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State Funds Sacrificed to the Football Passion of the Regional Governor and City Mayor

October 13, 2010
Manon Bokuchava, Kvemo Kartli

The public officials travel abroad several times a year and they spend funds from the state budget during their trips. The society does not often know the purpose of their travelling. The Human Rights Center (HRIDC) tried to study this problem in Kvemo Kartli region. We requested public information about the official visits of the regional governor Davit Kirkitadze, Rustavi City Mayor Mamuka Chikovani and chairman of the Rustavi city council Kakha Gurgenidze in foreign countries.

The letters we received from the local authority exposed many interesting details. For example, although the chairman of the Rustavi city council Kakha Gurgenidze has spent most funds on his business-trips, he traveled only for business meetings. However, the regional governor and the mayor rarely travelled on business.

In total, Kakha Gurgenidze has spent 7 853 GEL in 2010. He visited Germany, Macedonia and France. He travelled to Germany together with the delegations from Armenia and Azerbaijan to discuss the trans-border cooperation. In Macedonia and in France he attended the events organized by the EU. More precisely, in Macedonia he attended the international conference on the regional development strategies.

Unlike Gurgenidze, regional governor Davit Kirkitadze had more joyful business-trips abroad. He was the only official who refused to provide us with the detailed information about his trips. “We have replied to you about his visit in Brazil in written form; it was an official visit. I cannot tell you anything more,” said spokesperson of Kirkitadze.

The regional governor stayed in Brazil from February 1 till February 11 in 2010. Rustavi residents later rumored that Kirkitadze had taken his wife and city mayor Mamuka Chikovani to Brazil with him. We have already heard about this unofficial information and tried to find out the truth. We learned that Mamuka Chikovani also was in Brazil from February 1 till February 11. Unlike Kirkitadze, he wrote to us that he was invited there by the president of the Brazilian club “Atlético Paranaense”.  This club has signed memorandum with the Rustavi based football club “Olymp”. The only problem is that Mamuka Chikovani neither signed the memorandum, nor in further cooperation of the two clubs. So, we wonder why the president of the “Atlético Paranaense” invited Mamuka Chikovani to Brazil whom he did not know at all unlike the regional governor (The president of the Brazilian club met Kirkitadze when the memorandum was signed in Georgia).

“I know that in winter the president of the Brazilian club invited us – two representatives of the “Olymp” and the regional governor Kirkitadze. They showed us their play-ground; gave some recommendations to us, etc. As for Mamuka Chikovani, I do not think he also was in Brazil. I repeat once more, according to my information only three people were invited there,” said the press-attaché of the “Olymp” Misha Jorbenadze.

Thus, the unofficial information was not groundless at all and the governor indeed took Chikovani to Brazil as a friend. However, this “friendly trip” const 9 959 GEL for the Rustavi city budget. Mamuka Chikovani also visited Polish city of Gdynia in 2010 – they signed the cooperation memorandum between Gdynia and Rustavi.

Like Gdynia, Rustavi has many fraternity cities – Inegol in Turkey, Rotherham in Great Britain, Kiruna in Sweden, and Krasnoyarsk in Russia. Rustavi City has nothing in common with these cities except visits of the local officials to those cities. Despite the less profitable practice, Chikovani visited Gdynia. However, this visit was much cheaper and cost 1754 GEL unlike the visit to Brazil.

Let us get back to Brazil and Davit Kirkitadze’s business-leaves. We have found out that unlike Chikovani the Governor was invited by the president of “Atlético Paranaense”, I wonder, why he did not comment on his visit to Brazil.

Logically, the reason may be the responsibilities of the governor, which are regulated by”The Georgian Law on the Structure, Duties and Activities of the Government” which states: A) governor shall coordinate and control the implementation of the law of Georgia, and normative acts of the president of Georgia and the government in the administrative-territorial units; B) shall implement social-economical development programs according to the directives of the government.

The law does not mention that the governor, who is a football fan, has right to fund his/her visits from the state budget, because they have nothing to do with their duties.