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Georgian and Armenian officials respond to “prostitute scandal” reports

By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, November 25
Georgian officials’ “fruitful diplomatic week” has been marred by the reports of the foreign media on an alleged “prostitutes scandal” in a Lisbon hotel, where the Georgian delegation was staying during the Lisbon NATO Summit on November 19-20.

On November 23, Portuguese tabloid newspaper, Correio da Manha wrote that the Georgian delegation hired 80 prostitutes and held a party in a hotel in Lisbon on Friday. According to the newspaper, some officials from the Armenian delegation also joined the party. Correio da Manha reported that the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy was “so annoyed” by the noise that he complained to the management of the hotel.

Police registered the case as an incident, according to the Portuguese tabloid. “When the management of the hotel realised that the women were prostitutes they expressed their discontent. The situation was resolved with as little fuss as possible,” CM reported. The newspaper did not name the hotel where the Georgian delegation was staying during Lisbon Summit, however noted that it is “one of the most luxurious and prestigious ones in Lisbon” and that it “hosted some of the leaders of the states who attended the summit.”

The opponents of the ruling National Movement Party have criticised the Georgian officials over the alleged “prostitutes scandal”. Parliamentary minority group, Christian-Democratic Movement has demanded that a probe be launched into the allegations of the Portuguese press. MP Levan Vepkhvadze of CDM called the alleged incident “shameful” yesterday.

“It is a fact that has been registered by the local police. It is an absolutely embarrassing incident and it should be investigated,” Vepkhvadze noted, adding that “it affects the country’s reputation.” Another member of the Christian-Democratic Movement, MP Nika Laliashvili suggested Georgia “has not achieved any success on the international arena worth celebrating with champagne and orgies.”

Officials in Tbilisi have denied the allegations of the foreign media outlets, calling the reports “not serious.” Vice Speaker of the Parliament, Mikheil Machavariani linked the reports with Russia’s attempts to “overshadow” Georgia’s recent diplomatic achievements. “Morning Star [which also reported about the alleged scandal] was a newspaper of British communists, funded by the Russian Central Committee and is now funded by the Kremlin,” Machavariani said “the aim of Moscow is to show the events to the world as this newspaper sees them, however the international community sees what is written in the Washington Post and the Guardian, which report about Georgia’s progress,” he added.

A MP from the National Movement Party, Pavle Kublashvili also denied the claims of the Portuguese media, saying that “no serious comment” can be made on this issue. “Someone can accuse the Georgian delegation of eating newborn babies before or after the summit as well,” Kublashvili told journalists.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry also denied the incident in the hotel in Lisbon, calling the claims “absurd” and “fabricated.” “This information does not even deserve any comments,” Tigran Balayan, Press Speaker of the Armenian Foreign Ministry told Interfax news agency.

Later yesterday, news agency Interpressnews reported that the members of the Georgian delegation were staying in hotel Tiara. The hotel managers have denied the information disseminated by foreign media about the alleged prostitutes incident. “The information is totally fabricated,” Interpressnews quoted General Manager of Tiara hotel as saying. “Nothing has happened here. I spent 24 hours a day in this hotel and I assure you that no such incident has taken place,” the General Manager said, according to the Georgian news agency.