Georgian Business Under Pressure
“I am putting this question to the government: Do you want to frighten business? If Business is constantly menaced it cannot build the economy of the country” – these are the words of Badri Patarkatsishvili, the businessman who spoke about pressures from the government.
People always knew about pressure from the government on business but nobody liked to talk about it. On the 29th of March, at a meeting of the business federation, such problems with the government were voiced.
Badri Patarkatsishvili spoke loudly about pressure from the government and mentioned the 160million lari that was paid into the prosecutor’s funds. “It is no secret that the Sandro Gvirgvliani murder was first aired by Imedi TV station, it is the bottom of this scandal. It is the reason why the law enforcement agencies are now investigating my companies and my business. They want paint a picture that I influenced journalists. Businessmen paid a large sum of money - 160 million lari but frightened businessmen can’t provide for the state, I beg the government to let us have freedom when conducting business in Georgia.”
He got ‘feedback’ from the government. Giga Bokeria - one of the leaders of the main party called him the future leader and financial source of the opposition and compared him with Don Korleone. “The reason behind his dissatisfaction is that he could not get the privileges he sought, could not become Don Korleone of Georgian business and so decided to attack the government. I want to underline those who are fighting against the Georgian state, these are: Moscow, oligarchs, and thieves. They will lose this fight.”
Other MPs backed Giga Bokeria and criticized Patarkatsishvili, but NGOs and the opposition began talking about a human rights violation. They are sure that this is closely connected with the airing of the Sandro Gvirgvliani murder. The opposition wants the government not to be involved in business and on the other hand government says it wants to get rid of criminals.
Irakli Iashvili, a representative of the opposition party, stated: “The status of being president of the business federation obliged him to tell us this. He said loudly that there are human rights violations amongst the business world. The opposition has been talking about this for a longtime. The main target is Imedi TV, they can’t attack their ratings so they attack the owners. Constitutional human rights are being violated.”
MPs reminded the President, that when he needs somebody he uses them, but when he is finished with them he wants to get rid of them. The author of the following statement is Levan Berdzenishvili, a former team mate of the President: “When Saakashvili has a good relationship with the businessmen, he can’t see anything wrong with them or their companies. But as soon as somebody says something bad about the government, they are ready to put them in prison. Why they are attacking Patarkatsishvili now? He was not guilty when they needed him, now they don’t need him anymore?
Businessmen Temur Chkonia chose to back Patarkatsishvili. As soon as he did so, his businesses also came under threat and the Coca-Cola mini shops on the street were closed. Information is being spread that the Imedi TV station will soon be off the air. Nobody wants to talk about it in the offices of the TV station, but the basis for such a move already exists; members of the government refuse to visit or be shown on their TV programmes and journalists are having problems.
As for Badri Patarkatsishvili, he has left the country. His allies say that maybe he will have to stay out of the country forever - he will be the victim of his own truth.