‘Let People Who View It As Political Corruption, Not Take Money’
06 July, 2011
‘Let People Who View It As Political Corruption, Not Take Money’

 

Interview with Davit Gamkrelidze, Leader of New Rights

We asked Davit Gamkrelidze, Leader of New Rights to outline the recent political life of Georgia and particularly his latest decision to accept Governmental proposals that was broadly criticized by his opponents.

Q: Your colleagues reprimand you for your latest decision…

A: Years ago New Rights said no to five seats in a bid to boycott the Parliament. It was all about emotions. While the public approved of our move, two months later the same

public almost blamed us for inciting the August war. This led me to believe that after emotions are gone. their imprint on the clout of politicians and party rating is deep and lingering. That is why we accepted the Governmental proposal. We made a pre-informed, well thought- out decision. It is not the first time that we, the New Rights – move in the counter-direction. In 2003, when the entire public took up the side of the revolution, we moved in the opposite direction. When you take different steps, some people like it while others do not. Yet, it is a fact that after disappearing in the grey mass New Rights regained attention of media and politically-minded public.

Q: The Opposition-8 members used to say that the dialogue was going to be fruitful because of the international organizations involvment in it.

A: In 2003, American Secretary of State Baker visited Georgia but failed to promote changes. In the same way, we – the Opposition-8 members – tried to bring influential politicians to Georgia to enable improvement of the election environment but we failed. Therefore, new ideas were born among us, such as taking to streets, transforming ourselves into a civil movement, adding human rights dimension to our agenda. The Opposition-8 leaders forgot that the main topic of our unity was the improvement of election environment. We told our colleagues that either we or other members should meet the Authorities. Frankly, I did not expect so much compromise from the Authorities.

Q: The remaining Opposition-6 claimed that if the Opposition-8 had been sustained, the Authorities would have compromised even more. They said you gave in to the Governmental ultimatum.

A: Of course, the Government set the ultimatum. They did it with a plan. If we had refused, they would then claim that the opposition rejected their proposal. They’d prefer if we all rejected their proposal but eventually they chose conformity and proposed a balanced option. It is awkward for the opposition to talk about political corruption when this same opposition used to request from the Authorities 2 million funding. Yet, we managed to get 1 million. There is nothing embarrassing about it. We shall remember how the Authorities used to be strangulating the opposition by refusing funds.

If the parties did not accept money then, why are 17 parties linked to the state budget? Take Republicans. They get about 200 thousand Lari per year. If we consider that election campaigns take place only once in four years, it means they amass 800 thousand per campaign. As for 1 million, it is for funding of those parties which overcome the 5% threshold. Is there any alternative? Shall we seek funds abroad? Let the parties that view it as a political corruption not take the money.

Q: Don’t you admit that the Authorities may cheat you?

A: Yes, we do. Quite a tough road lies ahead of us.

Q: The New Rights have always been defending business. Several days ago, a second phase of tax inspection started in Media Palitra. In addition, they maintain a strict control over the goods belonging to the Holding which arrive at the customs house. What do you make of it?

A: Frankly, I am more concerned about this issue than the rumors around the election environment. For me, Media Palitra is not just a media outlet. Rather, it’s a successful business which employs several hundred people. Kviris Palitra Newspaper is the most balanced and popular media organization. Your Internet TV and radio are also gaining ground. But the Authorities do not care. They are on the offensive against this prominent media holding. Every organization needs to be checked. Every tax needs to be paid. Yet, it is a crime when it happens through blackmailing and extortion leading to forcibly adopted loyalties.

We closely watch the Media Malitra checkup and continue its monitoring. We point out what happens around Media Palitra and generally in business at every our meeting with foreigners. We will do everything to have media and business protected.

 

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