NGO supporting statement: The authorities try to create an “enemy image” by attacking civil society organizations

In recent days, the Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia once again attacked representatives of civil society organizations. This time, Civic Idea, Soviet Past Research Laboratory (Sovlab) and Tolerance Center of the Public Defender became the targets of the attack.

Attempts to discredit civil society organizations are taking place amidst the heavy social background, poverty and inflation, which remain the most painful and unsolvable problems for the population under the conditions of the long-term rule of Georgian Dream. Instead of offering a positive agenda to the public ahead of the 2024 parliamentary elections, the authorities are trying to run a negative anti-Western election campaign and mobilize its voters with the false rhetoric of fighting the country’s “enemies”.

It is obvious that another wave of attacks on civil society organizations by the authorities is part of the pre-election political propaganda, repeats one of the main narratives of Russian disinformation and serves the purpose of portraying civil society organizations as enemies. Unfortunately, this is not the first attempt by the ruling party to discredit civil society organizations. The authorities used similar information attack before the 2020 parliamentary elections as well. In the spring of 2023, Georgian Dream unsuccessfully tried to label all civil society organizations receiving international funding as foreign agents by passing a Russian law.

Provoking controversy in the society, using political persecution against specific people or organizations, conducting a hate campaign against them and trying to mobilize their own voters creates the impression that Georgian Dream is trying to achieve its narrow partisan goals at the expense of state interests. Hostile rhetoric towards civil society organizations contradicts both the constitutional values of a democratic state and the demand of the European Union towards taking steps against polarization.

Civil society organizations call on the authorities to stop the targeted hate campaign, to take steps for establishing partnership and business communication with them, and to refuse to instrumentalize polarization in the pre-election campaign. 

Signatory organizations: