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How much for the elections?

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, December 23
President Saakashvili stated some days ago that he is totally against snap elections, and they will not be held in Georgia, because they would cost USD 1-1.5 billion. The opposition immediately labelled the Presidentís statement as a confession of electoral wrongdoing on his part whereas the authorities interpret it in a different way.

At a press conference held by New Rights and Republicans on December 18 the two parties suggested that the Prosecutorís Office and international and local NGOs should want to investigate the Presidentís words. New Rights representative Mamuka Katsitadze said that officially the budgetary expenditure on elections, even during a Parliamentary election year, does not exceed GEL 25 million.

During 2008 Parliamentary elections, according to CEC data, all the participating parties put together spent around GEL 44 million. Of this, the National Movement spent GEL 11.367 million. The exaggerated figure quoted by the President is more than three times the amount Barack Obama spent on his campaign. ďIt looks like Saakashvili has information on how strongly business was squeezed, how much money was accumulated in the National Movement treasury and how much was spent to bribe the population. This is a confession that the elections were rigged,Ē comments Republican Davit Zurabishvili.

The opposition accusations were answered by Parliament Chairman Davit Bakradze. He tried to explain that the President meant not direct expenditures but the inflow of investments which would stop coming to the country until the elections were over. Bakradze tries to assure the public that every year Georgia received approximately USD 2 billion in foreign direct investments. When election campaigns are underway these investments cease, and the country loses potential funds.

It would have been much better if President Saakashvili himself had explained what he meant. As he has not done so, the defence of his position seems unconvincing.