Confirmation that Ministry of Internal Affairs maintains an officer at GNCC
Transparency International Georgia has obtained confirmation that an individual who is listed as an adviser to the Chairman of the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) is in fact representing the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA).
We have previously highlighted that the independence of the broadcasting and telecom regulator is undermined by the constant presence of a MIA officer, nicknamed ‘The General’ by the regulator’s staff, who collects information about the agency’s activities and employees. We believe this is a clear violation of the Law on Broadcasting (Article 6), which bans any outside interference in the work of the regulator.
Ensuring and defending the independent of the GNCC will be one of the major challenges for the current members of the GNCC, including Kakha Bekauri who was selected by Parliament last week to join the agency’s leadership board – one more seat is currently vacant.
In a response to a TI Georgia request for public information, the GNCC stated that Zaza Mazmishvili, who is listed on staff section of GNCC website was born on June 30, 1963. This proves that Mazmishvili is the same individual who filed a public asset declaration as a head of division (State Security Agency) at the Ministry of Internal Affairs – the declaration states the official’s birthday: June 30, 1963. The GNCC had previously rejected a request by TI Georgia to release the CV of Mazmishvili, considering that he is not a public official and that he had objected to the release of this document.
The MIA has repeatedly denied that it has representatives in independent government bodies such as the GNCC or the Georgian Public Broadcaster and referred to TI Georgia’s findings that Mazmishivli was an MIA representative as “not serious”, despite the fact that the Prime Minister at the time, Bidzina Ivanishvili, publicly admitted this practice and described it as problematic.
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 Ministry of State Security.
Having constant MIA representatives at state institutions 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 and the change of government in October 2012. According to the latest version of the Ordinance of the Government of Georgia on the statute of the MInistry of Interior, one of the tasks of the Ministry’s Department named State Security Agency is to coordinate and control security officers placed in state institutions of the major importance and to analyze information provided by them. This approach also demonstrates a lack of respect towards the independence of entities like regulatory bodies.
We ask, once again, the Ministry of Internal Affairs to withdraw its representatives from other government agencies and to respect the legally guaranteed independence of institutions such as the GNCC. The government of Georgia should seek to replace the outdated Soviet model of installing security officers into the state institutions. National security should not be used as a pretext that allows the MIA to exert undue influence over independent state institutions. Rather, the government should ensure that the security agenda is pursued without undermining the democratic values.
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