Governor’s Fund is Spotty
We took issue with the unreasonable expenses of the Shida Kartli Governor’s fund in 2004. Two years ago, journalists examined the Governor’s fund using data from the Chamber of Control Based on the information gathered, the 'Human Rights Information and Documentation Centre' published articles about abuses with the Governor’s fund and the names of real and fictitious charity businessmen who were donating to the fund. Now we have uncovered a new violation.
Recently the press service of the Governor Mikheil Kareli has disseminated information about expenses debited against the Shida Kartli Governor’s Fund in 2005. It could be said that the Governor’s press service has served Mr. Kareli poorly. According to these reports, Mr. Kareli has not given up his previous habit of abusing his power by embezzling money from the Governor’s Fund.
In 2004, 490,000 GEL was allocated to Mr. Kareli’s fund, and in 2005 [this amount] reached 785,558 GEL. According to the data from 2004, 200,000GEL was transferred to Mr. Kareli from the Development Fund for Law Enforcement Organizations, and another 290,000 GEL was transferred ostensibly as donations by businessmen. The list of these donors was submitted to the Georgian Chamber of Control. However, as we have disclosed previously, 50 businessmen out of 91 were not real people.
In 2005, the Development Fund for Law Enforcement Organizations allocated 500,000 GEL [to the Governor’s Fund], and Mr. Kareli’s fund received [an additional] 285,558 GEL from donors. In total, Mr. Kareli received and spent 1,275,588 GEL between 2004 and 2005.
Accounting for how the governor spent the above sums in 2005, the Governor’s press service reported that Mr. Kareli began funding the Ossetian News Program again. In 2004, 9,000 GEL was set aside from the fund for the local television company, Trialeti, for this purpose. [For comparison purposes], the television company owned by former National Member of Parliament, Badri Nanetashvili, received 10,500 GEL in 2005. [Nonetheless,] journalists for the Ossetian News Program, Nana Bestaeva, Bela Kumaritova, and others did not receive their official wages of 80 GEL as promised by [Trialeti]. Mr. Nanetashvili fired them without pay and without cause. In 2004 the Ossetian News Program was financed by the American Organization, IREX. The journalists also stated that they were required [by Tiraleti] to hand over their wages after already being paid. In general, in 2005 Trialeti did not broadcast the Ossetian News Program. Thus, it is curious why the Governor’s Fund gave 10,500 GEL to Trialeti [for the purpose of broadcasting this program].
The neglected Gori State Theatre also received money [from the Governor’s Fund], but the money is unaccounted for. In 2004, Mr. Kareli reported to the Chamber of Control that he had transferred 15,000 GEL to the Gori Theatre. In 2005, the Governor’s press service reported that 10,000 GEL was allocated to the theater again. Mr. Kareli has either donated 25,000 GEL to the theatre or simply repeated the sum in their report to the Chamber of Control in 2005. In either case, there are indications of fraud since the roof of the theater is still falling in and the walls that were painted in 2004 for 15,000 GEL need to be painted again.
In 2005, [funds for] the construction of a playground in the town of Kareli were reported. Although funds for this playground increased by only two thousand lari over last year’s amount, [funds for the construction of a similar playground in Gori nearly tripled] from 22,000 GEL in 2004 to 60 000 GEL in 2005. Moreover, the former Deputy Governor and current director of the Stalin Museum, Gela Naskidashvili stated that the playground construction only cost 10,000 GEL. When the Human Rights Information and Documentation Centre questioned why 60,000 GEL was reported [to the Chamber of Control], Mr. Naskidashvili answered that changing rooms and showers might have increased expenses. During pre-electoral campaign, Teo Tlashadze, a Member of Parliament from Gori stated to Uflistsikhe residents that the Government was very concerned about its youth and was going to spend 80,000 GEL to build a playground in the area. These facts prove that local officials do not agree about the actual cost of the playground.
Funds were also wasted on a 'Natural Gas Program' in the villages of Karaleti and Tiniskhidi. The main pipeline, with a cost of 17,128 GEL, has reached these villages, though people still cannot utilize it because it is too far from the village centers, and residents cannot afford to install local connections. In the village of Tiniskhidi, only the Deputy Governor, Marlen Nadiradze, and his family have benefited from this [new natural gas] pipeline.
The Governor has also allotted 15,825 GEL for the paving of roads, even though 1,900,000 GEL in 2005 and 3 million GEL this year have already been set aside for the Infrastructure Development Program in Gori.
In addition, a large sum has been set aside for the installation of traffic signs. According to Vano Nuskhelishvili, who lives in the village of Kvakhvreli in Gori District, irrigation pipes have been removed by the Regional Administrative Board and used for [the construction of] traffic lights in Gori. He said that the work was overseen by the Deputy Governor, Marlen Nadiradze. Mr. Nadiradze promised [to bring natural] gas to the villagers in exchange for their [irrigation] pipes, stating that some of the pipes would be used to bring natural gas to the village while the rest would be used for other purposes. Mr. Nuskhelidze, the leader of the National Movement Party in [Kvakhvreli], said that he had had an argument with Gori authorities regarding the tubes, and he subsequently withdrew from the National Movement Party [in protest]. Mr. Nuskhelidze reported that all the pipes were taken to Gori, and none was left for the residents of Kvakhvreli. Although Mikheil Kareli promised villagers to provide natural gas with the pipes, these pipes have also been used for sign posts and for a gas pipeline in Karaleti-Tiniskhidi. 22,175 GEL was allotted for sign posts by the fund, though the Administrative Board did not spend a single cent on the iron posts for the traffic lights, [while] the Administrative Board still owes money to the shop that sold [Gori District] the light bulbs. Mr. Nadiradze said each bulb cost 70 Euros. [However, when the HRIDC] discovered that the bulbs were purchased at a [local] store called Nateba [and attempted to verify this price], store staff refused to provide information and said that the owner is currently in Tbilisi.
Mr. Kareli has treated law enforcement organizations worst of all. Last year, 200,000 GEL was diverted from the Development Fund for Law Enforcement Organizations to the Governor’s Fund, and this amount reached 500,000 GEL this year. [Even with these diversions,] the Governor’s Fund only spent 5,300 GEL on law enforcement organizations when it bought a police cruiser in 2007. No more data is available that would suggest Mr. Kareli has a genuine interest in funding law enforcement.
According to documents, Mr. Kareli has also spent funds [from the Development Fund for Law Enforcement] on Gori-based military units, even though the Army Development Fund consists of several millions. For example, Verkhvebi and Tsmindatskali districts based military units in Gori have accumulated some debts for natural gas in previous years, which threatened the continued supply of gas. [For the settlement of these debts], 17,825 GEL was set aside. 10,730 GEL was also spent to provide natural gas to military unit, #2062, [in the barracks]. For this purpose, a 0.64 kilometer long natural gas pipe line was built. Since military unit, #16101, was also under construction and needed furniture and equipment, it received 980 GEL.
The headquarters of the Tskhinvali-based Georgian peacekeeping was also in poor conditions and in need of immediate repair since it reflected poorly on the Georgia’s reputation. Restoration of the above mentioned facility and building of the kitchen and dinning room cost 69,918 GEL.
In Gori, a new armored transport unit was created by a Defense Ministry’s order, and [this unit] did not have sufficient office equipment. Two computers and a printer were purchased for the unit [at a price] of 2,114 GEL.
Saba Tsitsikashvili, Gori
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