Position of one member of the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) still remains vacant. Parliament did not support any of the three candidates presented by President 4 October.
Candidates for GNCC membership Giorgi Chigradze, Teimuraz Gogoberide and Tutberidze were presented to MPs by President’s Parliamentary Secretary Nino Kalandadze, according to the Law on Broadcasting on 4 October. As result of hidden voting Giorgi Chigladze got 25 pro and 21 con votes, Teimuraz Gogoberidze – 19 pro and 12 con; David Tutberidze – 10 pro and 20 con. More than half of list number of MPs votes (76 votes) was necessary for selecting the candidate.
President’s Parliamentary Secretary Nino Kalandadze described failure of presented candidates by the Parliamentary majority as expected result and said it is the reflection of active attempts by the government to achieve control over media.
“Government is using aggressive politics in relation to the Georgian Public Broadcaster and also in relation to Rustavi 2. This was again proved by Prime Minister’s meeting with journalists at which he showed us that he believes he can teach journalists and give them orders. Naturally, considering the above mentioned it was not unexpected that the majority would not support candidates independent from them,” Kalandadze said.
According to majority MP, member of the Parliamentary temporary investigative commission, Ani Mirotadze, she voted against all three candidates as they were all unacceptable to her.
“Nominated candidates are unacceptable to me as the work of the GNCC is being studied and I believe selection of Commissioners must be done otherwise. Selecting these persons was not timely and acceptable at the moment,” Ani Mirotadze told journalists.
Chairman of Parliament David Usupashvili clarified at the session that within next 50 days President has the right to again submit to Parliament new three candidates for the GNCC membership one vacancy. In this case for the selection of candidate will be necessary less number of votes – not less than one-third of listed of MPs.
President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili selected Giorgi Gigladze, Teimuraz Gogoberidze and David Tutberidze as candidates for one vacant position of member of the GNCC from 16 applicants.
2 October Transparency International Georgia circulated information about the candidates for Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) membership David Tutberidze, Giorgi Choladze and Teimuraz Gogoberidze and indicates the conflict of interests.
Georgian Law on Broadcasting defines the conflict of interests of the GNCC member: GNCC member should not be a member of a political party and should not own shares or authorized capital in the Companies that fall under regulations (such companies are broadcasters, telephone, Internet and mobile operators, also cable and satellite operators.) Commissioner may not be an employee of such type of company (or do any paid job for such companies.) GNCC member cannot have director or indirect economic interest to a person who falls under regulation.
Teimuraz Gogoberidze owns 0.25% of Akhali Kselebi LLC. Akhali Kselebi is a telecommunication company owned by Pridon Injia, his family and business-partners.
2012 report on Internet freedom by Transparency International Georgia reads that largest shareholder of the Akhali Kselebi is a fictional company Alpha System Transit Corp (46.2%) registered in Belize, which in return is controlled by another fictional company registered in Panama – Cascado AG.
Cascado AG is related to many scandals, including corruption in state procurement and export deals in Ukraine, falsification of import-export invoices in Russia and other countries of the NIS.
According to the Center for Reports on Organized Crime and Corruption and Novaya Gazeta, Cascado AG was also involved in the case of MV Faina trading ship. In 2008 the ship was sailing from Odessa when Somalian pirates took over it. On the given ship, which allegedly was heading for South Sudan, carried 33 T-72 Soviet-made tanks, grenades and other weapons. At that time the European Union had embargo on import of weapons to South Sudan.
In 2007 Alpha System purchased Akhali Kselebi shares from Fridon Injia. Documents in the Georgian Public Registry read that at that time Fridon Injia was also representative of Alpha System so he may have sold the shares to himself.
Public documents also show that until 2007 Tumuraz Gogoberidze owned Geocell shares also. He purchased 1.3% of the company shares in 2006, although it appears that Gogoberidze was in the Geocell management before that took. In the archive documents of the 1990’s he is indicated at the Director and Member of Board of Geocell. In 2007 Compay Gurtel (Teliasonera subsidiary company) purchased Gogoberidze’s 1.3% for USD 3 million. The same year Fridon Injia’s son Ilia Injia and his business partner Avtandil Iashvili also sold their shares in the company.
Gogoberidze’s wife Lili Sukhitashvili owns shares in several companies, which fall under regulation of the GNCC. Those are telecommunication companies owned by Fridon Injia and his partners – Selcom (6.5%), Akhali Kselebi (4.16%), Systemnet (2.091%) and Foptnet (3.4%).
In 1999-2004 Teimuraz Gogoberidze was an MP from Aslan Abadhize’s Agordzineba lists.
David Tutberidze owns 5% in Caucasus Digital Network LLC, which provided telephone and communication services to companies. In August the Company launched bankruptcy procedures; Tutberidze is the Director of Caucasus Digital Network.
Giorgi Choladze is the Director of the Georgian Media Holding LLC. The given Company is owned by Chemexim International which is a company controlled by Robert Bezhuashvili and registered on Marshal Islands. Robert Bezhuashvili is father of the National Movement MP David Bezhuashvili and Gela BEzhuashvili (Former Defense Minister, Former Foreign Minister and current Head of Counterintelligence Service).
Bezhuashvili’s family also owned shares in Rustavi 2, Mze and First Stereo (directly or via Chexim International.) Persons related to David Bezhuashvili still own shares in the First Stereo and Mze.
Georgian Media Holding owns English-language publication Business Week. Choladze also was Director of Holding Georgian Media Development (the Company was terminated in February 2013) and it was also owned by Georgian Industrial Group. The given Company managed the media sector companies owned by the Holding at the time when Georgian Idustrial group was more active at Georgian media-market.
Giorgi Choladze and his brother Levan Choladze own shares in Air Black Sea LLC. Levan Choladze is the Head of the Board of Director and Director General of the Georgian Industrial Group. During the National Movement governance Levan Choladze worked at several high-ranking positions: In 2005 he was Secretary of State Security and was the same year appointed deputy foreign minister of Georgia. During 2007-2008 Choladze was Chairman of the Control Chamber (current State Audit Service) and later until 2011 he worked as deputy minister of agriculture.