TBILISI, DFWatch — Georgia’s new government has pardoned the National Movement party for law violations during the election campaign in 2012.
The violations were described in a dossier published Friday by the Audit Office, a public body tasked with tracking donations to political parties and coalitions.
The dossier describes the financial mechanisms employed during rallies the party organized on September 8, 23 and 28 in different regions of Georgia. It centers on how the party financed the use of minibuses to bring people to their rallies. First, USD 76 400 was illegally spent on fuel for the vans. This money is considered an illegal donation, because the National Movement (UNM) failed to inform the Audit Office about it. The limit on donations to political parties is only about USD 36 000, and parties have an obligation to inform the Audit Office when it receives a donation.
The second time, the party received a USD 24 000 donation from Zaza Gorozia, former governor of the Samegrelo Zemo Svaneti region, but the party didn’t declare it, which was a violation. The money was used to organize a rally in western Georgia.
The Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi allocated USD 72 000 for UNM to organize rally in Zugdidi, western Georgia on September 23. This donation was not reported. The Audit Office further writes that witness testimonies revealed that there were additional payments of USD 334 000 as salary for various services used while organizing those rallies.
Despite the violations, representatives of the party won’t be punished, because parliament of Georgia December 19, 2012 adopted an amnesty on administrative taxation which frees people from responsibility for violating the law on political unions, which regulates the crimes that the National Movement committed, that are described in the dossier.
The law on political unions was amended shortly after billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is now prime minister, entered politics in 2011. The following year, that and other laws were used to fine activists, members and supporters of the Georgian Dream coalition.