Businessman Khazaradze presents civic movement Lelo in coastal town of Anaklia

Businessman Mamuka Khazaradze says that the first signal of positive changes in the country will be the return of emigrants. Photo: Radio Liberty/Free Europe., 12 Sep 2019 - 13:16, Tbilisi,Georgia

One of Georgia’s top bankers, Mamuka Khazaradze, who has recently been charged in a high-profile money laundering case, has officially launched a new civic movement in Georgia’s coastal town of Anaklia, located near the Russian-occupied region of Abkhazia.

Khazaradze, who is involved in the construction of the Anaklia Deep-Sea Port, said that unification and advancement of Georgia will start from Anaklia, “which is the gate between Europe and Asia.”

Lelo, the name selected for the movement, is a reference to the traditional Georgian team game Lelo Burti (Lelo ball), which is similar to rugby and also means to score a try in the game. 

Khazaradze said that Georgia has failed to overcome poverty and help its economy over the course of the past 30 years, “losing thousands of its people now living in emigration.”

Many in Georgia have lost hope for a better future and are thinking of leaving the country. We must stop this,” he said.

Khazaradze stated that the solution to the situation is to bring professionals together from different fields to “build the country.”

Khazaradze said that many of the people who attended the presentation created success stories. Photo: 1TV.

I want to cite famous Georgian poet Rezo Tabukashvili as saying that the biggest patriotism is professionalism,” Khazaradze said.

He announced the creation of a political party from the civic movement in the coming months and stated that “we are now in search of 12 leaders in all fields.”

We have already launched the process to find 12 leaders, 12 reformers in all fields, in healthcare, in education and others, for them to carry out major changes. The country should never be dependent on a single person, we should all fulfill our roles,” Khazaradze said.

A couple of days ago Khazaradze stated that former head of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association and  former representative of the president to parliament Anna Natsvlishvili will be the spokesperson of the new movement.

Khazaradze, who founded leading Georgian commercial TBC Bank 27 years ago, says that he faces an ‘absurd’ charge because of his involvement in the Anaklia port project, and accuses the current Georgian government of creating obstacles for the ‘strategic project disliked by Russia.’

The Georgian Dream leadership strongly opposes the allegations, saying they have done their utmost to help the construction process.