Previous Gov’t accused of misspending 1m GEL charity funds

Film by Finnish director Renny Harlin detailing the Russia-Georgia war premiered in Tbilisi in 2011., 05 May 2014 - 13:21, Tbilisi,Georgia

A local non-governmental organisation is claiming the previous Government misspent one million GEL collected in 2011 during a charity dinner following the premiere of a film depicting the 2008 Russia-Georgia war.

The Georgian NGO Young Barristers presented monitoring results that revealed the charity money distribution process was "non-transparent”.

The organisation assumed the funds received at the Tbilisi charity dinner were not given to the victims of the 2008 war, as it was intended, but were used to benefit the interests of the ex-ruling United National Movement political party.

On June 5, 2011, an action film by Finnish director Renny Harlin detailing the Russia-Georgia war, titled 5 Days of War, premiered in Tbilisi, Georgia. The evening was attended by participating actors including Andy Garcia, as well as famous Hollywood actress Sharon Stone.

The evening, organised by the Business Association of Georgia, was attended by 160 guests - mainly politicians and businessmen. Each paid up to 10,000 GEL to attend.

The resulting money was said to be distributed to the Georgian families who lost loved ones in the Russia-Georgia war.

After the evening, organisers and the film’s Georgian producers said up to 1.5 million GEL was raised. At the time they said one million would be distributed to the families of war victims and the rest of the money would be used to organise another charity evening in 2012.

However the Young Barristers said on Sunday, they had interviewed a number of war-ravaged families in 2013 and everyone they spoke to denied receiving any money after the film premiere.

The NGO then asked the Georgian Business Association for clarification but found their response inadequate.

On May 4 the NGO published the response on its website. It said: "According to evaluations of the Young Barristers, there is a reasonable assumption that the charity dinner was an activity of the Government of Georgia instead of an initiative of the Business Association of Georgia and funds received were used for organizational purposes of the evening and interests of the political party.”

The Young Barristers have addressed the Business Association of Georgia to provide detailed explanations on following issues:

  • To reveal the purpose of disposing and aim of more than one million GEL received at the charity dinner;
  • To present factual proof indicating that money received at the charity dinner was distributed to more than 400 families of the 2008 August war between Russia and Georgia;
  • To publish geographical area and the selection rule of the war victim families; and
  • To explain different positions of ministries and the association in terms of cooperation.

"We offer them to offer a public explanation on their website until May 7, 2014. We do not exclude the possibility of appealing to authorities in order to reach a legal reaction to this issue,” Young Barristers chief executive Archil Kaikatsishvili said.