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Who’s worse? The foreign hand in Georgian politics

by | Dec 25, 2011

TBILISI, DFWatch – A Georgian opposition parliamentarian who asked authorities to map out how opposition parties receive their funding, has presented a list showing that the ruling party of President Mikheil Saakashvili is also being financed from abroad, including from Russia.

The outspoken MP Giorgi Tsagareishvili’s request to the country’s chief prosecutor was originally meant to clear the air after a wave of unsubstantiated claims in the national TV that a popular financier turned politician is being financed from Russia.

The claims were eventually repeated in parliament by representative Gia Tortladze. While originally elected as part of the opposition in 2008, he has gone along with the government’s line while in parliament, and recently echoed the claims made by pro-government TV about the billionaire  Bidzina Ivanishvili’s alleged Russian links.

Tsagareishvili requested an investigation to find out specifically what money these parties are receiving to ‘once and for all end the discussions of what money Ivanishvili is giving to his partners.’

After Tsagareishvili’s request, police have been working on mapping out opposition parties’ financing. The results show quite clearly that a lot of their money comes from Cartu Bank, which is owned by Mr Ivanishvili (see table).

“For all these years there may be tens and hundreds questions that I had sent to the government and this is the first time they have responded. But I don’t know whether anyone believes that there is any violation of the law in this list, except for Tortladze,” Tsagareishvili says.

What kind of violation and crime is reflected in the information which the prosecutor’s office gave to parliament about the four opposition parties’ financing? Petre Tsikarishvili, the leader of the parliamentary majority, thinks this is an ‘unserious’ question.

Pavle Kublashvili, also from the majority, says financing the
parties through companies associated with Ivanishvili is not a violation of the law, but he considers it ‘politically unjustified, because it’s clearly Russian money.’

“This fact once again proved that the Venice Commission was right, when it said about legal entities financing parties that there can always be a person behind it, whose money is not transparent,” Kublashvili said.

After receiving the information he requested, Giorgi Tsagareishvili asked law enforcement agencies to find out where the ruling National Movement party gets its financing from and hopes they will respond in the same prompt manner as to his previous question about opposition financing.

Already, Tsagareishvili says he has confirmed information that for the last years the National Movement has been getting its financing from legal persons registered in Russia.

MGSS Georgia Ltd donated 10 000 lari to the National Movement in 2010. 51% of its shares are held by is Instant Repayment System, which is registered in the Russian Federation. Promer Plus Ltd donated 40 000 lari. It is 100% owned by Fridon Katamadze, a Russian citizen.

Tsagareishvili also lists other foreign donors that are propping up Georgia’s ruling party. He says 12 667 503 lari in total was donated to the National Movement in 2010 by 434 legal and individual persons. Among those, the following are registered in foreign countries: ChiaturManganum Georgia ltd, which donated 100, 000 lari and the 100% owner of which is an off-shore company International Business Company. Greenfield Financial Corporation Ltd, Block Georgia Ltd donated 50 000 lari. It has a 50% shareholder which is a company registered in the Czech Republic. Ushba Distillery gave a 25 000 lari donation. 100% of its shares belong to Hasalba Limited; the founder of Belbasus Ltd is Cyprus-registered Belerando Holding Limited ltd.

According to Tsagareisvhili, 17 000 lari was donated to the ruling party from the company Kalanda, registered in Lithuania. It is 100% owned by Adjara Natural Gas ltd. Barwil Georgia Ltd gave a 17 500 lari donation and is 100% owned by the offshore registered company Barwil Black Sea Shipping Ltd. Cavex Poti is also one of the ruling party’s donators. 14% of its shares are owned by Richmond Corporation Limited ltd, registered in Ireland.

Another donor is Style Ltd. 40% of its shares are held by Simon Blaar from the Netherlends. Metalex Ltd is also a financer of the ruling party. 5% of it belongs to Omar Sarini, a citizen of Turkey.

The parliamentary majority claims that the National Movement has never violated the law regarding donations.



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