An active information campaign against the rector of Ilia State University has begun in recent days. With the campaign, the head of the university is accused of not providing public information and, in general, of showing lack of accountability and transparency.
Media sources loyal to the ruling party and/or under its direct control, often carrying official editorial policies, are involved in the campaign. The legitimacy and integrity of the negative campaign against the rector of Ilya State University is questioned on the basis of not only the information sources implementing it, but also the fact that, the major news sources of the campaign are not focused on the challenges in terms of transparency of the academic sector in general, but specifically on Ilia State University and its head.
In general, the purpose of discrediting the head of the Ilia State University is to damage the image of this institution and in this way to enable gaining influence and control over it. It is of critical importance that in this case the target of government propaganda is an educational, academic institution. These institutions are usually the priority targets of regimes tending towards authoritarianism, since an educated society is the main threat to populist and undemocratic regimes.
Ilia State University has been actively contributing to the creation of vital academic knowledge related to a number of critical challenges facing Georgia, be it the independence of state institutions, transparency, or the fight against corruption.
We believe that the purpose of the information campaign launched against the rector of Ilia State University is to discredit the university, to bring it under the influence of the ruling party, and to send a warning signal to other independent educational institutions. Such an action contradicts Article 27(3) of the Constitution of Georgia, which protects academic freedom and the autonomy of higher educational institutions.
We express our solidarity with Ilia State University and call on those responsible to stop the threatening campaign against independent educational and academic institutions.
The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI)
Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA)
Governance Monitoring Center (GMC)
The Human Rights Center
Democracy Research Institute (DRI)
Georgian Court Watch
The Media Development Foundation (MDF)
Social Justice Center
Prevention For Progress
Transparency International (TI)
Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF)
International Society for Fair Elections And Democracy (ISFED)