The Veiled Influence of Illiberal Groups on Georgian Politics

Freedom of Expression and Assembly Under Threat

Besides influencing legislative developments, far-right actors have also impacted policy decisions related to freedom of expression and assembly. In 2019 the Ministry of Internal Affairs recommended, via the Public Defender, that the organizers of Tbilisi Pride  not hold their annual demonstration. This was following verbal threats and statements by various illiberal groups promising counter-demonstrations. This effectively resulted in the deprivation of the constitutional right of freedom of assembly for many citizens.

A similar progression of events took place in the case of the drug-reform demonstrations known as the, “White Noise Movement”. Police, once again citing security concerns, broke up the demonstration claiming that they would be unable to control far-right counterdemonstrators. The situation has raised concerns about alleged collaboration between the government and these groups. It is worth noting that one of the ways of diffusing the far-right populist discourse is related to its insertion into the mainstream politics, hazards of which are noticeable in Georgia. The permissive attitude of the ruling party towards illiberal groups, especially against the background of legislation which provides protection to public assembly, is disturbing and demonstrates the expanded influence of these illiberal groups.

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