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Only a catapult can save Saakashvili2010-05-20 17:51
The president's expenses make Georgian opposition mad with resentment. Yesterday the Labor party condemned Saakashvili for purchasing an aircraft catapult in order to save him from the tragedy à la Kachinsky like in movies.
Mikheil Saakashvili spends very little time in Georgia. Flying is what he does regularly. To the USA, Jordan, Qatar or Poland - there is little difference as to where to fly to. The main thing is to go around the globe on public money.
The president's income is rather low. According to 2009 official declaration he earned only GEL 59,000 (nearly USD 33,000) which is more than threefold less than Russian president Dmitry Medvedev's annual earnings. Besides the Georgian president's family does not have expensive real estate except for his wife's apartment in a high-class district of Tbilisi.
In view of frequent travels and after the recent plane crash that killed Polish president Lekh Kachinsky, the Georgian leader decided to increase personal safety and bought a single-seated catapult. That would be ok if the air security system had not cost USD 7 mln from Georgia's budget.
"Kachinsky's tragedy frightened the president so greatly that he decided to embed a special capsule inside his aircraft. So people may stop worrying. In case of a trouble with the president's aircraft he will be able to put himself in the capsule like we all saw it in "Air Force One" movie - just like in the US president's plane. In case of a crash the president will survive", - Iosif Shatberashvili, the Labor Party secretary general, sneers.
Why does the president feel free to spend so much on himself when the country is in the middle of the crisis and 16% of able-bodied population are jobless (by official information)? Why does he buy a US 56 mln Challenger? Does the country need daily trips of the president and his team to different countries with each journey costing GEL 250-250 thousand?
"I guess everyone remembers Saakashvili saying that representatives of authorities must use common cars. At the same time he spends GEL 100 mln to fit out his airplane. It's nonsense to hear the country's president speak about the crisis and privation and see him spending so much money on his personal well-being", - Shatberashvili stated.
A month ago Saakashvili ordered to cut transport expenses of officials. Then it looked like a populist act before elections. Now however his shrewd calculation is evident: a tetri saved on officials makes it a catapult for the president.