Adjara TV, Batumi-based public broadcaster reported late on April 12 that the Ministry of Finance and Economy of Adjara Autonomous Republic dismissed Irakli Jincharadze, Director of revered Batumi Boulevard, over violations found in a State Audit report.
But Jincharadze, who headed Adjara Government-run public entity in charge of a 7 km-long park along the city’s Black Sea coast, said he was dismissed for publicly opposing a proposal to allow a private takeover of 3380 square meters of the beach area.
Jincharadze told local media outlet Batumelebi yesterday that 2019 state audit findings, cited by the Ministry as the reason for dismissal, implied only a technical mistake in a procurement deal. He pointed fingers at Adjara Government Head Tornike Rizhvadze, asserting that Rizhvadze used the audit report as a means to dissuade other civil servants from voicing critical opinions.
“I am not afraid, I did not take a bribe or do anything wrong,” Jincharadze said, adding that he will appeal the dismissal. He said he still has not received the official order for his firing.
Minister of Finance and Economy of Adjara, Jaba Putkaradze reaffirmed that the Batumi Boulevard Director was let go over misuse of public funds, rebuffing claims that the dismissal was related to Jincharadze’s critical remarks.
The Adjarian Ministry of Finance and Economy did not yet publish the decision, nor made any comments to the media over the controversial dismissal.
In the meantime, Public Defender Nino Lomjaria said her office has already begun probing into Jincharadze’s dismissal on grounds of possible discrimination for having a different opinion.
Jincharadze Opposing Seaside’s Private Takeover
The Batumi City Assembly discussed the proposal to lease the section of the beach out on March 30, stirring minor, yet vocal protest of concerned locals in the Assembly corridors.
Jincharadze then backed protesters, and made furious remarks both during the sitting and after, sternly opposing the proposition, making the case for the seaside to remain in public hands. he said. The City Assembly then removed the proposal from the agenda.
After the noisy session at the City Assembly, Adjara Government Head Tornike Rizhvadze on the same day unveiled the decision to transfer the Boulevard management from the Government to the City authorities. Rizhvadze then also announced a moratorium on new construction projects on the site until a Batumi Boulevard conservation and development plan is approved. Still, local media reports said the constructions continue as per usual, as the moratorium only referred to future projects, not the ongoing constructions.
NB: The article, published at 14:36 on April 13, was amended later at 19:36, to include Minister of Finance and Economy of Adjara, Jaba Putkaradze’s subsequent remarks to Georgian media.