Archil Talakvadze, the Vice Parliament Speaker of Georgia, on Monday said the latest claims of David Kezerashvili, the wanted former Defence Minister of Georgia in the United National Movement Government, on his alleged funding of domestic opposition groups contained “signs of political corruption”.
The official’s comment came following Kezerashvili’s interview with his Formula TV channel on Sunday, in which he claimed he was funding “pro-Western groups” in the country that requested support from him.
In his response, Talakvadze said domestic opposition parties had made “no official declaration” of the supposed donations from Kezerashvili, which he said was a violation of the country’s legislation.
He also challenged Kezerashvili’s claims of having gained his wealth legally by pointing to the March ruling of Tbilisi Court of Appeals that found the former official guilty of embezzlement of state funds while serving as the Minister of Defence between 2006-2008.
“The ruling confirmed Kezerashvili had stolen budget money. In his interview, Kezerashvili once again blatantly deceived the Georgian public and told it he had got rich through transparent business, and that now has noble interests to finance the radical wing of the opposition”, Talakvadze said.
Nika Melia, the former Chair of the United National Movement party, in January openly accused Kezerashvili of “shadowy” interference in the party. He also claimed the latter and Vano Merabishvili, the former Interior Minister in the UNM Government, had backed Levan Khabeishvili, who defeated him in intra-party elections in January.
A number of criminal proceedings have been brought against Kezerashvili since the change of Government in Georgia in late 2012. In two of them, heard in Georgian courts, Kezerashvili was convicted in absentia.
The former Minister, who currently holds a 51 percent stake in the opposition-minded Formula TV channel, served as the head of Georgia’s Financial Police between 2004 and 2006, and then as the Defence Minister until 2008, before his switch to business activities.