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Pre-Election Shenanigans in Gori

April 8, 2008

Saba Tsitsikashvili, Gori

Badri Nanetashvili, Shida Kartli “media magnate” is trying to return to power politics for a second time.  It is documented Nanetashvili, director of TV-company Trialeti, now wants to become a MP.  He used to be an MP until he was dismissed from the parliament on June 21, 2006 based on a decision of the majority of MPs. The reason for his dismissal was that Nanetashvili was still involved in entrepreneurial activities, which is a conflict of interests and law. Moreover, he was blackmailing high governmental authorities and businesspersons of Shida Kartli with discrediting news reports on his TV Company. The Public Defender’s report of 2006 fully describes his activities and why he was kicked from the Parliament. 

Lado Vardzelashvili, who serves as the president’s representative in Shida Kartli goes into the fact of Nanetashvili having offering himself for the position of MP as was described in an interview with newspaper Versia. Vardzelashvili says that Nanetashvili only wanted to be placed on the general party list. However, it was soon understood that Nanetashvili had bigger plans. His real objective was to become a majoritarian (single mandate) MP of his native district.

In 2004 Irakli Okruashvili, Shida Kartli governor at that time placed Nanetashvili on the 72 position party list of the National party for proportional parliamentary election. Nonetheless, while in waiting Nanetashvili was serving as the number three person as the third deputy to the regional governor. Even at this stage it was apparent that Nanetashvili’s ambitions went far beyond the mere post of deputy governor.

Soon after being placed on the party list Nanetashvili’s relationships with Okruashvili’s team soured and became tenser. It then appeared based on local sources that rather than being placed on the party list for proportional parliamentary election as thought that there was a catch. Nanetashvili had to convey some part of shares and management rights of TV- Company Trialeti to a journalist friend of Irakli Okruashvili, who previously a Minister of Defense.  Somehow Nanetashvili was able to get what he wanted (being placed on the list) he still refused to give in the television as was part of the deal. Nanetashvili did not try to hide the fact that Okruashvili and Kareli were in fact forcing him to hand over the television but he failed to say a word about the so-called agreement. Nanetashvili only said that Okruashvili had offered him 4 million dollars for the television station.

Lado Vardzelashvili now admits that Nanetashvili really wanted to be placed on the parliamentary list but mentions at the same time that a decision had never been concluded to make this a realization.

There is also another version that Nanetashvili might be offered the post of the governor of the Kareli district. Several days ago Giorgi Arevadze, Kareli district governor resigned from his post for some uncertain reason. We now have information that he resigned after the president had visited village of Sasireti, Kareli district, which just happens to be inhabited by some of the relatives of Arevadze. We now know that the Georgian president and found that there were many discontented people there and wanted to know why.  Previously Arevadze would visit the impoverished village and there is some connection to his visits and why people were not happy. They have even protested over their plight for various reasons and this added reason why Nanetashvili might actually replace Arevadze before the story is over.

The Human Rights Center Gori Office learned that locals had met Bardi Nanetashvili’s appearance in Kareli district with protest demonstrations instead of open arms. Most people do not wish to see him as the governor. Lado Vardzelashvili now has to solve a large problem. He needs a television in the pre election period that will take care of highlighting positive the deeds of the government and cover the bad.  Nanetashvili’s TV-company was to have fit the bill. However, the price tag for the service was high position in the Georgian government. Vardzelashvili has only one option to consider in looking for a solution to the problem. He might provide an offer to Nanetashvili of the post of the 3rd depute governor of Shida Kartli, as this is the only post that is currently vacant in the regional governor’s office. If Nanetashvili continues in his pinning for a key post, and there are no other options, there remains another option.  Ramaz Chochishvili, the number two office holder (the son of Shota Chochishvili), Olympic champion and Saakashvili’s friend), and second deputy, will then be demoted to the post of the 3rd deputy, and Nanetashvili will move into the second position. As for the candidates for majoritarian (single mandate) MPs, their names are known, with the exception of the one for the Kaspi majoritarian MP candidate.

Giorgi Tatishvili is planning to nominate himself in Gori. He had been working in financial police for years. Though Tatishvili used to work in Tbilisi he knows local conditions very well. It helps that he is originally from Gori and is familiar with the problems facing this city.

On other fronts: Sergo Kitiashvili, 32 has been nominated for Khashuri single mandate MP. He was born and brought up in Khashuri. Sergo Kitiashvili is a doctor by profession. He used to work in various medical institutions. He also worked has experience in the political arena when he was the deputy governor of Khashuri district. However, in recent years he was occupied with various business activities.

Emzar Gelashvili, 35 is nominated for Kareli single mandate MP. He was born in village Bebnisi, Kareli district. In recent years he has served as the head of Shida Kartli Regional Division of Military Police Department of United Headquarters of Georgian Ministry of Defense, and before that, he had worked as the Kareli district deputy governor.

All three candidates emphasis social spheres and consider that it is essential to solve social problems facing people and that is the key to solving a wide range of problems.

As for Kaspi district, the situation remains rather difficult there. Several members of Kaspi Council are against nominating Kakha Sukhashvili, MP and head of National Movement Kaspi Organization on the post of single mandate MP of Kaspi district. Lado Vardzelashvili, president’s representative in Shida Kartli has been consulting with members of the Kaspi Council. According to the rumor mill, Council members are threatened  with Kakha Khachirashvili’s, district governor’s and may even move for impeachment if Kakha Sukhashvili will be nominated to the post of Kaspi district single mandate MP.

The entourage of Lado Vardzelashvili wants to push through the candidacy of Kakha Sukhashvili. Sukhashvili’s rival is Nino Burjanadze’s protégé, and Koba Kurdgelashvili, who is a local entrepreneur. Meanwhile in vying for the upcoming elections, the local government is pitting village governors against various Council members for seemingly supporting Kurdgelashvili in his bid for public office. 

In reaction, not taken the attack this laying down, the village governors have responded by a concerted effort to mobilize villagers to support of Kakha Sukhashvili. When will the governmental struggles be over this is something that nobody wants to discuss with journalists, especially in the run-up to parliamentary elections that are scheduled for May.