that Amnesty International isn’t able to independently verify at the moment.

In recent weeks, numerous opposition activists in Georgia have faced attacks following the government’s rapid approval of the controversial “foreign influence” legislation that has been widely criticised as an assault on the right to freedom of association. Amid mass protests, reports of intimidation, arbitrary arrests, and violence against protesters and perceived government critics have surged. Notable incidents include suspicious figures near opposition leader Zurab Japaridze’s residence on 10 June following a previous vicious attack on his brother; the daylight assault of student Niko Managadze on 7 June, and the arrest on seemingly spurious charges of firearm possession of activist Ioseb Babaevi on 4 June. At least two persons were also reported detained for publicly confronting and criticizing MPs, with one of them facing trial on hooliganism charges.