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Declassified President-Related Spending Records Released
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 18 Apr.'13 / 02:50

A lawmaker from Georgian Dream (GD) parliamentary majority made public on April 17 documents, involving spending records from the Special State Protection Service (SSPS), which, GD says, shows misspending of large amount of public funds by President Saakashvili.

MP Irine Imerlishvili, who chairs parliamentary committee for procedural issues, said that records became publicly available after these documents were declassified by the law enforcement agencies as they actually contain no secret information.

She said that these documents were classified as secret by the previous authorities in order to keep undisclosed information about lavish spending by the President for his and his close allies, friends and family members’ personal purposes.   

Cache of dozens of documents includes handwritten spending records, made by officials from SSPS, with accompanied payment receipts, as well as invoices from hotels and other service providers.

One document shows that up to EUR 37,500 was spent for President’s five-day stay at spa resort in Italy’s South Tyrol in February 2011, where he was accompanied by Giorgi Baramidze, then state minister for Euro-Atlantic integration and now UNM lawmaker, and Giorgi Arveladze, who at the time ran Imedi TV channel. Records show that expenses included President’s and two of his companions’ stay in a luxury Palace Merano Hotel, as well as EUR 3,000 paid after President’s visit to an aesthetic clinic; other relatively small expenses included purchase of ski gear and a bicycle helmet for the President.

Several other documents show that funds were allocated from SSPS budget to pay GEL 5,900 primary school fee for President’s youngest son, Nikoloz, at the British-Georgian Academy in 2011, as well as total of GEL 24,000 for high school fee of President’s oldest son, Eduard, at the Guivy Zaldastanishvili American Academy in Tbilisi made in two installments in 2010 and 2011.

Another document shows up to GEL 114,900 was spent when President Saakashvili and Tbilisi Mayor, Gigi Ugulava, stayed for a week at Parkhotel Igls health spa near Innsbruck, Austria in October, 2010.  

According to one document from March 2012, over GEL 89,000 was spent when President Saakashvili, his close advisor Raphael Glucksmann, then parliament speaker Davit Bakradze and then head of government of Adjara autonomous republic Levan Varshalomidze stayed in Amanpuri luxury resort in Thailand on March 22-24.

Over GEL 236,000 was spent from SSPS budget on accommodation when the President and large group of his companions, among them eleven UNM lawmakers and other officials, stayed for several days in Dubai in early January, 2013.   

A December, 2011 document shows that GEL 3,500 worth enamel bracelet was bought with SSPS funds and presented as a gift from President to Mariam Sajaia, who is now UNM lawmaker. Sajaia, 22, who is the youngest member of the parliament, has denied receiving any gift from the President; like some other UNM lawmakers, she also said that leveling these allegations showed government’s “panic” reaction to UNM’s planned outdoor rally in Tbilisi center on April 19.

President Saakashvili downplayed allegations of misspending public funds and called on the government “not to make fun of itself.”

“Tell me even one country in the world, whose president is not making foreign trips, not taking with him parliamentarians, government members and also family members or is not inviting guests in country… for the purpose of popularizing their own countries,” Saakashvili said and added that these efforts helped him to attract investments. “Hundreds of millions and billions of dollars were invested [in Georgia] from all over the world, which was a result of our [foreign] visits… Should not we receive guests at high level when they visit Georgia? That’s the same in other countries too.”

He also said that the government was “excessively nervous” about UNM’s planned rally on April 19.

“I want to tell the Prime Minister and the government that nothing special will happen on April 19. I want to tell them not to be afraid, if they really are; nothing special will happen; there is no need of releasing something every day and there is no need of making things up; let’s take care of people and focus on issues that really matter for the people,” Saakashvili said.

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