The committee reading of the Russian law is taking place against the backdrop of expulsions of MPs and censorship

29 Apr, 2024

On April 29, the second reading of Russian law is being held in the Legal Issues Committee of the Parliament of Georgia. The session is being conducted in a confrontational mode by the parliamentary majority, and the Chairman of the committee, Anri Okhanashvili, in violation of the regulations of the Parliament of Georgia, does not allow opposition MPs and civil society representatives to conclude the question and expels them from the meeting. As of now, the following individuals have been expelled from the meeting: Tamar Kordzaia, Salome Samadashvili, Giorgi Vashadze, Levan Bezhashvili, Tamar Charkviani, Ani Tsitlidze, Levan Khabeishvili, Ketevan Turazashvili. The opportunity to ask questions is also restricted for civil society organizations’ representatives.

The Chairman of the committee abuses his authority and limits the opportunity of the deputies guaranteed by the regulations of the Parliament of Georgia – to oppose, ask critical questions and receive answers. The practice of depriving the representatives of the opposition from speaking and expelling them by the Chairman of the Legal Issues Committee violates the fundamental principles of representative democracy. This action of Okhanashvili does not comply with Article 224 of the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament either. This norm is intended to maintain order at the session, and it does not envisage depriving MPs of the opportunity to express their opinions (including their differing opinions) by the session’s Chairman. Besides,  the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament do not stipulate that opinions and questions may not be submitted during the second reading of the draft law. Still, the committee hearing should provide for a comprehensive examination of the issue, including the opportunity to hear and discuss alternatives.

Simultaneously, Okhanashvili impolitely interferes with the right of MPs to determine the content of the question themselves and does not allocate sufficient time for discussion, thereby suppressing dissenting views, artificially producing a one-sided dialogue on the “Russian law”.

We urge the Chairman of the Legal Issues Committee of the Parliament, due to the high public interest, to ensure that attendees at the session have ample opportunity to ask questions and express their opinions.