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Nana Kakabadze: Under the established regime, it is very simple to place any person behind the grates

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The civil society has become more active, but authorities still have contemptuous attitude towards it. The purpose is clear – its complete discrediting. Although, along with the purpose, the reasons also cause a big interest. First of all, the reason is that people coming out of non-governmental sector make decisions in high echelons of the authorities and they know well how to manipulate with people’s opinion. They were at the outfall of all these 15 years ago and today they offer us yields of the tree they planted back then. We started our interview with Nana Kakabadze, Head of non-governmental organization “Former Political Prisoners for Human Rights” with discussing disagreement existing in the civil society.
– Ms. Nana, what determines confrontation in the civil society? You have been involved in the field of human rights protection for a long time. When was the highest concordance in the society and what causes estrangement?
– One of the reasons of confrontation in civil society is that different political and non-political figures decided to seize the civil society. When Georgia gained its independence, the civil society, non-governmental organizations were naturally developing from the West, through relations and cooperation with democratic countries and democratic international organizations. This civil society created a serious force by 2001-2003 years and they really executed a serious control over the authorities and gave the processes in the country their direction. Politicians saw that they could be used for their political objectives. While one part of the civil society saw that we can be as influential in politics as they are in their field and rejoined politics.
– Actually, these processes started in the middle of the 90-ies, when a wing of so called reformers stood out and started cooperating with the civil society, non-governmental sector, establishing their own satellite non-governmental organizations and their lobbying. Consequently, for many people such benignity on the part of one wing of the authority was used in their favor and, naturally, they themselves desired to become strong enough in order to influence politics. This tendency became more and more obvious starting from 2004 year.
– The politicians also saw that the civil society is a very lucrative instrument for strengthening and maintaining the authority and, on the other part, some members of the civil society saw that they could have a serious success in politics as well, even more than some of the politicians had and both of them tempted their fate. Politicians tried to convert non-governmental organizations into their pocket organizations and use them, while representatives of the civil society – non-governmental organizations tried to create such politicians from non-existent, less important figures, who would serve as their support later on and help them in achieving their goals.
The typical example of this was a team of reformers from “Citizens’ Union” of that time, which was represented by the passed away Zurab Zhvania together with Mikheil Saakashvili, “Liberty Institute” was on the other side along with its offspring. The process of establishing these organizations was open and public. It was difficult to imagine that they would be presented in front of the society with such claims in future. I, as one of the ordinary persons who was close to them thought that this part of the civil society really was trying to replace the existing democracy in the country with a better democracy; therefore, I believed that their existence and expansion was useful for the country.
I myself and people like me did our bit in strengthening and developing this type of organizations. While these organizations were oriented not on strengthening of the civil society, which is the main objective of non-governmental sector, but on seizing the authority. Unfortunately, this has resulted in poor consequences. Out of those politicians, who were trying to use the civil society, Zurab Zhvania, one of the leaders and representatives is not alive today, the other one is country’s President, the first person, although with serious question marks.
– What do you mean?
– It does not mean what is being dominated and known in the society, that he is illegitimate and was not selected by people. I think that he is a de facto President and no one is trying to recheck this, but whether he has a real authority, the serious question marks arise here.
– In other words, someone makes decisions and Saakashvili executes them?
– At least he is a controllable figure.
– Who controls him: are these people his partners or they are from the existing civil sector?
– Of course, he is still dependant on these forces. In often cases, we see signs of blackmailing, which usually gets revealed in different forms. Both so called representatives of the civil wing and Saakashvili are trying to conceal, ignore this, but it is easy to see by an attentive eye.
– Ms. Nana, you were helping these people, young members of non-governmental organization, who are now at different levels of the authorities. They were already infringing human rights back then. In 1998, when representatives of “Liberty Institute” put a coffin in from of the Constitutional court and burnt effigies of judges, wasn’t is obvious already that these people did not respect liberal values?
– This was really flagrant and unpleasant action. No one rejects this. Many representatives of non-governmental organizations felt this and avoided this action, although the author of this idea, Levan Ramishvili himself though that it was correct, important action and he even was proud of this. This seriously blemished the court of that time. This was the first insult and first abuse of judges. The results of this action was grave, it resulted in moral lapse of judges that showed them that the state could not defend them. Back then this institute experienced a serious stroke.
– Maybe, the monitoring council of the correction system was established at the Ministry of Justice as per recommendation of “Liberty Institute” for revealing not only of that was on the surface from the activities of the then authorities, but also of whatever was not seen and was behind grates of the prison.
– Sure, this really was the case, but the most important was to show the West Saakashvili’s reforming and democratic steps. Out of his activities, this was the most acceptable for the West; like everything that he does today is the most unacceptable. Today prisons are completely closed.
– Instead, the number of prisoners has increased…
– I do not look at this with humor and think that everything that happened afterwards was a tragedy not only for those prisoners, who are behind the grates, but also for citizens who remained outside, who are not in the prison, but know exactly that under the established regime, it is very simple to place any person behind the grates
– Ms. Nana, when Saakashvili canceled the Monitoring Council in 2004 year, there was a revolutionary mood and foreigners did not perceive this adequately, as they thought that the democratic ruler came to the authority. You knew very well that Saakahsvili was not a democrat and criticized him from the very beginning. Do you think that foreign human rights protectors was so naive, that they did not see this? They have various information about dictatorship existing in different countries, when people came to power with liberal and democratic slogans and ended with killing people. Why no preventive statements were made back then about possibility of Georgia being directed towards dictatorship and not democracy against such background?
 – First of all, representatives of the civil society came to power. Shevardnadze’s team which stayed with him and expelled from politics also played a big role. These were people who did not cooperate with   international organizations, they did not know the language that they could use for cooperating with them. This is why Shevardnadze lost and not because he did not have enough political experience. He did not know these modern relations, connections and the team, which stayed with him was limited to relations within a country.
 During Shevardnandze’s ruling only a team of reformers knew the value, role, designation and possibilities of the civil society. Politicians left on the other side did not know what the civil society was. Today they see that it can be used for seizing the power. It has been the eighth year since Saakashvili came into power and two years since he found out that the civil society can carry out such activities. Only now they have analyzed that the revolution really happened with the support and facilitation of these forces.
 – Does civil society really exist in Georgia? Are there any people who think that we may start dreaming of not only Shevardnadze, but even Saakashvili?..
 – Disappointed person thinks that he did not need Shevardnadze, he wanted someone better and got Saakashvili instead. The fear and expectation for worse is absolutely understandable, since political processes do not give the society any hope for future. Therefore, I think that today it is very important to plan a correct strategy and take correct steps. No one has a right today to make a mistake. If this nihilism, fear will not change, we will miss Sakashvili and fatality that we face today, 40 000 prisoners, murders, rape, loop, depriving of property, abnormal increase of prices, etc. And, only death will be a choice afterwards.  
 All those active people who claim that we are different, we are more active part of the society, have no right to make a mistake, although the authorities keep making mistakes. With the support and facilitation more and more unities get established, different political groups are being established, which, as if, are opposition parties, but in reality – they are parties controlled by the authorities, which serve the authorities and this way they establish in the society opinion that nothing can be changed and that they prefer to have these authorities as compared with the existing opposition.
Interviewed by Bondo Mdzinarashvili 

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