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Controversy over anti-corruption council

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, January 13
President Saakashvili has appointed a new anti-corruption council composed entirely of governing party members. The opposition has protested against such an approach and announced that it does not trust this council to act impartially.

Corruption still exists in the country, though the Rose Revolution authorities have declared many times that they have combated it successfully. Indeed there have been some achievements. But the opposition insists that elite and white collar corruption flourish and the state is only pretending to fight this by merely appointing Government loyalists to do so.

“Who said there is no corruption in the country? It has just moved to the highest levels. It is not there at the lower level anymore, therefore the number of corrupt people has decreased. But if the Government wants to combat it it should form a commission consisting of well-respected people and NGOs,” thinks former President of NBG Nodar Javakhishvili. Christian Democrat Giorgi Targamadze of the Parliamentary opposition is of a similar opinion. “The leading agents of elite corruption are found at the top of the ruling authorities. They should be watched and controlled by opposition members,” suggests Targamadze.

The opposition is particularly angry to see that the head of the State Chancellery, Kakha Bendukidze, is a member of the new council. Republican Levan Berdzenishvili thinks this is a mockery. New Rights representative Manana Nachkebia calls the appointment ‘cynicism’. One of the leaders of opposition party United Georgia, Eka Beselia, openly accuses him of being a source of corruption. Labour leader Shalva Natelashvili goes even further, suggesting that now nobody except Saakashvili and Bendukidze will be allowed to be corrupt.

None of these accusations are so far confirmed by facts. There are merely allegations, insinuations and so forth at present. Presumption of innocence should be applied here, as in all areas. But the saying that ‘there is no smoke without fire’ might sometimes have a ring of truth to it. Who knows what might be made public in the near future? The Government has a habit of accusing its own members of corruption when they leave office, either directly or indirectly, so future revelations of this sort cannot be discounted.

One way or another the opposition is demanding to be part of the council. Giorgi Targamadze states with regret that the council is yet another example of the authorities not being prepared to include the opposition in the decision making process. There is a certain positive trend in creating such a body in the first place however. It satisfies the demand of the international community, and the current administration cares about this opinion a lot.

The council now has to show the people that it is an efficient instrument for combating corruption. Let us see if it does, and how it attempts to.