Bank account of a Tbilisi-based think-tank, which was founded nine months ago with funding from leader of Georgian Dream opposition coalition Bidzina Ivanishvili, has been frozen.
Georgian Development Research Institute (GDRI), which was established in October, said on Wednesday that the Tbilisi City Court ruled to freeze the organization’s account in the Tbilisi-based Progress Bank on July 25.
After GDRI inquired with the court what the reason behind the decision was, the organization received on July 31 a letter from the Tbilisi City Court, which does not provide any explanation, instead saying that GDRI is not legally eligible to receive information about ongoing investigation into the case based on which its bank account was frozen, because GDRI does not represent a party into the case; it also means that GDRI is not able to even appeal the ruling about freezing its bank account to higher court.
There is somewhat similar legal situation in respect of bank accounts of a retired footballer Kakha Kaladze, who is running for a majoritarian seat in parliament as a candidate for Bidzina Ivanishvili-led Georgian Dream coalition.
Kaladze’s Georgian bank accounts have also been frozen last week. The chief prosecutor’s office said that the move was part of an ongoing investigation into “alleged legalization of illegal income i.e. money laundering”. When Kaladze’s lawyer tried to appeal the ruling to higher court, he failed to do so because the court said that criminal charges were not initiated personally against Kaladze and he was neither an accused, hence did not represent a party into the case to be eligible for the appeal.
GDRI said on August 1 that it would try to challenge the court’s decision through legal proceedings with the help from Tbilisi-based legal advocacy and watchdog group, Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association. GDRI also said that freezing of its bank account actually means ceasing of organization’s operations, leaving its permanent staff of 22 people without salary.