04:47, Friday, 04.12.2020
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Tsalenjikha District Council Member Speaks, Media Freedom Restriction and Misuse of Funds

Nana Pazhava, Tsalenjikha

Giorgi Vekua, member of Tsalenjikha District Council expressed what is considered as a scandalous statement during the Tsalenjikha District Governor’s election. He said that the freedom of media was restricted. Such a statement is repeated each day. However, what is surprising is to consider that Giorgi Vekua is a National Movement member. He made this and other such statements during a council session. Giorgi Vekua was a Tsalenjikha District Governor candidate but he declined during the election process, which was conducted during the council session. He demanded that an interim commission be set up to study the work of the District’s administration.

“I know that most of my colleagues wish to vote for me but unfortunately I also know that they can not do it… I want society to know that the decision of council does not reflect their actual will,” said Vekua as was declining his candidacy.

On December 24 the Tsalenjikha District Council elected Mamuka Kardava as the Tsalenjikha District Governor. This is when Mamuka Kardava was not a council member, which was one of the requirements to be elected district governor. There is information that Kardava is a member of Rusudan Kervalishivili’s team and his election or appointment was instructed from Tbilisi. Moreover, it turns out that Zaza Gorozia; the Samegrelo- Zemo Svaneti Regional Governor was not involved in the process of nominating and appointing people in Tsalenjikha District. Zaza Gorozia did not even attend the council session when Tsalenjikha District Governor was first elected.

Gia Mebonia, the former Tsalenjikha District Governor died in tragic circumstances. He died in village of Muzhava from running over a Russian landmine that had been planted by Russian-Abkhazian military units.

Giorgi Vekua’s allegation that the freedom of media is restricted came from the problems of Tsalenjikha independent TV-Company Jikha. Giorgi Vekua said that called media inquisitors that those government representatives were in coercion with employees of the TV Company and how censorship had been imposed and there was interference with the editing of news materials. He even named the fact when the recording of meeting of Tsalenjikha district council members and Tsalenjikha District single mandate MP, which was broadcasted, albeit significant material had been edited out to show only a superficial story.

Giorgi Vekua: “In fact no pressing problems that were discussed on the meeting were broadcasted. The society that does not have any information about the developments in the district municipality and an informational vacuum exists. Only those news pieces are broadcasted that fall under the interests of several government officials. The problems like hunger, thirst or cold and wrecked/destroyed houses, natural disaster victims are not covered. The journalists also do not say that the government is unable or unwilling to resolve these kinds of problems.”

Giorgi Vekua demands from the new district governor that the pressure was lifted from TV Company Jikha. However, TV Company Jikha and Kakha Kvaratskhelia, the general director of the TV channel deny any kind of governmental coercion but it seems that Kvaratskhelia is self –censored.

Kakha Kvaratskhelia, general director of TV Company Jikha: “We are simply aware of what we can and cannot be, as we are not in the position to start oppositional demonstrations. We do not need conflict either with the government or any one else for that matter. We act according to the present situation i.e. we do not complicate the situation. On the contrary, however, we are trying to regulate it. People perfectly understand that we trying to maintain neutrality.”

Giorgi Vekua accused some Tsalenjikha District administration officials in ignoring legitimate rights and demands of district council members. It turned out that council members themselves do have not access to public information.

Giorgi Vekua: “Most of the information that the council members must receive is inaccessible. The district administration makes the expenditure section of the district budget particularly secret. I am not planning to tolerate the arbitrary action of administration employees. If a council member questions are not answered on time I will show no mercy. I will use all rights allowed under the law.”

Giorgi Vekua accuses the Tsalenjikha District administration of misappropriation of the district;s budget. He considers that law enforcing bodies must become involved in the matter as it involves the lost and misuse of public funds – often projects were not even implemented.

Giorgi Vekua: “I have reasonable suspicion that the funds allocated for economical and infrastructural development were misappropriated. Many projects were not implemented. Most of the budget was spent on “other” activities in stead of priority ones. I want to know what does the district administration means in “other” activities. It is indicated in the budget on what sectors must money be spent.”

Tsalenjikha district annual income is 4,956 800 GEL. Giorgi Vekua informs that budgetary income and the situation in the district contradict each other. Moreover, the situation is inadequate in the district in this regard. The audit reviews seem to be suspicious for him, which is because some auditors in exchange for some money write the conclusions that the clients needed.

“I think the illegal activities of the district administration discredit Georgian government and the ruling political party. This is when the latter has done many good things for the country. I do not want anyone to discredit the party (national party) and gain profit at the expense of the party, its political team and the country as a whole,” said Giorgi Vekua.

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