Police arrested three activists from Georgian Dream opposition coalition and charged them with plotting “sham” transactions with a purpose of bypassing party funding restrictions.
Merab Kachakhidze, an executive secretary of the Conservative Party and two activists of National Forum party, Teimuraz Sheklashvili and Tariel Kardava, were arrested late on Monday. Both of these parties are members of Bidzina Ivanishvili-led Georgian Dream coalition.
The Interior Ministry said that the three activists handed out total of GEL 8,750 in cash to several individuals, who then transferred the sum on accounts of Conservative Party and National Forum in a form of party membership fees. According to the law annual party membership fee from a single member should not exceed GEL 1,200.
The Interior Ministry has also released video footage, secretly recorded with what seems to be a body-worn covert camera, which apparently was attached to one of the activists of the Conservative Party who was cooperating with the police. The footage shows this activist receiving instructions from superiors within the party about distributing money among several individuals and about how they should have transferred the sum to the party’s bank account as a membership fee.
Bidzina Ivanishvili, leader of the Georgian Dream, said the arrest of three activists was “undoubtedly yet another case of political persecution”.
“That’s how Saakashvili’s team fights against political opponents,” he told journalists on July 17.