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Tbilisi council member arrested on corruption charges

1 March 2018
Temur Gorgadze (pia.ge)

A member of the Tbilisi City Council (sakrebulo) has been arrested on corruption charges, and may face 7–11 years of jail. Temur Gorgadze, a majoritarian councillor from Krtsanisi District for Georgian Dream, was arrested on 28 February.

Investigators say Gorgadze demanded $7,000 in exchange for releasing a prisoner through the Pardon Council.

‘On 28 February 2018, Temur Gorgadze took half of the money, $3,500, from the citizen after which he was arrested by the anti-corruption agency of the State Security Service (SSG)’, the SSG announced. Gorgadze is being charged with ‘bribery in a large amount’.

His lawyer Giorgi Kumsishvili told journalists his client ‘pleads not guilty’, and vowed to ‘fight to determine the truth’.

Local authorities in Tbilisi were quick to distance themselves from the Gorgadze. ‘I want everyone to remember that nobody will be forgiven’, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze said. The head of the Tbilisi City Council Giorgi Tkemaladze said that no crime will be tolerated.

‘This is a very bad occasion for sure. We will not tolerate crime from anyone, whether it’s our colleague, a member of our group, or any other citizen’, Tkemaladze said.

Gorgadze has previously served as the head of the offices of Beka Natsvlishvili and Beka Odisharia, MPs from Georgian Dream.

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Odisharia called his alleged crime ‘outrageous and unacceptable’, while Natsvlishvili said it was ‘unbelievable’.

Arrests in 2017

Charges were brought against two other officials connected to the city council in 2017.

A councillor from Georgian Dream was arrested on corruption charges in August 2017. The SSG launched an investigation into Zurab Neparidze, a majoritarian councillor for Navtlughi District, after one of his employees accused him of demanding a part of his salary.

In July 2017, the SSG arrested Otar Abesadze, the Mayor’s representative to the City Council. Investigators claimed he had promised a businessman he would accelerate the process of obtaining permission for a cafe, in exchange for $3,000. In January he was released on ₾10,000 bail ($4,000).

In 2017, Georgia ranked 46th place out of 180 countries in the Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International.