Georgian press review (October 2nd-8th)
One of the most popular matters in the Georgian press over the past few days became serious scandals at the Tbilisi Mayor’s Office. It has become known this time about dissatisfaction of the country's leadership regarding Mayor David Narmania's activity. Due to this, he may be dismissed.
"According to confidential sources, at night on October 6th Irakli Garibashvili invited David Narmania and Deputy Mayor Lasha Abashidze to the State Chancellery. The meeting lasted till 4am. It was attended by several important leaders of the Georgian Dream coalition – politicians who enjoy Bidzina Ivanishvili’s unreserved confidence. It is known that Ivanishvili and Irakli Garibashvili are negatively disposed towards David Narmania. The closed meeting was very stressful, Garibashvili accused Narmania and his team of complete inability. According to the source, the Prime Minister told the mayor with a Kakheti directness that they had made a mistake when they nominated him as a candidate for Mayor. 'If you couldn’t deal with this work, you should have said it earlier. Now the rating of the coalition in Tbilisi has fallen because of your helplessness. We don't know if we can raise it once again.' Garibashvili presented David Narmania specific facts of corruption at the Mayor’s Office,’’ Alia reports.
"According to the facts presented by the Prime Minister, various services of the Mayor’s Office gave 80% of tenders to those firms linked with high-ranking officials of the Mayor’s Office, various leaders of Georgian Dream, as well as MPs and members of the Tbilisi Sakrebulo. Garibashvili named 30 specific individuals, who lobby firms and win all tenders at the Mayor’s City Office, and sign contracts without any problems. However, Garibashvili had a long list, but he didn’t name all who were suspected of corruption. "Or you are involved in these matters yourself, and it happens behind your back, and you cannot do anything with it,’’ Narmania said. The mayor said that he planned to take special measures and dismiss several officials at the Mayor's Office, but he didn’t have enough time. Irakli Garibashvili said that it is now too late to discuss it. Now the financial police and the anti-corruption agency of the Ministry of the Interior are examining this matter. If it is necessary to arrest somebody, they won’t feel sorry. No one gets away with stealing money from the state budget,’’ the newspaper reports.
According to the newspaper, the prime minister informed the mayor that the latter is to remain in his post, but the matter of his possible resignation is to be one of the most probable potential agenda items. At the same time, the real power of the mayor has been significantly limited. "It was decided that Narmania won’t interfere in personnel matters of the mayor's office and won’t appoint senior officials: vice-mayors, heads of municipal services, their deputies and other senior officials at the Mayor’s Office. Decisions on these issues will taken by Lasha Abashidze and coordinated directly with Irakli Garibashvili, or members of his inner circle. It turns out that there will be two mayors in Tbilisi: legally elected Mayor David Narmania and the de facto Mayor Lasha Abashidze,’’ Alia reports.
Against this background we can hear accusations against the city authorities of embezzling of funds collected for the victims of the June floods. "After the disaster, each member of the Club of Social Responsibility (which was created 3-4 weeks before the disaster and consists of about 50 business groups and various non-governmental organizations) donated a large sum of money – more than 18 million laris. It was directed to the fund. Of course, people donated money in order to help the victims. They should be interested in how the money was spent. It is in this. The head of the Club of Social Responsibility was accused of it. How is it possible to collect such a sum of money, direct it to the Mayor's Office and not to ask how they spent it?" Alia cites Tamaz Elizbarashvili, the chairperson of the Victims on Svanidze Street Committee.
"After the disaster, residents of Svanidze Street organized a committee to protect their rights and interests. Only 39 families were registered in our street. The first category consists of 20 families, whose homes were destroyed. But only 9 families received compensation. The other 11 families were not supported by the authorities. The victims of the second category consist of 19 families, whose homes were not destroyed and can be repaired. None of these families received a penny. The municipality is keeping silence regarding how long they are going to distribute money among the victims. Four months have passed. Svanidze Street was the epicenter of the disaster, the majority died there. You'll see that winter will come soon, but these people won’t have a penny," he said.
Elizbarashvili made a statement that he didn’t intend for the situation to remain in the current state. In the near future he plans to submit the first of a series of actions. The chairperson of the Victims on Svanidze Street Committee expects to achieve justice.
The Georgian mass media write about issues related to the country's defense. In this regard, the last meeting of the Security Council of the country didn’t remain unnoticed, where the matter of the strength of the armed forces was discussed. "Our army is the smallest in the region, but the main thing is to increase the number and the optimization of the army ... At a meeting of the Georgian Security Council, we agreed that the current number of aircraft will remain unchanged, i.e. it won’t exceed 37 thousand servicemen. This decision provoked different reactions in society,’’ Arsenali reports.
"Some people believe that there is a threat of renewed military aggression of Russia in such a difficult political situation. Moreover IS has declared war on almost half of the world not far from our borders. We need to think about increasing the combat capability and increase the size of the Georgian army. Others believe that in 2008 the Georgian army was not able to protect us from Russia's military aggression and it won’t be able to do it. So there is no necessity to maintain a contingent, and it is better to spend this money on strengthening the country's economy. In 2015, the budget of the Ministry Defense amounted to 600 million laris. 80% of this amount is directed at wages, bonuses, business trips, providing social conditions for servicemen and civilians, for training of the army, repair of weapons. A very small sum of money remains after this, without purchase of modern military equipment,’’ the newspaper reports.
It is noted that due to incomplete staffing of units the country expose 37 thousand soldiers. "It is necessary to take into account the fact that the size of the army of neighboring Armenia is almost double that of our country. We even won’t mention the Azerbaijani army," the magazine reports.
In this regard, the author urges the military leadership to do its best to compensate for the small size of the Georgian army with the high level of its preparation in terms of the low budget.
Georgian journalists are concerned about the problem of refugees. Resonance published an article how the republic receives refugees from different countries. "Refugees are seeking asylum in Georgia. Over the last 4 years 3343 citizens of Ukraine, Iraq and Syria have applied to the Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation with a similar request. Only 1032 received refugee status and humanitarian status. According to Minister Subari, the other requests were denied, therefore they had to leave the country. According to the International Organization for Migration, the number of migrants in Europe is more than half a million,’’ the newspaper writes. "Starting from 2012 and up to this day 2367 Iraqi citizens, 801 citizens of Ukraine and 175 citizens of Syria have requested asylum in Georgia. Only 426 Iraqis received humanitarian status, and 101 people received refugee status. Among the Ukrainians 420 people received humanitarian status. As for Syrians, only 80 people received the humanitarian status, and 5 people received political," the newspaper cites the head of management at the Asylum Department of Refugee Migration and Repatriation of the Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation, Irakli Lomidze.