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Big business of the Georgian government09.10.2012 | 15:42
No sooner has the power in Georgia changed than in the country they started talking about repressions. The business community claims of harassment experienced during the regime of Saakashvili.
"In Georgia, business was the tool through which the government kept every entrepreneur in check. In the country only those businessmen who were directly linked to the government had the opportunity to work. Those who at least occasionally protested now are on the run abroad, and some are in prisons", Georgian businessmen complain.
Human Rights Initiative Group "Businessmen of Georgia for free business" has spread the list of 147 businessmen in prison or abroad. The head of this group is David Begiashvili, businessman, founder of "Vake 5" and "Albatross", convicted of fraud, and now living in Geneva as a refugee.
"This list shows that during all these years the government tried to enter the business into the political situation. Business with high turnover, distinguishing with stability and revenue mobilization, was involved in the situation. If these businessmen after a certain time showed some different political position they got problems, and the government lost interest to them", CEO "Business and Political Inside" Irakli Lekvinadze told GTimes.
Nodar Chichinadze, president of the "Association of Young Financiers and Businessmen", says the representatives of big business which had got under the sight of the government were not spared despite funding government projects. "As you can see, the process of redistribution of roles and influence in the government leads to the redistribution of influence in business", Chichinadze says.
The former owner of the "Group of Arti", TV-companies "Rustavi 2" and "Mze" Kibar Khalvashi says the state has illegally arrested him and made bankrupt when his friend Irakli Okruashvili, the former Defense Minister, left the government and established the opposition party.
Being in Germany, the businessman Khalvashi is continuing litigation over his assets. They are already captured by the entrepreneurs close to the government.
The owner of "Sahara Agary" Gocha Dzasokhov left Georgia in 2008. He was president of the society "Dynamo". Dzasokhov did not return to Georgia after the Beijing Olympics. Now he lives in Russia. Dzasokhov is accused of money laundering. In August 2008, state agencies arrested Dzasokhov's production: "Georgian Sugar", plants of apple, grapes and tangerine concentrates, experimental tomato farm, "Agroinvestbank" and hotel "Iberia" in Kobuleti. Part of his property was seized by the government and businessmen close to the power.
Before his arrest the businessman Jamal Leonidze was the owner of 75% of the company "Tycoon 2006". The company daily sold 5.5 million liters of oil products. Leonidze was arrested for fraud in 2009. Tbilisi City Court sentenced him to 10 years in prison and also ordered to reimburse GEL 500 000 to the state.
Leonidze's lawyer Zurab Todua: "The purpose of the state was his neutralization and withdrawal from the business. Network "Tycoon" was seized by the entities close to the Georgian government . Criminal case was fabricated. Leonidze's case is in Strasbourg; and former businessman is serving term in Rustavi prison No 16".
Businessman Bakur Kiguradze was accused of spying. His case has passed all the instances of the Georgian court. He was detained on July 13, 2010, and sentenced to nine years in prison. The case, consisting of 12 volumes, was classified as secret, and the main evidences destroyed.
There are a lot of such cases in which representatives of big businesses have become defendants. "It's tragicomic situation when businessmen are condemned for links with drugs, organizing and leading the illegal armed groups. Businessmen are also condemned for various other occasions", human rights activists say.
It is difficult to say what will happen to illegally seized assets of the entrepreneurs. All of them are now "hanging in the air", since their new owners, government officials, are now fleeing from the country.
However, much will be difficult to turn back. The most rational proposal was the already sounded by the representative of the new authorities idea of the need to reach agreement between the former and present owners. Since there are a lot of controversial cases, their analysis will take plenty of time.
Businessmen were the first with whom Bidzina Ivanishvili met after his victory. He has promised that the government would not put pressure on the business. We have already felt the feedback - the prices of medicines and petroleum products are decreasing.