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Parliament making small changes to political unions law

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, April 18
On Tuesday, Parliament agreed to minor changes to the Law on Political Unions of Citizens, relating to the donor information held by the Chamber of Control.

The Chamber of Control will be obliged to publish information on donations to political parties on a monthly basis. Before the change, the information was available only on request. In addition, donors will now only have to provide full names and government identification numbers, not their passport number as originally stated in the law.

Those parties whose financial turnover does not exceed 1000 GEL will not be required to file an audit with the Chamber.

All changes must be confirmed at a second hearing at Parliament. Other modifications have been made, unofficially, in discussions with non-governmental organizations and parliamentary committee members.

Government representatives have vowed to “improve all shortcomings of the law with consultations with Georgian civil society representatives and eradicate all controversies concerning the law".

Opposition parties called these talks a victory for their campaign against the controversial law. "For the last three months, we have managed to display the real image of Mikheil Saakashvili to Europe. I promise all Georgians that by the end of June the situation will significantly change in Georgia," leader of the Georgian Dream coalition, Bidzina Ivanishvili, said on Tuesday.

Opposition critics suggest that the law was originally intended to hamper the spending of Ivanishvili, a billionaire businessman, and that the changes currently being discussed are merely superficial.

Ivanishvili has prompted other legislative changes, including the suggestion that citizens of European Union countries who have lived in Georgia for 10 years be allowed to participate in elections. Head of the Election and Political Science Centre, Kakha Kakhishvili, believes that this could be dangerous for Georgia. "Parliament possesses secret information. If you allow the citizen of some other state to be a member of your Parliament, it means that he will be able to know some state secrets," he said, suggesting that a Russian operative could be installed within the Georgian government this way.

He also noted that Georgian legislation prohibits citizens of other states from financing political campaigns. "But when you allow the member of some other state to take part in the elections, no one will know what sum, and from where, will flow into the state".