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NGOs submit disputed financial documents to Chamber of Control

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, February 14
Non-governmental organizations, New Generation-New Initiative (nGnI) and the Republican Institute, have provided the Chamber of Control with their financial documents.

According to Natia Mogeladze, Chair of the Monitoring Service of the Chamber, said on Monday, nGnI has no connection to political parties or politically active people in Georgia. It has received grants from international organizations but it does not use that money for political activities.

However, Mogeladze noted the association between the Republican Institute and the Republican Party, which initially refused to provide its financial documentation. Mogeladze explained that since the Republican Institute is associated with the party, it will be audited by the Chamber. Otherwise, it may carry out civil activities but refrain from political engagement. “The monitoring service of the Chamber aims at precisely studying each and every fact in order to provide people with objective and comprehensive information [about the issues],” she said.

The documents in full will soon be available to the public but, according to preliminary reports, businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili transferred over 250 000 GEL to the Republican Institute in December 2011. As Maia Panjikidze, Georgian Dream spokeswoman, said, the Republican Institute is a non-governmental organization and therefore should not have been the subject of monitoring despite the fact that it is associated with the Republican Party. “It is a common case both in Georgia and abroad [to have such associations], while these [Chamber] activities are aimed at hindering NGOs from carrying out their function in developing democracy,” she stated.

According to Levan Berdzenishvili, Chair of the Republican Institute, the organization has carried out approximately 50 projects worth 200 000-300 000 GEL since 2008. In a statement released by Berdzenishvili, he noted the projects they planned to institute this year thanks to Ivanishvili’s donation, including conferences, dialogues, debates, lectures, presentations, practical lessons for pupils on politics and sociology, and intensive training for journalists. “Unfortunately, the absurd legislative changes to the organic law [of political unions of citizens] made it impossible to use the money for all the above mentioned projects,” read the statement. The Republican Institute intends to use their own resources to carry out the projects.

In a statement sent to Mogeladze, the Republican Party’s Executive Secretary Gigla Agulashvili explained the reasons behind the party’s refusal to provide the Institute's financial documents. Agulashvili said they “wouldn’t and couldn’t provide” the demanded documentation because Mogeladze’s mandate does not entitle her to ask parties to release information about other institutions.

According to Agulashvili, when Mogeladze received the Republican Party’s financial documentation on February 7, the Chair of the monitoring service did not mention a need for the NGO's files. It was not until the following day that the Chamber demanded the two NGOs to submit their financial reports. This request was followed by an immediate protest from the civil sector, which rallied in front of the Chamber building. Explaining that they are often financed by credible foreign NGOs, protestors said they have nothing to hide and accused the Chamber of Control of violating constitution and human rights, and of granting the government disproportionate power.