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Audit agency head resigns in aftermath of storm

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, July 24
Head of the State Audit Agency, Levan Bezhashvili, resigned on July 23. The reason behind his resignation is due to the difficult situation in the Kakheti region after the hailstorm and his great will to assist the locals.

“I am from the Kakheti region and it is my natural obligation to assist my people during this hardship and to help them overcome the losses that this natural disaster has caused. I have made the decision to leave the high post and go to Kakheti with my friends to help people,” Bezhashvili stated.

His decision to resign will be sent to the parliament and the legislative body will discuss the issue. It is still not known who will replace him.

The State Audit Agency, which is the former Chamber of Control, is always in the publics’ and political parties’ interest– especially after the agency gained the right to carry out the financial monitoring of Georgia’s political parties. There are frequent claims from NGOs and opposition groups that the agency serves the National Movement’s interests rather than acting as an impartial arbiter of justice. Since it has begun operating under its new powers, opposition parties and leaders have already received millions of GEL in fines from the agency.

The Georgian media speculates that Bezhashvili will be represented as the majoritarian candidate in Kakheti for the National Movement. However, there are some other forecasts as well.

Political analyst Soso Tsiskasrishvili mentioned Bezhashvili might take the Kakheti governor’s post. “It is frequently mentioned that the current Kakheti governor is to be appointed as the Minister of the Penitentiary system and Bezhashvili, who had already taken Kakheti governor’s post might be sent there again,” Tsiskarishvili stated.

For Tsiskasrishvili, the reason cited by Bezhashvili for his resignation is far from reality. “If the whole government imitates him and will go to Kakheti as workers I would not be against this,” Tsiskarishvili told The Messenger, emphasizing that a nominal ruler would be appointed as the head of State Audit Agency.

The Head of the Elections and Political Technologies Research Centre, Kakha Kakhishvili, believes that Bezhashvili will be the majoritarian candidate in the Kakheti region. In the framework of the Head of State Audit Agency, he will not be able to hold meetings with people. He made this decision now in order to have enough time for public meetings. If he had made the decision later, it would have been difficult for him to explain to the affected people why he had not been with them during their hardship.

Unfortunately, the current situation in Kakheti will be used for political aims by other majoritarian candidates in the region as well. This is part of politics,” Kakhishvili told The Messenger. Kkakhishvili assessed Bezhashvili as a high-level lawyer who has previously acted as a human rights defender before joining the ruling team. “After the fact his attitude changed and the institution that he chaired, meaning the Chamber of Control, did not carry out the types of actions that should be undertaken by an impartial body. There had been practically no resolution made by the body concerning the useless expenses of budgetary money and the body has been focused mainly on the opposition to find some illegality,” Kakhishvili stated and added that despite such connotation of the body, Bezhashvili has tried to keep a moderate position. “Natia Mogeladze, who chairs the monitoring department of the State Audit Agency, has been more in the focus than Bezhashvili, having her name linked to each punitive action carried out by the body. Now, such person would be appointed on the place who will not be as moderate as Bezhashvili was. The new head of the Agency will be more controlled through the Prosecutor’s office, would be more active and more reliable for the National Movement,” Kakhishvili said.