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Ivanishvili refuses to pay 148M GEL fine to Chamber of Control

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, June 14
Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvili will not pay the 148 million GEL fine leveled against him by the Tbilisi Civil Court for alleged violations of the Law on Political Unions.

Coalition representative Eka Beselia stated on Wednesday. She announced Ivanishvili's decision and maintained that private businesses should be affect by the government's political and "illegal" activities.

She noted also that Ivanishvili is not concerned about further sanctions, particularly seizure of property, as Georgian law does not apply in foreign countries.

Ivanishvili’s lawyers have appealed the decision to the Court of Appeal. “If the court does not reject the verdict, we will appeal the issue to an international court,” lawyer Shalva Tadumadze commented, noting that this outcome is more likely than a successful appeal in a Georgian court.

"We cannot wait for the Appeal Court to change their decision, as the court system is being controlled by the government. We will use all legal means to show the [criminal acts] going on inside the country,” Beselia said.

She claims that the Chamber of Control, the body that brought the accusations against Ivanishvili, is only interested in "oppressing" Georgian Dream, while “ignor[ing] any violations from the [United National Movement]”. Beselia noted that the President openly violated the same law Ivanishvili is accused of breaking, by bringing bottles of wine and other presents to a meeting with kindergarten teachers. "This was a very open violation of the law and bribing of voters. I am going to appeal to the Chamber of Control to react to this fact,” Beselia stated.

It Concerns You, an activist movement concerned with campaign finance law and press freedom, shares the view that the Chamber and courts make subjective decisions which create an unequal political system. The campaign also noted that law enforcement is also guilty of making political, rather than evidence-based, decisions.

It Concerns You believes that the party in power should be monitored as closely as opposition parties. “We appeal to the President, the Chamber of Control, the courts, to encourage holding the campaign and elections in a fair and transparent environment,” a statement from the campaign reads.

United National Movement MP Nugzar Tsiklauri maintains that opposition parties in Georgia are not oppressed. “If someone tries to bribe voters and for this reason the case is discussed in court, I can’t call this fact oppression,” Tsiklauri said.

As the chair of the Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association (GYLA), Tamar Chugoshvili, told The Messenger, there have been several violations of the law within the Chamber's case against Ivanishvili.

“First of all, the responding side, meaning Ivanishvili’s side, had too little time to prepare accordingly, as they had only several hours to read a nearly 600-page document from the Chamber of Control. Thus, to study such a large document in several hours and prepare a response is practically impossible,” Chugoshvili said.

She also noted that the materials presented by the Chamber during the trial were not sufficient.

GYLA has a meeting with the Chamber scheduled for today, at which the body promises to deliver a detailed explanation.

As for the possibility of taking the case to the international court in Strasbourg, Chugoshvili is pessimistic. “In general, the international court needs years to study the issue. Thus, the process would not stop the sequestering issue. If Strasburg decides that the decision was illegal, the government will be obliged to return the sum”.