TBILISI, DFWatch – Tina Khidasheli, one of the leaders of the opposition Georgian Dream coalition says the government is preventing Georgian Dream from conducting an election campaign.
Tbilisi City Court fined the Georgian Dream coalition’s constituent parties 2 383 097 lari, or nearly USD 1.5 million. Khidasheli said before the ruling that the parties will refuse to pay such a fine, which could lead to the parties’ bank accounts being seized, effectively incapacitating them in the midst of the election campaign.
The fine was issued on the basis of a report prepared by the Chamber of Control (CoC). Georgian Dream’s lawyers dispute the report, and say it lacks proper documentation.
According to the report CoC presented on June 25, a company called Management Service Ltd spent 476 614.51 lari on renting and refurbishing offices in different parts of Georgia that were used by Georgian Dream. According to the report, the offices were used by: the public movement Georgian Dream, the Republican Party, National Forum, Our Georgia Free Democrats, Georgian Dream Democratic Georgia, the Conservative Party and Industry will Save Georgia.
The report says the company made the offices available for Georgian Dream for free, and as such it falls under the law’s definition of illegal campaign donations.
The parties have five days to return the illegal donation to the company, but according to the report have refused to so. This is a violation of law, according to the CoC, which brought on what is called an administrative lawsuit against all the different parties within Georgian Dream, and won in today’s ruling.
The coalitiion’s lawyers dispute the court’s decision and call it illegal. They say that these parties have an agreement with Management Service Ltd, which received appropriate compensation for the refurbishment work it carried out.
One of the lawyers, Alexandre Baramidze, says they will appeal within the designated 48 hour time limit.
Tina Khidasheli, one of Republican Party leaders, says that seizing bank accounts means that ‘you cannot fill fuel on your car and cannot do any financial operation, which is necessary for work. But in reality it doesn’t mean exactly this. Because we don’t plan to stop and say ‘o, my lord’. We will continue our campaign just like we did before and we have prepared appropriate forms to be in legal frames. This government cannot think of anything to which we won’t have an answer ready.”
She adds that that the fine is illegal and the parties she is speaking on behalf of will not and won’t be able to pay it, as it is beyond the financial resources at these parties’ disposal.
If the Appeals Court upholds the City Court’s decision the and parties are unable to pay the fine, then the government will seize their accounts and property, which will paralyze these parties, Khidasheli says.