On 19 November 2013, Ministerial candidates met Members of the Parliamentary Minority. While debating with Members of the United National Movement, then Prime Ministerial candidate (currently Prime Minister of Georgia), Irakli Gharibashvili, stated:  “You (United National Movement) built some corruption schemes around my Ministry. You have done this with your team members, your Ministers. You have drafted these corruption schemes [at the time] when President Saakashvili alienated state property to his family members for only one lari

… like he did in the case of one of the universities.” In response to this statement, Member of the Parliamentary Minority, Giorgi Baramidze, declared this to be a lie. However, the Minister of Corrections of Georgia, Sozar Subari, addressed Gharibashvili’s statement in detail and added that the then Prime Ministerial candidate was speaking about three buildings of the Georgian Technical University that were alienated to the President’s mother for GEL 1.

On 20 November, Member of the Parliamentary Majority, Tina Khidasheli, also commented upon the abovementioned issue:  “Yesterday, Irakli Gharibashvili’s two remarks created serious discussions. One of them concerned elite-level corruption. Members of the Parliamentary Minority claimed it was a lie. Now, I want to read out one document to assure you that we rely upon facts. There are dozens of universities in Georgia. If not corruption, then why could Mikheil Saakashvili think of only one university when issuing a special resolution on alienating 101,222 m2

of land through direct sale to the International Black Sea University in 2007 while his own mother has assets in this particular university? And this is just one example of the elite-level corruption that blossomed in Georgia.”

FactCheck

took interest in the issue of state property alienation to universities and investigated the accuracy of the Prime Minister’s statement.

In order to research the topic at length and in details, FactCheck

addressed the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia with a request to provide a list of universities that received state property through direct sale for a symbolic price of GEL 1. The Ministry’s information revealed that the following universities received state property through direct sale for a symbolic price of GEL 1 in the period 2003-2012:

  • Sokhumi State University (31 August 2012)
  • Akhaltsikhe State Teaching University (18 September 2012)
  • Ilia State University (5 November 2012)
  • Georgian Technical University (16 August 2012)
  • Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University (12 September 2012 )
  • Tbilisi State Medical University (11 May 2012)

Based upon the documentation obtained from the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia neither the International Black Sea University nor the University of Georgia were ever cited in the abovementioned list.

While speaking of the corruption schemes, the Prime Minister did not mention any particular university. However, the International Black Sea University and the University of Georgia are, in fact, associated with the former President’s, Mikheil Saakashvili, mother, Giuli Alasania. For several years Alasania served as Vice-Rector of the International Black Sea University and currently chairs the Board of Trustees at the University of Georgia. The University of Georgia was established upon the basis of the Georgian Technical University. The International Black Sea University’s name was first mentioned and connected to the Prime Minister’s abovementioned statement by Tina Khidasheli while Sozar Subari referred to the University of Georgia when commenting upon Gharibashvili’s words and speaking of the three blocks of the Georgian Technical University alienated to the former President’s mother for GEL 1.

FactCheck

addressed both of the abovementioned universities with a written request to provide official documentation describing the privatisation details concerning university property.

International Black Sea University The university’s response to FactCheck’s

request showed that Mikheil Saakashvili’s mother, Giuli Alasania, has been associated with the International Black Sea University since 2002 and served as its Vice-Rector in the Scientific and Silk Road Research Department in 2007 when state agricultural land was alienated to the university through direct sale. Alasania left the abovementioned position upon her own request on 31 December 2013.

According to the university, the privatisation terms for the abovementioned operation (alienation of the land) were as follows. On 2 April 2007, the International Black Sea University purchased land (cadastral code 01.19.18.05.002) in Tbilisi located on the Kakheti highway near AvtoVAZ from the state (through its representative, Tbilisi City Hall) for GEL 1,923,218. At present, the university has completely covered the abovementioned amount.

The university’s letter also explained that construction activities revealed that the land purchased from the state contained underground structures (high pressure tubing and high-voltage cables). Therefore, the sales agreement of 2 April 2007 was amended and, in particular, the address of the purchase object was modified to the following:  land near the radio station, Kakheti highway, Tbilisi (cadastral code 01.19.25.001.133). The ownership registration on the former land location was annulled.

The letter FactCheck

received from the International Black Sea University was accompanied by the notary agreement concerning the purchase of the state property signed by the First Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi, Mamuka Akhvlediani, and the Proxy of the Director of the International Black Sea University, Resul Deckman. The respective extract from the Public Registry was also enclosed.

University of Georgia

The history of the University of Georgia starts from 2002. On 24 March 2005, the university held the first sitting of the Board of Trustees and elected Giuli Alasania as its Chairperson. The university statistics and terms of purchase of the state property are as follows:

According to the sales agreement between the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development and the University of Social Sciences of Georgia formed based upon the provision on the privatisation of state property through auction, dated 1 March 2007, the university received land plots of 731 m2, 587 m2 and 877 m2 (

buildings included) located at the following address:  77 Kostava Street, Tbilisi. The total cost of the sale comprised USD 1,320,000 (equivalent in GEL).

The terms of the sale were as follows:

  • The university should implement its higher educational activities in the spheres of social sciences, humanities and technical education.
  • The university should ensure employing 120 personnel with the average salary of GEL 300.
  • The university should develop undergraduate and graduate (master’s level) studies with the number of students no less than 400.
On 24 August 2007, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia signed an agreement with the University of Social Sciences of Georgia, Ltd on the privatisation of state property through auction. Based upon the agreement, the sports playground and 9,273 m2

of land located at 77 Kostava Street was alienated to the university under temporary ownership for USD 305,000 (equivalent in GEL). The university was imposed an obligation to deploy the privatisation object for educational-teaching and sports purposes.

On 25 June 2008, another agreement was signed between the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia and the University of Georgia concerning the privatisation of state property. In particular, the university purchased a building (still under construction) located at 77 Kostava Street, Tbilisi, as well as 5,059 m2

of land for USD 2,050,000 (equivalent in GEL) through an auction organised by the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development. According to the agreement, the university is obliged to deploy the property for educational purposes for 15 years.

The last agreement regarding the privatisation of state property between the Ministry and the University of Georgia was signed on 9 July 2009. The university purchased 31 m2 of non-agricultural land located at 77a

Kostava Street, Tbilisi for USD 5,000 (equivalent in GEL) through the state auction.

Conclusion The research conducted by FactCheck

showed that based upon the resolution of the President of Georgia, state property was alienated for a symbolic price of GEL 1 to the following universities in different time periods:  Sokhumi State University, Akhaltsikhe State Teaching University, Ilia State University, Georgian Technical University, Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University and Tbilisi State Medical University.

Based upon the information provided by the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, the abovementioned list did not include the International Black Sea University and the University of Georgia. However, these two universities are associated with the name of the former President’s, Mikheil Saakashvili, mother, Giuli Alasania. The International Black Sea University purchased 101,222 m2

of land located in the Isani-Samgori District for GEL 1,923,218 through direct sale in 2007. The University of Georgia purchased land and respective buildings of different sizes through auctions from the state in 2007-2009. The total cost of the abovementioned purchases comprised USD 3,680,000 (equivalent in GEL). Thus, the Prime Minister’s statement regarding state property being alienated to family members of the former President for GEL 1 is totally false in this context.

Therefore, FactCheck concludes that Irakli Gharibashvili’s statement:  “Alienation of state property by President Saakashvili to his family members for only one lari was a corruption scheme… like he did in the case of one of the universities,” is LIE.

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