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President hints at money's role in Ionatamishvili’s defection

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, July 3
The former member of the United National Movement faction at Tbilisi City Council (Sakrebulo), Koki Ionatamishvili is “shocked” by the president’s action following his resignation from the Sakrebulo on Monday.

Ionatamishvili’s resignation was immediately followed by the publication of the letter written to the president by Ionatamishvili in the past. Through the letter published by the president’s administration, Ionatamishvili asks for financial assistance from Saakashvili.

In the letter, Ionatamishvili even describes the details of the business he runs, though complains about debts and asks the president to help him sell off his 2% shares of the company.

“The president thinks that politics should not become a subject of bargain and trade,” president’s press speaker, Manana Manjgaladze made a very brief comment concerning this letter.

Ionatamishvili said he really wrote two letters to the president, however, not on the issues the spokesperson stressed.

“In general, the president and my colleges had information concerning my financial situation and my share in the company,” Ionatamishvili stated, adding that he was not going to speak about the contents of those letters he wrote to the president.

“It was fear, the fear not to lose UNM’s influence over the Sakrebulo,” Ionatamishvili tried to explain the motives of the President for publicizing the letter.

He explained that the reasons of his leaving the party were those fundamental mistakes that had been made by the party leaders. According to him he stood with the party in very critical moments.

“Now, I appeal to my honest and professional collegues to leave the UNM and find other ways for building the country,” Ionatamishvili stated.

According to the Georgian Dream member, Jaba Samushia, the disorganization of the UNM faction at the Sakrebulo is evident.

“At least 6 members of the UNM intend to leave the faction by the end of the month. I think that some new factions will be formed on the basis of the UNM faction,” Samushia said.

According to the head of Georgian Dream faction, Zaza Gabunia, the Sakrebulo will start consultations on the creation of a new majority in the near future.

There is speculation that the current head of Sakrebulo, Zaal Samadashvili, will have to quit the position very soon.

“My life does not start and end with Sakrebulo. They are more Georgian Dream members and supporters recently. However, how unanimous they are, is another question,” Samadashvili said.

According to US ambassador to Georgia, Richard Norland, there have been talks regarding pressure on Sakrebulo members for months. He hoped that no pressure is exercised on Sakrebulo members in the future.