First 1.5 months of United National Movement in power – were not those detainments politically motivated?Posted: 2012/12/21 Filed under: TRanslation of Georgian media articles | Tags: first 1.5 months, George Udzilauri, Mikheil Saakashvili, UNM დატოვე კომენტარი
First 1.5 months of United National Movement in power – were not those detainments politically motivated?
by George Udzilauri on Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 12:06am ·
United National Movement (UNM) and its all time notorious leader – President Saakashvili rings a worldwide alarm – claiming that Georgian Dream and their new government uses prosecution and imprisonment against UNM as methods of political revenge
Georgian Dream government has been in confirmed by the Parliament on October 25th – so they are about 1.5 month in government
Shall we remember what was UNM’s first 1.5 months in power?
Jan 5 – Mikhail Saakashvili wins presidential elections
January 6 (note: Saakashvili is not yet President de jure – he was inaugurated on Jan 20th) – Saakashvili says President Shevardnadze’s family’s property should be investigated (I never promised him what he has acquired illegally, I only promised him physical security – said angry Saakashvili)
Jan 8 – Prosecution announces search on Levan Mamaladze, influential MP of Citizens’ Union ex-ruling party and Governor of Shida Kartli. Tbilisi prosecutor Nodar Grigalashvili said on press conference (where the hell presumption of innocence??): Levan Mamaladze is not an ordinary criminal. He used all his political activities against State interests and illegally acquired amazing wealth. Additionally he racketed one foreigner on 35,000 USD.
In phone conversation Levan Mamaladze said to Rustavi2 – “new government carries out political oppression against me.”
January 12 – Businessman and head of Georgian Football Association Merab Zhordania has been detained. in 1 week he paid bail 742,000 GEL and was released
Jan 16, – Former Head of Georgian railways and one of top official of CU have been detained.
I will not step back while trying to establish Rule of Law – said Saakashvili, he added that anybody who is currently abroad should be detained and brought to justice!
“This is political repression and I will prove my innocence in the court – said Akaki Chkhaidze, but apparently he preferred later to pay the official ransom (rumors said – 10 million USD) and was released without any announcement in media.
Jan 17 – Ex-Minister of Energy – David Mirtskhulava was detained.
spent 8 years in prison, has been released only after victory of Georgian Dream – never admitted charges and never agreed to pay bail.
Jan 22 – Prosectioin announced charges against and search of PostBank President – Sergo Iakobidze
Jan 29 – President announced initiative on easing detention procedures for top ranked officials
Jan 29 – Council of Europe expressed concern over insufficient political pluralism in Georgia
Feb 4 – Transport Minister Merab Adeishvili was detained
Feb 9 – Several top ranked police officials were summoned at prosecution
Feb 10 – Opposition has expressed concern over liberty of expression
Feb 19 – Iberia TV independent company office was searched and owner accused in smuggling goods over custom
None of those accused admitted charges they all called their detention politically motivated…
Letter to the editors of Washington Post and of The EconomistPosted: 2012/12/02 Filed under: Posts on English, TRanslation of Georgian media articles | Tags: Detention of Georgian ex-officials, fake passport, Mikheil Saakashvili, Tbilisi airport, The Economist, United National Movement, Vano Merabishvili, Washington Post დატოვე კომენტარი
To: Editorial Board of Washington Post,
cc: Editorial Board of Economist
You have expressed some level of surprise, concern, disapproval or alarm due to detention of former government members in Georgia. Some of yours have seen the similarity between those detentions and of imprisonment of ex-PM of Ukraine – Yulia Timoshchenko. You have fear that Georgian prosecution’s actions may have been politically motivated.
You now see the photo of passport which belongs to somebody named “Levan Maisuradze”, but has a photo of ex-PM Ivane (Vano) Merabishvili.
As President Saakashvili and Vano Merabishvili have travelled to Yerevan November 30 afternoon to participate in EPP party Conference, President’s protocol serviceman has given this very passport to Passport Control officers at Tbilisi International Airport. I have reasonable doubts, that this (and similar) fake passport(s) is used by Vano Merabishvili to manage his secret assets abroad and/or to carry out secret meetings, but he has given it by mistake to the Passport Control officials, which registered an attempt to use fake document for border crossing.
Georgian MIA decided not to hinder President Saakashvili’s visit to Yerevan and Mr. Merabishvili was given chance to present his “real” passport – with his name. Upon what he has been registered and left to Armenia.
When the delegation returned from Yerevan, Vano Merabishvili has left the airport along with President Saakashvili, avoiding answering MIA officials’ questions. MIA did not try to stop President’s escort avoiding political scandal.
Vano Merabishvili was requested to visit Chief Prosecutor’s office next day. He did appear at requested time, but refused his questioning to be recorded and as MIA officials later stated, completely refused to collaborate with the investigation, by not answering questions and calling obvious facts a provocation.
Now, I have a question to you – would you consider this fact enough ground for ex-PM to be interrogated? Or you suggest it is absolutely normal that ex-PM and ex- Minister of Interiors travelling by fake passport? Would you call a criminal investigation against Mr. Ivanishvili “politically motivated”?
Solomon Ternaleli, a blogger
Misha’s guysPosted: 2012/09/26 Filed under: განვრცობილი ფიქრები, TRanslation of Georgian media articles | Tags: Charles Fairbanks, election environment, elections 2012, Luis Navarro, Mark Mullen, Mikheil Saakashvili, NDI, Nina Khatiskatsi, Polls 2012, Prison rape scandal, Transparency International, UNM 4 Comments
No Lie Can Live Forever!
For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. (Mark 4:22)
DEMOCRACY – NOT AS MUCH “WHERE DID YOU COME FROM?”, BUT – “WHERE WOULD YOU GO?”
Many outstanding champions of democracy lived and struggled in dictatorships – Aug San Suu Kyi (Cambodia), Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (born and risen in South Africa), Vaclav Havel (Czechoslovakia), Nelson Mandela (South Africa)… Many brave and exemplary heroes of democracy are in countries like Iran, Egypt, China, etc. One can even say that it is easier to become an outstanding democrat whilst living outside established democracy, but trying to transforming country and society to be democratic. and Martin Luther King is another vivid example of that conclusion drawn.
On the other hand democratic country citizenship doesn’t ultimately guarantee a person being a democrat. Quite some tyrants and maniacs including Hitler and Anders Breivik have not been products of dictatorships or rogue states. And countries with established market economy sometimes produce the greatest swindlers, like Leeson, Medoff, Eberds or Kerviel…
What I am up to?
For 2012 Parliamentary Elections in Georgia, it may become the crucial issue how the election results will be legitimized. And Georgian society, likewise many other ex-USSR states is very dependent on what the West would say. What would US president Say, What would International organizations – UN, OSCE, Council of Europe and EU would say? What observatory missions, e.g. ODIHR, IRI, NDI, Transparency International would say, will they show a green card or a red one…
And that, – with a level of democratic principles and institutions and poor record of previous elections carried out in Georgia, – is understandable. Moreover, I would be strongly opposed to idea, that western watchdog eye from Georgia to be removed too soon…
But here comes the problem – who represents those institutions in Georgia? Who is the one which puts the stamp on certain reports and conclusions and how much an individual with possible suspicious ethical standards can influence a decision-making and judgment of the world-famous and respectful institution, or –even of the State he/she may represent.
I am going to discuss the case of two individuals – both US citizens, which could play a significant or even paramount role in forthcoming Georgian elections results acceptance. I will try to share my concerns with you, fellow Americans, why I think that something is wrong with the way these guys may drive a show in Georgia.
But first let go back a little and try to understand why persons like local office heads in Tbilisi might be crucial for 2012 elections legitimization.
CASES OF GAMSAKHURDIA AND “SHEVY”
First President of Georgia – Zviad Gamsakhurdia, was a well known dissident. That has served a bad job to him! After his sensational victory in 1990 elections, he expected a warm hug from western allies – US, UK and even NATO… But President Bush was then overwhelmed by nurturing Gorbatchov’s fading USSR, so Gamsakhurdia has got a diplomatic advice with bitter realpolitics – not to announce Independence. Georgian President had quite temper and coldly rejected that diplomatic suggestion. In response to non-delicate remarks from dissident-became-President George Bush senior said Gamsakhurdia was “marching against the mainstream”. That was a “labeling alarm”, as afterwards most EU countries hesitated to recognize Georgia as independent state (It was only Romania and very lately, Ukraine which did recognize Georgia during Gamsakhurdia’s ruling). Domestically Gamsakhurdia acted also as unpredictable and very inflexible politician and soon many of his former supporters left him, and some of the most powerful – Prime-Minister and Minister of Defense – started military coup. With obvious Russian interest behind the “putchists” and without any serious support from western states, Gamsakhurdia’s government soon failed, and even now many of his supporters, called Zviadists, blame US administration nearly equally to Russian leadership in that dramatic re-start of Georgian statehood. For quite big part of Georgian society it was indeed America’s non-acceptance which didn’t give Gamsakhurdia’s government chance to survive.
Eduard Shevardnadze, or “Shevy”, as he was known to Americans since being foreign minister of Soviet Union, was indeed a favorable leader of Georgia for US administrations. He had close ties with many “Grands” of US politics, like Reagan, Bush, Kissinger, Shultz, Baker… It was Shevy’s political experience, and his stance for democracy during Gorbatchov époque, his role in Germany’s reunification, in cease of Iron Curtain, and especially – a prediction of “GKChP putch”, which made Shevardnadze, despite of his Communist past and pure English skills, favorite of US political circles, either republican or democratic…
Starting after 1995, and especially since 1999, Shevy created system which one could call “democratic cleptocracy”. The system was totally corrupted, but somehow there was no monopoly on corruption – “Live and let others to live!”. At the same time, freedom of media and of opinion expression was acceptable. But while allowing some freedoms, Shevy developed a shrewd system of elections falsification (BTW, “wizards” of those falsifications Mikhail Machavariani and Khatuna Gogorishvili now faithfully serve Mikhail Saakashvili). In fact the only fair elections Georgia had been yet during communists – in 1990. West watched all those falsifications with eyes closed, or – half-closed. Shevy was good – understandable, pragmatic, enough democratic, NATO-oriented, oil/gas routes-providing, protecting western property and citizens, and since 1999 – Georgian army engaged in Train and Equip and other US-led military cooperation programs… There was one growing concern though – Georgian economy was stagnating due to nepotism and corruption, and there was lack of institutional reforms and of tax collection, with prominent deterioration of social services.
Situation has changed in 2003, a group of Young Reformers in the ruling party departed from Shevardnadze and have sent a signal to the West – “We will change this country! Defeat corruption, establish fully democratic state with developed institutions and flourishing market economy.” As the US administration then was promoting an idea of “color revolutions”, that group of youngsters got substantial support with trainings, money and political standby. US educated polyglot lawyer, with perfect knowledge of US system, PR-technologies and great charisma – Misha Saakashvili was one of them. The main message of Young Reformers: “If you won’t help us to come to power, Shevy will leave the country to Pro-Russian mini-Tsar of Adjara – Aslan Abashidze!”. The threat was real – getting older, Shevardnadze in fact was leaning more and more to Abashidze, which had Asian-type dictatorship established in Adjara.
With growing success of non-violent youth protest organization “Kmara” (“Enough” – copied Yugoslavian “Otpor”) and with incredible popular countrywide oppositionary TV-channel Rustavi2, Shevy’s government has lost a ground surprisingly easily. It became obvious later, that not only Americans, but also Russians were backing Georgian opposition. There have been several reasons for that, not only hate against Shevy, which Russian generals considered a main architect of Warsaw Pact crashing, but also ties of Temur Alasania, Saakashvili’s uncle and KGB officer, and may be even information about unstable personality of Saakashvili – which started to payback since 2006, when UNM hotheads decided they may not only cheat Russia, but also – defeat Russia!..
Yet Shevy was too confident. He called US President and Vice-President “friends”. But he’s got a bitter pill, when his friend James Baker came before election in 2003 and laid out so called Baker’s formula of fair elections, which was nothing less but a decent way to smooth defeat, as Shevy knew his real chances quite well. Surprisingly he didn’t hear alarm bell, miscalculated his power and ignored US signals by even daring not to pickup phones when US President or vice president have called.
The result was dreadful for him.
Western observers’ missions called elections of November 2, 2003 “not corresponding to standards for democratic and transparent elections” (in fact they were no worse than previous one, which was not judged so strongly!). People came to streets (BTW – only around 30,000, whilst afterwards against Saakashvili opposition often collected over 100,000 and even – 200,000 protesters!) and Shevardnadze has discovered that nearly nobody was loyal to him. At least then he took the wise decision and resigned.
That was it!
Georgian society has drawn a conclusion that second time the fate of Georgian president was decided in Washington and if western observers would have accepted the elections same way they have done many times before, there had been no trigger factor to pull Rose revolution.
RISE AND FALL OF “BEACON OF DEMOCRACY”
After that it was presumed that seeds of democracy in Georgia would rise fast and without any problem- that free media, flourishing civil sector, independent justice system, market-based competitive economy, rule of law (and not of rulers!) and check-and-balance of ruling powers (administrative, legal and justice) would be impressively implemented and that would lead to election system perfection and eventually removal of watchdog institutions. In fact, USAID has even decided to decrease funding for democracy support programs in Georgia – as the enthusiasm that Georgia now was in hands of natural-born-democrats, nearly indistinguishable from Franklin, Jefferson or Washington, has been truly overwhelming.
The things have turned out to disastrous miscalculation and I am afraid US politicians still do not want to understand how much they have been cheated by so called Young Democrats.
Starting in just 3 months from inauguration, and especially since 2005, (after yet non-investigated and strange death of Zurab Zhvania, who was indeed a pillar of democracy among young democrats), Saakashvili and government started to reveal clear tendency of neobolshevism, trying to ignore more and more any idea which was not born in their heads. More and more former allies have left Misha (first – Georgian Republican party – Usupashvili, Khidasheli, Berdzenishvili brothers, Khaindrava, Khmaladze). In 2004 only strong resistance of Zurab Zhvania and of US administration has prevented a new war in South Ossetia. Misha announced zero tolerance against crimes and Vano Merabishvili has given order not to shake and terminate at spot any dangerous criminal – that led over 100 young people dead in streets, many of those cases are at Strasbourg Court on Human Rights today. Society got especially angry with case of Sandro Girgvliani – young banker who was taken at night to cemetery by 4 police officers, tortured and killed and left body there, presumably by order of MIA minister’s wife or even by Merabishvili himself. That started first mass protests again Saakashvili in 2006.
In 2007 political crisis demanding snap Parliamentary elections has swirled Saakashvili regimen. Saakashvili has used well both inexperience of Georgian opposition and also inability of international society to differentiate between democrat and plutocrat, and modeled so called Russian plot. He succeeded not only beat and humiliate Georgian society at street, but also shut down the last independent TV Channel – Imedi TV – SWAT-storming it on totally falsified reason! After brilliant chess-sacrifice he had resigned and announced snap presidential elections. Opposition had very limited time to regroup to Presidential elections and carry out substantial campaign. Saakashvili has succeeded in assuring US administration that opposition was pro-Russian. US President George W. Bush has called Saakashvili at noon of Election Day (obviously it was late night in Washington, DC) and congratulated him with success! The same time, before vote counting was even started, OSCE observers’ mission head, US Senator Alcee Hastings has called Georgian elections a Triumph of Democracy! – There can be no doubts that was undeserved advanced credit to something appreciated with pleasure, before it really happened.
It is fact that in both Presidential (Jan 5th) and Parliamentary (May 21st) 2008 elections Saakashvili and his UNM has won thanks to mass violations of voting, use of false IDs, multiple voting and carousels, voters intimidation both by police and illegal paramilitaries (Zondercomandos), intimidation of prisonners’ families (demanding every f them bringing dozens of guaranteed votes!) and incredible personal manipulations and falsifications of then head of Central Election Commission – Levan Tarkhnishvili (which before and since then was in sociological “research” and now is #37 on Saakashvili’s UNM list for Parliamentary elections 2012). However, along with all these illegal actions, it was univocal support and acceptance of the West which kept Saakashvili at power. Imagine that – OSCE final report on Presidential elections (regretfully published only after 2 months from Saakashvili’s “winning”) stated that counting at 19% of precincts can be regarded as “bad or very bad”! 19%! And it was election when margin of only 3% has saved Saakashvili from 2nd runoff!
19% vs. 3%!
Why West has done that?
Still the image of Columbia-graduated western educated lawyer, who knows 5 languages, is smart, talks “democratic” – has made US and EU leaders thinking that he was “their S.O.B”! West told Georgian society which arranged unprecedented march of nearly 250,000 protesters in freezing day of January 20, 2008 – “Yea, guys you may dislike him, but we like him – he’s the one you need!”
Results were dreadful for Georgia and shame for West:
Result #1) in nearly 4 months from Presidential elections and 2 months from Parliamentary elections there are OSCE observer mission final reports, where 1st paragraph states that elections in principle have corresponded norms and standards of democratic elections, but nearly every each page afterwards rules out that conclusion and makes a reader to ask “what the hell?” It is clear feeling the 1st page (written in few hours from elections) and other pages (after thoughtful analysis of all facts and manipulations) do not match at all each other.
Result #2) Saakashvili has got another 4-year term and instead of previous simple majority now got constitutional majority in the Parliament which made him Constitutional tailor by his own!
Result #3) Saakashvili, illusioned by his triumph, has “misunderstood” signals from US administration, jumped in the tramp arranged by Putin in South Ossetia and instead of realization of his hot plans of parade in Tskhinvali has engaged in disastrous 5-day war with Russia, which cost him more territories lost, more refugees, Russian invasion, Russian military bases in 40 km from Tbilisi and recognition of both Abkhazia and South Ossetia de Jure by Russia.
As Lincoln Mitchell has stated, if there had been pro-Russian president of Georgia, he couldn’t have done more damage to Georgian and US interests, than what “western-oriented democrat”Misha Saakashvili has done.
So, I think West, which has solemnly watched all manipulations and fraud at 2008 elections is responsible at least partially for 2008 war, which was result of enormous cart-blanche given to Misha by Western leaders.
And that decision – making 2008 elections looked nice, has not been done at level of IRI, NDI and other observers missions. Not at level of Ambassadors in Tbilisi. Decision-making that time was done at much higher level – at level of Presidents and Prime-ministers…
After 2008 Russian-Georgian conflict the situation has changed.
Now West doesn’t call Saakashvili a Beacon of Democracy. Since 2008 practically the only justification for Saakashvili’s regimen to West is constantly growing number of Georgian soldiers sent to Afghanistan and Iraq. Misha has learnt a lesson, he doesn’t engage with provocations with Russia, only moderately verbally assaulting Russian leadership, and using soft methods of election falsification. He was Persona non grata for nearly a year, but then renewed his official visits. However, Saakashvili will never be able to return to world political elite. And his support level for forthcoming electoral fraud came down from Presidential and PM levels first to Ministers level and then probably to level of local office heads of influential NGOs – like IRI and NDI.
However, Saakashvili is talented to adjust his Modus Vivendi to the crisis. Quite early, since 2006-07 he started to establish strong personal ties with local foreigners – heads of missions and also tried to engage in his government local staff of foreign organizations which have good ties with their supervisors and HQ heads down there in Washington or EU capitals. Here is the short list of NGO staff Saakashvili made his ministers and associates: Dmitri Shashkin (IRI), Kakha Lomaia (Eurasia Foundation, Soros Foundation), David Darchiashvili (Soros Foundation), Giga Bokeria (Liberty Institute), Temur Iakobashvili (Soros Foundation), Eka Tkeshelashvili (IRIS-Georgia), Bacho Akhalaia (Liberty Institute, HR Defender’s office), Zurab Tchiaberashvili (ISFED), Gia Kavtaradze (USAID), Givi Targamadze (Liberty Institute), George Papuashvili (Soros Foundation), Gia Nodia (Caucasian Institute)…
Such a “brain attraction”campaign had two main purposes: a) to enrich the government by the faces which would be very familiar for western diplomats and media, and b) not to leave many strong experts outside government’s feed and diminishing number of possible independent criticizing voices.
But still it was number of foreigner experts which created an Avant-garde of Misha’s “iron defense” circle since 2007. The group of foreign citizens paid legally or under the table by Misha which would guarantee nice word to State Department or a special meeting with Congress leaders and media. Several of such figures: Daniel Cunin, Raphael Gluksman (married to Misha’s current Deputy Minister of Interiors Eka Zguladze), Randy Scheunemann, Mathew Bryza (presented incredibly generous wedding gifts when big delegation of Georgian officials attended his marriage with Zeyno Baran at Turkish island in 2007), Mark Mullen (NDI, and then TI), Luis Navarro (NDI)… The latter two are persons which apparently were given an important task by Saakashvili ahead of 2012 elections…
MARK MULLEN – “ANATOMY”
Misha Saakashvili at opening of Geocapital Office in Kutiasi. 30% of shares belong to Mark Mullen (first from left)
Dismissal of Nina Khatiskatsi
Programs Director of Transparency International Georgia, Nina Khatiskatsi, was dismissed from her post on July 23, 2012. This has caused speculation in the media that her dismissal was politically motivated, since Khatiskatsi has been known to make critical statements about the government’s actions. These speculations were flatly denied by TI’s leadership.
Khatiskatsi was dismissed by the head of the Board (Mark Mullen) and the Executive Director of the NGO, Eka Gigauri.
Nina Khatiskatsi told The Messenger she had never had any kind of confrontation with the leadership of the organization. “Of course, there have been issues for which I had my personal views that differed from other’s attitudes,” she said. “However, we have always managed to agree in the end. My dismissal was carried out swiftly without any preconditions. There was such in the organization when one of the employees was dismissed and exactly the same reason was named as it was mentioned in my case. However, that person was warned beforehand about it and the process was prolonged for about one month. In my case, I was dismissed without any hints about it,” Khatiskatsi stated, and excluded political motivation as the cause of her dismissal. “However, I consider that my dismissal two-months before the elections will not positively reflect on the organization,” Khatiskatsi said.
Khatiskatsi says she plans to meet with the TI board in the coming week, when “an influential representative of the board” not currently in Georgia returns. (that person was Mark Mullen)
TI’s official position is that Khatiskatsi’s dismissal was related to an “inner organizational disagreement,” stating that “…our reports have always been based on complex research in which lots of analysts and researchers have been involved. It has never expressed a single person’s views,” Transparency International Georgia underscored that speculations through the media concerning the political motivation on Khatiskatsi’s dismissal creates danger for the organization’s image. “We are worried concerning the statements and we have decided to make a broader statement concerning the inner process,” TI’s statement reads.
TI Executive Director Eka Gigauri, told The Messenger that Khatiskatsi’s dismissal was related with inner management issues and refrained from delivering details what they were related to. Gigauri however emphasized that Khatiskatsi was informed of some incompatibility between her and the organization’s leadership. “We have talked on the issue, better earlier until making decision, Gigauri state; “thus dismissal should not have come as a surprise to Khatiskatsi.”
However, in two weeks Nina revealed the truth and it became obvious, that Eka Gigauri was only an instrument for IT Board Chairman Mark Mullen, who was decision-maker in Khatiskatsi dismissal and who took control of the case himself.
It was then that investigative journalist Natia Mikiashvili (author of Investigative journalist series – Anatomy at Maestro TV during 2010-2011 and now – at TV9) made one of the program of Anatomy about Mark Mullen.
This video has been translated on English for foreign audience. ()
Misha Saakashvili has some friends. Some of the friends are international. Few of them live in Georgia longer than decade, few of them serve international NGO as Board Chairman over a decade. Mark does not only these – he has Georgian wife and stepson, and he started being a businessman in Georgia. He now runs several million worth business, which is wholeheartedly supported and advertised by President Saakashvili. Mark apparently has some other interests in multimillion businesses which are owned by Mikhail Saakashvili’s inner circles and their relatives. Besides, US citizen has been long time CEO for Iranian company.
For March 5, 2012 Mark owned 25% shares in Geocapital microfinance organization which plans to invest 5 million USD before December, 2012. Geocapital has recently opened an office in Kutaisi, which was attended by Misha Saakashvili. Saakashvili has praised GeoCapital as step to tomorrow. Other shareholders with almost equally 25%-25% were US citizen Ralf Barleson, his friend Irma Svanadze and Caucasus Investment Ltd (also co-owned by Barleson and I. Svanadze since 2011). In two months Mark’s share increased to 30% and of others – decreased to 23%-23%. Besides that, Mark owns undisclosed shares of hotel Betsy’s, one of the first foreigner-owned private business in Tbilisi.
Mark Mullen was also Director of Saba Group Ltd. But in 2011 he was replaced by his friend and owner of that Saba Group, Iranian businesswoman Maede Hassan Zadegar Futar.
Mark is also an official partner of construction/development company Wardrop & Alexander, where other partners also include Shalva Akhalkatsi and David Abshilava. Wardrop & Alexander’s portfolio of construction projects for last years has reached $58,786,888. Not bad at all!
It could have been just a profitable company in the west, but Georgian business has its own peculiarity. It only flourishes if there is a governmental “roof”. There are many international organizations reports which state that despite of middle-level corruption eradication, top-level and government-associated elite corruption and business “protection” is very common and even have grown dramatically in Saakashvili’s Georgia.
And such person with good governmental ties in Wardrop and Alexander seems Shalva Akhalkatsi, close friend and long-time business associate of Leo Bokeria, being Managing director of Architectural design and construction company Arc-Studia, which de-facto is run by Leo Bokeria (owns 20% of shares). And Leo Bokeria “happened to be” father of Giga Bokeria, one of the powerful leaders of Saakashvili’s United National Movement and the person, who despite of any of his positions (MP, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Secretary of National Security Council) always has been among the top-5 persons which Saakashvili was consulting on most of the important issues, including reforms, change of constitution, oppression of street protests or war with Russia in 2008. Interestingly Giga Bokeria and Mark Mullen have been long-time Board members of Transparency International Georgia, whilst Mark shares business interests with the closest friend of Giga Bokeria’s father – Shalva Akhalkatsi. Interestingly – another shareholder of ArcStudio – David Abshilava (owns 40% of Arc-Studio) is also partner of Wardrop and Alexander, likewise Mark Mullen.
But how Mark came to Georgia and what was he doing during Rose revolution, when he was co-director of another international NGO – National Democratic Institute (NDI)?
The Anatomy shows long citation from correspondence between Mark Mullen (MM) and Nino Burjanadze (NB), who was then Chair of the Parliament and was leaning to Misha Saakashvili and Zurab Zhvania. I his letters Mark gives lessons what to speak and how to act to Nino Burjanadze. (11:18). He gives her advice to become a legitimate leader of the opposition (12:12), at the same time gently suggesting that she doesn’t need to attend meetings (thus keeping her ties with opposition hidden for a while). Then Mark is enchanted by idea of NB to carry out meeting of famous Georgians as sort of representative organ which would influence Shevardnadze’s government. MM says to NB – we can help you to write a petition, but you don’t need to sign it (13:00).
Then we go back to present time. Until recently society didn’t know that MM’s stepson, US citizen Nick Amirejibi was a US-trained Special Op instructor for SWAT-operations training and he came back to Georgia for Shavnabada Special forces training and worked at MIA. (19:02). Mark’s son is believed to be in good relations with Bacho Akhalaia (formerly minister of detentions and then – of Defense, until recently – Minister of Interiors) and with Vano Merabishvili (MM is in short foot with Merabishvili himself too). MM’s wife – Rusiko Amirejibi has been heartfelt supporter of Misha Saakashvili and of Vano Merabishvili, but came out with outcry of dissatisfaction at Facebook, when Akhalaia was appointed as MIA Minister and his brother became Deputy Defense Minister.
What was Mark’s role at Transparency International? He is a Board Chairman for this organization which does enormously important work in the country – mainly in monitoring political process, particularly – election process, legal assistance, civil society development, media independence, etc. MM has been NDI Board Chair over 10 years for now. As Nina Khatislkatsi recalls, at least in last years MM was rarely coming to TI office, being mainly seen as a guest, and doesn’t interfering in organization’s activities.
However, that has changed recently. MM has suddenly decided to fire Nina Khatiskhatsi and besides he has decided to fire her without any reasonable ground. And that is happening just 2 months before ahead elections, when dismissing crucial staff member, head of exactly electoral and legal assistance programs, author of almost all reports in these fields for many years – could have been a devastating step, dramatically hindering organization’s capacity to continue its observing activities for quasi-important 2012 October elections.
In the secret audio recording which Nina has made when she had a “dismissal” talk with MM, it is obvious (22:10 – 22:50) that Mark heavily blackmails Nina. Instead of making clear to her why he decided to fire her, he talks absurd “reasons” that he doesn’t want to explain to the world, why she was fired and it would be in her better interest to resign silently. He even talks about his “role” for Nina not being able to get a good job at Open Society Foundation (Soros Foundation) unless he gives a green light to that. He wants to have a deal with Nina – we will tell the “world”, that Nina was tired, she has a little child, she wanted to test herself in other works and she left the office by her own will!
It is unthinkable to think that Head of organization which is called Transparency International talks such a-la-Corleone talks with her subordinate and not only demands her resignation, but warns her not to rise a voice! By this short fragment you can say MM has been rotten the same way as UNM and their leadership have been rotten! And by knowing Mark we can suggest that this is demand which came from UNM leadership – that Nina Khatiskatsi should have been fired!
What is amazing – that if there wouldn’t have been Nina’s secret audio recording, MM would bluntly deny that he had anything to do with that dismissal. Before knowing his talk with Nina was recorded, he does exactly that – he says it is Executive Director’s – Eka Gigauri’s job to decide who to fire and he himself has never talked with Nina Khatiskatsi about resigning! In his interview to TSPress agency Mark said that he gave proposal to Nina, to finish reports and to leave as if she would make it clear that she was leaving, TI would have been unable to pay the wage to her! This is outrageous shift of accents! Mark says he entrusted Eka Gigauri would deal with Nina’s dismissal, as Eka had talk with her several times, but Eka didn’t convince Nina and Mark decided to intervene as he was the one who hired her time ago.
It is strange that Mark’s wife, who is a family member, but not member of TI, has discussed at Facebook page that it was Mark’s decision “to protect Nina’s reputation”. MM has explained it was because they didn’t want to reveal that Nina was often reprimanded for not accomplishing her jobs timely, being often late, etc… Nina says – all these are plain lie. BTW, when Eka Gigauri said Nina was not doing her job well, one could check that in 2012 Nina Khatiskatsi has got salary rise in TI – you don’t give a salary rise to a person who is misdoing here job, right?!
TS Press (Eliso Janashia) interviews with Mark and other coverage of the story (on Georgian)
www.tspress.ge/ka/site/articles/12566 http://tspress.ge/ka/site/articles/12564/ http://tspress.ge/ka/site/articles/12522/
But after hearing that there is audio evidence of him blackmailing Nina, Mark seemed now very concerned and lost in Anatomy. He admits (27:11) his engagement in Saba Ltd, but denies he has received any financial reimbursement (at the same time he said to newspapers, that US administration was not happy he being Director of company, owned by Iranian). He also admits his friendship with Shalva Akhalkatsi, and that he is consultant of Wardrop and Alexander (which had portfolio of project over 58 million GEL), but says he has no financial interest for this consulting job. At the same time he admits Akhalkatsi’s business partner is Leo Bokeria, father of Giga Bokeria. Mark admits Misha Saakashvili came to opening of GeoCapital’s office in Kutaisi, but he says it has been not a special recognition of his business being supported, but Misha simply loves to go to openings and that “… Misha was at opening, anyway, for rather short time”(!)
at the end of Mark’s Anatomy, Natia Mikiashvili asks Mark Mullen very straightforward question – “We have heard, that after Nina has being fired, Shalva Akhalkatsi’s son, George Akhalkatsi is being now considered to oversee election monitoring program at TI. Is that right?”
MM answers – “George has just joined TI Board…” and then walks away.
To me that answer means – “Yes! Why not…”
Imagine that – young person with good records at Human rights organizations and democratic institutions is sent to Georgia. He here meets young reformers and instructs them how to win the power. They follow instructions, and they become the statesmen. Now they (who formerly hardly ever had over 20$ in their pockets) run the country and become millionaires, some – even billionaires. And the US citizen still has the same below $100,000 income annually. But his “Nuove riche” friends who advise him to engage in the business and he starts doing that. His businesses go well, as everybody knows he is in good relations with ruling party, but … he miscalculates, that as he engages in business, he is then in the domain of his “friends”, and his independence becomes vulnerable. He can be called and asked to make “some favor”… something in exchange of being owner of favorite business in ruling-party-governed business environment, like Georgia is… Something, he can’t deny…
Two things which are not covered in Mark’s Anatomy –
a) before Nina Khatiskatsi’s dismissal Tax police came to MM’s GeoCapital office and made some checks. Apparently that was “you’d better don’t misbehave” signal…
b) former head of Transparency International Georgia – Vakhtang Kobaladze has also left TI after previous elections in 2010 when TI has covered voters’ intimidation and multiple fraud. Vakhtang Kobaladze has left TI after hard talk with Mark Mullen. I suppose, That time MM has succeeded to have silent dismissal…
Mark Mullen became vulnerable by his business interests. He can’t be independent, while having business in Georgia. He can’t be independent being close friend of Merabishvili, Bokeria and Saakashvili. Apparently the UNM plan was to replace Khatiskatsi and instate son of Giga Bokeria’s father’s close friend on election monitoring program. It only succeeded on first 50%…
Mark Mullen and his wife – Rusiko Amirejibi have hurriedly left Georgia after Nina’s audiorecording was available… TI Board had no meeting to discuss Nina Khatiskatsi case and Mark’s role. Other people, not George Akhalkatsi have become new directors of the programs managed by Nina…
Rusiko Amirejibi has erased all her posts on Facebook during 2012 January-August period. She recently told her close friend, she will return a week before election to Tbilisi, in “quite new role” – she said.
And finally one more recent news: on September 23rd Nina Khatiskatsi’s husband, Georgian Dream staff member Kakha Jorjoliani has been arrested in Mestia on invented charges of Electoral commission member. Kakha was sentenced to 40 days imprisonment for “offending electoral commission member”. In 2 days it became obvious this person had nothing to do with electoral commission, he apparently is a law-enforceemnt body officer – it was another political arrest…
DESPITE OF WRITTEN ABOVE, I HAVE NO DOUBTS THAT TRANSPARENCY ITNERNATIONAL GEORGIA SO FAR HAS BEEN DOING INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT AND OUTSTANDING JOB – HELPING GEORGIAN SOCIETY AND PEOPLE OF GEORGIA IN ACHIEVING BETTER DEMOCRATIC STANDARDS. MY ONLY CONCERN WAS THAT EVEN IN SUCH WELL-FUNCTIONING INSTITUTION IF SOME SAAKASHVILI-FAVORING “EXPERTS” IMPLANTED, IT WOULD TOTALLY DESTROY THE FAIR JOB AND REPUTATION OF THAT NGO! BUT UNLIKE MARK MULLEN AND RUSIKO AMIREJIBI I THINK THAT POINTING A POSSIBLE PROBLEM IS A PREVENTION RATHER THAN A DAMAGE, AND ORGANIZATION, CALLED TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL SHALL NOT ALLOW HIDDEN ADMINISTRATIVE MANIPULATIONS, LIKE THE ONES USED AGAISNT NINA KHATISKATSI.
LUIS NAVARRO: IN MISHA HE TRUSTS
Why today Luis Navarro – head of NDI office became so important person in Georgian politics?
We have NDI office in Tbilisi for quite a time and society was never really aware who was running that office. In fact, one of the brilliant critics of Saakashvili’s regime today – Professor Lincoln Mitchell was once a head of NDI office. I would say NDI’s reputation stands on dignity of such persons as Mr. Mitchell, while Mr. Navarro is the one who greedily absorbs NDI’s reputation, for making his deeds justified. Professor Mitchell has enough credentials aside of NDI office position, while Luis Navarro, if stripped of that position, as well as assistance to Joe Biden, will probably have not much personal credits left to crow about, I suppose.
Regretfully, there are lots of aspects around Mr. Navarro for inducing me to think that way! However, if NDI-leaded pools will accommodate existing criticism and reveal tendencies to become fair, then I will take back my suspicions and gladly provide my public apologies. But I am afraid this is very naive over-optimism.
The Answer on that query – Why Navarro and NDI-Georgia became critical in today’s Georgia is simple: because this may be the very level on which US would intervene in Georgian elections!
And only we – citizens of Georgia can change that – inducing higher hierarchy of US administration to respect our choice. As philosopher Zaza Shatirishvili has noted in the TV program Subjective Opinion, every country has such NDI office (and its head!), which it deserves! Zaza has joked that it is now good time to draw a line between two Americas: of Luis Navarro and of founding fathers of US democracy… Well, there is substantial portion of truth in that joke…
After IRI office head Dmitri Shashkin has became multi-purpose minister in Saakashvili’s government, it is not surprising that former office member of NDI is now #4 in Saakashvili’s UNM electoral list. This proves how much grateful UNM is to Luis Navarro’s girls and boys!
Having hard time with opposition which is now united and strong (financially as well) as never before, Saakashvili has hoped that US administration would back his party for 2012 elections. He made incredible efforts to send more soldiers (per capita) to Iraq than any NATO member country, he even accepted longtime-objected process of Russia’s approval for joining WTO upon US administration request, accepted that on exchange of his official meeting with Obama! But to his dissatisfaction, that meeting brought not a complete re-crowning to Misha, as President Obama made rather strong emphasis on need of transparent and democratic elections and as a result – formal transfer of power in 2012 and 2013 elections!
This wording – need of transparent and democratic elections and as a result – formal transfer of power in 2012 and 2013 elections – became an outstanding hard-press for Misha, which multiple times have escaped straightforward answer on question what he will do after stepping down from President’s seat in 2013 and whether he will follow Putin’s footsteps becoming a prime minister. These doubts are very reasonable as Saakashvili prepared a good “airfield for soft-landing” – from 2013 Prime Minister becomes a de-facto ruler of Georgia, leaving only representative functions to weakened President. Mikheil Saakashvili has invented yet unthinkable model in the world: PrimeMinisterial kingdom!
But as Misha skillfully avoided to answer the question whether he will pull a Putin or not, above mentioned requirement for transparent and democratic elections and power transfer has been repeatedly told to him – after President Obama – by Hillary Clinton, by Anders Fog Rasmussen, by Herman Van Rompuy, By Jose Manuel Barroso… – Elections 2012 will be seen as test for Democracy in Georgia, recently repeated by Tomas Melia, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State…
And Misha has no other choice but to rely on lower level approval – he turns to Luis Navarro who is trusted to save Misha Saakashvili’s sinking UNM. Can Navarro do that?
Well, there are other implants to help him in this rather hard task.
Today everybody in Georgia has heard “NDI” and “Navarro”. And nearly everybody knows these names are related with polls – regarding what is concern for society, how much and which ratings Georgian parties have.
But interestingly, it turns out that NDI office in Georgia since its establishment for many years has not requested a single poll at all! Although Navarro is trying to misinform society and often talks about NDI observing many elections in Georgia since 1994, but this is not the same as carrying out or requesting polls during those election years or in between. NDI in Mark Mullen’s period, as well as in Lincoln Mitchell’s period has carried no polls. It was Mr. Navarro, which transformed NDI office to mainly polling-related institution.
Moreover, what is obvious, that NDI worldwide has nearly no analogue to NDI-Georgia, when polls are regarded as their almost top priority. The only exclusion when NDI engaged in polls was Egypt at onset of Arab Spring. And as journalist Eka Beridze was remembering that NDI poll proved to be not very inline with Egypt’s population demands and expectations, as well as ratings of that pool had been more than doubtful. Apparently, that’s why now one can hardly find results of that Egypt’s poll on the net.
But in Georgia, as I said, NDI became so much poll–oriented that for locals it nearly equals Gallup!
However, according to NDI webpage, the main objectives of the organization are rather different from being a poll-requester: NDI and its local partners work to promote openness and accountability in government by building political and civic organizations, safeguarding elections, and promoting citizen participation. The Institute brings together individuals and groups to share ideas, knowledge, experiences and expertise that can be adapted to the needs of individual countries.
What indeed is a face of NDI, and especially in countries of developing economies, these are multiple observer missions to monitor elections, which watchdog electoral environment and electoral regulations and their implementation in practice. That function of NDI so far had no questions raised from society, – particularly NDI’s director Ken Wollack recent visit and his critics and 5 recommendations towards Georgian Government were very relevant and concrete and they excluded any double readings, unlike some of the results Navarro-requested polls.
Regarding poll-carrying function of NDI Georgian office, and nearly a-la-Gallup stance, once can surely argue that it has a lot to do with elections transparency and with researching election environment, but even accepting that argument as partial justification for Mr. Navarro’s terrible love of polls, there is still something to be surprised at.
1) During nearly 2 years since starting poll-business NDI office was giving party ratings in closed envelopes to the particular parties, while they were hidden from society eyes. This suspicious practice has been finally rejected in June 2012 after public outcry. I wonder how such secrecy and transparency can be related. What was reason to nurture such medieval privacy which then was giving good chance to parties (especially – to ruling UNM) to claim higher rate of support?
2) How relevant and justified is that Navarro signs all his poll requests to only one organization- Caucasian Research Resource Center (CRRC), and why this organization keeps its field studies and focus group technology so secret? Is this again Navarro’s interpretation what “transparency” can and should be?
Interestingly, former USA ambassador – John Bass, just before his departure from Georgia has made one interesting disclosure (the very time when dissatisfaction by Navarro’s activity and by secrecy of NDI-requested polls have reched the maximum boiling point and when opposition even has asked a question whether organization with such desire for secrecy of work technology can be at all trusted to carry out such polls damaging public opinion rather than – researching it). Mr. Bass said that NDI sociology polls were not funded by US government! We have then learned it was Swedish International Development Agency – SIDA, which funds the NDI polls.
We (me including) have not paid much attention to that disclosure that time. Apparently – we should have.
Likewise Georgian government which has incredible attraction to reasonable doubts – people are simply kept prisoners for years or fined multimillion fines based solely on those doubts and nothing else, I would also dive in deep seas of reasonable doubts regarding possible scenarios of NDI(DC)-SIDA-NDI(TBS)-CRRC agreements and relationships.
As NDI is a respectable US organizations (no doubt about that, despite of Mr. Navarro’s personal “talents” and “objective stance”), presumably SIDA local (Tbilisi) office may not have direct authority to control the funds given to it by SIDA central office. Or that control over methodology and reporting, over particular RFAs and accomplishments may be at very flexible (= loose) level, mainly – formality, which could have been quite different, if the grantee was a Georgian organization, namely – CRRC.
On the other hand, as for NDI Tbilisi office that project seems to be the result of their local initiative, NDI central office and US government (USAID), presumably, may also consider that program out of their scope for monitoring!
If those two assumptions are both true, then Mr. Luis Navarro may have full cart-blanche for the program – maximum of freedom and minimum of control from either direct bosses or temporary grantors. He could be the one who requests music. And if so then it is understandable why this “music” seems of so low quality.
One more option which might be worth to be considered: when SIDA grants a particular program, it usually considers local government’s position on the need of such program. If in SIDA and Navarro marriage, the matchmaker was Georgian government (somebody like Giga Bokeria, or Paliko Kublashvili), then the puzzle gets made too easily! First Georgian government may have dealt with Navarro, and “propose” CRRC, as reliable research institution (we’ll talk about CRRC later), then Georgian government might have suggested to SIDA to fund sociological polls in Georgia (something which in fact is closer to SIDA, than to NDI) and proposed NDI Tbilisi office, as very distinguished partner which has other arm, observing elections! And as SIDA trusted Navarro, then Navarro trusted CRRC and society got the result, – the program in which pro-governmental research institution does a job – researching how the population feels (love!) about the government!
My “reasonable doubt” tells me that in such scenario the field-making by CRRC could be very relevant to what government would suggest – public workers, police, handy media, bankers, villagers…
Does that sound as too much conspiracy? Hell, not in Saakashvili’s Georgia!
What is CRRC? Who is Levan Tarkhnishvili?
Caucasian Research Resource Center is not a legal entity, but rather a program which has been established in all South Caucasian countries in 2003 thanks to US government support with the goal of strengthening social science research and public policy analysis in the region. CRRC network unites well-known experts of different kind and is engaged in poll conducting. Although not directly associated with Saakashvili government, but anybody in Georgia knows about warm relationship between CRRC-Georgia and Misha. The first executive director of CRRC, notorious Levan Tarkhnishvili, a good friend of whole UNM leadership and product of Liberty Institute, was so much trusted by Misha that he made him Chairman of Central Election Commission for 2008 pivotal elections. Methods of sophisticated falsification by CEC on those elections included some really “trade-marked innovations”: like all reports from regional CEC bureaus have been sent by fax personally to Levan Tarkhnishvili, and that fax was in the closed room, where nobody else but himself had key to enter! Tarkhnishvili kept whole country inseveral-day darkness until UNM has counted how much they lost in Tbilisi and large cities and how much they had to falsify in some, mainly – minority-populated regions.
It was 2008 Parliamentary Elections in Georgia, “managed” by Mr. Tarkhnishvili, which has been called by Human Right Election observing mission report in way which needs no explanation, as it speaks itself: “Georgia’s Parliamentary Elections – Unprecedented brutality and Election Fraud” (!)http://humanrights.ge/admin/editor/uploads/pdf/HRIDC%20Election%20Report.pdf
While Levan Tarkhnishvili was dispatched from “research” field to CEC Chairmanship in 2007, government still needed a “trusted” research company carrying out polls in. They “trusted” that task in 2008 to BCG. The company provided exit polls results of which have been disclosed until the end of vote! And in 2008 presidential election BCG was “forecasting” Saakashvili’s win with “unprecedented brutality”. Guess who was head of BCG that time? – Ani Tarkhnishvili, the wife of Levan Tarkhnishvili !!! The wife was “forecasting”, paving a road – The husband was following forecast, cementing UNM’s “result”.
After Levan Tarkhnishvili has got nation-wide appreciation as thief of votes, he has been replaced by Zurab Kharatishvili, which makes softer stealing. And Mr. Tarkhnishvili returned to “scientific” falsification. But it was decided that he wouldn’t take a director’s position at CRRC, leaving that to another, “clean” professor – Koba Turmanidze. As the informed people say, Tarkhnishvili who serves as Professor at Ilya State University, is still playing role of Grey Cardinal at CRRC.
Most importantly – Number #4 in the Saakashvili’s UNM list is Tamar Bokuchava, NDI staff member, and #37 is Mr. Levan Tarkhnishvili himself! AS THE JOBE WELL DONE, PARTY REWARDS ITS FAITHFUL SOLDEIRS!
In Eka Beridze show Direct Talk (of 17th September, 2012) , professor Marine Chitashvili expressed her outrage in how Mr. Navarro dared to use her name for washing dirty and dark “results” of CRRC polling. Prof. Chitashvili has been a council member for CRRC but had no knowledge of polls field studies methodology and can bear no responsibility for sure! She said she immediately provided her letter of resignation to Director K. Turmanidze.
Besides, Marina Chitashvili has asked very thoughtful questions about NDI polls and how their research is compatible with NDI mission and objectives:
1) NDI last poll have found that there is a growing polarization between government and opposition and trust is more and more diminished. The question is, believing in that one could ask what NDI has done to prevent that alarming tendency. Should there have been more activity from NDI local office rather than simply observing the trend?
2) According to NDI polls the most trusted institutions in Georgia are not the ones which represent democratic society (Parliament, Independent Justice, Media, Civil Society…), but church, army and police! Even if so, is it something NDI may crow about?
3) NDI polls plainly state that gender inequality remains an issue and women’s engagement in political process is rather low. Marina Chitashvili has asked – what NDI office has done to prevent that trend?
4) It is also strange that if there is grwoing polarization, how so many people – over 20% can be still undecided who they vote for in just 2 weeks time?
The same day – former NDI-employee Gregory Minjack which represents Public Strategy and Ukraine-based NGO – Georgian Voice for Fair Election has joined his voice expressing frustration over NDI-Georgia activities. Mr. Minjack is an expert in political processes and has more than 20 years of experience advising political campaigns in the U.S. and overseas. He was member of NDI observers’ mission in Georgia in 90s and in 2009 has got USAID highest expert rank in democracy development field.
Mr. Minjack said to “Kviris Palitra” weekly newspaper he was astonished to see what Mr. Navarro does and he said he wanted to know more about Navarro’s vision regarding huge Georgian Diaspora participation (or – barring from participation in fact!) in forthcoming elections, and what NDI responded when Georgian MoFA and CEC have introduced draconian new regulations – drastically diminishing chance for Georgian migrants to participate in elections abroad. Greg Minjack said he was astonished to hear in response that Mr. Navarro doesn’t care about Diaspora! 25% of population lives abroad and NDI office head considers that irrelevant for democracy process?? – asked Minjack. But what to expect from an official who considers announcement of Georgian Ambassador in France that Georgian illegal migrants shall not have any rights to vote – normal?! Apparently Mr. Navarro is in too close relationship with the government and not with democracy! It is a shame, like a former NDI head – Mark Mullen which serves Saakashvili. – said Minjack. I have asked Mr. Navarro, what is the methodology used in their field studies and got not reasonable answer that he doesn’t want to speak about that! I love Georgia and Georgian people and they do not deserve such NDI office! – said Greg Minjack and promised he will try to pass his frustration over Mr. Navarro’s job performance to NDI leadership in USA.
Reference on Georgian: http://www.kvirispalitra.ge/politic/13778-rasac-dghes-ndi-saqarthveloshi-akethebs-danashaulia.html?add=1
It seems, that Mr. Navarro transformed NDI Georgia office for some reasons to Gallup center and due to his wish not to displease Saakashvili’s government he left behind those objectives and tasks, which should have been NDI’s priority according to organization’s main mission. While Navarro and CRRC printout satisfactory to Saakashvili poll results, the situation in democracy and civil society development regresses.
Luis Navarro, in his recent appearance at media, always streses out that his approiach is based on his principles and views. But one can doubt how objective and conflict-of-interest-free those principles and views are:
- For example, from beginning, NDI polls are given to CRRC. Always (and Forever?). One can approve such faithfulness, but here comes the reasonable question – when you want to create trust to your polls why always to choose the organization which has so badly rotten roots as Vote-stealer Levan Tarkhnishvili? Why not try at least once to engage somebody else? The reasonable answer is – that will displease Saakashvili and his elite! In CRRC they trust!
- Most interesting peculiarity on NDI (and IRI!) polls done with open methodology when interviewer interviews respondents (in focus groups – videocamera armed interviewer asks questions to groups of people), which are given words that anonymity is kept, but which live in Georgia, where 70% of students have answered positively on question – “Do you think you phone talks are listened?” such open polling methodology the number of respondents who deny to disclose their political preferences, or to answer – “I don’t know!” has always been incredibly high! 35-45%. Although that is rather common in countries with established autocracies (Zimbabwe, e.g.) , Mr. Navarro vehemently denies that may have anything with fear! He explains that this is a Georgian habit, Georgians do not want to share their opinions, and they don’t want to have tense talks (?!), they prefer to keep everything secret! – says an expert in Georgian psychology – Mr. Luis Navarro. He admits he has heard about Fear factor in Georgian society, but he simply doesn’t believe in it!
It would have been incredibly interesting after that prison rape and torture scandal to re-ask Mr. Navarro, whether he reconsiders his “expert opinion” about fear factor in Georgian society. But Mr. Navarro could work-out some other “intelligent explanation”, I guess.
Despite of what Mr. Navarro feels, majority of both local and foreign experts (of course not mentioning such desperate defendants of Saakashvili regimen, as Vladimir Socor, Ariel Cohen and well paid Misha’s lobbying company Greenberg-Quinlan-Rossner) suggest that in fact such high rate of refraining to reveal their choice respondents can only be result of intimidation and firing campaign introduced by Misha and his “institutions” on anybody who dares to support opposition.
Therefore Georgian and foreign experts do advise to government and polling institutions to carry out so called “close polls”, when person’s anonymity is far more protected, is he puts his answers in a box, Rather than openly answering questions which above all can be recorded on video!. As expected, when such methodology was used by some other polling institutions, nearly 3:1 lead of UNM over Georgian Dream to almost 50-50 distribution. That proves, that majority of those refraining to disclose their choice voters are in fact supporters of Georgian Dream, majority of whom would reveal their choice if a little bit of more anonymity would be offered thus decreasing their exposure from being politically fired or intimidated by any other terms.
Based on that majority of independent experts do univocally draw recommendation that for overcoming that huge rate of non-disclosed respondents in IRI and NDIU polls would be to follow methodology used by Penn-Schoenn-Berland and others and to use close interview method at least once! Dr. Iago Kachkachishvili has proposed either to pass this methodology top CRRC or to do parallel studies with CRRC for making reason of discrepancy clear. However, it is a deaf ear which Mr. Navarro and CRRC direct top such advise. That to me clearly says – we know we make bias and we want to continue to make bias! It is pretty understandable as well as even allowing such method to be used at least once, it would reveal that all previous fairy tales about UNM strong leadership was simply based on number of non-willing to disclose respondents, which in n great majority are favoring Georgian Dream.
One more extremely important issue is how CRRC does its field work and forms its focus groups! This is the most sacral issue, CRRC would never ever disclose! It is alpha and omega of CRRC falsifications. I know from people who have received this information from field workers on terms of non-disclosure that 80-90% of fields and focus groups are formed from the respondents clearly loyal to UNM! There have been some rumors that majority of these groups are from following categories – Public Servants (e.g. ministerial staff or school teacher), bank workers, students associated with government-ruled Student Self-Management (a new type of Komsomol a-la-Misha) groups – these are the social groups either associated with the government or having too much to loose (job, not bad salaries, support premiums, etc). Another subgroup is rural population , which may have not much to loose, but thanks to Saakashvili propaganda machine having no competitor at regions, they are far from understanding what’s up in the country and accepting Saakashvili lies as truth.
Mr. Luis Navarro and CRRC have shockingly similar taste what to ask Georgian society and what to never ask! Likewise similar is their taste in when exactly to ask this or that particular question.
For example, Luis Navarro ranked as very interesting a question when Lazika city – a delirious mega project of Mikhail Saakashvili – will be build (I can’t recall any person aside of propagandists of Saakashvili interested in that issue) but he and CRRC have felt it was not interesting for Georgian citizens a question, why and what grounds State Audit Service fines Georgian Dream on multimillion fines whilst fines against UNM are so modest! What Georgian citizens think about special rule against Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Cartu Bank was introduced and then cancelled in just 3 months when Cartu Bank has lost 180 million GEL by that special rule! CRRC never asked respondents what they think about fairness of government support to Kakheti hailstorm victims and why Presidential and Government special funds are so secretly spent! interestingly CRRC has asked opinion of respondents regarding importance of State Voters’ List Commission work when the results were yet not presented, (and proudly saying citizens feel this has not being an alarming issue now, but have not asked the same question, when final results have shown that voters’ list has not been decreased, but furthermore inflated and everybody has frustration regarding new falsification done by government. Similarly after stating a question correctly in February 2012 – how many of you would follow Ivanishvii’s call for street actions if elections are fraudulent, the same question was changed to simply – “– how many of you would follow Ivanishvii’s call for street actions”, which gave biased results and CRRC stated with satisfaction that number of street actions supporters “has been decreased”! It was also very absurd to ask – “What do you know about Ivanishvili’s plans?” when Ivanishvili presented a program but there was not a plan. The same time CRRC didn’t ask what would you now about UNM plan?
All the above mentioned makes me thinking that Mr. Navarro and Saakashvili’s favorite agency CRRC are not reliable independent objective judgment makers, but biased and pro-governmental agencies which are having one big task – to falsify terribly high support rate for UNM and diminish (by not discussing possible reasons for 40-45% refraining to answer group) possible supporters for Georgian Dream. Mr. Navarro and CRRC are biased and promote Saakashvili’s UNM.
Unlike case of Mr. Mullen, I can’t say what is a reason behind that favoritism, but I am sure Mr. Navarro will do anything he can not to oppose his former polls and on October 1st pivotal exit polls to fulfill the dream of Saakashvili, to receive that falsified 60% or even 70% which they would never get without fraud-masters like Tarkhnishvili, Kharatishvili and CRRC.
Georgian people will try to prevent the fraud, despite of citizenship of those who try to cheat…
P.S. Today Georgia waits for elections and it is on the werge of another revolution! Prison Rape sacandal has shown a Jackal’s face of once “Beacon of Democracy” leadership. With every day more documents and more shocking stories are revealed, which have a verdict – this system was a Hell with lable – “Welcome to Paradise!”
Some exerpts from brilliant article of Charles H. Fairbanks, Jr. a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. He was formerly a research professor of international relations at Johns Hopkins’ Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and a director of the Central Asia / Caucasus Institute.
Georgia, How Shall You Afford to Loose Your Offspring Anywhere?Posted: 2012/09/17 Filed under: TRanslation of Georgian media articles | Tags: elections 2012, Georgian migrants, Mikheil Saakashvili, Restriction of migrants rights, UNM 3 Comments
Georgia, How Shall You Afford to Loose Your Offspring Anywhere?
This question full of pain, the question perhaps relevant since the times when Istanbul, Cairo and Damascus slave markets were full of Georgians, this question was unequivocally answered by the of Georgian “rose revolution” government, on behalf of so-called National Movement’s regime by President Mikheil Saakashvili, by Minister of Foreign Affairs Grigol Vashadze, by Chairman of the Central Election Commission (CEC) Zurab Kharatishvili. They answered not with words, but with their decisions, decrees and actions. They unequivocally stated:
– Surely! And Everywhere!
This year the Central Electoral Commission chose a very attractive slogan – “we reflect reality!” To understand the reality seen by Zurab Kharatishvili, mathematician by training, let’s one more time read the blatant lie that CEC, run by this mathematician, (re)presents as “reality”:
“CEC decided to set up additional polling stations abroad. CEC informed InterPressNews agency that the total number of active voters abroad is 42 613. Including 1 409 voters who as of September 10 are registered with the consulates. Based on this data, CEC decided to open additional polling stations in some countries.
The additional polling stations are being set up: – № 43 Polling Station – Spain, Barcelona; № 44 Polling Station – Canada, Ottawa; № 45 Polling Station – Ireland, Dublin; № 48 Polling Station – Hungary, Budapest; № 49 Polling Station – Portugal, Lisbon. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Central Election Commission resolution states that 42 polling stations are set up abroad.”
42 613 ???
Only 42 613 ?!!!
Apparently, if you trust Georgian CEC, there are only 42 613 Georgian voters abroad!
And apparently, by September 10, which means 21 days before the Election Day, only 1409 have registered with the consulates … In my childhood only my village Ternali had population of 1409 people… and it is not even a large village…
I would like to remind you that according to the data from the same CEC and Katsitadze run Voters’ List Verification Commission (VLVC, or ASDUC in Georgian, the entity turned into CEC appendix), apparently now there are 3,621,000 eligible active voters in Georgia. (one should account that in Soviet times Georgia’s population was 5.5 million with only 3.5 million registered voters!). This represents 81% total Georgian population of 4,469,000 novadays (estimated by the Central Agency of National Statistics). This is one of the highest rates of voters in the world! But in the country, where some villages and districts have more registered voters than there are people in fact living there, everything is possible!
But if we go back to Georgians living abroad, and ask how many Georgians have emigrated, it turns out that the government neither knows nor cares about it. The government members estimate about 300 to 500 thousand people … But the foreign international organizations quote totally different and much higher figures. For example, such reputable organizations as United Nations, World Bank and International Organization for Migration (IOM), estimate that since 1990 number of Georgia emigrants is permanently increasing (minor exception was 2005-2006, when the outflow was reduced). If the amount of Georgian emigrants in 2005 was approximately 1,025,000 (of which 634,000 – were living in Russia!), which was 22% of the country’s total population at that time, today according to the same organizations this figure stands at 1,1-1,2 million, which is 25.1% of the country’s current total population. This figure puts Georgia on 20th place, among the leaders in the world. In the post-Soviet countries, only Armenia is ahead with 28,2%.
We should also note that while Georgian government accumulates debt with gigantic steps and spends hundreds of millions of dollars (significant part of which lands backs into their own pockets) on dubious projects; while the foreign trade deficit reaches 4 billion dollars, or over 40% of the country’s GDP, the Georgian migrants are the ones who help the country’s economy to survive. According to the former Prime Minister Nika Gilauri, at least 25% of this negative trade balance is covered exactly by the Georgian migrants, transferring more than 1 billion USD to their relatives for the basic living needs. According to the unofficial statistics, livelihood of nearly fifth of the households in Georgia (where rampant unemployment is estimated at level 35-60%!) depends on the relatives living abroad. And these exact people, usually not having luxurious lifestyle abroad, but mostly poor women serving as baby sitters and care takers, while painfully missing their own children at home, these exact people supporting their families back home in Georgia, are cynically deprived of their most important civil right – voting right, by the criminal and corrupt government of Georgia!
Assuming that at least 1.1 million Georgians live abroad and CEC noted only 42 163 active voters, this means that the country, with 81% registered in-country active voters, gives voting right to only 4% of emigrants.
81% vs. 4% !
How did the president Mikheil Saakashvili and his ruling gang achieve this?
Firstly, Ministry of Foreign Affairs led by Vashadze has issued the resolution about required voters’ advance registration by consular offices. In 2003 this requirement was removed by Shevardnadze’s government. It is very interesting to note that in 2003 this barrier was removed under pressure of then opposition forces, including – Mikheil Saakashvili! But then entire society including emigrants were against Shevardnadze and were supporting Saakashvili. Now the situation has changed and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to restore the old restriction, in addition it allowed very short time for registration while ensuring that wide range of emigrants were not informed about it.
However, Vashadze’s next step was much worse and draconian – he has signed the decree which requires emigrants living abroad to provide a certificate of registration at their residence in order to be registered by consulates (Grigol Vashadze who grew and was trained in Soviet Russia turned out to be so amateur and inexperienced that he was not aware that the concept of registration at the place of residence does not exist in most Western countries. Later this phrase was replaced by another phrase “any documents proving place of residence”). Taking into consideration estimates of World Bank and United Nations, that nearly 75% of the Georgian emigrants are illegal migrants, providing any such document is associated with high risk of deportation!
By this Vashadze and Saakashvili cynically told the Georgian emigrants:
“You better stay at home and don’t come to vote, otherwise, remember we have signed readmission agreements with EU, so, you may say goodbye to your job abroad, to your painfully arranged nests, and instead of sending money each month to your relatives in Georgia in order to save them, face the same fate of unemployment and misery after deportation to Georgia!”
This is an open, undisguised, cynical – poisonous state terror against its own citizens, imposed by the servants of Saakashvili regime.
And finally, when the protest movement of the emigrants spread in Europe and North America, Mikheil Saakashvili, Vashadze and Kharatishvili decided that the above measures were not sufficient and they chose Monday as an election day! While it was declared as non-working day in Georgia, this choice was specifically targeted to decrease chances for Georgian voters voting abroad and justify their own lie that there are less than 50,000 active voters in foreign countries!
Voting on Monday, October 1, is significantly more difficult for Georgian migrants, especially for those who are working, as they have to travel hundreds of kilometers to vote in the capital cities. Only 42 cities will open voting stations and even large cities, such as Munich, Frankfurt, Atlanta, Thessaloniki, Milan, Marseille, and many others, where several thousands of Georgians live, are left without polling stations.
Everything was “crowned” with refusal to open polling stations in Russia for “technical reasons”, which left approximately 600 – 800 thousand Georgian citizens without the chance to vote at all! One wonders what kind of “technical reasons” caused this. As we know, Swiss embassy is representing Georgia in Russia. Could the Swiss embassy/consulates open Georgian polling stations at least in 2-3 cities? Just in Moscow and St. Petersburg something between 300 thousand to half a million of Georgian citizens reside, whose votes will be lost!
However, success of Saakashvili’s United National Movement depends on rigging these exact votes!
Exactly by excluding these people from elections abroad, Katsitadze’s discredited VLVC (ASDUC in Georgian) managed to inflate already quite inflated voters’ register in the country – inflated by deceased souls. The main objective of this Commission was depriving the existing migrant voters of their voting rights while creating legal basis for the votes of deceased souls domestically!
I’d like to address citizens living abroad, dozens of whom are my relatives, close friends and acquaintances :
Dear People! Georgian Citizens, deprived of the primary civil right – the right to vote!
This government (as well as the previous government) in most of the cases is the main reason of your unemployment, of your involuntary emigration, and your inability to return to your country! For 9 years now, this government is introducing universal terror, injustice and violence in the country! Having over 32,000 prisoners (#1 rate per capita in Europe!), over 72,000 people released by so called Porcess Agreement, over 150,000 probationers, and due to the racketing imposed by the Georgian government on businesses, ordinary people, and on honest businessmen, due to expropriation of their lawfully owned properties, due to destroying their companies and farms, the investment climate is rapidly deteriorating during last years and you could not find a job and food in your own country, fell into devastating debt and were forced to run away to other countries! Or, if you had already gone abroad, this racket and creation of favorite business clans, monopolies and cartel agreements is the main reason for you not having a chance to return to your homeland, where unemployed and hungry relatives of yours are begging you to stay abroad and not to make yourselves as unemployed and vulnerable as they already are in Saakashvili’s “Hell called Paradise”.
Due to Saakashvili’s criminal regime the country is accumulating more and more foreign debt, which tripled in the last 9 years and exceeded 10 billion dollars! Meanwhile you are contributing to the economies of foreign countries, instead of having basic right to live and work at home!
While the government of President Mikheil Saakashvili is in power you will not have a chance of respectful return and finding a job into Georgia!
Mikheil Saakashvili’s government’s dream is to force every non-supportive to them, free-thinking citizen out of the country and instead of them bring-in foreigners who’s votes are guaranteed to go to them. This main objective explains “import” of unemployed foreigners as highly-paid English teachers, and import of numerous unqualified Turkish and Chinese workers and builders, which are even given free housing by the Georgian government. This main objective explains selling to Boer, Indian and Iranian investors farm lands at special – very low prices! Those lands, forests, and pastures, which were seized by illegally manipulations from the Georgian population!
Saakashvili’s regime supports devastating intrest rates imposed by the Georgian banks (3rd highest rates in Europe) on the citizen’s borrowing money from them and purposefully supports expropriation and transfer of citizens’ properties to the banks, which in return finance Saakashvili’s campaign legally or (mostly) illegally. If Saakashvili’s regime remains in power, it will start massive confiscation of private properties in the central districts of Tbilisi and other cities, demolition of houses and eviction of residents to the suburbs such as Potskhoetseri, unbearable to live in reservations!
In parallel to taking away your voting rights, Saakashvili’s criminal parliament passed unprecedented law which allows foreign citizens, who are not the same time Georgian citizens, to vote and to be elected on governmental and legislative posts. The interesting point is that they lose this right if they obtain Georgian citizenship. I would like to remind you that this government took away Georgian citizenship from Bidzina Ivanishvili, the biggest philanthropist of the last 15 years and offered him to run in the elections as a French citizen. Bidzina Ivanishvili has refused to take part in the elections without citizenship, on the unjust and unprecedented “legal” basis created by this criminal regime.
The political coalition “Georgian Dream” led by Bidzina Ivanishvili is a party which, if elected, will fully restore your legal rights, criminally breached at the moment by the Georgian government and you’ll have real possibility to come back to Georgia and to be employed there.
Dear fellow citizens!
If you do not get back your right to vote on October 1, go to the embassies and consulates to protest against the state terror!
Show the whole world that number of Georgians living abroad is not 42 613 but it is more than ten, twenty times this figure; these citizens are brutally oppressed by the criminal Georgian regime which deprives them of their voting rights.
Only in this way we will be able to convince the world that the pink “Potemkin-Facade Paradise” that Saakashvili builds by oppressing Georgian people, by humiliating them, racketing their businesses and forcing them into debt, imposing illegal tax fines, by forcing them to be emigrants, in reality, that “Paradise” is a simple lie, the plastic, ribboned and colored in pink by the Neobolshevik, corrupt criminal elite…
On October 1 – together we should save and return back to us our homeland!
Together we should free Georgia from the robber gangsters’ illegal unjust behavior! Georgia, which belongs also to each of you and to your children!
P.S. Denied to vote abroad Georgian migrants return to Georgia for protest voting against Mikhail Saakashvili. They bring satellite dishes to protests Saakashvili’s media censorship policy.
Approximately 100 Georgian migrants from Italy, UK, USA, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Turkey, Spain, France and Greece have crossed Georgian-Turkish border checkpoint at Sarpi on 2 busses on Sept 17th.
These are the migrants which due to special barriers arranged by Saakashvili’s Central Election Commission (CEC) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia have been denied a right to vote abroad. So now they decided to come back home and vote against regimen which excluded them from voters list abroad. They gathered in Istanbul and then came by busses. Their relatives met with applaud at Sarpi hailing their demonstration of protest voting.
Each migrant has carried out a satellite dish, which they brought for their relatives which are victims of Saakashvili’s pocket propaganda media. – We want our families to be well informed about Saakashvili’s deeds, they say.
Representatives of Georgian Dream movement also met emigrants at Sarpi.
Original story on Georgian and video at – http://www.palitratv.ge/akhali-ambebi/sazogadoeba/21354-emigrantebi-sarfis-gavlith-saqarthveloshi-brundebian-qvithkhovth-samarthlian-archevnebsq.html
Beacon of Autocracy – Why Mikheil Saakashvili Appointed Elections on October 1st (Monday) 2012?Posted: 2012/08/05 Filed under: TRanslation of Georgian media articles | Tags: election environment, elections 2012, Georgian emigrants, Grigol Vashadze, Kakha Kakhishvili, Mikheil Saakashvili, October1st Elections, United National Movement ruling party, Vakhtang Khmaladze, Vakhushti Menabde დატოვე კომენტარი
President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili has announced his decision to appoint the Parliamentary elections on October 1st, 2012, Monday. It is the first election since Georgian independence in 1990, which was appointed on regular weekday although for this reason it will be announced as non- working day.
Georgian politologists, constitutional experts and journalists have discussed the probable reasons why would have Saakashvili chosen that particular day. There are political (both domestic and foreign) and constitutional reasons.
First of all, it needs to be mentioned that initially, Parliamentary elections were scheduled for May 2012 – in 4 years since previous similar elections, carried out on May 21, 2008, just before the Russian-Georgian war. However, Saakashvili and his 80% Parliamentary majority holder – ruling party – United National Movement (UNM) have made constitutional amendment, moving elections from May to October. Head of Elections and Political Technologies Center, Kakha Kakhishvili considers that move as political shrewd step by UNM.
1. Elections in May mean that election campaigns will be carried out in March-April (Georgian law considers pre-election period limited by 60 days). Spring is usually very active period. In winter, due to extremely high rates on gas and electricity majority of Georgians cannot afford heating their homes (heating average flat costs around $150 which is nearly 40% of average salary). Therefore, after winter it is not difficult for opposition to get mass protests of impoverished and suffered population. Contrary to that, if elections are hold in October, pre-election campaign period is August-September. Nearly 90% of Georgians are having vacations exactly that time and large cities are empty during that period. Schools and Universities start in mid-September. Therefore, People move to villages, mountains and seaside, and those months are politically “dead season”, which makes task of opposition parties to meet electorate, explain their programs and carry rallies, most complicated.
2. Not only is harder for parties to carry out election campaign during August-September, it is also notable dead season on National TVs. With 3 statewide televisions, all controlled by UNM and their inner circlers, only one having once a week political talk-shows, August-September is exactly that period when even those very seldom political TV programs are off for holiday season! So, along with limited options to meet electorate in personal, parties would have similar hardship to talk with parties and oppose opponents at nation-wide TVs as well. Surely, one can say that both those problems affect ruling UNM as well. Well, not at that extend. They have their own methods to “organize the meetings”. Remember, when Saakashvili was celebrating alone Georgia’s independence day on May 26, 2009 (when opposition held mass rally at National stadium with 80,000 supporters), pupils of 9th grade were summoned on holiday from homes and Saakashvili has carried out a lesson of geography which all National TVs. For whole May-July UNM leaders were holding secret meetings with teachers, bankers, and public servants at restaurants. When it comes to ruling party meetings, everything can be “organized”.
3. For the same reason, starting long awaited “Must Carry” program which would allow some of residents of Georgian regions to see anything but UNM-controlled propaganda, in summer holidays might be more complicated, as cable and satellite companies might complaining on lack of qualified personnel and related technical problems. Such reasons have already delayed effective start of “Must Carry” on 2 weeks.
4. Obvisouly, all polls run in July – NDI, IRI, Oxford Consulting and PSB (http://www.neurope.eu/article/georgian-opposition-takes-lead-poll) have shwon that rate of opposition Georgian Dream movement has doubled since February, whilst rate of UNM continues to decline. Therefore, it was no surprise, Saakashvili decided to carry out the elections sooner – better… The rumors, that election would have been appointed on October’s first week, have been circulating since NDI’s poll’s results. It seemed natural to follow tradition and appoint elections on Sunday – Oct 7. However, as Radio Liberty reports, it could send a signal – circle 7 at October 7 (apparently “7” will be number for Georgian Dream) and Saakashvili would never do such a thing… http://www.rferl.org/content/georgian-parliamentary-election-date-set/24663625.html
5. But now – why on Monday? In every country, suddenly announcing a working weekday as non-working holiday for election reason would mean substantial economic lost. Well, Georgian for president this means nothing compared to chance of power extension (besides, real unemployment hits over 50% in Georgia, and economic lost will probably be not as significant as in economically viable country). The main reason – why Monday, for many Georgian politologists is not domestic, it is international. This is done to keep Georgian emigrants away from elections! As much as possible! It will be holiday in Georgia, but it won’t be holiday elsewhere! Most of foreign experts would probably not accept such categorical judgment, but here is why – Georgian emigrants constitute nearly 25% of Georgian citizens (World Bank and IOM estimate their numbers over 1 mln. Some Georgian experts believe the number is well ahead of 1,2 mln) and they send to their families over $1 bln. Annually, bringing nearly 25% of Georgia’s currency income and stabilizing live of nearly 30% of households at home. And in 2012 Georgian emigrants show firm disapproval of Saakashvili and UNM. They recently formed an international alliance for free and democratic elections in Georgia and proposed Georgian governments to provide 50,000 satellite dishes to those families which lack access to information. Those two facts made Saakashvili’s government furious and they first issued decree demanding from every emigrant passing consular registration 2 months before elections (the decree was issued less than 4 months before elections, but induced strong movement on Facebook and quick organization of yet unorganized Georgian diaspora, especially in Greece, Italy, Germany and USA with largest number of Georgians residing. www.gopetition.com
Then MoFA of Georgia has produced even more draconian decree, demanding not only consular registration, but even a certificate from living place! After acknowledging that such documents do not exist in most of foreign countries, confused Minister Vashadze added a phrase – “or any equivalent document proving residency in that country”. Knowing well, that majority of Georgians live in EU or outside illegally, Georgian government cynically gives a choice – either refrain from elections, or risk a deportation and loosing survival source for your family! But many Georgian emigrants say that this government with its cleptocratic and mob-type racketing, killing any independent business in the country and inducing mass impoverishment of SMEs or individual businessman, is a main reason why they had to leave the homeland and they would take a risk of deportation but will try to vote. Therefore, appointing elections on Monday, Saakashvili knows that in most of the countries only residents of those few cities, where Georgia has embassies or consulates, could probably have chance to come for voting. There is no way to travel to another city for voting on weekday. By making this choice, Saakashvili hopes to cut off from elections nearly every 4th Georgian citizen! Such a cynical move, considering that 2 months ago Georgian Parliament has granted a right to participate in Georgian elections to every non-citizen of Georgia, but citizens of EU!
6. Final query – Why not on Friday, which is Oct 5? Especially, as 5 is all time numebr for UNM and Saakashvili strongly believes in this digit being happy to him. Long time ago I wrote a post called 5/5 and predicting that Saakashvili would prefer to appoint snap election on May 5 or August 5, and if still leaving elections in October, then on Friday, Oct. 5. But here comes the constitutional reason. When Saakashvili has tailored Georgian constitution for sizing it on himself, he was rather accurate to calculate meticulously every step of that transfer from Presidential republic to PrimeMinisterial republic which is unique model in the world. According to new constitution both Parliamentary and Presidential elections must be carried out in October. Newly elected Parliament cannot be dismissed in its first 6 months since election, and in last 6 months before presidential elections. Confronting situation, when Georgian Dream movement can really defeat UNM in Parliamentary elections (Saakashvili knows the real credibility of IRI and NDI open polls, which in a country like Georgia with mass intimidation of the voters – by illegal imprisonment, firing, physical and psychological assaults on persons and family minors – has 40% of people who either hide their political preference or prefer to answer – “I am not sure”), Saakashvili considers an option if he will be confronted by opposition-running Parliament, which will not be obedient notarial office to approve his caprices momentarily. Therefore, he wants to have chance to dismiss such parliament! And for doing that he will have very limited time. Such chance would only exist with Parliamentary elections are appointed at onset of October 2012 and presidential – at end of October 2013. So, right today we can guess, that Georgia’s presidential elections will be set for October 31st, and that would give Saakashvili the whole month of April from 1st to 30st – for dismissing Parliament. As Constitutional Experts Vakhushti Menabde and Vakhtang Khmaladze concluded, Parliament has some chances for overturn, and President may need 27 days for committing his plan. Which means, Georgian Parliament might face dismiss decree from the President on days of April 28, 29 or 30…
But all those mathematical calculations may be void, if Georgian Dream wins constitutional majority of seats in newly elected Parliament. But Beacon of Autocracy has a plan for avoiding that too. I will try to touch that issue in the next Post.
However, there are situations, when he’s got a big blows – for examply, after already naming 1st October as election day, it became clear that this day according to Georgian Church’s calendar is Day of St. Bidzina Cholokashvili, or “Bidzinoba” :))) Saakashvili, with his addiction to symbols, was most probably furious to provide such an unexpected gift to his main rival – Bidzina Ivanishvili! Every church in Georgian will mention on October 1st Bidzina’s name during liturgies! :)))
In my blog “Will Saakashvili pull a Putin or not? – Damned, he will!” https://solomonternaleli.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/1459/ I have expressed an opinion that President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili makes all possible and impossible, legal or whatsoever efforts to remain at power after he finishes his 2nd presidential term. Watching him – his non-stop visits and speeches, his astonishingly and close to absurd and already criminal actions against opposition, media, justice and common sense, it is more and more obvious that this man cannot think himself without power. But there is a dilemma – in what capacity he dreams he could maintain a power? I am sure, he won’t hesitate to pull a Putin! Even to pull a Mugabe…
Based on Georgian materials – interviews/talk-shows with of Kakha Kakhishvili, Vakhushti Menabde and Vakhtang Khmaladze.
Saakashvili-loyal official provokes opposition member Kakha Kaladze. Propaganda TV channels fabricate video blaming Kaladze in aggressionPosted: 2012/07/14 Filed under: TRanslation of Georgian media articles | Tags: election environment, Georgian Dream movement, Kakha Kaladze, Karaleti incident, Potyomkin-Facade Democracy, provocation, Rustavi2, Saakashvili propaganda, Saakashvili zonders, UNM დატოვე კომენტარი
On July 12 Meeting in Karaleti where refugees from South Ossetia live in government built village, turned in most dramatic clashes so far between GD supporters and Saakashvili’s Zondercommandos leaded by MP Badri Basishvili. One of the well–known zonder – Gogi (Gogita) Gochashvili (on video in black cap and sunglasses), which is working for Gori Municipality, though his exact job remains unclear (apparently he and his friends are paid simply for intimidating society) and who has beaten several journalists even before, has provoked opposition Georgian Dream member, famous soccer player Kakha Kaladze, which tried to calm down situation.
unmontaged video by Info9 journalists http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uS37P9E_mA
Initially Gochashvili was blames GD leader Bidzina Ivanishvili and all GD movement in being pro-Russian and not helping them during 2008 August war. Kakha tries to calm down him and first it seems he is successful. But then Gochashvili suddenly says – “I have to say something to you directly. You lost your brother! Do you know why you havelost your brother? He was kidnapped, and you didn’t want to pay money, and theykilled him. You are guilty that your brother died!”
After that Kakha gets raged and swears Gochashvili. Then the clash starts.
Info about Levan Kaladze’s tragic death:
In 2001, Kakha Kaladze’s brother Levan, a medical student, was kidnapped in Georgia, with a ransom of $600,000 demanded. Georgia’s president at that time, Eduard Shevardnadze promised “everything is being done to locate him”, despite this the only time that Levan was ever seen was in a video where he was shown blindfolded and begging for help. The local media claimed that the ransom was paid by Kaladze’s family, although another source says that Kaladze’s father attempted to meet the kidnappers, who fled as they believed he was followed by the police. During Shevanrdnadze’s term there have been lot’s of rumours Levan being held somewhere (including Svaneti and Chechnya being named), but no clue has ever being found. Family tried to meet different “informers”, some of them have been in fact swindlers, without any real information. Roughly four years later, on 6 May 2005, Georgian police officers found eight dead bodies in the Svaneti region and it was speculated that Levan was among the dead. That was soon after Government had one of the bloodiest operations in Svaneti – terminating Aphrasidze family of famous bandits (apparently at least one of them have been executed at spot after being injured and arrested). Government (Interiors Minister Gia Baramidze was himself leading the operation) used excessive force – 4 helicopters and around 200 special commandos which made the whole village kept as hostages of the battle as heavy armament and rockets have been used to destroy Aphrasidze’s home. After that government was willing to justify the deed and said they found mass grave of Ahrasidze peisoners and among them Levan Kaladze’s body. However, forensic exams shown the bodies were buried some 80 years ago and belonged to family graveyard. 21 February 2006 was the date when Levan was officially identified among the deceased and buried without identification at Tbilisi outskirts, after tests from FBI experts. Two men were sentenced to prison for the murder: David Asatiani for 25 years and Merab Amisulashvili for five years. Interiors Minister Merabishvili has received special thanks both from President Saakashvili and from mourning Kaladze family.
After reading this tragic saga of the one of the greatest soccer player you can imagine how meticulously targeted and how humiliating that provocation was. And it reached the goal – to make Kakha raged and swearing. That gave pro-governmental propaganda media chance to put the story upside down – how Kaladze and his guard assaulted refugees and attacked them!
This video compilation is done by Rustavi2 TV’s reporter – one of the most famous “journalist” Tamar Bagashvili, who for her devoted service for Misha’s propaganda machine will be named as UNM MP candidate in elections, rumors say.
Reporter’s voice says that Karaleti IDPs has been not willing to receive GD leaders. Kakha Kaladze came with armed bodyguards and provoked confrontation. Despite of request of local residents to leave the place peacefully, Kaladze and his guard have assaulted them both verbally and physically. And then video shows Kakha swearing, without showing prior episode when Gogi Gochashvili has provoked him.
Fabricated montaged video by Rustavi2 news.
On July 13 Maestro TV’s Politmeter talk-show anchor Nino Zhizhilashvili has compared both videos and it is obvious that Rustavi2 videohas been montaged in a way to hide the truth and present defenders as attackers. It is interested that other recorded videos have shown that not only Gochashvili but several other man also have been crying to Kaladze (13:12) – “You are traitor, you killed your brother… you sold your brother!” So, it is obvious that all that play was planned in advance and that was not just one man’s “accidental” blaming.
Politmeter (13.07.2012) video (see the interesting timings in the text)
(from 10:24) – first shown the video which is fabricated, Kakha’s swearing is repeated 3 times for making effect stronger. But there is previous episode shown. The next video, which is not montaged, and belongs to TV9 channel, shows the whole conversation. How Gogita Gochashvili provokes Kaladze by accusing him beingguilty for his brother’s tragic death. (from 11:30). Nino also has shown the episode when Kakha Kaladze’s guard gets a gun. – it is obvious that there was stone rain directed to Kaladze and other supporters of Georgian Dream as well as journalists and guard was trying to defend Kakha simply by showing a weapon.
On July 13 afternoon one of the bodyguards of Kaladze Tsotne Shengelia has been detained in Samtredia by police and his whereabouts were unknown for whole day. First relatives were told Shengelia was moved to Kutaisi, then it was said he was transfered to Gori – 150 km from Samtredia (that is usual tactics of Saakashvili police – to kep the relatives and lawyers uninformed until the court is already starting a trial!). Tsotne’s family, GD movement activists and lawyers demanded from Gori Police to disclose where Tsotne Shengelia was but they kept silence and were saying they don’t have any information about this person. Apparently Gori police simply has lied to family –Tsotne Shengelia was in that police building and the court session started at after midnight 1:32 AM of July 14 (as usually in Georgia, to start trials after midnigth and without notyfying defender’a family and lawyer – when it comes to opposition trials – for making it harder) and Tsotne is accused in hooliganism by (trial by administrative code maximum possible sentence 3 months!).
It seems, police will try hard to get admittance from Shengelia, that it was Kaladze ordering to shoot villagers. Saakashvili’s prosecution badly wants to arrest Kakha Kaladze.
This is Kafkaesque face of Saakashvili’s “democracy” – lie, provocation, intimidation, 100% criminalization of the government,- sentencing defender, awarding aggressor – WHO THE HELL MAY CALL ALL THIS DICTATORSHIP A “DEMOCRACY”???!.
P.S. On July 14 MIA announced that 6 persons (3 from Saakashvili loyalist zondercommandos and 3 from Georgian Dream activists/Kaladze bodyguard have been detained). It is interesting that like in Mereti incident, when only GD supporters were beaten and taken to hospital, similarly after Karaleti incident several dozen people (among them 7 journalist) were injured from opposition side and 13 (all GD supporters) were directed to GoriMed hospital. That shows that in both cases attackers were from Saakashvili’s loyalist side, but police in both cases detained equal numbers of clash particiapants from each side – 2-2 in Mereti and 3-3 in Karaleti. This facade “impartiality” of police serves only camouflage to Saakashvili’s injust justice system. It needs to be mentioned that GoriMed hospital head doctor was not willing to give injured patients discharge form which would serve them for later investigation until NGO representatives protest and rushed patients despite of more care needed to leave hospital immediately after initial examination by doctors.
Misha Unplugged!Posted: 2012/06/27 Filed under: TRanslation of Georgian media articles | Tags: Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgian Dream movement, Gori, intimidation, Mereti, Mikheil Saakashvili, Misha Unplugged, Zonders %(count)s კომენტარი
on June 26th opposition block Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvili and Chair of one of the party of his block – Irakli Alasania (Free Democrats) had a meeting with villagers of Mereti, which is Shida Kartli region, not far from Gori and South Ossetian enclave, occupied by Russians. There have been hundreds of villagers, willing to meet opposition politicians. Ivanishvili and Alasania, arrived in the village of Mereti as part of his pre-election campaigning.
photo: Ivanishvili meeting population in Shida Kartli
As one of the Georgian Dream supporters was talking to Ivanishvili, telling him about the need to restore territorial integrity, a middle-aged man approached saying, referring to Ivanishvili and his political allies “where they were during the war” with Russia. Then Ivanishvili himself approached a group of women standing nearby and one of them told him: “I consider you to be Georgia’s traitor… Putin instructed you to stir turmoil in Georgia”; another one told him: “Saakashvili is not only a president, but he is our God too.” Interestingly that lady had to admit that she was not from Mereti village, but from Gori, and specially came to this meeting to express her dissatisfaction with Ivanishvili and say that only Misha is good and God for Georgians, and that every Georgian agrees with her! ProSaakashvili Imedi and Rsitavi2 TVs have only shown the attacking remark of the lady without the part when she admitted she was not local. As Ivanishvili was talking with this group of women a fistfight erupted several meters away. Locals in the village, who support Ivanishvili, said that the fistfight was provoked by the ruling party drunk supporters, including employees of local government agencies.
photo: Saakashvili’s last hope to win elections – Zondercommandos
Several people have been identified – a Head of Gori district Rescue Team Kakha Lomidze, which brought all his servicemen to the incident site by wrong alarm, that it was a fire in Mereti! That’s how Saakashvili converts everybody – police, patrol, courts, Mandaturi service, teachers, municipality workers, and now also rescuers – from public servants – to his and his ruling party’s loyal servants. Besides rescuers, there were dozen wrestlers from Gori and nearby village Ditsi, and some illegal special forces which are in the so-called ZonderBriggade, leaded by MP Badri Basishvili, member of Saakashvili’s UNM party. Such groups were formed after 2008 year conflict with Russia. As the local population is left with no sources for survival, Saakashvilil “agents” are offering to some of them payment for becoming protest-suppressing Zonderbirgades! These persons have regular payments and are given facilities to be trained in wrestling, and fist fighting. The most successful ones are sent to tournaments, but majority is simply used to intimidate or even beat their neighbors whenever government feesl that is needed to maintain power – aftrer election, e.g. Such groups have been often used by the government to punish and intimidate opposition supporters during 2007-2011 protests. Some of them are now have official positions at Cosntitutional Security Department (CSD). As the government has heard about Ivanishvili plans to visit Mereti, they rushed rescuers, sportsmen and Zondercomandos to the village trying to portray that as confrontation between supporters and “local” opponents of Ivanishvili. In fact, nearly all opponents have been either party functionaries or specially brought fist-fighters.
Scene like this when a group of young men, chanting ‘Misha, Misha’ were appearing nearby to where Ivanishvili was holding campaign meetings with locals, were seen in several other villages in recent weeks, but the incident in Mereti was the first of this kind when it grew into a clash. And apparently it was well concerted provocation which was ordered from very top officials.
An official from the Interior Ministry said without any specifics, that probe was launched into the Mereti incident and several people involved were identified who would now face “measure envisaged by law.” Police later indeed detained 4 persons, but among detainees there were only 2 wrestlers (locals said there have been about 30 people who aggressively y beaten elderly people and women) and also 2 supporters of Georgian Dream movement, which have been taken from their homes by non-police dressed persons. That’s Saakashvili’s “justice” – when right victim gets arrested and convicted to be a suspect! That is what kills any slightest belief that this ugly unjust regime would ever do anything just and non-falsified! And “Without Justice – There Will Be No Peace!”
Several people, all – supporters of Ivanishvili, including a young woman – Lizi Shavlokhashvili, were taken to hospital for treatment. A male with multiple traumas was still there after two days. As it was Gori Military Hospital which is closed for relatives, family took home Lizi, who had brain contusion. The relatives said, although doctors advised to keep their daughter at hospital, they do not trust facility, which is under 100% control of Saakashvili loyalists which would do whatever government would require them to do. TV9 journalist was assaulted and camera damaged.
The incident in Mereti came just day after President Saakashvili met with provincial governors and officials from the local governments and called them “to ensure unconditional commitment to democracy and legal principles, and to guarantee that this electoral process is really exemplary.” One can imagine, what kind of “unconditional commitment” in reality Saakashvili was demandng from this loyalists – the result has been seen in just 24 hours.
Journalists have noticed that in just 200 meters from confrontation site there is Police post, but not a single policeman has emerged at the scene, when very strong fight emerged and several dozen people have been bitterly beaten.
Commenting on the Mereti incident, Parliamentary Chairman Davit Bakradze called for restraint ahead of the October parliamentary elections. He hinted that the fistfight could have been a reaction of those people, who were angry with some of Ivanishvili’s remarks, especially about the August war.
“I understand how difficult it is to hear from politician that ‘Georgia started the war’,” Bakradze said, apparently referring to Ivanishvili’s remarks made in November. [In fact, Ivanishvili said it was stupidity and arrogance of Georgian leadership which was responsible for war]. “I understand that these words are associated with the Kremlin policy… I want to call on the society and supporters of any political party to avoid any incidents in the pre-election period and to show restraint no matter how unacceptable remarks and position of a political group might be.” Indeed such cynical assessment sounds more justification of the violance, rather than distancing from it! Bakradze could have said the same by saying – “It was ugly confrontation and limitation of freedom of meetings, but this attackers in fact were right and we’ll see that again and again if opposition dares to appear there”.
However Bakradze has not iterated what kind of feelings should have Mereti villagers on the government which left them without any help during war, not only providing some transportation for evacuation but leaving them even without proper notice that Russian army was advancing! These are the people who were left behind, who were forgotten and are forgotten. So, naturally most of them are not that charmed by Saakashvili, to call him “God”! But this majority is intimidated by those few paid paramilitaries.
Another similar accident happened in village Dirbi, but as there were not so many paramilitaries transported, it was less fierce and bloody. Meeting in village Tkviavi has been carried out withour complication (because there were no Zondercommandos mobilezed). The locals had interesting discussion about their problems with opposition leaders.
One more and very interesting case happened in village Doesi, Kaspi district. On June 24 there was meeting of local residents, which have irrigation water provision problem. The villagers can’t have their usual agricultural production as water supply is stopped year ago. Now they have heard, that there was nearly 30,000 GEL allotted to deal with that problem, but apparently money has leaked into local officials pockets. As angry population got a meeting in the village center, the local Gamgebeli’s (head of village office) nephew approached them and assaulted verbally, saying – “why you carry this rally, – is this a task Putin gave to you?” He and his friends tried to assure journalists, that there is no water provision problem. Villagers angrily protested that relative of thief of public means shouldn’t cover his uncle’s dirty deeds by accusing others to be Putin’s servants and that Putin had nothing to do with their problem of water supply. Afterwards some confrontation started between government opponents and supporters. Later police detained Tariel and George Okhanashvili (father and son) and then took from Kaspi to Gori for trial (that is 30 km! while there is a court in Kaspi as well). Court has adjourned in secrecy and lawyers have not been allowed to enter the process due to “being late”(!). After being sentenced to 35 and 45 days of administrative code penalty in just few minute and without lawyers attendance, Okhanashvilis had been taken to custody to unknown direction! Only after 6 hours relatives have heard that the arrested father and son are in prison of Kvareli, which is 170 km East from Gori! All these show terrible injustice of Saakashvili regime and also fear against their citizens.
And at the end of day Saakashvili’s National Bureau of Enforcement seized 100% of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s shares of Kartu Group, 100% of shares of Kartu Bank and 21.7% of Progress Bank. What is amazing that officially neither Kartu Bank, not Kartu group shares belong to Ivanishvili!
But who cares – Misha is unplugged!
Today, newspaper “Alia” has reported that on June 14 Saakashvili’s mental health was worsened dramatically. After consultation he was taken to Vilnius and consulted by consillium of prominent psychiatrists. After nearly 7 hours of consultation and discussion the diagnoses drown was rather serious – Chronic Maniac-Depressive Psychosis.
Of course Presidential press-speaker denied that news with laugh and said Saakashvili is in such a good health that he will soon travel to BSEC forum and then to Brussels… Well, if he is not sick mentally, he is then sick legally, as he leads the country to confrontation and instability, he is trying to provoke citizens and carry out another exemplary blatant punitive operation in streets. He knows he can’t win fair elections, and he is ready to destroy the country, but keep a chair!
Saakashvili gets less and less controlled by any means of justice, law or common sense. He rapidly rolls down the same road as Mubarak, Ali, Gaddafi… It is obvious that he is incapable of being democrat – he is natural born autocrat, which has been good enough to hold democrat’s mask so long. What is even more regretful that American administration still doesn’t want to give up their hopes associated with “Beacon of Democracy” and “model of freedom”! But they can’t force the jackal to behave like a dove! And we should remember another wisdom of the wise man:
“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” (MLK)
Saakashvili’s ruling party has official donors among accused mafia membersPosted: 2012/06/25 Filed under: TRanslation of Georgian media articles | Tags: Georgian Justice, Mafia, Saakashvili, United National Movement ruling party, UNM დატოვე კომენტარი
Saakashvili’s ruling party UNM is financed by persons accused to be members of organized criminal groups – how Georgian prosecution converts people from criminals to ruling party donors
Original story on Georgian at – http://netgazeti.ge/GE/105/News/10380/
Among the Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM) donors, along with businessmen and party functionaries, are the people who have been detained, as members of organized mafia. According to the Georgian Department of Financial monitoring of the Chamber of Control, the ruling party has an unbeatable lead in received donations – 1,768, 492 GEL (over $1.9M) from 75 individuals during January 1 – June 19, 2012 period.
But surprisingly, among those donors there are people which have been charged by Georgian prosecutors as organized criminal groups members. For Example, Sergo Labartkava and Tamaz Jamagadze have donated 40,000 GEL (app. $25,000) each – to the UNM. They were detained by Constitutional Security Department (CSD) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in March 30, 2010 as members of organized criminal group for having promised a businessman to decrease his taxes and fraudulently received 370,000 GEL (around $228,000). This crime is a subject to 10 years imprisonment according to Georgian criminal code, but apparently instead of being sent to jail these individuals have now become UNM’s donors.
Another “donor” is Elgudja Beriashvili who donated 20,000 GEL to UNM ($12,300). He was an official with the Ministry of Economics who was detained for an especially large bribery incident, normally subject of 15 year imprisonment. Again, we don’t know why and how this person remains free, but his name in present on the official donors’ list and donations of this sum raise clear suspicions.
Zurab Inasaridze, owner of Iberia Trading Ltd. was also detained by CSD for customs tax evasion worth tens of thousands GEL. Now Mr. Inasaridze has donated 12,000 GEL ($7,500) to UNM.
Besides those names, there are many businessmen in the UNM donors’ list, who for years have provided an especially supportive environment for the government as they have won a majority of state-announced tenders.
Saakashvili-encouraged sex-tourism in Gonio (Adjara, Georgia)Posted: 2012/06/21 Filed under: TRanslation of Georgian media articles | Tags: Adjara, Georgia, Gonio, Potyomkin-Facade Democracy, Prostitution, Saakashvili, Sex-tourism, Trafficking, Varshalomidze %(count)s კომენტარი
Saakashvili government keeping blind eye on sex-industry promotion in Adjara, which became “Sex-tourism haven” for Turkish citizens.
Original article on Georgian http://netgazeti.ge/GE/105/News/10350/
translated by Solomon Ternaleli
Information for foreigners: Gonio, village in Adjara, Black Seaside region of Georgia. Gonio has around 1,100 inhabitants and was a separate village until Saakashvili government merged it with capital of Adjara – Batumi. Such merger usually results in better infrastructure development of villages, but at the same time, with lost of self-regulation and lots of nearly criminal actions against private property rights of villagers. Many international organizations consider such move of Saakashvili government as principle of recentralization , which de-facto contradicts de-jure proclaimed decentralization strategy.
They say they only serve the customers of Turkish nationality. There are about 500 girls from Central Asia, which work as Sex-workers in hotels in Gonio (Adjara, Georgia). Around 27 brothels are masked under the names of hotels and café.
There is collective letter kept at Gonio local administration, signed by 450 villagers which protest creation of sex-tourism place in Gonio. This letter has been directed to nearly anybody in Georgiangovernment, including the President, but nobody has ever replied, nobody seems concerned.
In the preparation of the article “Batumelebi” has recorded around 40 respondents – publicly or anonymously,including the ‘hotels’ owners, managers of cafes, sex-workers, police and taxi drivers.
Women from Central Asian countries
Women categorically refused to open talks with reporters from «Batumelebi». That, perhaps, is not allowed. They have their chiefs, i.e., those women, who had brought them to Georgia. Locals in Gonio think the girls are brought by their compatriots, mainly from poor families in Central Asian villages. Most of the girls speak only their native language.
“Here they take pictures, as if they work as cleaners in families, but in reality they become prostitutes,” – says about them M.G, local villager.
Whether girls from Central Asian countries are forced to work here? Batumelebi couldn’t find out facts that their passports are taken away from them. What can be said for sure that those girls do have financial «responsibility» against their «employers», upon arrival they pay around 700 USD for trip and 5,000 USD for their «employment». After that the agreement how to share the income is negotiated between them and employer.
Sex-workers rate us usually 150 GEL (around $90), discounts are possible. Some of them say that they wouldn’t engage with Georgian man even for 2-3 times more payment.
«No, I only go with Turks. I have my own clientele» – is heard in one of the secret recording.
Than «hotel’s» owner finds such solution for Georgian client:
– If you have you own woman, bring her and I let you in the room. You see, all my girls are busy for the moment…
Not long time ago a tragic even happened in Gonio: in one of the house rented for sex-workers one of the girls has committed suicide – she was found hanged up. Some in Gonio say she was first killed and then hanged up to mimic a suicide. Investigation is not yet over. Batumi municipality has buried a victim as abandoned deceased. After that «owner» of that girl, Turkish citizen has left Gonio immediately. Neighbors say, since then they have not seen other girls in that house either.
According to Georgian legislation, if the foreign citizen is dead in Georgia, Police should notify Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which then notifies corresponding embassy, which then contacts the family of deceased.
But why Batumi municipality has buried the dead girl as abandoned one? One possible reason could have been that if the person’s passport was not found, then it could have been difficult to find out who she was! But in such case, it would have been a clear case that police has buried a victim of trafficking! In Adjara Police Department Batumelebi journalist was told that the dead girl was citizen of Kirgizstan and her parents had no means to transport the body, that’s why she was buried in Adjara.
Everything in the dusty village road changes with evening – many trailers turn from the highway to beach. Drivers stop trucks at so-called Cafes, which are illuminated by sharp color backlit, then a taxi service starts – girls are coming on taxis. From all cafes one can hear a voice of Turkish music. Brothels, basically, are around Gonio School – the upper and lower sides of the highway.
Local resident said, said that as soon as sun goes down, local women, regardless of age, try not staying outdoor.
“Men are so drunk that touch and abuse any woman they would see. It is difficult to watch this humiliation. If one gets confronted to Turks, then Police would take you in jail, and there are very strict sentences for abusing foreign citizen.
Turning Gonio in sex-village also alienated neighbors to each other. A. M. Said that many people do not talk with each other. Those who refused to open a brothel in his house, now realizes that if it continued, he should say Goodbye to the tourists, which means they fail and banks would sell their houses. However, the ones who converted hotels to brothels are on «safe side»!
M.M says and others also confirm that Guguli Bakuridze and Valodia Gogitidze have leased their houses cause of bank loan. We couldn’t get in touch with these people, their neighbors say that they had to rent a house in Batumi and move their for living. In the same district Givi Bakuridze also leases his house. These are the brothel-converted properties which «Batumelebi» has photographed secretly.
Gonio citizens say that for the moment 27 facilities are engaged in sex-tourism service.
Role of the government in Sex-industry development
Immediately upon Gonio had first elements of Sex-tourism zone, 450 local citizens have signed collective appeal and handed it over to Police. Police official respond was that they had no right to engage!
Same letter then was directed to Batumi Mayor, which again forwarded it to Gonio police, which again answered the same answer as before! The local youth have complained to Levan Varshalomidze [Adjara Prime Minister, age 40, close friend of Mikheil Saakashvili who made him irreplaceable first man in Adjara – S.T.]. Varshalomidze’s response to them – «So what? Why not you also get fun? »
Then Gonio citizens have sent the letter to Parliament Speaker. David Bakradze has forwarded citizens’ letter again to Gonio Police! The later decision was to apply to President Saakashvili, and again the letter made that useless «trip» back to Gonio Police!
Hoewever, the last letter which returned to Police from Saakashvili’s chancellery, ended with quite different outcome! – Gonio Police came to activists of that collective letter and plainly warned then – «never ever dare to write complains in future,]guys!» [See the difference?! – S.T.]
Now people in Gonio tell this story in very depressed mood and know that nothing will ever change. They say that opening 27 brothels in a small village was not a coincidence, but decision of Georgian supreme leadership themselves!
For years Georgian police is famous for actively listening telephone conversation of thousands of citizens as well as using hidden video frequently in practice. But for some reasons such skills and technical capacities are still not used regarding those «hotels» profile or to prove authencity of talks, which clearly indicate that «hotels» serve to prostitution [which is illegal in Georgia] and might represent sites of trafficking!. Moreover, the local police into a private conversation confirm they know about Gonio being sex-tourism zone. They even say that it is a matter concern for them too. The police believe that the process will be irreversible, while the only focus of this country [and of this government!] is tourism.
Obviously, the police officers have not shared with ‘Batumelebi with the names of top officials which prevent them to take action on respond of citizens’ collective appeal – to carry measures against persons which are engaged in sex-service development
B.M. – another resident from Gonio, has one more argument why he thinks that police is both informed and even tied with sex business. He assured journalist that in case there are rumors that one of the girls has sexually transmittable disease, Police’s Special Operation Department (SOD) officials appear immediately and take the suspected woman on medical examination. In Gonio people remember that after such tests some sex-worker women came back, but they are also certain that some of them never returned.
According to Georgian Criminal code, transfer of place of residence or house for prostitution is punishable action which should result in 2-4 year imprisonment. Similarly, trafficking and involvement in prostitution either by use of force, or under threat of property destruction or deception is major offense and should be penalized.
Georgian Criminal Code, the transfer of residence or place of prostitution is punishable by imprisonment for 2 – to 4 years. In addition, involvement in prostitution is punishable, under threat of violence or property destruction and deception.
Consequently, law enforcement officers upon receiving information that place of residence was transferred to be used for prostitution are required immediately to start a fact finding and only based on its results decide shall they start a n official investigation or whether the ground was not proven. To use this very paragraph of the criminal code is a major demand of Gonio citizens.
Other articles on the same subject:
Georgia in U.S. Human Trafficking Report
Georgia is a source, transit and destination country for sex trafficking and forced labor with the Georgian government demonstrating improvements in anti-trafficking prevention efforts, according to U.S. Department of State’s annual report released on June 19.
For six straight years Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report puts Georgia in “tier one” – the highest ranking, which although does not mean that a country has no human trafficking problem, but indicates that its government undertakes efforts to address this problem and meets minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
Out of the 185 countries reviewed in the 2012 report, which covers developments in 2011, 33 complied fully with laws in place to end human trafficking, putting them at the top of a four-tier ranking system.
While over the past decade Georgia was mainly described in annual TIP reports as “a source and transit country” of human trafficking, last year’s report, which was covering developments of 2010, said that Georgia was also “to a lesser extent” a destination country too. The new report describes Georgia as “a source, transit, and destination country.”
“Women and girls from Georgia are subjected to sex trafficking within the country and also in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates,” TIP Report 2012 reads. “Women from Uzbekistan and possibly other countries are found in forced prostitution in the commercial sex industry in Georgia.”
According to the report there were cases of men and women being subjected to forced labor within Georgia, and Georgians being subjected to forced labor in Russia, Turkey and some other countries. The report also says that there have been cases in recent years of foreign nationals exploited in agriculture, construction and domestic service within Georgia and Turkish men subjected to forced labor “in the occupied territory of Abkhazia.”
According to the report the Georgian authorities demonstrated “improvements in anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts”, as well as increased the number of investigated trafficking cases. 16 trafficking investigations involving 18 individuals were initiated in 2011, compared with 11 investigations of 18 individuals a year earlier, according to the report, which also says that five sex trafficking offenders were prosecuted and convicted in 2011, an increase from one offender convicted in 2010.
TIP Report 2012, however, also notes decline in identification of victims of trafficking as government’s efforts in this respect “were not effective” during the first half of 2011. 18 victims were identified, most of them in late 2011, compared to 19 a year earlier and 48 in 2009.
“Country experts reported concerns with the low level of victim identification and overall lack of success in locating trafficking victims, including children in exploitative situations on the street, children in the sex trade, foreign women in the commercial sex sector, and Georgian and foreign workers in vulnerable labor sectors,” the report reads.
It also notes that last year, the government increased funding for state-provided victim services by nearly 50%, including by allocating USD 302,000 to two government-run shelters for trafficking victims.