DRI - The use of surveillance as a tool for political retaliation is alarming and goes beyond the practice of ruling a legal state

The Democracy Research Institute is responding to the TV story aired by Mtavari Channel, according to which, on the instruction of high-ranking officials, a former employee of the State Security Service  of Georgia illegally recorded private life of political figures unacceptable to the ruling party, political opponents and leaders of religious and ethnic minorities, without proper legal grounds.

The DRI notes that the use of covert surveillance as a tool for political retaliation is alarming and goes beyond the democratic practice of ruling a legal state. Due to the existing gender stereotypes, women are particularly vulnerable to similar threats. A number of individuals have been victims of the release of recordings of private life or have been threatened with the release of such recordings in recent years, although no alleged perpetrator has yet been identified and the public has not been fully informed of the progress of the investigation. It is noteworthy that most of the alleged victims were politically active women.[1]

It is especially important to ensure that any person has the right to independently determine his/her own self, identity, lifestyle, as well as to choose the content, forms and intensity of relations with the outside world, to independently determine the ways and means of satisfying his/her own intellectual, social, spiritual or other interests and needs, without state interference or control.[2] Restriction of this right is allowed only if there is a relevant permission by the court, in order to achieve a legitimate aim. According to the practice of the European Court of Human Rights, a restrictive measure (covert surveillance) may only be used during the investigation of particularly serious crimes.[3]

The Democracy Research Institute notes that the use of surveillance by the security and intelligence services against political opponents is characteristic of undemocratic regimes. It is especially unfortunate that even today it is a challenge to create proper legal and institutional leverages that would prevent public-political officials from using the security services for political purposes.[4]

In this context, the Democracy Research Institute welcomes the resignation of the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Kakhaber Sabanadze, and calls on:

The Prosecutor General’s Office of Georgia:

  • To investigate the mentioned case in a timely and efficient manner – to identify all the persons directly involved in the illegal surveillance
  • Given the high public interest, to provide the public with full information about the ongoing investigation.

To the Parliament of Georgia

  • To immediately ensure the arrival of the Minister of Internal Affairs at the plenary session to provide answers to all the questions that have emerged after the publication of the

The Democracy Research Institute considers that until the dissemination or the threat of dissemination of footage showing personal life remains one of the ways of fighting against political opponents in Georgia and until no organizer of this crime has been held legally responsible, it is impossible to consider that the right to privacy enshrined in Georgian legislation is protected in Georgia.



[2] Judgment 141/1/625,640 of the Constitutional Court of Georgia of 14 April 2016 in the case of “Public Defender of Georgia, citizens of Georgia - Giorgi Burjanadze, Lika Sajaia, Giorgi Gotsiridze, Tatia Kinkladze, Giorgi Chitidze, Lasha Tugushi, Zviad Koridze, Open Society Georgia Foundation, Transparency International Georgia, Georgian Young Lawyers Association, International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy and Human Rights Center v. Parliament of Georgia,” II-7

[3] Uzun v. Germany, application no. 35623/05, Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of 2 September 2010, paragraph 80.

[4] DRI - State Security Service, Competence Duplication and Parallel Investigation Systems in Georgia, available at: