The Case of the Cartographers

The Case of the Cartographers

On October 7, 2020, the General Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia arrested Iveri Melashvili and Natalia Ilichova, former members of the Government Commission for Delimitation and Demarcation. According to the investigation, when agreeing on the borders, they did not use one of the maps that was in Georgia’s interest.

The timing of the investigation is significant for Georgian citizens due to its extremely sensitive nature. The ruling party has often raised similar issues before elections, always aiming to influence voters.

It was also noteworthy to discuss this case from a broader perspective and explore the reasons for activating this topic during the hostilities between neighboring Azerbaijan and Armenia in the region. It is widely known that it is in Russia’s interests to interfere in Georgia’s elections and stir up centers of destabilization, including by trying to strain relations between Georgia and Azerbaijan.

The lack of evidence, the timing of the investigation, the pre-election context, signs of a selective approach in the investigation process, and populist statements made by the ruling party leaders in violation of the presumption of innocence raised suspicions that the investigation served political motives—creating misconceptions for Georgian citizens and discrediting political opponents.

For these and other reasons, the “Shame Movement” assessed Natalia Ilichova and Iveri Melashvili as political prisoners and launched an information campaign in support of them.

On January 28, 2021, Iveri Melashvili and Natalia Ilichova were released on bail. The court also approved the prosecution’s motion to dismiss Iveri Melashvili from his position.

Our organization collected the 20,000 GEL bail for each of them, which was granted by the court the same evening, within a few hours, through donations from citizens.

The court proceedings of the cartographers’ case are still ongoing.