Our History

The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) is a Georgian non-governmental organization established in 2009 by two historians and researchers, Levan Avalishvili and Giorgi Kldiashvili.


The idea of the organization originated during a periodic international conference that Levan Avalishvili and Giorgi Kldiashvili had been holding in Georgia since 2005. This conference received support from the American non-governmental research organization National Security Archive at George Washington University, bringing together local and foreign historians, archive researchers, as well as specialists and lawyers in public access to information and open governance, to discuss issues related to archival transparency and access to archival documents in different countries. During the 2009 conference, the concept of establishing an organization in Georgia dedicated to advocating for transparent archives and improved access to public information was born. With the support of their American partners, Levan Avalishvili and Giorgi Kldiashvili founded such an organization.


IDFI initially focused on watchdog activities by monitoring government actions, revealing violations, and disseminating information to the public.


The first grant received by IDFI was for the project "Auditing of Official Websites of Executive Authorities of Georgia". This initiative was funded by the National Security Archive, with a total budget of 10,000 USD, and involved IDFI conducting a comprehensive study on the changes in e-governance systems worldwide, including in Georgia. The organization conducted a thorough analysis and evaluation of the transparency of government websites and compiled a ranking of ministries based on their level of transparency.


Following the successful implementation of their first project, IDFI initiated "Public Information Database www.opendata.ge" with financial support from the Open Society Georgia Foundation. This project contributed significantly to providing the public with access to a wide range of public information, making public information more accessible, and promoting an informed society in Georgia.


In 2014, this website was included in an international impact assessment of FOI platforms conducted by the British organization mySociety.


Another key focus area for IDFI was ensuring the openness of state archives and access to archival materials. Levan Avalishvili and Giorgi Kldiashvili actively advocated for the openness and accessibility of 20th-century Soviet Archives in Georgia. This advocacy work led to saving the former archive of the Georgian Communist Party from destruction and modernizing it, as well as leading to the former archive of the Committee of State Security (KGB) of Georgia being opened to the public. IDFI uses these archival documents to study the Soviet totalitarian regime in collaboration with the Archive of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, International Society Memorial, and other local and international partners.


IDFI implemented one of its first research projects, titled "Publishing the Archival Documents Reflecting the Events Developed in Georgia from the 5th to the 9th of March 1956",  in cooperation with the Archive of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia. The project was funded by the Heinrich Böll Foundation South Caucasus Regional Office through the Embassy of Switzerland in Georgia, with a total budget of EUR 4,950. It involved inviting scholars to search for and study related archival documents. The documents were published in collection periodicals along with explanations from our scholars. Electronic versions of these publications were made available to the public on IDFI’s website.


One of IDFI’s most significant projects in the field of Soviet history research was "Stalin Lists on Georgia," in which the organization collected and analyzed information about the victims of the Great Terror in Georgia in 1937-1938. The database, available in both Georgian and Russian, contains information about 3,600 victims repressed under direct orders from Stalin. The database can be accessed on the website of the National Library of the Georgian Parliament.


Starting in 2012, IDFI gradually shifted its focus from watchdog to think-tank activities. Today, IDFI operates as a hybrid watchdog/think-tank organization, combining monitoring and analytical capabilities with evidence-based advocacy, strategic litigation, awareness raising, consulting, and a growing international impact. IDFI conducts high-quality, independent research and offers innovative, practical recommendations that strengthen democracy in Georgia and neighboring countries while fostering economic and social welfare.


IDFI is internationally recognized for its expertise in promoting open and democratic governance. 


Accountability, integrity, and reliability have always been and will continue to be crucial elements of our work. We adhere to strict professional standards of review and referencing, ensuring the accuracy of all facts and analyses in our work. 


Further information on IDFI's areas of operation can be accessed here.