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Minister for penalty execution appointed as chief “democratizer”2009-02-16 14:51
From now on a special committee will help to carry out democratic reforms in Georgia the inefficiency of which is persistently criticized even by Western experts.
At the end of last week Georgia's Prime Minister Nica Gilauri signed an order on formation of an interagency committee for promotion of democratic reforms.
Protection of people's property, freedom of mass media, powers of the parliament, institution of the Jury, judicial and penal reforms - these are main objectives and tasks of the newborn structure. "The committee will comprise all interested persons willing to participate in implementation of democratic reforms both from parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition, the majority, NGOs and society", - Novosti-Gruzia is quoting Prime Minister.
The management of democratic reforms (this is presumably the purpose of the committee) was proposed to the minister for probation, penalty execution and legal assistance Dmitry Shashkin, who had been the minister for less than a fortnight.
The latter has already given his consent commenting: "I'm ready to dialogue with both the society and the opposition for elaboration of recommendations that will become a base for implementation of reforms".
It is rather questionable how the minister for penalty execution will coordinate his direct duties with promotion of democratic reforms as these are two quite contradictory spheres. Almost as Pushkin wrote: "But stone and waves, the coldest ice and hottest flames ..." The future of the two characters described by the poet in this way is well known - a duel and the death. So which of the two state domains Shashkin is combining will be a priority - democratic reforms or penalty execution?
By the number of prisoners per hundred thousand citizens Georgia is holding one of the leading positions in the world. In late 2008 following numerous amnesties there were over 18 thousand people serving their terms in jails.
Today according to the opposition Georgia has become a police state. That is why every year the oppositionists still more persistently call on independence of courts, observance of rights of the detained and release of political prisoners.
Shashkin will have to supervise both the already imprisoned and find common language with the opposition whose leaders were repeatedly prosecuted "on suspicion of espionage".
The government believes that the 33-year-old minister will not be able to mend the catastrophic situation in the penal system. The opposition has no dislike of him. The thing is he used to be the International Republican Institute regional director (a non-profit organization established in the USA to "advance freedom and democracy worldwide"). The Institute holds training sessions and consultations for parties, including the opposition, organizes trips around the USA for its leaders. So the young minister knows many oppositionists by name. The opposition was generally positive about Shashkin remaining a bit puzzled about his new appointment in the government.
However a number of experts were quick to remark that the polls and ratings organized by IRI at the time of Dmitry Shashkin working there registered President Saakashvili's and the dominant party's steady leadership as a rule.