Human Rights in South Caucasus – Update as of 29/01/24

The files we follow: Karabakh Situation; Abkhazia and South Ossetia / Georgia Conflict; Georgia – EU/ US/Russia/Ukraine Relations and Georgian Domestic Policy, South Caucasian energy, trade and transport issues; Human Rights in South Caucasus, Various foreign policies Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia.

Consider subscribing for free access to the full content!

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted on 24 January to suspend the voting rights of the Azerbaijani delegation until January 2025 by adopting resolution No. 2527 after discussion of report No. 15,898. This decision was justified by attacks on media freedom in the country, as well as by the situation of political prisoners: the cases of journalists from “Abzasmedia” or Professor Gubad Ibadoglu were notably mentioned. The December 2023 report from the Institute for Peace and Democracy also reported 254 political prisoners in Azerbaijan [including 183 “peaceful believers”].

But this decision would also be motivated by the exclusion of PACE observers from the early presidential election on 7 February according to Meydan TV or Turan, unlike the observation missions of the OSCE, GUAM and the CIS, or the recent refusal to allow observers access to the Lachin corridor. Chairman of the Azerbaijani Milli Majlis Sahiba Gafarova addressed a letter to her member state counterparts on 26 January, writing that “as a sign of protest against the extremely irresponsible behavior towards Azerbaijan, the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan [had] no choice but to suspend its participation in the Parliamentary Assembly”.

In Georgia, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili resigned on 29 January, a little less than a month after billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili officially returned to politics and took office as honorary president of the Georgian Dream party he created, and the expression of his wish to become his new “centre of gravity. Remember that his fortune, representing almost half of Georgian GDP, makes him a key player in Georgian political life which is highly polarized. According to Imedi TV, an exchange of functions should take place with Irakli Kobakhidze, current president of the ruling party and former speaker of Parliament. In mid-December, the European Council decided to grant Georgia candidate status to the European Union. Georgian CSOs demanded an inclusive dialogue to work in Parliament on the 9 conditions set by the EU for its accession, a request refused by the authorities due to the fact that they left the civil society platform of the Eastern Partnership. The ruling party is also very hostile to current President Salomé Zourabishvili, who regularly dismisses the authorities and the opposition led by the “United National Movement” back to back. This party was founded by former president Mikheïl Saakashvili, still imprisoned since his return from exile and whose deteriorating state of health is worrying, which is a factor in tensions with the Ukrainian government. The current government is regularly accused of a pro-Russian orientation in contradiction with the aspirations of the vast majority of Georgian society.

The month of January was marked by the rally of the pro-Russian, anti-Western and homophobic party “Alt Info” following the defacement of an icon representing Stalin in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, the reprimands of the MAE against the Polish ambassador who called for the closure of the Stalin Museum in Gori, the eviction on 23 January of a family from their home in the middle of winter on Kekelidze Street in Tbilisi which led to clashes between demonstrators and the police resulting in 18 arrests and the assault of several journalists, and a wave of cyber-attacks originating from Russia and claimed by “Cozy Bear”, affecting the opposition channels Mtavari and Formula TV, the presidency website, and the website of the SovLab organization. On 26 January, Transparency International – Georgia published its list of high-level corruption cases [including 164 cases of judges, members of parliament, ministers and local officials] calling Ivanishvili’s influence “state capture” and warning about the evolution of the country towards a “kleptocracy”.

In Armenia, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian promoted on 18 January the establishment of a new Constitution which would make Armenia “more competitive and more viable in current geopolitical conditions” while retaining a model of parliamentary government, without give more details. Press freedom remains fragile in the country. Last July, the Union of Armenian Journalists denounced a campaign of insults and harassment by those close to the government and civil servants. As of 30 January 2024, Transparency International reports a score of 47/100 for Armenia (just after Georgia with 53/100), and while noting an increase of 12 points since 2018, the organization emphasizes that Progress has now “stalled.” According to Hetq media, François Valérian, president of Transparency International, was quoted as saying: “Corruption will continue to flourish as long as justice systems fail to punish wrongdoing and control governments. When justice is bought or politically obstructed, the victim is the people. Leaders must do everything possible to ensure the independence of institutions that enforce the law and fight corruption. It’s time to end impunity for corruption”.

Vous devez souscrire à un abonnement EurasiaPeace pour avoir accès au contenu - Prendre votre abonnement

Previous Article

Russian diplomacy in Africa and Asia – Update on 29/01/24

Next Article

Chinese military and the Taiwan Strait – Update up to 31/01/2024