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National Movement demands clarification from Gachechiladze

By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, June 23
Ruling party MPs have demanded that “radical” opposition leader Levan Gachechiladze explain his June 19 statement about him “getting funds from abroad.” The issue was raised at the Parliament Bureau Session yesterday by Shota Malashkhia, Chairman of the Temporary Commission on Territorial Integrity Issues.

Malashkhia claimed that Gachechiladze’s statement about going abroad to get money was not followed by any further explanation. “He made a statement that a certain amount of money would enter Georgia from abroad; however he did not name the purpose for which this money would be donated or where it would be coming from. We have heard this leader’s statements many times, the ones about him not recognising the President of Georgia, not recognising the legally-elected Parliament and so on. So it is interesting to know what this money will be used for,” Malashkhia noted. “The law enforcers should take an interest in the origins and purpose of this money,” he added.

National Movement MP Goka Gabashvili said Georgian law prohibits political parties from receiving funds from abroad. “When someone says he is going abroad to bring money in, we at least have a right to know who is paying the piper. We can see who is piping, but the question of whose tune they are playing rose long ago,” Gabashvili said, adding that it is necessary to find out what the source of this money is, whether or not it is “some democratic fund, financing democratic movements,” whether the money is being obtained legally and where it will go.

Non-Parliamentary opposition politicians say they have no detailed information about the funding Gechechiladze was talking about. However, some of them claim that the Government has no right to point the finger at Gachechiladze anyway, because he represents a corporate entity and it is not prohibited to transfer money to him. “So even under this ugly legislation, it will be difficult for the Government to charge Gachechiladze. When MPs are talking about others’ responsibilities, they should look at what they have been doing over the last five years and ask themselves why they should now be bothered by a sense of responsibility,” Mamuka Katsitadze from the New Rights has said.

MP Levan Vephkhvadze from the Christian Democratic Party has noted that if business was free in Georgia the opposition would not have to seek money abroad. “As soon as any businessman decides to fund the opposition, his warehouses are burnt down or they have serious problems with taxation,” Vephkhadze said at the Bureau Session. However as for Gachechiladze’s statement, Vephkhvadze said that getting money from abroad was “breaking the law.” Ruling party MP Zurab Melikishvili has responded to Vephkhvadze’s claims, saying that businessmen want to see stability in the country. “So it should not be a surprise that businessmen do not want to fund the forces which are constantly trying to create destabilisation,” the MP said. “While the aim of the radical opposition remains destabilising the country, they should not hope to receive money from businessmen.”

Non-Parliamentary opposition representatives claim it is the Government which is destabilising the country. Manana Nachkhebia from the New Rights says that the opposition is not planning any destabilisation, and notes that the Government is responsible for losing the territories, Russia “finishing the process of annexation” of Georgia’s breakaway regions and the economic crisis in the country. “All of these factors create threats for Georgian businessmen,” she has told The Messenger.

Nachkhebia also denies the allegation of a link existing between the non-Parliamentary opposition and “Russian forces having bad intentions towards Georgia.” She says the Government is actively pressurising Georgian businessmen, trying to prevent them funding opposition parties. “This becomes clear if you look at the accounts of the ruling party and those of the opposition parties. The Government has Georgian business in its hands, and is forbidding it from financing the opposition,” Nachkhebia stated.

Levan Gachechiladze said on June 19 that he had travelled abroad to gain money to continue the “struggle”, however he did not specify which country he had visited. “We need money to boost our movement and gain our victory,” he told demonstrators in front of the Georgian Parliament. His statement drew no response from the authorities at that time.