TBILISI, DFWatch–Three employees of the Public Registry have been illegally dismissed, according to Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA). The three believe they were fired because they are supporters of President Saakashvili’s United National Movement and had been critisizing the government in social media.

Imedo Arjevanidze, Manana Natroshvili and Mukhran Burchuladze, all employees of the National Agency of Public Registry, were informed upon their arrival at work on March 18, 2013 that they were no longer working there. The employees claim that their firing was politically motivated.

GYLA says one of the main reason is that legal grounds for the dismissal is still unknown.

“We believe that stipulations of applicable Georgian laws have been violated against three former employees of the Agency,” GYLA’s statement says.

Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani sent a letter of warning to Mukhran Burchuladze on February 17, 2013. Minister called on him to observe his political neutrality, exercise restraint and be correct in his actions.

Burchuladze is a supporter of the United National Movement party, which has ruled Georgia for over eight years but recently lost power, and he often criticizes the new government on his Facebook profile and the blog Ireporter.ge.

GYLA thinks that the even if Mukhran Machavariani did not comply with the recommendations in the letter, this should not be grounds for his dismissal.

“The letter may not be considered as a measure of disciplinary liability-warning. (…) Georgian legislation employees of public registry are not prohibited from holding political beliefs, supporting a political union or making public statements about it,” GYLA writes.

Deputy Minister of Justice David Jandieri said at a briefing that the justice minister had not made a decision about dismissal other two employees, but Imedo Arjevanidze and Manana Natroshvili tried to paralyze the office, calling on the other employees to go on strike, and therefore the minister fired them too.

GYLA states that the justice minister did not have the authority to fire the three, and by doing so she meddled in the purview of the chairperson of the agency.

Furthermore “Legislation does not put any limitations on the exercising of the right to go on a strike for employees of the Agency and therefore, calls for a strike does not amount to a violation,” GYLA states.

These circumstances have made the young lawyers conclude that the three Public Registry employees were dismissed in violation of applicable stipulations of law. They plan to continue observing the developments at the agency.