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David Kirvalidze: Not guilty plea?2013-05-07 13:57
What has caused the resignation of the head of the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia David Kirvalidze - political conflict or serious violations in the department? Interior Ministry has arrested several senior officials of Ministry of Agriculture accusing them of non-targeted spending 2.5 million GEL. Experts put forward several versions, including the possible involvement of Kirvalidze into some criminal acts. Analysts do not rule out other personnel changes in the Cabinet of Georgia.
Something is clearly wrong with the government of Ivanishvili. After the arrest of high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Agriculture the Minister of Agriculture David Kirvalidze resigned. Officially, he has temporarily suspended the authority "to find out all the details and complete investigation." Kirvalidze himself says he "assumes political responsibility" for what happened.
The charges against the detainees are quite serious - misappropriation of funds in a large scale, negligence and pressure on experts. According to the MIA, this is about the purchase of tractors and other agricultural machinery, for which 54 million lari was allocated from the state budget. "As a result of illegal actions they preferred machinery of lower quality and therefore they spent 10,000 euros more on each tractor than its real value. Thereafter the detainees put pressure on a special expert group leading a criminal case to make them issue a report relieving these individuals of responsibility," said in a statement by the Interior Ministry. In total, according to the Ministry, it is about non-targeted spending 2.5 million GEL.
It would seem, the scheme is clear, there are witnesses. But there is just one snag. Neither during the interrogation nor at the trial, none of the detainees has admitted his guilt. One of the first statements of the now former Minister of Agriculture David Kirvalidze after the resignation was a request to the law enforcement agencies to comply with the presumption of innocence and not to jump to conclusions until the final decision of the court.
Expert Mamuka Areshidze says "it's no accident" that Kirvalidze became the first Minister of Ivanishvili's government, who (perhaps temporary) has lost his position. "The Minister of Agriculture did not belong to any of the political groups of the coalition of Bidzina Ivanishvili and was subjected only to the Prime Minister," Areshidze told reporters. "This is why he has become unfavourable for the coalition members. I do not rule out that the information about poor quality of tractors was spread artificially, especially after Ivanishvili said that he had "serious questions" to one of the Ministers. Kirvalidze has accomplished great job for six months; his department has conducted an inventory of all agricultural land in the territory of Georgia, which, against the background of sabotage of local government staffed by representatives of "United National Movement", was not so easy. I think that Ivanishvili does not know exactly whether Kirvalidze is personally guilty in what has happened in his department. Primer is awaiting the results of the investigation," said Areshidze.
Economic expert Alexander Tvalchrelidze is convinced that the Ministry of Agriculture admitted serious violations. However, the expert finds it difficult to say whether Kirvalidze was involved into embezzlement in his department.