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Accusations of government intimidation against businesses as opposition struggle to find campaign funding

By M. Alkhazashvili
(Translated by Diana Dundua)
Tuesday, December 18
Opposition presidential candidates complain they are having difficulty securing campaign funding, and accuse the government of pressuring local businesses.

Irakli Iashvili, campaign manager for New Rights leader Davit Gamkrelidze’s presidential bid, said they have approached to around 500 companies for funding, but only two were willing to contribute to the campaign—one of which is owned by Iashvili’s brother.

Gamkrelidze’s campaign manager claimed the Financial Police are pressing businesses to contribute to the campaign of incumbent candidate Mikheil Saakashvili, according to the newspaper Alia.

The Labor Party makes similar accusations.

“Saakashvili thinks that the country’s state budget is his own fund. In addition, the Financial Police are checking every business,” said Giorgi Gugava, campaign manager for Labor candidate Shalva Natelashvili, according to the newspaper Alia.

The Finance Ministry and the ruling party campaign team deny the allegations. Businesses are voluntarily backing Saakashvili’s bid, they say.

“Many businesses sponsor Saakashvili’s campaign because they agree with his policies,” ruling party MP Gigi Tsereteli commented.