Georgia, Human Rights, December 1999 (excerpts)


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Subject: Georgia, Human Rights, December 1999 (excerpts)

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Georgia, Human Rights, December 1999 (excerpts)


South Caucasian Human Rights Monitor
published by the 
Caucasian Institute for Peace, Development and Democracy

Part 3
Human Rights in Georgia
December 1999


Mass Media and Human Rights

........................

Police Brutality

........................

Protest actions

........................

In penitentiaries 

........................

Penitentiary reform

........................

Legislation

........................

Religious minorities, religious freedoms

On December 2 Guram Sharadze, MP, declared non-confidence in Akaki
Bakradze, the chairman of the Isani-Samgori district court of Tbilisi,
and demanded to remove a judge Tsisana Khazalia from the trial
Sharadze vs. two organisations of Jehovah Witnesses because the court
did not found the Witnesses a priory criminal but ordered to examine
their literature (the inquisition will be carried out by the State
Institute of Philosophy and the Faculty of Philosophy of Tbilisi State
University) in order to find out whether it contained anti-state
propaganda. He says he already knows what their answer will be and do
not like it. The board of the Judges' Association of Georgia believes
that Sharadze is too severe to the judges.
"Shvidi Dge" No. 143, December 6-7, p. 4, Mail-Express agency,
"Georgian judges regard Sharadze as a clairvoyant"

Investigating the recent rapes and murders of three teenage girls in
Rustavi, the police suggested that it might be connected with ritual
murder. Police officials point to candle-snuff in one of the spots
(not an unusual thing in a city which has almost no electricity in
winter). Mass media also favour this version, and the Patriarchate of
the Georgian Orthodox Church made a special statement, claiming that
the murders may be blamed on a satanist sect. However, the Faculty of
Sociology of Tbilisi State University considers this  version
groundless. Meanwhile, it has already inspired MP Guram Sharadze, one
of the most resolute antagonists of religious minorities, to launch a
new campaign against all religious sects.
"Dilis Gazeti" No. 291, December 18, p. 2, Prime-News agency, "Faculty
of Sociology does not believe that sectants are involved in serial
murders"

According to the press centre of the Patriarchate of the Georgian
Orthodox Church, a dozen of "anti-Christian" sects, including
Evangelists, Baptists, Salvation Army, Jehovah Witnesses,
Scientologists and some others, are currently functioning in Georgia.
The most dangerous of them are Satanists (who have allegedly appeared
in this country; nobody has ever seen a Satanist though. -- CIPDD) and
Jehovah Witnesses. The Patriarchate claims that anti-Christian sects
are often masked as international NGOs, such as "Women for World
Peace", which is "nothing but an association of Satanists". The
Patriarchal warns that such sects may intensify their activities on
the eve of the new millennium.
"Resonance" No. 353, December 25, pp. 1, 4, Maggie Tsanava, "Beware of
Satanists: they are among us"


The Post of Ombudsman Is Still Vacant

........................

Personalia

........................

Children rights

........................

The Asanidze brothers:  Tamaz is dead, Tengiz is indicted with yet
another crime

........................

Indictments and sentences

........................

Social and economic rights

........................

Echo of Chechnya

Fearful of Chechen terrorists, Moscow is considering a possibility to
evacuate the families of the personnel of the Russian embassy from
Georgia.
"Dilis Gazeti" No. 279, December 4, p. 2, Kavkaz-Press agency, "Moscow
cares about Russian citizens" 

The State Department of Frontier Defence and the Ministry for Refugees
and Accomodation made a joint statement, claiming that Georgia was no
longer able to grant asylum to Chechen refugees. According to the
statement, the number of Chechen refugees in Georgia has already
exceeded 4,000. Considering the still unsettled problem of almost
300,000 refugees from Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the difficulty
in supplying victuals and medicines to mountaineous regions (Chechen
refugees are mainly accomodated in the Pankisi Gorge), the Georgian
government has decided to restrict the inflow of refugees into
Georgia, the statement goes.   
"Svobodnaya Gruzia" December 7, p. 1

12 foreigners - nine citizens of Turkey, one of Jordan, one of North
Ireland and one of France - accused of attempted trespass on the
Chechen territory through Georgia, were arrested and deported from
Georgia.
"Svobodnaya Gruzia" No. 307, December 8, p. 1, Kavkaz-Press, "A group
of foreigners deported from Georgia" 

On December 9 the Georgian government appealed to the OSCE and asked
it to deploy an international mission of observers at the Chechen
sector of the Russian-Georgian border. The foreign ministry of Georgia
made a similar appeal to the Security Council of UN, asking to include
UN observers to the mission.
"Respublika Gruziya" No. 312, December 11, p. 1, Sakinform news
agency, "An international observer mission expected to monitor the
Chechen sector of the Russian-Georgian border"

On occassion of the International Human Rights Day, the NGOs "National
section of the international human rights society ISHR-IGFM" and
"All-Georgian Human Rights Association" rallied in front of the
Russian embassy in Tbilisi in protest against Russia's military
operation in Chechnya.
"Dilis Gazeti" No. 285, December 11, p. 2, Gea news agency, "[Russian
ambassador] Felix Stanevsky received two statements"

Hizri Aldamov, Chechnya's representative in Georgia, appeals to the
Georgian government to allow about 2,000 Chechen refugees, who are
currently camped at the Chechen sector of the Russian-Georgian border,
into Georgia. He also asks the government to receive some 15 or 20
thousand Chechens who may soon seek asylum in Georgia. Georgian
official sources claim that there are about 5,000 Chechen refugees in
Georgia at present. According to informal estimates, however, their
real number is much bigger. For its part, the Georgian office of the
OSCE announces that the OSCE will deploy a special observer mission at
this sector of the Russian-Georgian border.
"Svobodnaya Gruzia" No. 315, December 16, p. 1, Sakinform news agency
  
In his appeal to the UN Secretary General, the Georgian president
emphasised that due to the influx of Chechen refugees, Georgia was
facing the danger of a humanitarian catastrophe. Shevardnadze
suggested that the UN should enlarge its humanitarian mission in
Georgia.
"Svobodnaya Gruzia" No. 316-317, December 17, p. 1, Press release of
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

On December 17 Russian combat helicopters dropped several bombs in the
vicinity of the Georgian village of Shatili (at the border with
Chechnya). No casualties or damage were reported.
"Dilis Gazeti" No. 291, December 18, p. 1, Prime-News agency, "Shatili
bombed once again"

Georgia is restricting the influx of Chechen refugees into the country
and there are currently crowds of them at the Chechen sector of the
Russian-Georgian border, the Chechen representation office in Georgia
says. Only those who need urgent medical treatment are allowed in. A
13-year-old Chechen boy underwent a surgery to remove his frozen legs
in one of the Tbilisi hospitals. Another boy died in hosptial.
According to the newspaper, three toddlers froze to death at the
border.
"Shvidi Dge" No. 149, December 20-21, p. 2, Mail-Express news agency,
"Chechen refugees frozen on the way"

A visa regime between Russia and Georgia may come into force on March
1, Igor Ivanov, the Russian foreign minister, said to "Radio Rossii".
If so, all Georgian citizens residing in Russia will have to leave the
country. (According to some Russian sources, their number is as great
as 600,000. - CIPDD) 
"Dilis Gazeti" No. 293, December 21, p. 2, Gea news agency, "All
Georgians should leave Russia from March 1"

The Tbilisi police began to check foreigners living in or coming to
Georgia and make them registrate. (The regime grows tougher: up to
now, the attitude to those escaping obligatory registration used to be
quite liberal. -- CIPDD) According to Chechnya's representation in
Tbilisi, the Georgian police regularly detain ethnic Chechens.
"Dilis Gazeti" No. 294, December 22, p. 2, Prime-News agency, "The
police demand every foreigner to undergo registration"

On December 22, at about 5 p.m., several rockets were fired at the
Georgian border check-point in Shatili from the Russian territory,
wounding four frontier guards.
"Resonance" No. 351, December 23, pp. 1, 2, Zviad Pochkhua, "A bloody
clash..." 

Elena Tevdoradze, the chair person of the parliamentary human rights
committee, denounces the December 21 statement of the Russian foreign
ministry, which accused Georgia of providing medical care for wounded
Chechen terrorists. Georgia, as well as Russia, has ratified the
Geneva Convention and Human Rights Declaration, and there are no
grounds to consider wounded Chechens to be terrorists, she says.
"Dilis Gazeti" No. 296, December 24, p. 5, Prime-News agency,
"Russia's position concerning wounded Chechen refugees in Georgia is
absurd"

The parliament of Georgia responded to the December 21 statement of
the Russian foreign ministry with its own statement, emphasising that
according to modern standards of humanitarian law Georgia could not
deny asylum to those Russian citizens who fled the zone of military
operations.
"Droni" No. 159, December 25, p. 3, "Statement of the parliament of
Georgia" 


In and about Abkhazia 

Zurab Samushia, the commander of the Abkhazia-based Georgian guerrilla
unit "White Legion", is going to launch an Internet press conference
for international organisations and individuals interested in the
activities of the Organisation for Liberation of Abkhazia (he has
recently created two web sites: http://www.abkhazeti.com and
http://www.abkhazeti.net ). In his words, the Organization, growing
with every passing day, fights to prevent any rehabilitation programs
in Abkhazia until the territorial integrity of Georgia is restored. He
also guarantees some "surprises" on newly re-elected president
Vladislav Ardzinba's inauguration day. 
"Dilis Gazeti" No. 278, December 3, Prime-News agency, "The White
Legion promises Ardzinba some surprises"

According to Abkhaz mass media, the Russian military provided the
Abkhaz with a big batch of armaments from the Gudauta military base.
"Resonance" No. 332, December 3, p. 3, Zviad Pochkhua, Beno Djokhidze,
"The Russians gave the Abkhaz weapons"

A car was blowned up by an anti-tank landmine in the village of
Achigvara, Ochamchire district of Abkhazia. Five people are killed.
"Dilis Gazeti" No. 278, December 3, Prime-News agency, "Five people
killed by a mine in the district of Ochamchire" 

The inauguration of Vladislav Ardzinba, recently re-elected president,
took place in Sukhumi on December 6. Several Russian MPs and officials
from North Caucasian republics and South Ossetia attended the
ceremony.
"Droni" No. 150, December 7, p. 5, Tinatin Izoria, "Wizard Ardzinba
and his sceptre"

The block of flats where Sergey Baghapsh, former prime-minister, and
Vyacheslav Tsukba, his successor, live was bombed in Sukhumi on
November 12. No casualties were reported. The Abkhaz suspect Georgian
security services took a hand, the Georgian security minister says
they did not.
"Resonance" No. 341, December 13, p. 3, Zviad Pochkhua, "A mighty
explosion in Sukhumi"

According to Dieter Boden, special representative of the UN Secretary
General in Georgia, a meeting on the problem of Abkhazia will be
carried out soon in the framework of the Geneva negotiations, and a
resolution of the UN Security Council is expected in January, which
will take into account the interests of both parties.
"Resonance" No. 343, December 14, p. 5, BS-Press news agency, "UN
making ready its next resolution"

Three ethnic Georgians, residents of the village of Ganmukhuri,
Zugdidi district, were taken hostage by Abkhaz militants two days ago.
Murman Chedia, the head of the Gali district administration, links the
incident with the December 6 kidnapping of two ethnic Abkhaz,
residents of the village of Khurcha, Gali district. He expects that an
exchange of the hostages may be proposed soon.
"Dilis Gazeti" No. 288, December 15, p. 2, Prime-News agency, "The
Abkhaz may propose exchange"

Zurab Shengelia, the director of the program of the Abkhaz-Georgian
relations; Lyubov Avidzba, an ethnographer from Sukhumi; Open Society
- Georgia Foundation; League for Constitution; and Young Lawyers'
Association founded a new NGO "Institute of Abkhaz-Georgian relations"
in Tbilisi.
"Resonance" No. 352, December 24, p. 1;  "Institute of the
Abkhaz-Georgian relations founded"

The De-occupation Committee of Georgia, the Party for Liberation of
Abkhazia and the National Independence Party organised a protest rally
of the refugees from Abkhazia out of the State TV Department on
December 24. The protesters condemned a member of the Republican Party
David Berdzenishvili's statement in the recently televised talk-show
"Nations' Right for Self-Determination" produced by the independent
video studio Re: he suggested that like any other nation the Abkhaz
people also had the right for independence. Some time before the
protest action, the people of the studio Re received several offensive
telephone calls. Besides, the Tbilisi-based government of Abkhazia
brought pressure to bear on the administration of the TV to suspend
broadcasts of other two talk-shows of the studio: "Rights of Ethnic
Minorities" and "Reform of Legal Education". However, after the
Liberty Institute appealed to the TV administration on behalf of the
Georgian NGOs, broadcasts of the studio Re were restored.
CIPDD

According to Leri Lomaia, mayor of Gali, a group of the Georgian
guerrillas led by Rostobaia, took three people (one local resident and
two policemen) hostage in the village of Repi, Gali district.
"Dilis Gazeti" No. 300, December 29, p. 5, "Three people kidnapped in
Repi"


South Ossetia

According to the Information and Press Committee of South Ossetia,
Ludvig Chibirov, the South Ossetian president, ordered to investigate
the December 10 incident and prosecute all those guilty. That day
Georgian journalists and NGO members, as well as the deputy ambassador
of the UK to Georgia, who were going to attend the presentation of a
training programmes for Ossetian NGOs, were not allowed to enter South
Ossetia for several hours.
"Dilis Gazeti" No. 288, December 15, p. 2, Gea news agency, "Chibirov
demands to punish those guilty" 

A seminar on conflict studies began in Tskhinvali (capital of South
Ossetia) on December 17. It is organised by the South Ossetian NGO
"Journalists for Peaceful Conflicts Resolution" and the Tbilisi Centre
for Conflict Settlement and Democratic Development. On the whole, 40
NGOs function in South Ossetia at present and 20 are in line for
registration.
"Dilis Gazeti" No. 291, December 18, p. 3, Iprinda news agency, "A
seminar in Tskhinvali" 

Seminars (s.also South Ossetia)

At the initiative of the Caucasian Institute for Peace, Democracy and
Development, a seminar "The problem of Religious Minorities in
Semi-Democratic Societies" was carried out in Tbilisi on December 18.
CIPDD



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