The controversy between the ruling party and the nine-party opposition coalition over business tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili's financial role in the election campaign continues.
The spat began when nine-party bloc presidential candidate Levan Gachechiladze said on December 6 that he wanted Patarkatsishvili, himself a presidential contender, to finance his campaign. The following day, the ruling party responded, saying the bloc had made “a clandestine deal” with Patarkatsishvili, offering him the prime minister’s position in exchange for “dirty money.”
The opposition hit back on December 7, recalling the ruling party's willingness to take Patarkatsishvili’s ‘dirty money’ in previous years when the tycoon was on good terms with the authorities.
“They claim that the opposition is campaigning on Patarkatsishvili’s ‘dirty’ and ‘bloody money’, so I want to remind the public that ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili himself used to attend opening ceremonies of various facilities reconstructed or built with this [Patarkatsishvili’s] very same money,” Giorgi Khaindrava, an opposition politician affiliated with the nine-party coalition, said. “These facilities include: the Ilia Chavchavadze museum; Mtatsminda amusement park; a park and boulevard in Kobuleti; a memorial to [Georgian medieval poet] Shota Rustaveli in Jerusalem… The list goes on and on.”
"[The ruling party] now talks about ‘dirty money’, but it forgets the things that were financed by Patarkatsishvili, which it and all of Georgia benefited from."
Meanwhile, on December 8 a group of politicians from the coalition returned from London, where they met with Patarkatsishvili.
“We have agreed that if Saakashvili tries to rig the elections – and we hope to agree on this with other opposition candidates - that all opposition candidates will stand together to protect our votes,” MP Kakha Kukava from the Conservative Party said upon arriving from London.
“We are interested in having free and transparent elections and in coordinating our campaigns,” Davit Usupashvili, the leader of the Republican Party and one of those who met Patarkatsishvili in London, said.