MPs Pass ‘Liberty Charter’ with First Reading
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 28 Oct.'10 / 19:26

Parliament passed with 75 votes to 1 package of proposals known under the name Liberty Charter with its first reading on October 28.

The package, sponsored by MP Gia Tortladze and supported by the ruling party, includes measures to restrict public display of Soviet and Nazi symbols and restrictions on former Soviet functionaries to hold public office.

The draft also envisages, what the author calls, boosting “security and anti-terrorism measures”, including through video surveillance systems, which should cover all “the strategic facilities” – the measure, which the Interior Ministry has already started to use.

Commercial banks will have “to immediately submit information” to the Interior Ministry in case of transfer of at least GEL 25,000 (instead of GEL 10,000 as it was envisaged by initial draft) from abroad on accounts of organizations or individual persons in Georgia, according to the draft passed with the first reading.

In respect of restriction of public display of Soviet and Nazi symbols the bill proposes to establish a state commission, which will “gather information” about existence of symbols, monuments, statues, inscriptions, names of streets or squares, which may reflect or contain “elements of communist or fascist ideology and propaganda.”

The state commission, composed by the President from members nominated by each parliamentary faction, will then take decision on applying ban in each individual case.

The same commission will be in charge of implementing measures known as lustration - excluding former Communist Party functionaries and officers of and collaborators with the ex-Soviet secret service KGB from serving in the state structures.

The package, however, envisaged a limited lustration, meaning that the measure would not make the entire list of former KGB agents publicly available. It should only be available for the state commission, which will be in charge of preventing such persons from taking senior or mid-level posts in the government. The restriction will also apply to such positions like judges, members of the communications and electricity regulatory commissions, employees of interior and defense ministries with the rank of vice-colonel or above, as well as rectors of and holders of other senior posts in the state universities.

Lawmaker from the ruling party, Pavle Kublashvili, who chairs parliamentary committee for legal affairs, said that the draft would require improvements and some of its provisions might be amended before its adoption with the second reading.

MP Gia Arsenishvili, the chairman of the parliamentary committee for human rights, described the draft law as “important,” though added that “some time” would be required in order to further improve the draft before its discussion with the second reading.

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