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Business of a Small Entrepreneur Sacrificed to the Controversy Between Regional Governor and Municipal Board Members

22.12.2010

Saba Tsitsikashvili, Gori

Resident of Ergneti village in Gori district Ramin Jokhadze was selling “fuel gas” in the territory of the Ltd “Georgia 21”. The company belongs to the deputy chairman of the municipal board Temur Khachiuri. After Zurab Arsoshvili occupied the position of the Shida Kartli regional governor, he got interested in Temur Khachiuri’s business. The regional governor issued verbal decree to ban selling of fuel gas in Khachiuri’s territory. The individual entrepreneurs said Arsoshvili personally examined the place and ordered them “to disappear” from the place.

Individual entrepreneur Ramin Jokhadze, whose house was burnt during the armed conflict in August of 2008 in Ergneti village, had signed the agreement with the Ltd Georgia 21 till November 2010. In August of 2010 he had to stop selling gas. He unsuccessfully tried to negotiate with the regional administration and deputy chairman of the municipal board. The representatives of the Ltd Georgia 21 convinced him to settle the problem with head of supervision department of the regional administration Hamlet Merabishvili.

Ramin Jokhadze applied to the Gori office of the Human Rights Center and local newspaper Kartlis Khma for help on August 30, 2010. “They asked me to remove the truck of the fuel gas from Khachiuri’s territory. Several days later, Arsoshvili drove by our gas station and categorically demanded me to leave the place. Afterwards, I met the head of the supervision department Hamlet Merabishvili who told me fuel gas must not been sold in the town area,” said Ramin Jokhadze.

Afterwards, I asked Hamlet Merabishvili to explain why they banned individual entrepreneur Ramin Jokhadze to sell fuel gas on the embankment of the River Liakhvi which is 400-5000 meters away from the residential area. Hamlet Merabishvili replied to our question in the letter of Gori district governor Davit Khmiadashvili who said that fuel gas shall not be sold in the town based on the decree of the minister of economic issued on April 14, 2010. However, they did not clarify which article of the 300-page- decree was breached by Ramin Jokhadze.

After that, we again sent letter to Hamlet Merabishvili and asked him to explain whether the decree worked for the bigger petrol stations located in the territory of Gori town; among them a petrol station located in Kombinati settlement where almost 20 multi-tone cisterns are placed about 50-60 meters away from residential building and educational institutions as well as a recently built glass office of the patrol police station. The patrol police office was opened by the Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia Vano Merabishvili and regional governor Zurab Arsoshvili short time ago.

The regional administration replied that similar issues are beyond the competence of the Shiuda Kartli regional administration and suggested us to get in touch with corresponding institutions. Then we sent letter to the Gori district governor Davit Khmiadashvili who replied that the decree of the economic minister about “Security of Gas Systems” is valid in the entire territory of Georgia. But the district governor did not comment on the question whether location of about 20 multi-tone cisterns was lawful in Kombinati settlement or not.

We got in touch with the owner of the cisterns located in Kombinati settlement Nugzar Khojevanishvili. We measured the distance between the petrol station and the residential buildings and it turned up 60 meters only. Khojevanishvili said that Tbilisi technical supervision service, which is being established currently, will examine the situation in the town.

“If any of us works illegally, will have to stop activities and move to another place. As for Ramin Jokhadize’s business, I have nothing to do with it. People say that I benefited from the suspension of his business but it is not right – he could not compete me with his two-tone cisterns; just the opposite, sometimes he bought gas from me for debt,” said Nugzar Khojevanishvili.

It is fact only Ramin Jokhadze’s business became target for the local authority in the town. Gori district administration categorically denied their participation in the suspension of Jokhadze’s business. In their first letter, representatives of the Ltd Georgia 21 wrote in their first letter that technical supervision department banned Jokhadze’s business after examination. In the second letter, they denied participation of the district administration in it. Son of the deputy chairman of the municipal board is the head of technical supervision department in Gori district administration. That means, Temur Khachiuri controls the Technical Supervision Department since his son is the head of it.

Ramin Jokhadze lost everything during the war. He left his family with the support of his small business. He thinks the only way to solve his problems is attraction of the attention of central governmental officials. Gori office of the Human Rights Center thinks that Ramin Jokhadze’s interests were sacrificed to the controversy between the regional governor and municipal board members.

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