Movement for Liberty - European Georgia leader Giga Bokeria and Chairman of the Republican Party Khatuna Samnidze were awarded the title of Tolerance Supporter (tolerantobis qomagi) by the Council of Religions under the Auspices of the Public Defender, for their outstanding contribution to the development of a culture of tolerance in Georgia.
"These people are distinguished with their courage and loyalty to tolerance," said Rusudan Gotsiridze, a bishop of the Evangelical Baptist Church and member of the Council of Religions.
Giga Bokeria said receiving this award is a great honor and responsibility.
"Every member of society has a responsibility to defend freedom. But us politicians, we have a greater responsibility, as our duty is to protect the freedom of others. Our country has taken a step forward, but we are still not where we should be, and that is primarily the fault of politicians, who were obliged to achieve more progress.
Freedom has enemies, we see them every day, but sometimes the people who are indifferent about it, open the doors of freedom to the enemies, do not make enough effort against the enemies of freedom, are even more dangerous than the actual enemies. This is what I have meant by our and my responsibility for all these years and even today. But I am sure, thanks to people like you, we will defeat the hatred and indifference in this country," Bokeria told the Council of Religions.
Awards were also given to writers Guram Odisharia and Lasha Bughadze, TV Company Rustavi 2, newspaper Gurjistan, and the Caucasian Institute for Peace, Democracy, and Development.
Naira Gelashvili, the head of the organization Caucasian House, returned the award which the organization received in 2007 back in protest, saying the award was now also given to Giga Bokeria and former head of Rustavi 2 TV Nika Gvaramia, whom she says were “directly involved” in the “torture of people.”
"The award of Tolerance has been awarded to criminals and offenders who should be in prison. They are not in prison because the country has no power to fulfill justice," Gelashvili told Liberali magazine. Gelashvili noted that the Caucasian House received the reward for defending people in need. "This award has been given to us deservedly and it was valuable. But now the award was handed to Giga Bokeria, Nika Gvaramia, Rustavi 2, people who were directly involved in the raiding and torture of the people,” says Gelashvili.
In response to Gelashvili’s refusal of her previous Tolerance award, Bishop Rusudan Gotsiridze wrote on Facebook that European Georgia leader Giga Bokeria deserves to be thanked for his contribution towards religious diversity work.
The Bishop noted that the Council of Religions was criticizing the former government as well as Bokeria when they thought it was needed; but that under the previous government there were also issues that were tackled such as cooperation with penitentiary structures, registration of religious unions, secular education, and condemnation of religious extremism.
Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili said that he does not agree with the award decision of the Council of Religions. "Personally, I cannot see the contribution of Giga Bokeria in the development of tolerance culture in the current year," Nanuashvili said.