TBILISI, DFWatch – A political movement in Georgia must follow rules for party financing, because it wants to impact the election.
The new head of Georgia’s campaign finance watchdog, Natia Mogeladze (pictured), says she ordered Ivanishvili’s movement to report on its finances because they made statements indicating political intentions.
“The motivation was their own statement, according to which, they are interested in processes which may finally have an impact on the elections,” Mogeladze said.
Campaign finance rules until recently only applied to political parties, but a new law expanded those rules to any organization, and even individual, that is directly or indirectly connected to politics.
Billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili has refrained from going to party politics, but in December launched what is called a ‘public movement’ as a temporary detour towards his goal of running in the parliamentary election later this year.
But the government introduced new stricter rules on party financing which this week were applied to his movement, called Georgian Dream. This is the first time such rules are used outside of party politics, a development seen as deeply worrying by influential organizations in Georgia, because it is seen as an infringement on civil rights.
Mr Ivanishvili is heavily involved in charity work, but Mogeladze added that it is all right for someone to have many charity funds, just as long as they don’t have any connection with the political process.
Except from the Georgian Dream movement, only political parties have been asked to submit their financial report to the Chamber of Control, which was made responsible for campaign finance oversight from January 1. Earlier, the Central Election Commission had this responsibility. CEC chief Zurab Kharatishvili said Thursday that their oversight was ineffective and amounted to mere formalities.
Opposition groups objected against Mogeladze’s appointment earlier this week, because of her background from within the administration of president Mikheil Saakashvili. She came to the job from the chief prosecutor’s office, which is a branch of the Ministry of Justice. They claimed that she would be a tool for harassment of the government’s enemies.