Literary Prize "Litera" faced a big challenge for the first time this year. The Minister of Culture Tea Tsulukiani sent her representative, an advisor of the Minister, to the jury of the award. The representative is inserted to block books that are unacceptable to the government. The representative of the ministry is homophobic, misogynistic and xenophobic and this is evidenced by almost all of his Facebook posts and letters that he publishes in ultranationalist newspapers.
Until now, the jury of "Litera" changed every year. The members of the jury were writers, literary critics, critics, translators. Despite the fact that the award was funded by the state, no one has ever interfered in the activities of "Litera". The award was free from political meddling.
Now this situation has changed radically. Tsulukiani decided to introduce a cultural gendarmerie and wants to restore the darkest totalitarian traditions of control over culture.
We find that such brazen interference by a minister in the literary process is offensive to writers and jury members. Both the writers and the jury should be free from any attempt regarding political control. The reputation of this award is determined by the writers who participate in it and the free, democratic decision-making process: decisions are made by recognized professionals and not by dilettante officials selected on the basis of party loyalty. We thank the writers and the members of the jury who have already left "Litera" in protest. We are confident that this list will grow. Currently, 79 out of 110 writers have withdrawn their books from the competition. And all the members of the jury refused to participate in such a process, leaving only one person on the jury - the gendarme of culture.
We call on Tea Tsulukiani to immediately summon a member of the "Litera" jury appointed by her, to stop trying to impose censorship in a field completely foreign to her. We, Georgian writers, translators, literary critics, publishers, despite our different political views, are and will be united on this issue. We will not allow party control over Georgian literature.