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Opinions differ about elite corruption in Georgia

By Messenger Staff
Friday, March 11
The issue of corruption in Georgia has been a matter for widespread speculation ever since the Georgian revolution. President Saakashvili and his Rose administration claim to have more or less defeated corruption. The opposition however challenges this stance and thinks that although the corruption decreased at a lower level of beaurocracy and ordinary citizens, there is still so called “elite” corruption.

On February 11, 2011 when President Saakashvili visited parliament and his administration was criticized by the opposition, he asked an opposition MP to point to the corrupt representative of his administration presented in the parliament hall. The opposition MP did not or could not do it. Those who observe recent Georgian history can vividly remember when current President Saakashvili was Minister of Justice of the Shevardnadze administration, and at one of the government’s sitting he brought the pictures of real estate of some of his colleagues, then ministers, and openly accused them of corruption. This incident increased Saakashvili’s popularity immensely among the population and, to some extent, determined his future career. So, current accusations of the opposition towards the ruling elite about corruption need to be properly supported by facts and evidence to be taken seriously. Moreover, Saakashvili and his administration regularly bring the results of different research which estimates that Georgia is no longer among corrupt countries.

Before proceeding in this direction we should consult the dictionary as to what the word ‘corrupt’ means? In the Chambers’ 20th century dictionary corruption is explained as rottenness, putrid manner, impurity and only at the end - bribery. So we can assume that taking bribes is only part of corruption.

So in this regard when the judges follow the instructions of the prosecutor’s office, they do not investigate the case properly and sentence convicts according to the demand of the prosecutor’s office. Is this corruption or not? When during the elections there are manipulations with the lists or intimidating of voters is this corruption or not? When some police members exceed their powers and use disproportional force against minor offences is this corruption or not? We refrain from a direct answer and leave you to your decision. Because generally corruption here in Georgia is understood only as taking bribes and the previous president Shevardnadze and his administration was notorious for this. In fact Saakashvili claims that a high range of corruption (bribery) played a decisive role in dismantling Shevardnadze administration and its replacement by the Rose administration. That is why the current ruling administration is very much concerned and determined to suppress bribery on the consumer level.

Meanwhile there is different speculation concerning various ratings where Georgia is labeled as a corruption-free country or at least has only a small amount of corruption. In all those ratings which are carried out sometimes by world known and respected organizations such as Transparency International, Georgia receives positive evaluations, at least it is not lagging behind. However, executive director of TI Georgia Eka Gigauri, when commenting at the recent results of the polling triumphantly evaluated by Interior ministry, mentioned that this research refers to bribery elimination within the low level beurocracy and not to the elimination of corruption as such. She also added that elite corruption is still a big problem in the country and despite difficulties in obtaining and revealing concrete facts the issue is much speculated about.

It could be concluded that corruption in its various forms is not completely eradicated in the country. In some areas there are positive signs, but in others there are not. The issue is being used by different political parties according to its interests. The opposition wants to use the shortcomings of the current administration for its benefit. The ruling authorities manipulate with different ratings and declarations, whereas the ordinary people care not about ratings but rather the condition of their lives which are pretty hard for a large part of the population.