Georgia’s international standing has long benefited from being sandwiched between authoritarian countries, thus making it look good on the regional freedom charts. But its eagerness to stay on good terms with authoritarian-minded neighbors like Azerbaijan and Turkey appears to be having a negative impact on Tbilisi’s rights record.
In its increasingly aggressive campaign against critical journalists, the Azerbaijani government appears to have arranged for the brazen kidnapping of investigative reporter Afgan Mukhtarli from downtown Tbilisi and his forced delivery to Azerbaijan to face trial. The incident has outraged many Georgians, who view it as a crude violation of sovereignty and a spineless reaction, if not craven connivance, on the part of their government.
“This is unbelievable. If someone from our side is involved, they should go to prison,” said media analyst and publisher Lasha Tugushi at a protest rally on May 31, the day after Mukhtarli’s kidnapping.
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Giorgi Lomsadze is a freelance journalist and a frequent contributor to EurasiaNet.org's Tamada Tales blog.