Georgia’s Alliance of Patriots in Crisis as Faction Chair Quits Party

Georgia’s Alliance of patriots (APG), which is often referred to as “the satellite of Russia” in Georgia, saw their faction Chair and one of the most active members, Nato Chkheidze, quit this week.

Chkheidze is the founder of Iberia TV, which might be closed down because its donor company Omega Group has financial crises, owing GEL 51 million to the state budget for not paying taxes. In addition, Iberia journalists speak about pressure from the government through the creation of financial problems for Omega Group Company.

“TV Company Iberia is in trouble. Almost 1500 people are employed in the Omega Group ... Unfortunately, I could not hear the voice of the Alliance of Patriots supporting the TV station… because of this, I cannot see myself in this political union and I am leaving the party,” Chkheidze announced at the parliament session on September 19.

Chkheidze added that Iberia TV feels support from the NGOs, Public Defender and parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition parties, who aim to protect media and business, but her party did not do anything to express solidarity. She says she is also leaving the faction and will serve as an independent MP in Parliament.

Vice-Speaker of Parliament and member of the APG faction, Irma Inashvili, confirmed that Chkheidze had left the party but said she hopes the ex-teammate will stay in the parliamentary faction because this will leave the party without a faction in the legislative body.

If the APG faction collapses, it will bring financial damage to the party because faction members have higher salaries than ordinary MPs. The faction head has GEL 5,468 per month, while the deputy-head has GEL 4,738. The monthly salary of an average Georgian MP is GEL 4,623.

Moreover, the faction has its own budget funding, its own office, vehicles allocated by Parliament and also its own business trip fund. When the faction members go on a vacation, they also get bonuses to their salaries.

Faction members also have the right to give more speeches during the parliament session than regular MPs.

Inashvili believes that the faction Chair has subjective views about the issue of supporting Iberia TV and if she leaves the faction too, “this will not be a tragedy.”

“Let us face reality. If Chkheidze quits the faction, we will stay in Parliament as independent MPs but will continue to work as teammates. Even after falling apart, we will be the patriots of Georgia,” she stressed.

Inashvili also added that she had enjoyed a very interesting relationship with Nato Chkheidze for two years of mutual work and this would continue.

The Alliance of Patriots of Georgia managed to gain five seats in Parliament during the 2016 parliamentary elections in Georgia. They registered a 5-member faction too, which will fall apart if Chkheidze quits the post of the faction Chair.

By Thea Morrison

Image source: Tabula

20 September 2018 18:13