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National Movement 3rd Majoritarian Candidate for Tsalenjikha District Voters

April 30, 2008
Nana Pazhava, Tsalenjikha

On April 22 Mikheil Machavariani, vice-speaker of the Georgian Parliament, introduced Roland Fifia, a Russia-based Georgian businessman, to the voters of the Tsalenjikha District as the Majoritarian candidate standing  from the National Movement. Gia Mebonia, former District Governor who was first promoted as the majoritarian candidate two weeks ago, and then Gia Kharchilava, and the chairperson of the Municipality Board consider this fact as just some kind of misunderstanding. They are both competing with each other to demonstrate just how faithful they are to the Georgian President. Tsalenjikh’s voters connect the on-going situation with inner-governmental and inner-party backbiting.

Many voters were already talking about this controversy in Tsalenjikha and even before the introduction of the third candidate. The majority of those gathered in front of the District Culture House to exchange information found themselves to be clueless about the new face of the National Movement. They also did not know anything about the visit of high-ranking members of the leading party to their district.

Guram Shanava: “I do not know who they will next introduce to us. We only know that any new faces will be from the National Movement as they are the ruling party in Georgia.  We are the people who were sitting in the bus together with Mikheil Saakashvili back in November of 2003. Even during the period of the Rose Revolution Mikheil Saakashvili had traveled to Tsalenjikha and brought a lot of people from here by buses to demonstrate in front of the Parliament’s building.”

Guram Tsulaia was the only person in the group of two hundred people who was not afraid of his opponents. He spoke out loudly that he did not care about NATO, MAP and America. He wanted to restore good relationships with Russia, which he thinks are the most important.

Guram Tsulaia: “Will be surprised even if they introduce fifth candidate?! They remember about Tsalenjikha only close to an election. Nothing will be changed for us if [they] are introduced for the tenth time. A dead soul will not survive now; they are already confused themselves. Under such conditions how is it possible for to support us?! There was only one fair elections ever held in Georgia, and it was only during Zviad Gamsakhurdia, the late president of Georgia, and the first and last democratically elected president.  The only way out for us now is to pave our way back to Russia. If the transportation is restored and the bridge over Enguri River is opened everybody will be able to survive. Meanwhile, we will be as hungry as we are now.”

After Mikheil Machavariani and Davit Kirkitadze, former Secretary General of the National Movement, arrived in Tsalenjikha it became clear that Roland Fifia, a businessperson and resident of the district village of Chkvaleri was slotted as a majoritarian candidate. Machavariani personally introduced him to the population in the Culture House. However, he added that Gorozia, the regional governor and Kirkitadze did not attend the meeting so to avoid any accusations from the journalists about the violation of the election code.

Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) blamed the regional governors of Kakheti, Guria and Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti regions for breaching Election Code, and it not only journalists. Giorgi Chkheidze, the chairperson of the GYLA, stated that regional governors breached Article 5 of the General Administrative Code, which prohibits officials of central and local authorities to take part in the pre-election campaign.

Zaza Gorozia, Samegrelo-Zemo-Svaneti Regional Governor, breached the law at least seven times recently. Although, he was standing at the door-way of the hall when Roland Fifia was being introduced, he did not actually violate the law. Kirkitadze, another new regional governor and bride-groom of Gorozia was protecting his colleague very eagerly from the attention of journalists. Sge said, “Why do you say such things?! Has Zaza ever breached the law, and if so, did he have to pay an administrative fine as a result?”

Gia Mebonia also did not take part in the introduction of the new majoritarian candidate. He was the first on the list based on the decision of the regional governor. Suddenly, #2 candidate of the National Movement in Tsalenjikha district appeared in the hall; Gia Kharchilava, who resigned as the chairperson of the Municipality Board.

Gia Kharchilava: “I assess the first and second introductions of candidates as having been a misunderstanding. As for third introduction, I fully understand the motive involved. It is important to attract a businessperson and involve him or her in public activities for the sake of Georgian development. Tsalenjikha must take an honorable part in the elections and stand honored before the president.”

Gia Kharchilava, being a candidate named by Nino Burjanadze, was recently mentioned in a negative context. According to one of the articles in a newspaper, Guliko Kharchilava, a businessperson who supports Gia Kharchilava, a one million GEL offer was made to Badri Bitsadze, husband of Nino Burjanadze, to name him for a seat as a majoritarian candidate. It happened three days before Burjanadze made a famous statement about removing her name from the parliamentary elections. Gorozia was also offended because Kharchilava was named as a candidate. According to distributed information, the controversy between Mebonia, Kharchilava and Gorozia ended-up in a serious quarrel.

The leading party selected Roland Fifia, and this decision was only because he acts as a businessperson in Saratov, Russian Federation. However, reportedly, his brother, Roman Fifia is more successful businessperson and even closer to the current government. His name is connected with Zugdidi Nut Plant where he owns the lion’s share of the shares. Roman Fifia’s business interests are widely discussed in Tbilisi too. He has founded Company “Hayat” which is building a network of hotels in the capital.

Roland Fifia is not running any serious business in Russia. He made comments about it: “I was trading in Saratov; I owned shops. I have been working there for 15 years there. I do not have any concrete plan for the development of Tsalenjikha as of yet. Everything must be drawn; time will show us what to do. I will tell you more when I know how to start.”

Mikheil Machavariani expressed the readiness to support Roland Fifia in the name of the government. He promised the residents of Tsalenjikha district that they will not have fourth candidate.

Mikheil Machavariani: “I know that you have gathered for the same reason. Now I promise you will not have to gather for the fourth time and this is because Roland is a person is the last choice for the National Movement. No other district supports Mikheil Saakashvili better than does the Tsalenjikha district. Thus, many people are envious of you. Strong voice must be heard in the Georgian Parliament from this district.”

Eleven more candidates take part in the parliamentary ballot. Giorgi Tsanava, MP from the Traditionalists, Our Georgian and Women’s Party, will oppose the candidate from the leading party. Paata Sordia from the United Opposition (National Council, New Rights), Merab Morgoshia, Election Block “Rights Alliance, “Topadze-Entrepreneurs”, Fridon Churghulia from Republic Party, and Gocha FIfia, member of the Political Union “Georgian Politics” will be listed on the ballot. The latter has similar name as former MP Gocha Fifia.