Due to the criminal inaction of the government [Mountain Stories will publish a journalistic investigation in the coming days], the bodies of 6 of the 33 people who died in the Shovi landslide had not yet been found, when Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili set out on a holiday to the United States with his family using a state-owned plane.

The owner of Georgian Airways, Tamaz Gaiashvili, confirmed in an interview with TV Pirveli that he received the order for the transportation of the Prime Minister and his entourage from Tbilisi airport to Munich and back by a government plane from the Special State Protection Service.

‘’They don’t need permission, the plane is theirs, they can go wherever they want. The Prime Minister does not order the plane, the government security does. I am always contacted by Chubinidze’s (Anzor Chubinidze – Head of Special State Protection Service) agency. Where do you see a crime?

He’s a Prime Minister, you know, not some factory worker.

The plane is not just used for official visits, it is used everywhere, where the government deems it necessary,’’ Gaiashvili said. The government plane is operated by its own airline.

According to the report in the program Nodar Meladze's Saturday, the plane waited for the Prime Minister at the Munich airport for a week before he returned from the US. The channel reports that first-class tickets were bought for the Prime Minister to fly from Germany to America, and the government plane returned to Tbilisi airport on August 28.

Tamaz Gaiashvili did not answer the journalist’s question on how much the Special State Protection Service paid for the Tbilisi-Munich-Tbilisi flight service: ‘’The government pays, I don’t know, ask them. Aircraft maintenance and service require certain costs. The operational costs of the flight are covered by the Security Service. I took Saakashvili to Berlin for a nose job. Wasn’t that a personal matter? Why didn’t you come and ask questions then? He was a president and had the right to do so. Now the Prime Minister also has the right to fly on personal matters. I’m not told whether he’s going on personal business or for work.’’ [One of the cases in which the current government of Georgia accuses Saakashvili of committing a criminal offense is related precisely to embezzlement of state resources.]

The report says that a round-trip flight between Tbilisi-Munich costs 100 thousand GEL on average. 

The report aired on September 9. Before that, the journalist was trying to find out who gave the order to use the government plane for private business and whether it was financed from the state budget.

For a long time, the government administration has been refusing to provide critical media with public information on matters of high public interest and grossly violates its obligations established by law. That’s why the author of the report went by the house of the Head of the Government Administration, Revaz Javelidze.

‘’Don’t come here again. You are behaving in a wrong, ugly way, this is not decent journalism,’’ – Javelidze refused to answer journalists’ questions.

On September 6, the Head of the Strategic Communications Department of the Government Administration, Nino Giorgobiani, wrote on her Facebook page that Gharibashvili went to the US with his son, who was starting his new academic year at the University of Pennsylvania.

‘’They are fishing for a new scandal, but there is nothing scandalous here either. Every person would have the desire and right to be by his child’s side at such an important time. All the more, neither the law was violated nor state expenses were incurred.

In August of this year, the Prime Minister was on a private visit to the USA, and his travel, charter (commercial) flight, or any other expenses were not paid from the state budget.

Every year, the Prime Minister fills in the property declaration, which shows all the expenses incurred, therefore, just wait for the next declaration to be published,’’ Giorgobiani suggested.

According to the data of the Civil Service Bureau, Irakli Gharibashvili has not yet submitted the property declaration for 2022. Therefore, we will not see the declaration of 2023 until at least October 2024, even if the prime minister fills in the data in it correctly.

On September 7, the government's Strategic Communications Department issued another statement:

‘’In order to mislead the public, false information is deliberately being spread as if Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili traveled to the USA with his son on a chartered flight. In order to properly inform the public, we would like to explain that the Prime Minister travels to the USA on regular, commercial flights of various airlines during his official, work, and private visits. We clarify once again, that the chartered flight in question was between Tbilisi and one of the European cities, while the Prime Minister left for the US on a regular flight. During a private visit, the Prime Minister’s travel, as well as the chartered (commercial) flight or any other expenses were not financed from the state budget.

Before the broadcast of the report, the head of the Special State Protection Service Anzor Chubinidze made a statement:

‘’Our airplane is on the balance sheet of the State Security Agency, a legal entity under public law of the Special State Protection Service. This agency has the full right to receive income from government and budgetary structures, as well as from non-governmental, commercial, and private individuals, in various forms.

This visit was of a commercial nature, which was stated in the assignment from the beginning, and, of course, the payment would be made by a non-budgetary organization or a private person.

According to the legislation of Georgia, the Special State Protection Service is obliged to ensure the safety of not only the prime minister but also all under his guard, both in the territory of Georgia and outside of it. We cannot consider the nature of the visit as a precondition for not doing so. The minimum protection standards are defined by a special government decree. Based on this document, we always provide security to all protected persons,’’ remarked Chubinidze.

The author of the report asks where the prime minister has so much money from, if not from the income from corrupt deals.

According to the property declaration, the monthly salary of Irakli Gharibashvili is 3500 GEL. To cover the loans from Bidzina Ivanishvili’s bank Cartu, the Prime Minister’s family [data from the last completed property declaration] has paid approximately 70,000 GEL in 2021. Their children’s study in private schools cost Irakli Gharibashvili and Nunu Tamazashvili 38,000 GEL. According to official data, none of the family members participate in any business activities. The document also shows Gharibashvili's savings in the amount of 50 thousand GEL. If we exclude the 150,000 GEL supposedly donated by the parents stated in the declaration, the Prime Minister would not even be able to pay for the publicly shown expenses.

Until 2012, before Georgian Dream came to power, Irakli Gharibashvili's father, Tariel Gharibashvili, was a trustee of the village of Tsilitskaro and had no business. During his son's tenure as Minister of Internal Affairs and then as Prime Minister, Tariel Gharibashvili attained a large fortune.

According to the information of TV Pirveli channel, after the return of the Prime Minister and his family members from the US on September 6, while they were still looking for the bodies of 2 children who died as a result of the natural disaster in Shovi (one of them has still not been found), the birthday of the Prime Minister's wife was grandly celebrated in one of the most expensive restaurants in Shindisi, Chateau de Vere complex, accompanied by Georgian pop stars. The planning and organization of the party dedicated to the 40th anniversary of Nunu Tamazashvili involved the government administration, protocol, and Special State Protection Service employees - they were tasked with the reception of guests, escorting them, taking photos, parking cars, etc.

Georgian News
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