Vera Kobalia, the Georgian economy minister, defended her claims of working for the Vancouver-based Global TV and denied doctoring her CV as “disinformation”.
According to her official biography available on the Economy Ministry’s website, Kobalia worked for Global TV as a producer in 2004-2006. However, the Vancouver Sun reported on July 28 that “no one at the Global TV newsroom could recall the name, and Petra Mehner at Global’s Human Resources department said there is no record of Kobalia ever having been on the payroll.”
Asked on this report Kobalia told journalists on July 29: “I understand it very well, that Russia, the Russian authorities and those who support the Russian authorities do not want the Georgian economy to develop and do not want Georgia to become a strong country. They are wrong if they think that they will obstruct me doing my job by disseminating disinformation and rumors of this type.”
“Yes, of course I’ve worked” in Global TV, she said.
President Saakashvili’s decision to appoint Kobalia, who will turn 29 in August, as the Economy Minister was source of controversy with critics questioning her experience.
Kobalia has lived in Canada until recently, where her family, displaced from Abkhazia as a result of armed conflict in early 90s, emigrated fifteen years ago. Since 2008 Kobalia worked for Vancouver-based European Breads Bakery, established by her father in 2001. After return to Georgia she co-established Coalition for Justice, a non-governmental organization with a declared goal to protect rights of IDPs.
Kobalia was embroiled in another controversy after it was reported that her 23-year-old sister, Nina, started working for tourism department of Adjara Autonomous Republic. News about the appointment was reported few days after Vera Kobalia announced competition to fill several senior posts in the Economy Ministry, saying that the vacancies “will not be filled based on family or friendship links.”
Vera Kobalia said on July 29 that her sister “is not working for the Adjara’s government.” “My sister is in Batumi, providing her assistance in developing tourism there, as she is PR specialist,” she added.