The messenger logo

Money makes the world go round

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, March 10
President Saakashvili recently expressed curiosity as to where the money in Georgian politics is coming from, saying that some politicians now have large amounts of money which has been donated from outside the country for dubious purposes. This issue has become the subject of heated speculation and may well end up as one of the major topics discussed during the anticipated political confrontation.

Under Georgian legislation political parties are not allowed to receive finance from abroad. It must come either from the state or from local business or personal donations. The opposition has for a long time been complaining of a shortage of money, claiming that the authorities are conversely terrorizing businesses, grabbing finances for their benefit and creating problems for entrepreneurs if they dare to finance the opposition.

Against this background the President’s allegations sound pretty serious. Speaker of Parliament David Bakradze has made further comments in the same vein, stating the commonly understood truth that both the origin of financial sources and expenditures should be transparently accounted for. “In every democratic country society has the right to know through whose finances a political party functions,” said Bakradze. One could not have said this better, unless we had replaced one word. We would have used “every” rather than “a” before “political party.”

The opposition claims this is the reaction of a loser. The President’s armchair is shuddering, says David Saganelidze from the Alliance for Georgia. “There is no money involved in the claims against the President,” he says. One of the leaders of the National Forum, Gubaz Sanikidze, says that fear has big eyes and that the Saakashvili administration will be destroyed not by money but by the will of the people.

The opposition thinks we should dig deeper into the money accumulated by the National Movement. Davit Saganelidze and Christian Democrat Vice Speaker of Parliament Levan Vephkhvadze suggest that President Saakashvili first investigate the financial sources of his immediate environment. Let him first look into the eyes of Security Council members and majority members and ask them who controls which business, and then ask the opposition, Vephkhvadze says.

Saakashvili did not identify any one politician specifically in his statement but the Labour Party has. One of its leaders, Soso Shatberashvili, has said that Saakashvili was referring to former Speaker Burjanadze and former PM Noghaideli, though this allegation was immediately described by the press spokesman of Burjanadze’s party as absurd. Burjanadze is also demanding that the President and his officials produce documents which would prove his allegations.

This is a war or words which neither side has enough evidence to win. Therefore it is most likely that such attacks will continue, and the people will decide if there is smoke without fire.