Paata Burchuladze, an operatic bass who leads a four-party election bloc State for People, has slammed billionaire ex-PM and founder of ruling GDDG party, Bidzina Ivanishvili, as a “liar” and accused him of trying to damage his reputation with a slander campaign.
“We are under surveillance, we are eavesdropped, and businessmen, who support our party, are under pressure,” Burchuladze said at a press conference on September 19.
“It is immoral when one infringes privacy… and disseminates rumors to damage my reputation,” Burchuladze said, referring to leaked wiretapped audio recording of his phone conversation with head of the Tbilisi-based private broadcaster Rustavi 2 TV, Nika Gvaramia.
On September 12 Ivanishvili said that few years ago when he asked Burchuladze to support the Georgian Dream, the operatic bass asked him “a lot of money” in exchange, but he refused to pay. In separate remarks earlier this month Ivanishvili described Burchuladze as being “ruled” by the United National Movement (UNM) and his party as “typical UNM’s project.”
“Georgia is governed not by the government, but by informal ruler, who can say lies publicly. I have done nothing but good for my country… and no one has the right to insult me completely groundlessly and irresponsibly and to try to mislead my electorate and the entire public; by doing so Bidzina Ivanishvili has exposed himself,” Burchuladze said.
“He is a liar and I demand a public apology from him for those multiple defamatory allegations voiced by him recently. He alleged that I asked for a lot of money in exchange for my support – that is utterly false,” he said.
“We are dealing with a person, who is capable of blatantly deceiving people and this man is now appointing and sacking ministers and prime ministers. Situation is alarming,” Burchuladze said.
At the same press conference one of the leaders of the State for People, Davit Jandieri, accused the State Audit Office, which is also in charge of monitoring political parties’ finances, of trying to scare off potential donors from funding the State for People election bloc. He said that four of the party’s donors have been fined with up to GEL 10,000 each after the Tbilisi City Court ruled positively on State Audit Office’s motion, which claimed that donations made by these four donors were illegal.
The State for People party was the second largest recipient of donations in the first eight months of this year, raising GEL up to GEL 2.29 million. New Political Center (NPC)–Girchi (pine cone) and New Georgia, which are part of Burchuladze’s election bloc since mid-August raised GEL 601,000 and GEL 261,000, respectively, in the same period.
Jandieri also said that while the State Audit Office is monitoring closely funding of the State for People, it is reluctant to scrutinize the ruling GDDG party.
GDDG received total of GEL 10.28 million in donations in the first eight months of this year, almost twice as much as seven opposition parties combined.