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Mamuka Khazaradze Launches New Public Movement “Lelo”

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Mamuka Khazaradze, founder of TBC Bank and Anaklia Development Consortium, held today a presentation of a new public movement “Lelo” in Georgia’s coastal town of Anaklia.

“Today, we are presenting a new movement, which will pursue a goal oriented to teamwork, achieving purposes, love, unity, victory of Georgia,” Khazaradze said. He noted that Georgia’s western orientation should be further strengthened and that the country should strive to take a leading place in all spheres.

“Georgia has lost a lot during this period; it has lost its territories, failed to achieve economic growth; it is losing investments and what is most important, it is losing its own people, who are leaving the country,” Khazaradze said, adding that he would use his experience to create jobs, open up opportunities for people and return talented Georgians scattered across the world to their homeland.

Khazaradze also noted that he will set up a political party in the near future that “will be oriented to win the 2020 parliamentary elections.” “We will not cooperate with anyone. We will run independently, without famous politicians,” he said.

He also said that “leaders” and “successful people” from various spheres will be united in the party.

“We will find 12 leaders in all spheres: 12 reformers in medicine, 12 reformers in education… because this country should be saved by each of us rather than by a certain messiah or one man,” Khazaradze said.

Khazaradze’s business partner, Badri Japaridze also addressed the audience, saying that “we should try and defeat a syndrome of a defeated. Time has come to win a victory, to unite and score Lelo,” Japaridze said. He told journalists later that the new party will be established in October.

Mamuka Khazaradze announced about his plans to set up a new public movement in July, following violent dispersal of the June 20-21 protests by riot police.

“The June 20 night was a watershed, when our praiseworthy and free youth expressed consistent and sincere protest against occupation and violence,” Khazaradze said on July 7 and explained that his new movement will aim at “uniting the country and maintaining its independence and liberty.”

Lelo, the name chosen for the movement, is a reference to the traditional Georgian team game, prototype of rugby and also means to score a try in a rugby game. Prior to announcing the name of the movement, Khazaradze read verse “O, my native land” (In Georgian: “Mshobliuro Chemo Mitsav”) by acclaimed Georgian national poet Galaktion Tabidze, that portrays Georgia as “lelo” that needs to be saved.

Using further political symbolism, presentation of the new public movement coincided with the 112th anniversary of assassination of  prominent Georgian writer and public figure, Ilia Chavchavadze (1837-1907), key figure of Georgian nationalism and self-determination struggle during Tsarist Russia.

Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze are facing criminal investigation over money-laundering allegations involving a USD 17 million transaction that took place in 2008.

Tbilisi City Court ruled that Khazaradze and Japaridze posted a GEL 700,000 bail each after being charged in a money laundering lawsuit. They also won’t be able to leave the country without the prosecutor’s permission.

The ongoing investigation into TBC Bank was made public in January 2019 following the media reports that the Prosecutor’s Office seized case-related documentation from the bank.

Khazaradze immediately denied the charges, claiming the legality of the said transaction was inspected multiple times by the local and international fiscal authorities and no “red flags” were raised. He then said the bank was suffering an “orchestrated” political attack.

Khazaradze linked the TBC case to the construction of Anaklia port, suggesting that the purpose of the investigation could be to squeeze him and Japaridze out of the project. The ruling party strongly denies the allegations.

Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze quit their positions in TBC Bank and later in Anaklia Development Consortium’s Supervisory Board.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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