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Opposition cries foul play as 3 members detained

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, July 18
According to the Interior Ministry, three members of the Georgian Dream coalition were detained late on July 16 for purportedly violating the law on political unions.

Merab Kachakadze, Teimuraz Sheklashvili and Tariel Kardava were arrested and will be indicted in line with the requirements of the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia, ministry spokesmen said.

The interior ministry states that according to Georgia’s Law on Political Unions, a member of a party can make annual payments of up to 1,200 GEL as a party membership fee and a Georgian citizen can make annual donations of up to 60,000.00 GEL to a party. The same law prohibits both donation and payment of membership fee on behalf of a third party.

According to the ministry, the Georgian Dream has designed an illegal scheme for party financing. According to the scheme, money is given to dozens of individuals who then return the money to the party.

“The evidence obtained by the investigation creates sufficient ground to believe that Merab Kachakhidze, Executive Secretary of the Conservative Party, gave cash of 7,000 GEL to the head of the party’s Mtatsminda District branch. The money was later distributed among a pre-selected six individuals who returned the money back to the Conservative Party in the form of membership fees,” statement of the Interior Ministry reads.

Teimuraz Sheklashvili, Deputy Head of the National Forum Party’s Gldani branch and party activist Tariel Kardava, were also detained for using the same scheme. According to the ministry they gave cash of 1,750 GEL to another party activist. This money was returned to National Forum in the form of donation.

A statement was made concerning the detention by the chair of the Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanishvili.

“Their detention is without a doubt another example of how the authorities fight against their political opponents. However, we will protect them to the end,” Ivanishvili stated.

“This is a political pursuit and nothing more,” head of Conservative party, Zviad Dzidziguri said. According to him, Kachakhidze was very active politically and this was the reason behind his detention.

Political analyst Malkhaz Chemia told The Messenger that this summer will be the “attacking” period for the National Movement. “Europe and the United states will be on holidays and there will be no one to ‘punish’ the ruling party for their misbehavior,” the analyst said. The analyst also stated that Ivanishvili will be more focused on the inner workings of the party during the summer and there will be fewer big events during this period.

“The National Movement is more oriented on Ivanishvili’s mistakes and counter-attacks. The ruling team knows very well that through their administrative resources they can take only 20% of votes and will have to fake it. The Interior Ministry is strengthening its structures for the prevention of rallies. However, such a path will be more profitable for Russia,” the analyst stated and explained that in case if the government “binds” the opposition too much, Russia might come into the state “as the defender of democratic values.”

“In such a situation the United States will not get involved but US will not ignore Georgia. However the new leadership of Georgia will have some moral obligations towards Russia,” Chemia stated and underscored that such scenario would be profitable for the current Georgian leadership as well. “The current government will use such a moment for running abroad and asking for political asylum. In such a case they will not have to answer for those crimes they had committed while being in power. Of course, there are people in the government supporting elections and peaceful changes. However, power is in the hands of a criminal group,” the analyst stated.