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Disputes over SSPS budget

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, April 19
On April 17th the Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Procedural Issues and Rules Irina Imerlishvili and Georgian Dream leader David Saganelize held a press conference to discuss the expenses of the Special State Protection Service of Georgia (SSPS) According to them the expenses were “unbelievable”.

“We all knew that the President of Georgia, his family members and friends were consuming the state budget but we could not imagine the scale of the expenses." Saganelidze said.

According to Saganelidze, when Imerlishvili introduced a proposed bill that would have moved the SSPS away from the President's control, the opposition immediately protested that the President would be deprived of security. Imerlishvili asked the SSPS to provide Parliament with its expense budget. The SSPS responded that in the interests of national security its budget is confidential and it would not be released to Parliament. Imerlishvili appealed to the Prosecutor’s Office and the Prosecutor's Office obtained the SSPS budget.

According to Saganelidze, the President and those close him heavily abused the SSPS budget.

Imerlishvili claims that a considerable portion of the SSPS budget was spent on luxury trips for the President, his family members, friends, high officials, the Tbilisi Mayor, governors and MPs. According to her, the documents confirm that 240,000 GEL was spent for Koba Khabazi, Alana Gagloeva, Zurab Chiaberashvili, Goga Khachidze, David Sakvarelidze, Mariam Sajaia, Giorgi Ghviniashvili, Nugzar Tsiklauri,Sergo Ratiani and others to travel to Dubai earlier this year. The MPs also stressed that thousands of lari were spent on jewels and valuable presents for certain singers and women members of the United National Movement, as well as health related procedures for the President and Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava. Thousands on laris were spent on the President’s sons as well.

According to Imerlishvili and Saganelidze, a parliamentary commission should be created to study the matter.

The President and opposition MP's have responded to the accusations. According to Saakashvili it is absolutely normal for a president of a country to invite foreign guests and take them to various places around the country.

“All my actions served to popularize Georgia around the world and resulted in a growth in tourism. All the statements about misuse of funds are funny… let the current government name a country where the leader does not go on foreign trips and does not take his family members or MPs with him.” the President said.

Opposition members denied receiving presents paid for from the SSPS budget and suggested the accusations were made to further discredit the UNM before the planned rally on April 19th.

Former head of the SSPS Temur Janashia has also claimed that all funds from the SSPS budget were spent in a legal way.