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Transparency International Georgia (TI) has urged the state audit and prosecutor's offices to identify party donations with high risk of political corruption.
The report published by TI on 13 December looks into party donations in the October local government elections in Georgia, finding that 91% of all donations went to the ruling Georgian Dream party.
[Read more about the local elections in Georgia on OC Media: Kaladze elected Tbilisi Mayor as Georgian Dream wins landslide nationwide]
The total sum of all donations made to political parties was over ₾14.1 million ($5.4 million), of which Georgian Dream received 15 times more than European Georgia, the second most successful party in eliciting donations, and 10 times more than the sum of all the remaining parties' donations combined.
The research identified 42 cases where two or more donors were somehow connected and had donated at least ₾20,000 ($7,600) in total. It also found 30 donors who contributed to the United National Movement in 2012, the ruling party at a time, but donated to Georgian Dream in 2017.
‘Five individual co-owners of LTD Polimeri and Polimeri 1 contributed ₾400,000 ($152,000) in total to the ruling party in 2016–2017. They are beneficiaries of the government programme for entrepreneurs, Produce in Georgia. On 29 September 2016, LTD Polimeri 1 was given 2,990 square metres of state-owned land with buildings on it for a symbolic price of ₾1 ($0.40) within the framework of this programme’, the research suggests.
It also says, Vazha Tsigroshvili and his business partner Bezhan Anuashvili contributed a total of ₾170,000 ($65,000) to Georgian Dream in 2016–2017. A week after Tsigroshvili made a donation of ₾75,000 ($28,500) to the party, a dispute over 13 cars and five quad bikes was resolved, with the state handing them over to Tsigroshvili.
The research found two public servants who donated more than half of their past year’s annual income to Georgian Dream.
‘In transitional countries, it’s often hard for opposition parties to find donations and ruling political groups are in a far superior positions in this respect. This reduces competition between parties which leads to a hindered democratic processes’, the report says.
The head of TI Georgia, Eka Gigauri, criticised the State Audit Office as not working effectively.
‘We don’t know if they have fined anyone for illegal donations to any party. We know that 500 people have been questioned on this bases’, said Gigauri.