Ex-Defence Minister “confirmed” links with domestic opposition, NGOs - opposition MP

  • Khatia Dekanoidze left the UNM last month. Photo: 1TV 

Agenda.ge, 3 Apr 2023 - 18:17, Tbilisi,Georgia

Khatia Dekanoidze, the former Chair of the United National Movement opposition party in the Parliament, on Monday said David Kezerashvili, the wanted former Defence Minister in the UNM Government, had “confirmed” connections with domestic opposition groups and non-governmental organisations with his comments on the weekend. 

Dekanoidze was commenting on Kezerashvili’s interview with his Formula TV channel, where he explained his vision on “helping pro-Western” forces on the domestic political scene and lamenting the fact that more businesspeople were not funding them.

The former UNM member and now an independent MP, Dekanoidze made the claim on Kezerashvili’s comments amounting to confirmation of rumours on his involvement in support for the opposition, while adding she had left the party due to “shadowy interference” of former officials in its affairs.

She also mentioned Vano Merabishvili, the former Interior Minister under the UNM Government, as an example of the alleged interference. Several other UNM members have accused the two of meddling in party affairs, including during the election of its new Chair in January. 

Kezerashvili, who holds a 51 percent stake in Formula TV, on Sunday told the channel he was funding groups in the country that requested support from him.

A few people help the pro-Western wing in the country. I am one of them and I intend to continue [these efforts]. There are [also] civil society entities that often need help. If there is such a desire from the other side, I consider myself obliged to do it. I do not go and look for people, partners in Georgia, whom I beg to help. If they request help and if they are pro-Western, I accept the request”, he said. 

Archil Talakvadze, the Vice Parliament Speaker of Georgia, on Monday said Kezerashvili’s claims contained “signs of political corruption” as domestic opposition parties had made “no official declaration” of the supposed donations from him. 

The Tbilisi Court of Appeals last month found the former official guilty of embezzlement of state funds while serving as the Minister of Defence between 2006-2008. 

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.

Kezerashvili 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.