Ana Dolidze, chairperson of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), said that recent “attacks” against the organization have been staged by the authorities in an attempt to take over the watchdog group in order to silence criticism voiced by the organization regarding the rule of law problems persisting in the country.
“It is clear that the authorities want to control the organization. This is not the first time. Similar attempts were made in previous years as well by [ex-President] Shevardnadze’s administration,” Dolidze said on January 10.
Dolidze, who is currently in the United States, spoke with Imedi television via phone after top level officials, including Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili - who was among GYLA’s founders - accused the current leadership of the organization of being politically motivated and, as he put it, “Young Republicans” – referring to the opposition Republican Party. Tina Khidasheli, one of the leaders of Republican Party, was the long-time chairperson of GYLA before going into politics last year.
Before this statement by the Defense Minister, a group of several members of the GYLA convened a press conference on January 9 and demanded the reform of the organization and the resignation of chairperson Ana Dolidze. Gia Getsadze, former Imereti governor and ex-interior minister, as well as MP Paata Lezhava from the ruling National Movement, were among those demanding Dolidze's resignation.
The GYLA leadership denies an “inner-party split” and describes those who spoke against the organization as “government-controlled” persons who cut their links with GYLA years ago.
Last year GYLA was actively engaged in the monitoring of the government’s activities. The watchdog agency reported a number of cases of misuse of the Presidential and Government Reserve Funds.