Interior Minister annuls special driving permits after scandalous video footage

Minister of Internal Affairs Giorgi Mghebrishvili said the decree regulating the issue of special permits under previous state leadership was “very vague”. Photo by Interior Ministry., 30 Sep 2015 - 18:43, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia has taken a bold step to ensure safety on all roads by annulling special permits that enabled representatives of state law-enforcement bodies to drive freely, which included violating traffic laws.

Today Georgia’s Minister of Internal Affairs Giorgi Mghebrishvili annulled the special permits that have been issued to certain state officials since 2009.

This action was taken after a scandalous interview former Ministry official Giorgi Babunashvili with Georgian news agencies Timer and Krinika +, where Babunashvili stressed that special permits had been given to family members of current, high-ranking officials. 

The ex-official also provided video footage as evidence showing the brother of deputy head of the State Security Service Levan Izoria, behind the wheel driving irresponsibly. 

"He was supposedly drunk when I stopped him (Izoria’s brother) while driving. However he provided the permit and I had no option but to release him,” Babunashvili said. 

In response to the video Minister Mghebrishvili confirmed all individuals who owned such permits would be deprived of them.

A new, confidential decree will take effect in several days and the rules of issuing the permits will be regulated,” Mghebrishvi said. 

In an earlier statement Mgebrishvili stressed the permit issuing procedures under the previous state leadership was "very vague” and requited modification.  

On another note, an investigation has already begun over the video footage released by media. 

While commenting on the issue head of the State Security Service Vakhtang Gomelauri said everyone found guilty of abusing the special permits should be held accountable "no matter whether he or she is his deputy or some others”. 

The issuing of permits is regulated by a confidential decree signed by the Minister of Interior Affairs. 

The decree should ensure the protection of the Law on Police, while it should also support non-stop movement of law-enforcement officers during operative-searching activities. 

The Patrol Police have no right to hinder the movement of any individual who possess the permit. 

If an ordinary member of the public are in possession of a special permit, they are violating the law. The Minister said if the permit was used by non-approved persons, they could use the permit to drive illegally, drive a car drunk or transport drugs, weapons or other contraband, without being held responsible.