By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, June 9
Opposition MP Gia Tsagareishvili called the activities of Gigi Ugulava, the newly elected Mayor of Tbilisi, “thuggish” at a special briefing in Parliament on June 8. Tsagareishvili accused Ugulava’s office of mis-spending GEL 35 million in 2005-2007 from the capital’s reserve fund which Vice-Mayor of Tbilisi Davit Alavidze said had been spent on social and cultural programmes.
At the briefing Tsagareishvili asked City Hall, “I know you won’t let GEL 35 million sink in the River Mtkvari, but I wonder where you have spent this money and whether you can name the particular events financed with such a sum?” The MP also asked for details of the sums spent on erecting and demolishing monuments and fountains in the capital. “The cost of the so-called panoramic turret at Rike is top secret. I sent City Hall a letter asking for details and Alavidze explained that an MP can have access to these only after providing relevant documentation,” explained Tsagareishvili. He wondered why this matter should be so confidential and what secret objects President Mikheil Saakashvili and the then Head of Welfare Service Koba Subeliani were observing from the panoramic turret.
The MP also said that the cost of the Prometheus monument and fountain (at Hero Square) had not been released by City Hall, something he found quite cynical as Alavidze should have at least given the source of these costs. “I know that Euro 800,000 was spent on entertaining (referring to the panoramic turret) and it really is funny, if not pitiful, to call this a state secret,” the MP said, hoping he would receive more detailed information about the activities of Tbilisi City Hall from Levan Bezhashvili, Head of the Chamber of Control. He added that he would reveal various violations committed on election day [May 30] at his next briefing, which would possibly be on June 10, claiming that there were some which should be addressed immediately.
Analyst Gia Khukhashvili has told The Messenger, “Lack of transparency is a burning issue because our Government uses its taxes for its own partisan purposes without asking anyone's permission. Such behaviour is far from meeting European standards of democracy, as in European countries Governments conduct projects necessary for their citizens and then release full details about their expenditure. There is definitely a question about how much we need all these new buildings when there are so many demolished or damaged buildings and homeless people in out country,” Khukhashvili said, stressing that all the violations which take place contravene the legal and moral rules of any game.
The Chamber of Control has told The Messenger that there should be no restriction on accessing the details of any expenditure. “We received a request from Gia Tsagareishvili about ten days ago but he didn't specify his exact demands, so we asked him to highlight what specific questions he wants us to answer. The Chamber of Control keeps all information about the various initiatives in an archive and finding it is just a matter of time,” explained Giorgi Japaridze, Spokesman of the Chamber.
Meanwhile Juli Giorgadze, Head of the CEC Press Centre, denied the accusation that electoral violations had taken place on May 30 and said that all the petitions concerning alleged violations have been published on the Central Election Commission's webpage and are available to the public.