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Legality of opposition fines questioned by NGOs

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, August 17
Leader of the opposition Georgian Dream Party, Bidzina Ivanishvili, states that he and the majoritarian candidate of the coalition, Kakhi Kaladze, will pay the fine imposed on them in the case that the money is used for assisting those affected by the disaster in the Kakheti region.

“I have transferred 80 million GEL to the state budget in order to assist the Kakheti residents. The government should fulfill its promises and provide adequate compensation to all the affected people. The authorities cannot say that there are not an adequate amount of funds in the budget, as 80 million GEL has already been deposited there. If this sum is not enough, I will transfer an additional 20 million GEL. I have persuaded Kakhi Kaladze to transfer his fine as well. However, the money must be spent on the targeted people,” Ivanishvili said.

Alongside the statement, spokesperson of the coalition, Maia Panjikidze claims that the transferred 80 million GEL has still not been used for assisting the people in Kakheti.

The authorities’ position concerning the 80 million GEL is well known. According to them, the government decides how to spend the money. Ivanishvili’s actions have not been taken as gesture to assist the people of Kakheti by the ruling party. In their mind, Ivanishvili simply paid his imposed fine.

The NGO, Young Lawyers’ Association, repeatedly responds to the ongoing actions concerning Kaladze and Ivanishvili. According to the recent statement made by the organization on August 16, the fines imposed on Kaladze and Ivanishvili are illegal.

“Such kinds of precedents place the reputation of the court system in jeopardy and negatively influences it,” GYLA states.

The organization highlighted that the decision made by the court was “unproved” and could not name or put forth any convincing arguments that proved that the actions carried out by the two individuals were administrative violations.

”The court verdict does not provide concrete evidence of the kind of illegal contributions that were carried out. For example, what evidence is there that proves that the contribution was undertaken for the profit of a party; which party received the donation and how much; which representative linked to a party took the money; and was the donation carried out through a third person?” the statement reads.

Based on Kakha Kakhishvili, head of the Elections and Political Technologies Research Centre, more fines against opposition representatives are possible, as the government is doing its best to block the opponents’ money.

“Although Ivanishvili has returned to the Cartu Bank, I am sure in the future the authorities will find reason to sequester it one more time. It is not in the government’s interests to face such obstacles which might have an influence on the election’s outcomes,” Kakhishvili said.

Concerning the fine, Kakhishvili believes that Ivanishvili should not have paid the 80 million GEL.

“Ivanishvili had several options: to pay the fine, or not to pay it and leave the affected people to the mercy of the current leadership. It is natural that the authorities did not help the people as they should and the public would have opposed the government. Such a situation would have been in Ivanishvili’s interests,” Kakhishvili stated and underscored that the billionaire had chosen the third way. “He waited until the government named the compensation amount and only after this, stated that he would have paid the fine. In this case, Ivanishvili caught ‘killed two birds with one stone’– he got his bank back and gained more sympathy from the affected people. However, the government will not increase the compensations,” Kakhishvili stated, adding that if he were Ivanishvili he would also take a risk.

“If I were in his place I would not have recognized the fine and would not pay it. I would have loaded vehicles with building materials and would bring them to the affected regions. In the case that the authorities had stated that it was bribing voters, people would have opposed the government,” Kakhishvili said.