Watchdog on UNM Bloc Majoritarian Candidates’ Donations, Business Activities

A study presented by Transparency International Georgia on October 3, that looked into UNM-led Bloc “United National Movement, United Opposition – Strength is in Unity” majoritarian candidates’ political donations, business activities and asset declarations, found that 16 out of 25 contenders are involved in various entrepreneurial activities, overall being connected to 113 companies.  

The Bloc consists of 5 parties: United National Movement (UNM), Progress and Freedom, State for the People, Republican Party and European Democrats. Regarding the majoritarian candidate nominees, 20 of them are from UNM; 4 from Progress and Freedom; 1 from State for the People. 

The watchdog noted that out of the 113 companies, 56 are connected to only two candidates, Kakha Okriashvili and Tsezar Chocheli, from the recently established Progress and Freedom Party.  

According to the watchdog, companies tied to seven candidates also have a history of public procurement in 2012-20, with companies connected to Kakha Okriashvili and Tsezar Chocheli receiving more than GEL 95.5 million (USD 30 million) through public tenders and procurement. Companies tied to other 5 candidates have received GEL 186,711 (USD 58,000) by the same means. 

The report revealed that 17 out of the 25 candidates, together with their family members and business partners, have made donations to the UNM during 2012-20, totaling GEL 621,987 (USD 190,000). Out of the donations, GEL 285,302 (USD 89,000) was donated to the party personally by 12 candidates.  

The watchdog named the largest donors among the majoritarian MP candidates, including their family members and business partners: 

  • Tsezar Chocheli – GEL 134,000 (USD 42,000) – Running for Mtskheta, Dusheti, Tianeti and Kazbegi municipalities. 
  • Kakha Okriashvili – GEL 90,000 (USD 28,000) – Running for Bolnisi, Dmanisi, Tetritskaro and Tsalka municipalities. 
  • Davit Kirkitadze – GEL 77,000 (USD 24,000) – Running for Rustavi municipality and several villages of Gardabani municipality. 
  • Nanuka Zhorhzoliani – GEL 62,500 (USD 20,000) – Running for Samtredia, Tskaltubo, Vani and Khoni municipalities; 
  • Khatia Dekanoidze – GEL 52,000 (USD 16,000) – Running for Isani constituency in the capital city of Tbilisi. 

TI Georgia noted that only one candidate, Bondo Tevdoradze, is neither conducting any business activities nor has made political donations. 

TI Georgia also named the UNM-led Bloc candidates that personally, or whose encirclement, made donations to other parties, including the ruling Georgian Dream in 2012-20.

According to the watchdog, Kakha Okriashvili, Roland Pipia and Tsezar Chocheli, personally or their encirclement, made donations to the GD worth of GEL 388,000, GEL 175,000 and GEL 69,780, respectively, while the respective numbers for Dilar Khabuliani and Manuchar Kvirkvelia stand at GEL 65,000 and GEL 60,000. Nato Chkheidze (personally or her encirclement), on the other hand, has a track record of donating to the Kremlin-friendly Alliance of Patriots (GEL 113,500) and State for People party (GEL 500). Levan Khabeishvili (and/or his encirclement) donated GEL 1,898 to State for People, while Vazha Chitashvili donated to European Georgia GEL 2,000.

The watchdog also examined 2019-20 asset declarations submitted by the majoritarian candidates who are incumbent or former public officials. According to the report, only one candidate, Nato Chkheidze declared incompletely the companies her spouse owns. 

TI Georgia has already published a study on majoritarian candidates nominated by the ruling Georgian Dream. Future reports will cover other political parties as well, the watchdog noted. 

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


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