TBILISI, DFWatch–Two days before a planned rally by President Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement, the ruling Georgian Dream coalition accuses it of embezzlement of state money.
But the UNM claims the government is presenting these accusations now because it is scared of the April 19 rally and is engaging in ‘black PR’.
Georgian Dream on Wednesday published documents classified as secret which show the cost of items purchased by Saakashvili and his party members, as well as expenses done for his family members. The money was taken from the budget of the Special State Protection Service.
The Prosecutor’s Office has now declassified the documents.
Among the costs of the president’s family is a USD 8 400 payment for the education of the president’s son, Eduard Saakashvili, at the American Academy in Tbilisi. USD 16 000 was spent on travel tickets for the president’s family members.
Documents published by the government, show the purchase of a golden bracelet worth USD 2 100, which the president gave to Mariam Sajaia in 2001, then 20 years old and the youngest member of parliament, representing his party, the National Movement.
In 2012, there were expenses for iPhone 4s with 16GB memory, bought for USD 964 for Tinatin Bokuchava, who is now a member of parliament, but was deputy chairman of the State Audit Office in January, 2012.
The documents also show that President Saakashvili used state money to buy expensive presents to various women.
Among the documents are expenditure of State Protection Service, which allocated money for vacations of the president and his family, and other members of the National Movement. One of the trips was Koba Khabazi, Alana Gagloeva, Goga Khachidze, Mariam Sajaia, Giorgi Gviniashvili, Davit Darchiashvili, Nugzar Tsiklauri, Sergo Ratiani and Zurab Chiaberashvili, members of the UNM, who together marked New Year with the president in Dubai and spent about USD 144 800 on the trip.
The same day Wednesday, Giorgi Kandelaki, an MP from the UNM stated that there is proof of elite corruption in the new government. He said that the husband of Irina Imerlishvili, who is Chairman of Parliamentary committee on procedural issues, April 5 was appointed as manager of Food Line Georgia Ltd and won a state tender.
“The tender was about providing the Defense Ministry with food,” he said at a press conference in Kutaisi, where the parliament is located. “It is only about one lot, Tbilisi, and the amount was 32 million GEL [nearly USD 19 million, ed.].”
Kandelaki said he has information that the same company ‘attempts to remove a company from winning tender in Kakheti region.’
“These are serious signs of elite corruption and government should respond to it,” he added.
Irina Imerlishvili confirmed that her husband really participated in the tender and that afterwards, he became a manager Food Line Georgia Ltd. She said the tender is not yet finished and she would be happy if her husband really won the tender. She spoke about experience of her husband, who held different positions in Saakashvili’s government.
She underlined that her husband is a manager in this company, but not the owner of it.
Members of the UNM think this action of government to publish the cost registration of former government officials, is related to the upcoming rally of the party planned April 19. Meanwhile Mariam Sajaia, MP of the UNM, denied having receiving presents from the president.
During a visit to Akhalkalaki, a town in southern Georgia, President Mikheil Saakashvili on Wednesday said that this money was spent for the ‘popularization of Georgia.’
“Can they name a single country where the president doesn’t go on visits and don’t take MPs, government members or family members with him; doesn’t invite guests and journalists from foreign countries for the country’s popularization,” the president said. “If we hadn’t done this, then where do those investments come from?”
He said that millions of dollars of investment in Georgia were attracted during such visits to the other countries and as part of dinners organized abroad.
The president called on the government ‘not to be overly scared of the rally of April 19.’
“I want to tell them that nothing special is happening. They shouldn’t be afraid, nothing special is going to happen and it is not necessary to publish something every day and to make-up things and make statements.”
UNM members demand proper investigation for each case. On Thursday Gia Tsagareishvili from the ruling coalition suggested to set up special commission, which will study the documentation published about money embezzlement.