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Zviad Devdariani, the head of a prominent Georgian non-governmental organisation and an outspoken supporter of women’s rights has resigned, after allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault emerged against him.
The board of the Civil Development Agency (CiDA) accepted Devdariani’s resignation on Thursday.
In a statement on Thursday, CiDA said that ‘the Board of CiDA condemns sexual or any kind of harassment and violence and is concerned with the situation’, adding that they realise allegations against Devdariani ‘cast a shadow not only on the organisation [CiDA], but on civil society as a whole’.
Devdariani has been accused of sexual harassment or assault by at least 10 women. He has denied the accusations.
Georgia’s Public Defender has said that some stories shared by women about Devdariani may amount to ‘sexual abuse’.
Accusations emerged after Devdariani was nominated last Friday for a spot on the Georgian Public Broadcaster’s (GPB) Board of Trustees by the Public Defender. A number of women posted accusations of harassment against him in a closed Facebook group for women’s rights activists. The Public Defender’s Office said they were unaware of the allegations when they nominated Devdariani.
Nino Lomjaria, the Public Defender, has vowed to investigate the allegations, and that ‘the fundamental rights, dignity, honour and privacy of all parties will be fully observed’. All the women who have so far accused Devdariani have remained anonymous.
Deputy Interior Minister Natia Mezvrishvili the told GPB on Thursday that despite no one having complained to the police, they have decided to launch an investigation.
[For details, read on OC Media: NGO head and women’s rights proponent ‘sexually assaulted women’]
Ida Bakhturidze, a member of the Georgian Women’s Movement, told OC Media last week that a number of the women who have accused Devdariani of sexual harassment and sexual abuse were deciding whether to take the case to court.
CiDA, the organisation Devdariani headed, is a Rustavi-based group whose website says they ‘promote the socio-economic rights of the Georgian population’.