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"Free Georgia" leader claims audit service launched investigation against his party

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Wednesday, October 23
Leaders and members of the Free Georgia opposition party may face criminal charges as the State Audit Office is looking into the party’s “cheap medicine campaign” which offers medicines bought by the party in Turkey to Georgian citizens at a lower price than they cost at Georgian pharmacies.

The State Audit Office sees this as a “sign of bribery of voters and money laundering.” The party leader Kakha Kukava has already been summoned to answer questions and had to spend 3 hours in the audit office’s headquarters in Tbilisi.

Kukava says that no illegality is taking place as the party sells the medicines [not gifts] at the price they cost in Turkey. Kukava spoke about the State Audit Office and noted that the state audit poses barriers to the campaign of cheap medicines. According to the leader of the non-parliamentary opposition party, even though his party received permission to import and sell medicines from the Ministry of Health, the State Audit Office began investigating against Free Georgia.

“Our financial interest is zero. The goal of the campaign is to help people and to show that there is a monopoly on the Georgian pharmacological market, with pharmacological firms like PSP, Aversi, Pharmadepo, and GPC selling low-quality medicines at a very high price compared to our neighboring countries,” said Kukava.

Kukava says that the state government has shown no interest in the cartel deal between the top pharmacological firms in Georgia over the past 7 years, while the state agencies immediately showed interest in their campaign.

According to Kukava, the action of the Audit Service hinders the necessary distribution of medicines on the territory of Georgia. Leader of Free Georgia calls on the Audit Office to complete the case on time so as not to hinder the process of cheap medicines campaign.

The party started the campaign at the end of September 2019. Members bought 20 different, widely used medicines in Turkey and brought them to their Tbilisi office. People can buy medicines via the party’s electronic pharmacy shop. For example, one of the medicines which cost 21 GEL in Georgian pharmacies is available for 5.11 GEL in the electronic pharmacy. Free Georgia party continues its campaign against monopoly prices of medicines in Georgia.

The party's initiative involves the import of widely consumed medicines from neighboring countries and delivering them citizens at the retail price, lower than at the local drugstores. Kukava said the program would reduce monopoly prices.