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TITLE:  GEORGIA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                            
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994


Two years after declaring its independence from the Union of 
Soviet Socialist Republics, Georgia continued in 1993 to 
struggle with severe political instability, internal armed 
conflict, economic ruin, and runaway crime.  Symptoms of 
anarchy appeared, and aspects of Georgia's effort to 
consolidate democracy were set aside.

The national Parliament was elected in nationwide elections in 
1992; Eduard Shevardnadze was elected Chairman of that 
Parliament in the same elections.  A November 1992 law 
established the Chairman of Parliament as Head of State.  The 
Chairman subsequently named a Prime Minister and Cabinet of 
Ministers.  That Cabinet, and other executive branch officials, 
report to Shevardnadze.

Mounting public criticism culminated in a change of government 
in August-September which led to a confrontation between 
Shevardnadze and the Parliament over the latter's right to 
confirm ministerial appointees.  Shevardnadze suddenly resigned 
on September 14 but within 24 hours agreed to return if 
Parliament declared a state of emergency and suspended its own 
activities for 2 months, which it agreed to do to avoid further 
crisis.  The state of emergency banned demonstrations and 
limited freedom of the press.  

The continuation of the armed conflict in Abkhazia, a breakaway 
region of Georgia, was a major factor in the general 
deterioration of the country's political and economic 
stability.  The Russian Government brokered a cease-fire accord 
in late July but made little apparent effort to hold the 
separatists to the agreement.  The uneven implementation of the 
cease-fire conditions gave the Abkhaz separatists a clear 
military advantage, which they used in a major September 
offensive.  This offensive, in which volunteer Russian 
Federation combatants reportedly participated in far greater 
numbers than Abkhazians, captured the capital, Sukhumi, and the 
remaining Georgian-held cities.  The separatist forces 
committed widespread atrocities against the Georgian civilian 
population, killing many women, children, and elderly, 
capturing some as hostages and torturing others (see Sections 
1.a. and 1.g.).

Meanwhile, armed Zviadists, supporters of former president 
Zviad Gamsakhurdia, continued acts of banditry during the year 
and succeeded in late summer in seizing control of additional 
cities and blocking rail lines.  The former president himself 
returned to Georgia in September, and the long-simmering 
conflict boiled over into civil war.  After initial losses, 
government forces recaptured most of the territory seized, 
including the key port town of Poti.  

The Government unsuccessfully tried to eliminate paramilitary 
forces in favor of establishing a single unified army.  The 
regular army, however, totals only a few thousand men, poorly 
armed, trained, and equipped.  The National Guard, once the 
largest armed force, was integrated into the Army during 1993.  
The most prominent and best equipped paramilitary group, the 
Mkhedrioni, led by Djaba Ioseliani, was the principal armed 
defender of Shevardnadze's Government during the civil war with 
Gamsakhurdia.  The members of the "Kommandatura," organizations 
created to enforce the state of emergency, were the principal 
enforcers and often included members of the Mkhedrioni.  All 
these forces, including the police on a less frequent basis, 
committed human rights abuses during the year, including using 
their powers to repress the opposition and rob and intimidate 
the population.  The Intelligence and Information Service, 
later renamed the Ministry of Security, a successor to the 
Committee for State Security or KGB, is active in internal 
security and antiterrorist affairs.  It also engaged in abuses, 
including the intimidation of opposition figures and repression 
of their viewpoints.  

Georgia's multiple conflicts helped fuel a continuing downward 
spiral in the economy.  When Russia cut off a supply of cash 
rubles in the spring, Georgia began printing its own 
"coupons."  Hyperinflation followed, poverty spread 
dramatically, and bread lines lengthened.  Industrial 
production came to a near standstill, as transport lines ceased 
functioning and trade with ex-Soviet republics diminished.  

The armed conflicts with Abkhazians and Zviadists brought forth 
allegations of human rights violations on all sides, including 
the killing of prisoners and civilians and looting of 
villages.  Law enforcement officials were credibly reported to 
have carried out arrests without warrants, physically abused 
detainees, and exceeded the legal time limits on pretrial 
detention without filing charges.  Freedoms of speech and 
press, and of assembly and association, were severely 
curtailed, especially for Zviadists, and the state of emergency 
imposed censorship not only on military subjects but also on 
political discourse.    


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

In the war in Abkhazia, Georgian military or paramilitary units 
were credibly reported to have killed some prisoners.  
Abkhazian separatists killed members of the Georgian Government 
in Sukhumi after capturing that city.  They tortured and killed 
the Georgian Prime Minister of Abkhazia after taking him 
prisoner in late September and killed many working-level 
officials.  They also killed large numbers of Georgian 
civilians who remained behind in Abkhaz-seized territory.  It 
is credibly reported that volunteers from the Russian 
Federation fighting with the separatists carried out many of 
the killings.  

Zviadists shot to death a senior officer of the Georgian air 
force in October in Mengrelia, when he traveled to the area for 
preagreed negotiations.  Zviadist forces also executed a 
Georgian journalist captured in Mengrelia during the height of 
the civil war.

     b.  Disappearance

Many Georgians caught in Abkhazia when the separatists launched 
their September offensive are unaccounted for.  Over 1,000 
people are still reported missing.  Many are presumed to have 
been killed.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Members of the police, paramilitary groups, the intelligence 
service, and the armed forces have been credibly accused of 
routinely beating detainees in order to extort information or 
force confessions.  Some senior government officials attempted 
to reform the practices of these organizations, but stiff 
resistance limited their effectiveness.  No perpetrators of 
abuses within the official community are known to have been 
prosecuted or punished for their actions.

Law enforcement officials were credibly reported to have 
frequently beaten detainees, arrested despite an apparent lack 
of evidence linking them to a specific crime, in order to 
extort payments from prisoners' families to effect their 
release.  In one case, officials severely beat a man accused of 
robbery and demanded that he pay them a sum equivalent to the 
value of the goods stolen, although there was no evidence to 
substantiate their allegations of criminal activity.  They are 
credibly reported to have tortured the victim by hanging him by 
his arms for extended periods.

Physical abuse directed at political detainees continued in 
1993.  Several Zviadists arrested in connection with terrorist 
acts committed or allegedly planned in 1992 claimed they were 
subjected to physical abuse in 1993.  In some instances, the 
perpetrators of the abuse were already convicted prisoners with 
whom the detainees had been placed in violation of prison 
regulations.  The Zviadists alleged that these prisoners were 
acting as proxies for the Government.  In one case, a convicted 
murderer who beat an elderly Zviadist was tried and convicted 
for the attack.  In other instances, detainees told a 
parliamentary human rights committee that officials had beaten 
them.  According to the committee chairman, their claims were 
probably valid.

After the outbreak of civil war in October in western Georgia, 
there were widespread arrests of Zviadists.  An elderly 
Zviadist newspaper editor, Irakli Gotsiridze, subjected earlier 
to intimidation (see Section 2.a.), was arrested without a 
warrant and held at the Tbilisi Kommandatura.  (Normally a 
military post, the Kommandatura was used to hold political 
prisoners after the state of emergency was declared.)  Members 
of the paramilitary or armed forces beat him so severely that 
he suffered damage to his ribs and lungs.  Despite repeated 
requests, the Government delayed access to the editor for over 
30 days after the beating and failed to provide him with proper 
medical care.

Paramilitary or armed forces members on October 13 detained 
another supporter of the ex-president, Tamaz Kaladze, who had 
earlier headed a petition campaign calling for Shevardnadze's 
resignation, and severely beat him.  Eyewitnesses who saw him 
soon after his detention reported that he had severe bruising 
on his neck, blood coming from his ears, swollen face and eyes, 
and complained of severe pain in his kidneys.  Kaladze was also 
beaten on the balls of his feet, given electrical shocks, and 
nearly suffocated when guards held a plastic bag over his 
head.  Kaladze was eventually released, after a total of 38 
days in jail; Gotsiridze was released after 36 days.

It is also credibly reported that members of the Kommandatura 
staged fake executions to terrorize the prisoners.

Prison conditions declined, along with the general economic and 
political situation.  In general, prison administrators did not 
receive enough money to provide prisoners' meals in accordance 
with Soviet-era regulations.  Meals were often Spartan as a 
result, although in some places of detention prisoners' 
relatives were permitted to bring them food.  Conditions in 
many places of detention other than the prisons can be 
extremely primitive, with no bathing facilities, no place to 
lie down, and no toilet.

Medical care for prisoners also suffered from the shortage of 
funding and breakdown of governmental operations and 
authority.  At least one prisoner died in custody in 1993 when 
authorities were unable to move him to a hospital for several 
days because of gasoline shortages and a lack of police escorts.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Soviet-era legislation and practices with regard to arrest and 
detention remain largely unreformed, and such legal protections 
as exist are often ignored in practice.  Under existing law, an 
arrest order issued by a procurator is required for arrests.  
If a person is caught in the act of committing a crime, he may 
legally be detained without a warrant.  However, the law 
requires the detaining officer to inform a procurator of the 
detention immediately and to obtain an arrest order as soon as 
possible.  A person may be legally detained for 72 hours 
without an arrest order, but the procurator must issue either 
an arrest order or an order for the prisoner's release upon 
expiration of that period.  If held over for further 
investigation, a detainee must be formally charged with a crime 
within 10 days.  There is no bail.  

The normal period of permissible pretrial detention is 
considered to be 2 months, but that period may be legally 
extended twice, up to a total of 6 months, by the Deputy 
Procurator General.  The Procurator General may extend pretrial 
detention up to a maximum of 1 year.  A detainee may ask the 
procurator to determine if his detention is legal.  A detainee 
has the right to demand immediate access to a lawyer and to 
refuse a statement in the absence of counsel.  The detaining 
officer must inform the detainee of those rights and must 
notify his family of the detainee's location as soon as 

A detainee's family may ask to see him, but the investigator 
handling the case may refuse access if he believes it would 
hamper the investigation.  Once the investigation is finished 
and the investigative results have been forwarded formally to a 
court pending trial, family members are allowed to visit their 
detained relatives only to discuss a possible change of 
attorneys.  The presence of an attorney is mandatory during 
interrogation of a minor or of an individual accused of a 
capital crime.  The presence of a teacher or a parent is also 
obligatory during questioning of a minor.

In practice, law enforcement personnel and paramilitary groups 
that often act on behalf of the Government often ignored these 
legal protections.  Authorities frequently detained people 
arbitrarily and exceeded time limits for detention and filing 
charges.  People do not always have access to a lawyer or do 
not hire a lawyer because they are not informed of their 
rights.  In a characteristic case, the investigator handling 
the case of a Zviadist scientist detained and beaten in October 
said that the case was still being investigated and no formal 
charges had been filed, so an attorney was not yet needed.  
Families are often not notified of the whereabouts of their 
detained relatives.  Instances of such abuses involve both 
politically motivated detentions and those for criminal 

The Soviet-era administrative code permits administrative 
detention without a warrant for several kinds of violations, 
including participating in an illegal demonstration and curfew 
violation.  The law on the state of emergency passed by the 
current Parliament is the legal basis for administrative 
violations and sentencing during the state of emergency.  
Either a senior Interior Ministry official or an administrative 
judge must confirm the detention.  In the former case, 
materials must be sent to a judge within 3 hours, who must then 
decide the case within 24 hours.  There is no formal trial in 
administrative cases.  Although the judge should consult with 
the accused, he is not required to consult with witnesses nor 
make a lawyer available if the defendant requests one.  The 
maximum sentence is 15 days.  

Under legislation establishing a state of emergency in 
September, the Ministry of the Interior retained the right to 
confirm the validity of detentions, a right shared by the city 
"kommandants".  The kommandants are, under the state of 
emergency, responsible for law and order in the city, and their 
authority supersedes that of all other law enforcement bodies.  
The Government abuses the administrative law system, using it 
to extend politically motivated detentions.  Under the state of 
emergency in effect from early fall through the end of the 
year, the kommandants and senior Ministry of Internal Affairs 
officials in Tbilisi legally assumed authority to confirm 
administrative law detentions.  This has contributed to the 
abuse of the administrative violation system for politically 
motivated detentions.  Aside from the fact that an independent 
judge does not review the case, defendants are not always told 
what they have been charged with and to what term they have 
been sentenced and are sometimes not released on time even if 
sentenced.  Even when a state of emergency was not in effect, 
the administrative system was sometimes used as a mechanism for 
short-term politically motivated detentions.  When a number of 
Zviadist sympathizers were detained in Tbilisi in October after 
the civil war began, administrative violations were often 
cited, incredibly, as the reason for those detentions.  

Arbitrary detentions of Zviadists occurred throughout the 
year.  On one such occasion, all the leaders of the Zviadist 
"Roundtable" organization were arrested as they held a meeting. 
They were released hours later.  When the civil war broke out, 
Tbilisi authorities arbitrarily detained a large number of 
known Zviadist sympathizers.  

Government paramilitary groups, including the Mkhedrioni, were 
responsible for serious abuses of the legally established 
system of protections.  The Mkhedrioni appeared to operate with 
impunity in intimidating and detaining Zviadists or suspected 
Zviadists without legal sanction, though such actions appeared 
to lessen throughout the course of the year.  When the 
Mkhedrioni detained persons, they would sometimes bring them to 
a jail facility belonging to an official agency of the 
Government.  They would sometimes simply bring individuals to 
their staff headquarters, question them, and release them.  At 
times, those detained would be turned over to regular law 
enforcement personnel.  Police officials also frequently 
brought Zviadists in for questioning in a practice that 
appeared to amount to direct intimidation of political 
activities.  This pattern reached its height during the civil 
war with Gamsakhurdia's supporters.  The Mkhedrioni also 
participated in the increasingly common practice of detaining 
persons for ransom, and they did so in western Georgia when 
they were deployed there for the civil war.  For their part, 
Zviadist forces also arbitrarily detained a senior official of 
the Tbilisi Government when he passed through Mengrelia while 
fleeing the fall of Sukhumi.  He was held for several weeks 
before being released.

The Government states that all detained members of the 
political opposition were terrorists or had committed specified 
violations.  However, the detentions of many Zviadists after 
the civil war flared up in late September were often tacitly 
acknowledged to be preventive detentions.  Zviadist forces 
contend, credibly, that many people were detained in 1993 
solely for political reasons, usually for short periods, and 
some were detained several times.

Law enforcement personnel, members of the paramilitary, and 
kommandatura workers often arbitrarily detained people for the 
purpose of extorting payments from them or their families.  
Detainees were usually released after such payments were made.  
The paramilitary, Kommandatura, army, National Guard members, 
and, at times, police engaged in robbery, intimidation, and 
even murder for personal gain.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Political instability and weaknesses in the judicial system 
sometimes infringed on the right to a fair trial.  Georgia's 
legal structure is a hybrid of laws from Georgia's brief period 
of pre-Soviet independence, the Soviet era, the Gamsakhurdia 
presidency, and the State Council period. The court system 
consists of district courts, a city court for Tbilisi, and the 
Supreme Court of the Republic.  The two autonomous republics 
within Georgia each have their own supreme court, theoretically 
subordinate to the Georgia Supreme Court.

In theory, Georgian citizens are by law guaranteed the right to 
a fair public trial at which defendants have the right to be 
present.  They have the right to an attorney immediately after 
arrest, at public expense if needed.  They are entitled to 
confront prosecution witnesses and present witnesses and 
evidence on their behalf.  There is a presumption of innocence, 
and defendants have the right to appeal to either the procuracy 
or the Supreme Court.

In practice, the judiciary is vulnerable to political or other 
forms of influence, particularly at the local level.  Certain 
supervisory rights exercised by the procuracy further limit the 
independence of the judiciary.  As part of the Soviet-era 
system still in effect in Georgia, the procuracy has the right 
to suggest that the Supreme Court review one of its own 
decisions.  By contrast, the judiciary has little influence 
over the procuracy.  Some members of the judiciary engage in 
corrupt practices, including taking bribes and being influenced 
by instructions received from individuals both inside and 
ouside the Government.  The practice cometimes referred to as 
"telephone justice," i.e., that an official calls a judge and 
tells him how to resolve a case, continued in 1993.  The 
societywide fragmentation of authority and collapse of order in 
1993 presented judges with an increasing number of power- or 
weapon-wielding figures outside government who demanded, often 
successfully, certain outcomes in the cases under their 

It is difficult to estimate the number of political prisoners 
detained during the course of the year, though their numbers 
probably exceeded 100.  By year's end it appeared all had been 
released.  In 1993 the Government brought to trial over 40 
persons, all of them Zviadists, accused of terrorist acts or 
plotting to commit such acts in 1992.  One case ended with the 
conviction of all 20 defendants in the "Kvareli" trial, in 
which those captured from an armed Zviadist group established 
in eastern Georgia in 1992 were tried.  The court threw out 
several charges brought by the Government; most defendants were 
convicted of banditry, and some of conspiracy to commit 
terrorist acts and diversions.  Another trial convicted three 
persons of banditry, terrorism, and kidnaping for the 1992 
kidnaping of government official Sandro Kavsadze.  The maximum 
sentence received by any defendant was 15 years.  Another trial 
just under way as the year closed is examining charges against 
approximately 20 persons charged in connection with 1992 car 
bombings targeting Mkhedrioni leaders and with other alleged 
terrorist plots.  Though Zviadists claim that those detained in 
the above cases are political prisoners, the Government denies 
that accusation, noting it has solid evidence supporting the 
charges.  The Zviadist claim at this point does not appear to 
be valid.  The Zviadists also claim that some of the defendants 
were repeatedly pressured to sign statements or confessions.  
That claim is likely valid.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

A warrant issued by a prosecutor is required legally for a 
search, but entry into homes without judicial sanction by both 
paramilitary forces and law enforcement representatives is 
common.  Government intelligence agencies are widely believed 
to monitor telephone conversations, but it is difficult to 
determine how general the practice is.  

It is widely believed that the appointment of a new security 
minister sympathetic to Moscow signaled the beginning of a 
closer cooperation between the Committee for State Security 
(KGB) and Georgian intelligence.  By law, there is supposed to 
be legislative oversight of the intelligence service; however, 
the oversight is completely ineffective.

The jamming of radio and television broadcasts is no longer 
practiced, and receipt of foreign publications is unimpeded.

     g.  Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian 
         Law in Internal Conflicts

The armed conflict in Abkhazia wreaked havoc for most of the 
year.  The separatists violated a short-lived cease-fire in 
March, and fighting between Georgia and the Abkhazians 
continued until the Russians brokered a cease-fire in July.   
The Russian Government made little apparent effort to hold the 
separatists to that agreement, however, and its uneven 
implementation gave the Abkhaz separatists a clear military 
advantage.  They exploited that in a major September offensive 
to seize control over all of Abkhazia, with the subsequent 
human tragedy that unfolded.

Even before their offensive, Abkhaz forces had waged a 
documented campaign of indiscriminate warfare that included 
repeated heavy shelling and aerial bombardment of 
civilian-populated areas of Sukhumi in which hundreds of 
noncombatants were killed.  Georgian forces also shelled 
opposing civilian areas, though on a much more limited scale.  
Russian military forces are reported also to have shelled 
Georgian civilian areas in response to Georgian shelling of 
Abkhaz positions located together with Russian military 

The separatists launched a reign of terror against the majority 
Georgian population, although other nationalities also 
suffered.  Chechens and other north Caucasians from the Russian 
Federation joined local Abkhaz troops in the commission of 
atrocities.  The summary execution of Georgian troops and 
civilians in the captured areas triggered a massive flight of 
displaced persons which international relief organizations 
roughly estimated at 230,000-250,000 people.  The Abkhazians 
shot down four aircraft, two of them civilian flights, during 
the last days of their successful siege of Sukhumi.  They also 
shot at, and barely missed, an aircraft carrying a team of 
Georgian officials engaged in formal negotiations with the 
Abkhazians.  The entire Georgian population (47 percent versus 
17 percent Abkhazians, prior to the September offensive) and 
most of the rest of the non-Abkhazians fled from Abkhazia as 
the result of the activities of the Abkhaz separatists.

Those fleeing Abkhazia made highly credible claims of 
atrocities, including the killing of civilians without regard 
to age or sex.  Corpses recovered from Abkhaz-held territory 
showed signs of extensive torture.  The ethnic Georgian Prime 
Minister of Abkhazia, Dzhuli Shartava (see Section 1.a.), was 
one such victim:  his body was covered with severe bruising; 
his arms, legs, hands, and feet had been broken; his nose had 
been mutilated; his ears cut off; and his kneecaps shot before 
death--reportedly for "refusing to kneel."  An elderly Russian 
woman, resident in Abkhazia for 35 years before fleeing her 
village on September 16, reported that separatist forces seized 
nine villagers after they took control of the area and killed 
them all.  She saw the body of her 30-year-old male neighbor, 
which showed evidence of massive beating; splinters had been 
inserted under his nails, and his skull had been crushed.  

The Abkhazians also accused the Georgians of human rights 
violations, including an "ethnic cleansing" campaign.  There is 
little evidence to support allegations of ethnic cleansing, 
although it is probable that some ethnic Abkhazians were forced 
to move from Georgian-held territory in isolated instances.  

Both sides were charged with occasionally killing injured 
soldiers captured on the battlefield.  One injured Abkhaz 
soldier disappeared from the Sukhumi hospital where he was 
being treated; it is likely Georgian forces killed him.  While 
specific incidents are difficult to confirm, these charges are 
probably accurate.  

Conflict between Zviadists and the Tbilisi Government erupted 
into open civil war during the summer.  Zviadists seized cities 
controlling rail and road lines to the port of Poti just before 
the Abkhazian separatists launched their successful offensive 
on Sukhumi.  They captured Poti after the fall of Sukhumi, as 
well as a series of other towns, but lost most of their 
captured territory as a result of a government counteroffensive 
in October.  

Both sides in this struggle accused the other of abusing 
prisoners and engaging in banditry and looting from civilians 
wherever they were deployed.  The accusations are credible.  
Members of the National Guard and Mkhedrioni engaged in many 
forms of criminal activity, sometimes stealing cars, robbing 
homes, and looting the countryside.

The Zviadist armed forces, for their part, also stole cars, 
exacted "customs" fees from those traveling through their 
territory, hijacked railroad freight, and stole large stores of 
humanitarian aid after capturing Poti.

One government fighter captured by Zviadist forces reported 
after his release several days later that they had beaten and 
tortured him and several of his fellow prisoners while in 
detention.  He appeared on television at the time, his face 
showing obvious signs of severe beating.  Georgian officials 
claim many other prisoners suffered similar treatment.  In 
October the Zviadists executed a captured Georgian journalist 
covering the war in Mengrelia, along with three government 
troops captured at the same time.

Peacekeeping forces succeeded in separating the combatants in 
South Ossetia, and the cease-fire was essentially observed.  
However, isolated killings of both civilians and peacekeeping 
troops occurred.  Many Ossetian displaced persons returned to 
Tskhinvali, but Georgian displaced persons were still afraid to 
return, as Georgian authorities and peacekeeping forces in 
practice had been unable to guarantee their security.  Ethnic 
Ossetians who fled to Ossetia from other regions of Georgia 
during the height of the conflict also had not been able to 
return to their homes.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

Freedoms of speech and press were curtailed in 1993, 
particularly for supporters of the former president and 
especially after the imposition of the state of emergency in 
September.  The emergency legislation called on the various law 
enforcement organs to "control" media reporting on military 
activities and antigovernment information.  A committee, headed 
by paramilitary chief Djaba Ioseliani, indicated that formal 
censorship of military information would be complemented by 
extensive review of material published and broadcast and 
"recommendations" to individual journalists on improving their 

As the civil war flared in mid-October, Shevardnadze announced 
that it would be necessary to close some newspapers and cancel 
some television programs, and increased restrictions on the 
media followed.  Radio and television access was limited for 
some non-Zviadist opposition elements.  Opposition parties 
Charter 91 and the National Independent Party (NIP) both 
claimed they were denied access to television air time formerly 
given freely.  Some opposition politicians credibly claimed the 
restrictions were aimed at muting public criticism of 
Shevardnadze's decision to take Georgia into the Commonwealth 
of Independent States.

Following the state of emergency, only three newspapers, all 
official, continued publishing without interruption.  The 
single government-run printing office prevented all independent 
newspapers from publishing for a short period for "technical 
reasons."  Restrictions targeted Zviadist publications, 
although other independent organs also came under attack.  The 
Zviadist newspaper Iberia Specter, after putting up with 
various restrictions, was closed down by the Government in 
early fall.  Authorities justified the closing by claiming the 
Specter published calls for the violent overthrow of the 
Shevardnadze Government.  Nevertheless, the Government has not 
been able to prove its claims as yet.  The paper's editor, 
Irakli Gotsiridze, was also harassed personally.  Unidentified 
assailants twice fired shots through the windows of his 
apartment.  The police have not identified the perpetrators.  
Gotsiridze was arrested and severely beaten in October when he 
went to a police station to complain about the arrests of some 
colleagues (see Section 1.c.).  The staff of the Zviadist 
newspaper Samreklo also claimed that its chief editor was 
threatened and that shots were fired at his apartment.  He fled 
Tbilisi as a result.  

Editors of non-Zviadist independent papers Seven Days and Droni 
asserted they also were subject to severe repression.  Seven 
Days reported that the Mkhedrioni detained one of its 
journalists for 2 days and seized her August when she 
passed through Mengrelia on the way back from Abkhazia.  On 
September 17, 10 armed and masked men ransacked the newspaper's 
offices, destroying the computers and beating up 4 men.  The 
attack came just after the newspaper criticized the appointment 
of a National Democratic Party (NDP) leader as a Cabinet 
member.  The Seven Days' staff claimed that NDP members had 
done the ransacking in retaliation, citing a number of private 
and public statements by NDP leaders that lent credence to that 
claim.  After the ransacking, Droni published a short story 
criticizing the incident as inconsistent with democracy.  Their 
chief editor stated that a senior NDP official immediately 
threatened that bodily harm would come to her if she were not 
more careful in the future.  NDP senior officials refuted the 
accusations against their party.

Another Zviadist newspaper, Free Georgia, continued to struggle 
in 1993 against a 1992 order that closed it down.  The judge 
who issued the order explained his action as a temporary 
measure intended to get the paper's editorial staff to come to 
his chambers to discuss the case so it could come to trial.  
Though members of the editorial staff eventually met with him 
to discuss the case, they represented themselves as 
"individuals" and declined to accept responsibility in the 
case.  The procuracy initiated the case by sending a 
notification to the Supreme Court suggesting it examine the 
banning of the paper because of published material that 
provoked the 1992 coup atempt.  The procuracy, however, failed 
to provide supporting materials to the Court.  The judge's 
actions appear to have been sincere, but the legal reasoning 
behind the order closing the paper apppears questionable.

The newspaper's editor continued to push unsuccessfully for its 
reinstatement.  She was subsequently fired from her teaching 
job at the university.  The university's administrators claimed 
her dismissal was due to her repeated failure to show up for 
classes.  The Zviadists claimed that her dismissal was based on 
her political views and that she was absent only for a few 
months when whe was forced to flee to Moscow because of threats 
against her.

Self-censorship continued to be widespread in the Georgian 
media throughout the year.  While some political party 
newspapers criticized government policies, most avoided open 
opposition, particularly direct criticism of Shevardnadze, 
often focusing on the crisis situation instead.  Fear of 
retaliation by paramilitary groups also played a role.  

The broadcast media are affected by the same kinds of 
psychological and physical barriers to freedom of expression as 
the print media.  The second television channel--nominally, but 
not fully independent in practice--continues to operate since 
its establishment in 1992.  However, efforts to control the 
media in October included restrictions on the second channel's 
programming.  The official television channel and radio station 
engaged in self-censorship.  

Freedom of speech and press were also limited in the autonomous 
Republic of Ajara, where voices critical of that republic's 
leadership found little opportunity to voice their opinions in 
public forums.  An opposition newspaper was ransacked and 

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The right to peaceful assembly was limited in 1993, and, 
following the state of emergency in September, demonstrations 
were legally prohibited.  The only demonstration attempted in 
Tbilisi was prevented by government troops.

Legislation in effect prior to the state of emergency required 
that demonstration organizers notify city authorities of an 
impending demonstration 2 days in advance; permits were not 
required, but the authorities had the right to determine if the 
suggested location was acceptable.  Zviadists refused to comply 
with the law's provisions requiring registration in advance.  
In the first half of the year, the authorities often responded 
to Zviadist defiance by using extensive manpower to prevent 
demonstrations in Tbilisi from taking place.  

When demonstrations occurred, government forces usually 
dispersed them with force and detained some demonstrators.  The 
dispersals often involved beatings.  Zviadists claimed that 
demonstration participants were also sometimes followed as they 
left demonstrations and beaten or threatened.  A demonstration 
dispersed on April 5 involved both beatings and threats.  A 
demonstration dispersed on April 14 also allegedly involved 
some beatings.  A massive police and nonuniform presence 
blocked a May 26 (Independence Day) demonstration from ever 
getting under way.  

In Tbilisi, the authorities did permit some unregistered 
Zviadist demonstrations to take place.  On April 9, a day of 
national mourning for the Georgians commemorating a Soviet 
armed attack on peaceful demonstrators, the Zviadists were 
allowed to stage a large rally and march in the center of 
Tbilisi.  In midsummer, the Zviadists were also allowed to 
stage two rallies in a large Tbilisi park.  When government 
officials were partially in control of parts of Mengrelia, they 
permitted demonstrations to take place there unimpeded.  
Demonstrations in Poti also were generally staged without 

With some exceptions, freedom of association was generally 
observed in 1993.  Organizations are legally required to 
register with the Government.  Several Zviadist organizations 
did not attempt to register officially but were not forced to 
disband.  The leaders of the non-Zviadist opposition political 
party, Citizens League, formed originally in 1989, claimed they 
were harassed and that their members were intimidated from 
conducting a program of activities.  The Communist Party is 
banned.  Some individuals claim that the Government 
occasionally erects bureaucratic obstacles to the registration 
of unfavored organizations, but there is no evidence to suggest 
that any serious impediments exist, although the Zviadist 
organizations have avoided testing the bounds.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Freedom of religion and of worship was widely observed in 
1993.  The Government abandoned the emphasis given during 
Gamsakhurdia's rule on the primacy of the Georgian nationality 
and the Georgian Orthodox religion.  However, representatives 
of the Georgian Catholic Church are still trying to recover 
possession of churches which they first lost during the 
Soviet-era repression of religion and which were subsequently 
given to the Georgian Orthodox Church during the Gamsakhurdia 
period.  The Government's Commission on Inter-Ethnic Relations 
and Human Rights recommended that two churches be returned to 
the Catholics; thus far it appears that none has been offically 
turned over.  Local officials have shown some resistance to 
community efforts to construct new mosques in predominantly 
Muslim areas, although that resistance appears to be lessening 
and does not appear to have been based on directives from the 
authorities.  The Jewish community experienced no government 
interference in practicing its religion.  Although religious 
groups, missionaries, and foreign clergy would be required to 
register in order to benefit from government benefits and 
recognition, there appeared to be no requirement for them to do 

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The old Soviet system of registering residency remains in 
place, although its enforcement is uneven.  If a person were 
arrested and were discovered to be nonresident in an area, that 
persons might be forced to leave.  However, the authorities and 
law enforcement personnel do not routinely check people's 
documents to determine who is a legal resident.  People can 
(and do) live for extended periods somewhere other than where 
they are registered.  

Both foreign and internal travel, as well as emigration, are 
unrestricted, although there are practical problems with 
traveling in the areas of conflict.  

The Abkhaz separatists' seizure of control over all Abkhazia in 
late September, as well as the terror and human rights abuses 
that accompanied that seizure, caused a massive flow of 
displaced persons, including virtually every ethnic Georgian.  
There are an estimated 230,000 to 250,000 displaced persons in 
Georgia, and there has been no sign that the separatists would 
allow the displaced persons to return to their homes.

The Government provided assistance in facilitating the 
emigration of Jewish Georgians to Israel.

There is continuing controversy over the desire of former 
residents, primarily Muslims, of the Mskheti region--deported 
from Georgia in 1944 by Stalin--to return to that area.  Over 
200,000 Mskhetians now living in central Asian republics and 
parts of Russia face significant popular opposition to their 
return, and the Government has been reluctant to take a formal 
position.  Although some very small-scale programs have led to 
the return of some Mskhetians, the Government is clearly 
hesitant to permit the return of most of them, possibly fearing 
additional discord and problems resulting from attempts to 
resettle them.  In south Ossetia, many Ossetian displaced 
persons returned to Tskhinvali, but Georgian displaced persons 
remain afraid to return.  Ossetian displaced persons from other 
areas in Georgia for the most part have also not been able to 
return to their homes.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Georgia's Parliament and Parliament Chairman Eduard 
Shevardnadze, who is head of the executive branch, were elected 
in nationwide elections conducted in October 1992.  Those 
elections were judged by international observers to have been 
free and fair, although widespread technical violations were 
reported, and some regions not under Tbilisi's control chose 
not to participate in the polling.  Deputies were elected 
according to a mixture of direct elections in individual 
districts and party lists voted on in larger regions.  
According to the election law promulgated before those 
elections, deputies and the chairman were elected for 3-year 

Parliament's ability to function was limited in 1993.  Tensions 
with its Chairman, Shevardnadze, increased during the year as 
the latter became increasingly disdainful of the legislature's 
ineffectiveness.  Tensions between the legislature and the 
Cabinet of Ministers also grew, with each accusing the other of 
responsibility for the nation's problems.  The tensions between 
Shevardnadze and Parliament came to a head just before the 
crises in Abkhazia and Mengrelia peaked in September.  
Shevardnadze suddenly resigned his post in early September 
after parliamentary member and Mkhedrioni chief Dzhaba 
Ioseliani criticized his plan to introduce a state of 
emergency.  Shevardnadze came back into office a day later, 
buoyed by massive popular demand and on the condition that 
Parliament approve a nationwide state of emergency and then 
suspend itself for 2 months.  Parliament, enjoying little 
popular support, agreed to do so.

The Abkhaz war prevented the functioning of the elected 
parliament in that republic.  Policies of the leadership of the 
autonomous Republic of Ajara prevented that republic's 
parliament from functioning effectively; it did not meet in 
plenary in 1993.  South Ossetian separatists scheduled 
elections for December, though the Georgian Government does not 
recognize an autonomous status for that region.  The elections 
did not take place, probably due to internal differences among 
South Ossetian leaders.

Minorities and women are less represented in the new Parliament 
than they were in the Gamsakhurdia-era parliament or in the 
Soviet-era supreme soviet.  The participation of women in 
politics is generally limited, partly by longstanding cultural 
traditions and partly in response to a perception that women 
were frequently ex-president Gamsakhurdia's most fervent 

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Among domestic human rights groups, the All-Georgian 
Association for Human Rights, founded in 1990, claims about 300 
members.  The Association has not met with overt official 
restrictions, but the Government has at times been 
uncooperative.  For instance, the association has not been able 
to gain permission to visit prisoners.  The organization has 
also not been able to get articles on human rights violations 
against Zviadists published in the official or non-Zviadist 
independent press.  In October two members of the association 
were arrested for several days.  Members of the pro-Zviad 
Helsinki Union's Commission on Human Rights were sometimes 
detained for short periods.  These detentions appeared to be 
for political reasons.

A government Commission on Interethnic Relations and Human 
Rights was formed soon after Shevardnadze's return in 1992.  
The Commission had limited influence on the behavior of the 
procuracy, National Guard, Interior Ministry, and paramilitary 
groups.  Commission members do not have any statutory right to 
demand visits with detainees and are thus dependent on law 
enforcement officials' goodwill to obtain eyewitness 
information on alleged abuses.  On several occasions, however, 
Commission members succeeded in gaining access to prisoners and 
in rectifying abuses in both the detention process and 
elsewhere in the Government.

The Government welcomed the visits of international 
organizations.  A permanent mission of the Conference on 
Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) to Georgia is still 
operating after its establishment in late 1992.  The CSCE 
Chairman-in-office, Swedish Foreign Minister Af Ugglas, visited 
Georgia in October and traveled to south Ossetia.  A permanent 
U.N. Mission to Georgia continues to function and expand.  A 
U.N. special mission to examine human rights violations in the 
Abkhaz conflict came to Georgia, also in October.  The United 
Nations conducted a seminar for Georgian human rights workers 
in April.  Two Helsinki Watch missions visited Georgia to study 
human rights problems.

The members of the permanent International Committee of the Red 
Cross (ICRC) mission in Georgia were permitted by both sides to 
travel freely throughout the conflict zone in Abkhazia.  Both 
sides generally allowed the ICRC access to prisoners, although 
it is likely they did not get to meet with all of them.    

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

There are no legal or constitutional prohibitions against 
discrimination.  Georgia's constitutional situation is 
extremely vague.  A new constitution is being drafted; for now 
the country operates on a mixture of the Soviet-era 
constitution and the 1921 constitution.  


Government concern about the status of and discrimination 
against women is minimal.  Georgian society generally shares 
this low-level concern.  There is no perceptible women's 
movement, nor are there academic programs in women's studies.  
There is a widely accepted stereotype that the majority of 
Gamsakhurdia's supporters are somewhat irrational women.  This 
image has had a negative impact on the viability of women's 
involvement in Georgian politics.

Women's access to educational resources is unimpeded, but women 
are found mostly in traditional occupations where their labor 
is usually low-paid and often part-time.  The more traditional 
women's fields are considered to be the arts, languages, and 
social sciences.  Careers that involve technical skills, 
applied sciences, or supposedly "more complex" reasoning are 
heavily male-dominated.  This disproportion is generally 
explained by the students as due to the financial prospects in 
a field.  Men are expected to choose a field in which they can 
support themselves and their families, women a field that will 
enrich them personally but not take away too much from family 

Statistics on violence against women are not available.  
According to sociologists and legal specialists, however, 
incidents of rape and domestic violence are relatively rare in 
Georgia.  However, the societywide upsurge in all forms of 
crime, including violent crime, appears to have resulted in an 
increase of violent crime against women, including rape.


The severe economic crisis that gripped Georgia throughout 1993 
meant in essence that government expenditures for the welfare 
of any group within society were inadequate to meet its needs.  
Although spending on children's welfare within the context of 
total government resources reflected, in relative terms, an 
adequate commitment to that vulnerable group, children, like 
adults, suffered as a result of the Government's inability to 
increase spending levels to compensate for hyperinflation.

There are no children's rights advocacy groups.  Neither are 
there juvenile or family courts in Georgia.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Government advocacy of the supremacy of the Georgian 
nationality, language, and religion ceased with Gamsakhurdia's 
departure from power.  The nationalistic feelings that it 
aroused in the population, however, appear to have lingered and 
have been compounded by the poor economy.  Non-Georgians 
experience harassment, usually because of competition for 
scarce resources.  As one Georgian human rights activist 
described it, there are three castes of non-Georgians.  Jews 
are in the highest caste, Russians and Armenians in the second 
caste, and Azeris in the third.  The lower the caste, the more 
frequent the problems.  Local police are sometimes indifferent 
to requests for assistance from non-Georgians.  Local officials 
sometimes also engage in discrimination against non-Georgians.  
However, central authorities, when notified of complaints of 
harassment or other forms of discrimination, usually tried to 
rectify the situation.

The Georgian Government provides funding for ethnic schools, 
and the teaching of non-Georgian languages is freely 
permitted.  In Azeri-populated areas, where Georgian is not the 
primary language, the wider availability of Azeri-language 
schools and the poor quality of Georgian-language instruction 
have produced graduates who face limited professional 
opportunities in Georgia because of their poor command of the 

     People with Disabilities

Statistics on the treatment of individuals with disabilities 
are unavailable.  There is no legislative or otherwise mandated 
provision of accessibility for the disabled.  The law on labor 
does include one section on people with disabilities, which 
includes the provision of numerous special discounts and 
favorable social policies for those with disabilities, 
especially disabled veterans.  Severe discrimination against 
the disabled does not exist, though individual cases of 
discrimination probably do occur on a limited basis.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Labor Code and other Soviet-era legislation allow workers 
and employees to freely form unions and associations operating 
on their own charters.  In order to acquire legal status, 
unions and associations must register with the Ministry of 

A single Georgian Confederation of Trade Unions (GCTU) includes 
about 30 different sectoral unions.  There are no legal 
requirements that a union join the GCTU.  However, no 
significant unions operate outside its framework.  Membership 
in the GCTU is declining rapidly, due to lack of worker 

Strikes are not legally permitted under the state of emergency; 
they are permitted at other times.  However, at year's end, the 
Government was considering legislation that would permit them. 
In practice, the authorities allowed strikes to occur 
unimpeded.  For example, when miners went on strike in the town 
of Tkibuli, the Government allowed the strikers to receive 
two-thirds of their regular pay.  The draft bill under 
consideration would also prohibit any type of management 
retribution against striking workers.

In general, the extreme economic crisis gripping the country 
throughout the year kept Georgian workers away from the picket 
line.  There were only a handful of strikes, and these almost 
always took place at individual enterprises.  Tbilisi's metro 
workers went on a short "warning strike" in September, 
demanding higher wages.  The resulting public outrage, largely 
due to the fact that metro workers were earning considerably 
more than the average Georgian, deterred the employees from 
carrying out their threat of longer strikes.

There are no legal prohibitions against affiliation and 
participation in international labor bodies.  Georgia is not a 
member of the International Labor Organization (ILO).  

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The Soviet-era Labor Code allows for collective bargaining, and 
it is freely practiced.  The Government is becoming less 
involved in negotiations between management and workers, even 
in cases concerning state-owned enterprises, and has largely 
restricted itself to enforcing the minimum wage.

The Labor Code prohibits antiunion discrimination by employers 
against union members.  According to the Code, employers may be 
prosecuted for antiunion discrimination, and, if found guilty, 
would be required to reinstate the employees and pay them back 
wages. The Department of Labor Inspections within the Ministry 
of Labor investigates complaints, although their extremely 
small staff (about 11 members) did not allow for effective 
investigations in 1993.

There are no export processing zones in Georgia.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Labor Code prohibits forced or compulsory labor and 
provides for sanctions against violators.  Violations are rare, 
and the Department of Labor Inspection investigates charges.  

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

According to the Labor Code, the minimum age for employment of 
children is 14 years.  Between 14 and 16 years, total hours 
worked during the week may not exceed 30 hours.  The minimum 
age is widely respected, and officials know of no sectors where 
the rule is violated.  Because of the inadequate resources of 
the Department of Labor Inspection, enforcement of this 
provision is often left up to the unions themselves.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

A nationally mandated minimum wage applies only to the 
government sector.  Private sector employers are free to 
bargain on any wage, and a private contract specifying a wage 
lower than the minimum (for government workers) is not 
prohibited.  The minimum wage rate is adjusted every month for 
inflation, although in practice the hyperinflation of 1993 
means the minimum wage met only a fraction of basic consumer 
needs.  In mid-September, the minimum wage was about $0.75 
(9,200 coupons) per month.  

The Labor Code contains provisions for a 41-hour workweek.  
Before Parliament adjourned in September, it was considering 
legislation establishing a standard 40-hour workweek.  The 
Department of Labor Inspections investigates complaints of 
violations.  There is a 24-hour rest period in the week.  

The Government has not addressed the issue of occupational 
safety and health standards.  In general, workers may obtain 
higher wages for hazardous work, and, according to the Labor 
Code, may refuse to work when such work might endanger their 
lives.  Nevertheless, labor experts consider these provisions 
inadequate safeguards for worker well-being.

[end of document]


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