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MPs to Discuss ‘Liberty Charter’
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 26 Oct.'10 / 18:33

Lawmakers from leading parliamentary committees will discuss this week a package of proposals involving measures to restrict public display of Soviet and Nazi symbols, restrictions on former Soviet functionaries to hold public office, as well as proposal to boost security measures.

The bill, dubbed by its sponsor MP Gia Tortladze as Liberty Charter, calls for boosting video surveillance systems to 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 10,000 from abroad on accounts of organizations or individual persons in Georgia, according to the proposal.

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.

According to the proposal, persons who served for the Soviet secret and security services, or held official posts in the Communist Party will be banned from holding senior or mid-level posts in the government; the restriction will also apply to 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.

A person, who cooperated with Soviet secret services or was a Communist Party functionary, will be able to run for an elective post, but in that case the person will have to publicize a full record of his or her past links with the Soviet authorities, according to the proposal.

Draft law on lustration was tabled in the previous Parliament by the opposition, but it was voted down by the ruling party in February, 2007. Even if adopted this time, the law may have limited effect in practice, as many of the archive materials necessary for identifying former KGB agents is kept in Moscow and is unlikely to become available for Georgia.

The Liberty Charter was discussed by the parliamentary committee for legal affairs in March, 2010, but the bill was shelved since then. MP Tortladze, who chairs Democratic Party of Georgia, has modified the bill by including measures on restricting public display of Soviet and Nazi symbols. The bill will be discussed at a joint hearing of parliamentary committees on legal affairs, human rights and defense and security to decide whether to proceed with its consideration further at the parliamentary session.

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