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Conservatives seeking true picture

By Sopo Datishvili
Tuesday, September 23
The Conservative Party of Georgia has created a commission which will assess the situation of refugees from Tskhinvali region living in Tbilisi and other parts of the country. Party leader Zviad Dzidziguri stated on September 22 that the commission will undertake its research in the next week and presents the results to the people.

“Soon we’ll show you the conditions the IDPs live in. We have already obtained a general picture by visiting schools and kindergartens in Tbilisi. IDPs have to live in unendurable conditions there. They don’t have sheets and cannot care for their personal hygiene. Once in ten days they are given half a kg of beans, 300 g of oil, 200 g of sugar and 1.5 kg off macaroni,” Zviad Dzidziguri says, adding that 80% of IDPs live in such conditions but there are also what he called “IDPs for show” who the Government presents for the TV cameras. They have refrigerators, washing machines and other necessary things.

One of the Conservative Party leaders, Kakha Kukava, thinks that the main problem today is the lack of information about IDPs. “The Government ignores the problem, as if the country doesn’t have any refugees. TV channels give very little information about them, as they have been given a directive from ruling party MP Marika Verulashvili. I know that even Kavkasia (the channel is thought to be pro-opposition) has received the same warning”, Kukava added. However the Director of Kavkasia, Nino Jangirashvili, recalls that during the State of War the Government told it not to broadcast anything about IDPs having problems, but since then they haven’t received any such demands. “Our station never takes directives from the Government. They might not like what we broadcast but we’ll go on doing our job,” Jangirashvili added.

The initiative of creating a new commission is still fresh, so none of the other opposition parties have yet expressed a desire to join it. But as Kakha Kukava told The Messenger, the Conservatives would be happy for non-governmental organizations as well as other opposition parties to join.

One of the leaders of the New Rights Party, Pikria Chikhradze, agrees with the Conservative Party that the Government is hiding the extent of IDPs’ problems. “When the refugees try to contact the Ombudsman’s office or representatives of media, the Government reacts very strictly against it. I know that in some shelters an epidemic has even spread, but nobody from the Government wants to talk about it,” she says. According to the spokesman of the Ombudsman, Sopo Khorguani, most of the complaints they have received from IDPs are about their living conditions. The Ombudsman’s office cooperates with Tbilisi City Hall and usually helps it address certain problems. As Khorguani says, in November the Ombudsman will present his annual report to Parliament and this will broadly discuss all issues connected with IDPs.

Labour’s Soso Shatberashvili states that the party will willingly become involved in a non-Governmental commission, especially if it is established to study the conditions of IDPs. The Republicans seemed less informed about the Conservatives’ commission, but party representative Levan Berdzenishvili doesn’t exclude the possibility of consultations with the Conservatives on this issue. Berdzenishvili also highlights the lack of information about refugees.

After the August war, Georgia has had to deal with another wave of refugees from the conflict zones and other occupied areas. Thousands currently live in public buildings in different parts of Georgia. In Gori the Government created a “city of tents” for them, but now autumn has come living in such shelters is more and more difficult. The majority of refugees left their homes without taking anything with them, meaning they are now fully dependent upon the Government.

About 80 IDPs from Liakhvi Gorge have held a demonstration in front of Parliament demanding improvements in their living conditions. They met Mzia Laliashvili, an assistant to the Speaker of the Parliament, who promised to inform Speaker David Bakradze of all their problems.