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How Government Non-Entrepreneurial (Non-Commercial) Legal Entities Became “Employment Offices”

This story reveals how the government artificially inflates administrative resources by creating positions within government NNLEs (Non-Entrepreneurial Non-Commercial Legal Entities). It explores the creation of “fictional jobs” to employ socially vulnerable individuals, resulting in more civil servants dependent on the state budget and more guaranteed votes for the ruling party during elections. A visit to the libraries in Zestaponi provides ample evidence of this practice.

The government identified one such “pre-election job” in libraries for the socially vulnerable, offering employees a salary of 300 GEL and assigning tasks such as cleaning the library, sorting books and newspapers, and distributing them among the population.

In the city of Zestaponi, there are four libraries, and in the surrounding villages, there are 13. Our journalistic investigation revealed that socially vulnerable individuals are employed in instances, where there is not a need to hire a cleaner or deliver books door-to-door. Some librarians candidly admitted that they could manage the work without additional staff.

We decided to investigate the NNLEs to understand who is responsible for what. Our first visit was to the central library of Zestaponi, where we met its director, Lela Peradze.

Peradze was curious about the purpose of our visit, and we explained that we wanted to write about their activities, achievements and their senior employees. Proudly, Lela Peradze shared how she managed to create jobs for socially vulnerable individuals through the library’s employment program.

ზესტაფონის ცენტრალური ბიბლიოთეკა
Zestaponi Central Library

“Since we were instructed to employ a number of socially vulnerable individuals, I told everyone to create ‘mobile libraries’ in the villages. Newspapers and books are delivered to the population, brought to them and discussed… Even during the communist era, there were these ‘mobile libraries’,” Lela Peradze told us.

The director described the activities of the literature and press carriers with such enthusiasm that we decided to meet them. We made our way to Kledeeti, because we wanted the most orderly situation there.

“New Staff” in the Kldeeti Library

The Kldeeti village library is located in a single room of the local government office. Two years ago, as part of the employment program for the socially disadvantaged, two new employees were added to the library staff: Eto and Eka.

“I did not need [employees], but the government issued this decree. They employed one cleaner in the local government office and added two more to me—an assistant and a cleaner,” Marine Abashidze-Meshkhishvili, the village librarian and deputy chairman of the precinct election commission in Kldeeti, told us.

Eka Tsertsvadze, previously an election observer, was employed as a cleaner in the library.

Eto Chankvetadze, who had worked in a shop with a salary barely covering her travel expenses, is now the assistant to the director of the Kldeeti library. She is responsible for distributing books and newspapers among the population.

კლდეეთის ბიბლიოთეკა
LIbrary of village Kldeeti

The library employees explained that the goal of the “mobile library” is to promote reading among the population. They believe that delivering books to people’s homes will encourage them to visit the library.

Both Eka and Eto work at the Kldeeti library, earning 300 GEL per month. They are satisfied with the working conditions and recall their happiness when the social services agency offered them the positions.

“In Zestaponi, I worked day and night in the store for a low salary. Then they called me and told me there was a vacancy at the library in my village. I happily agreed; now I don’t have to spend money on travel,” Eto shared.

From our conversations, we learned that loyalty to the “Georgian Dream” party was a primary criterion for their selection. Eto candidly admitted, “Well, they will not even employ ‘nationals’ [supporters of United National Movement] here.”

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Eto Chankvetadze and Eka Tsertsvadze at Library room

Their biographies attest to their support for the “Georgian Dream.” For example, cleaner Eka Tsertsvadze was an observer for the “Georgian Dream” during the 2016 parliamentary elections.

She still supports the government’s policies and does not hide it. Similarly, the director of the library, Marine Meskhishvili, was the deputy chairman of the Kldeeti election commission in 2020. Lia Siradze, the director of the library in the village of Puti, is also a “Georgian Dream” campaigner during elections.

Book Carriers from the “Mobile Library”

What exactly are the duties of the book carriers employed in the library’s NNLE? In Kldeeti, for instance, they told us that they distribute reading materials in the stores and throughout the neighborhood. However, the villagers we spoke with claimed they had not received any books or newspapers.

After leaving the library, we walked around Kldeeti to find out who receives this “service.” We met some people near the library and others on the village streets. None of the respondents expressed a desire for a “delivery service,” and we could not find anyone who had already received the books. Kldeeti has a population of about 500 people. During an hour-long interview session with ten locals, only one remembered receiving newspapers from the library.

“No, I do not use [the mobile library], why should I lie? I do not have time for reading, otherwise, I would not sleep at night without reading a book. They do not even bring newspapers,” said the storekeeper in Kldeeti, who wished to remain anonymous.

Two more village residents spoke to us on condition of anonymity. When asked if they had heard about the distribution of books from the library, they replied:

“This is the first time I have heard that the library is working. I do not know if it exists at all. Did someone say I use this service? Anyone who says yes is lying.”

“I am a 67-year-old man. Earlier, during the communist era, it was like that, but now I have not heard of it… No one has brought anything to me, I do not know.”

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village Kldeeti

We asked the Kldeeti librarians to accompany them while distributing the books and to film the process. Initially, they agreed, but then they said they had nothing to distribute. On our second visit to the village, the library director, Marine Meskhishvili, suggested that we visit her daughter-in-law, who lives nearby. She assured us that her daughter-in-law would be at home to receive the delivery. They did not put much thought into selecting the books, instructing Eka, the cleaner, to bring “The Biography of Mukhran Machavariani” and a book by Mikheil Javakhishvili.

Eka left the book with the shop assistant. After the librarian departed, the shop assistant changed the statement, saying, “They bring books, and I read sometimes.”

Following our visit to Kldeeti, we reached the library in Shrosha village. Here, the janitor performs the role of the book carrier. She was also employed through the program for the socially vulnerable.

The state employment program for the socially vulnerable was created in 2022. Its goal is to find jobs for socially vulnerable citizens, some seasonally and others permanently. Their monthly salary is 300 GEL, and they continue receiving social allowances for four years after employment.

We asked Shrosha library employees to document their workday, including book distribution. Initially, they mentioned that there was no one left in the village to deliver books to, suggesting that they could take them to the kindergarten instead.

This time, they distributed the second volume of “Anna Karenina” by Tolstoy, “The Panther” by Rustaveli, “Odyssey” by Homer, “Zebulon” by Karchkhadze, and “The Three Musketeers” by Dumas.

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The confused kindergarten employees wondered if they had to pay for the books, indicating they were unaware of the “mobile library.” This was the first time books were brought to them.

We also met the employees of the socially vulnerable program at the Shrosha kindergarten. They mentioned that no one had yet asked them to assist in election campaigning, but they expressed willingness to participate if asked in the future.

When Did N(N)L’s Come Into Existence and What Is Their Function?

N(N)LE, Non-Entrepreneurial (Non-Commercial) Legal Entity, is an organization that is not profit-oriented and solely provides services. Such organizations are frequently established by Municipal City Halls and financed through the state budget. Government N(N)LEs operate in various fields, including education, culture, sports, and cleaning.

The law does not impose a limit on the maximum number of people that can be employed in a government N(N)LE. This allows the government to artificially inflate employment numbers, thereby strengthening administrative resources, which serve as a crucial support for the government during elections.

N(N)LEs are places that promote idleness. If a person were not employed there, they would find something else to do, take care of their homestead, or create something. Now, they sit there doing nothing from morning to evening,” says Aleksandre Svanishvili, head of the master’s program of local self-government at the Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA).

Self-governance expert Koka Kighuradze points out that there are no restrictions on administrative expenses of any kind. Since the City Hall cannot employ more than a specified number of civil servants, N(N)LE serves as a convenient solution, allowing them to employ 200-250 people.

This problem has been an unsolved issue for years,” Koka Kighuradze told us.

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The activities of the N(N)LEs of the City Hall are regulated by Article 106 of the Local Self-Government Code, which consists of 18 paragraphs. There are no written criteria defining how many people should be employed in these budgetary organizations. Regarding employment, it is only stated that only municipalities can appoint or dismiss the head of the N(N)LE.

The eleven N(N)LEs currently operating in the city of Zestaponi were registered between 2007 and 2014. 

Two Governments, One Scheme

According to anonymous accounts from employees of N(N)LEs and statements from politicians and researchers, it appears that the misuse of administrative resources is a persistent issue. This scheme, initially developed during the government of the “National Movement,” was effectively adopted by the succeeding administration.

“This is not new; it is a vicious and old practice. Even under the previous government, city halls and N(N)LEs, functioned similarly to employment offices. This was especially true outside of Tbilisi, where socio-economic conditions are challenging and jobs are scarce,” says Giorgi Sioridze, the deputy chairman of the CEC and a member of the “Lelo” party.

The Association of Young Lawyers of Georgia (GYLA) confirms that the use of administrative resources by parties before elections is not a new phenomenon.

“We have been monitoring almost every election since the establishment of GYLA, and in every instance, including the parliamentary elections of 2008, 2012, and 2016, the use of administrative resources has been very common. This practice has not been eradicated; in fact, it has worsened, and solving this problem is extremely difficult. Our efforts should focus on informing civil servants and the public,” says Nanuka Kruashvili, director of the Democratic Institutions Support Program of GYLA.

We asked opposition parties about their observations on the current practice of using N(N)LEs to attract votes and what has happened in the past.

“All governments have used administrative resources in elections. Those who receive salaries from the budget, along with their family members, are much more vulnerable and end up serving the party. They are made to believe that the party, not the state, employs them. The solution lies in having a coalition government, a multi-party parliament, and genuine local self-governance that is not managed from the center,” says Boris Chele Kurua, a member of the “Girchi – More Freedom” party.

“It has always been like this, but now the situation is out of control. City Hall employees are not prohibited from working in the Central Election Comission (CEC). The problem is that the CEC operates as a party organization. Those who work there no longer act independently and behave as representatives of the party, specifically ‘Georgian Dream’,” says Keti Barbakadze, a member of the “Droa” party.

Lasha Parulava, a member of the “National Movement,” also acknowledged that N(N)LEs were also used for political purposes by the time of previous government and labeled it a “harmful tradition.”

“Despite the bureaucracy being used for electoral purposes, power was peacefully transferred in 2012. Some officials exploited municipal employees, but the political leadership accepted the election results and conceded peacefully. Some individuals who were part of Shevardnadze’s and the ‘National Movement’s’ governments are now in ‘Georgian Dream’ and continue this harmful tradition,” says Lasha Farulava.

What is Happening in Zestaponi N(N)LE’s?

In Zestaponi, 972 people are currently employed across eleven N(N)LEs within the City Hall.

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In 2023, seven million GEL was allocated for their salaries, serving a municipality with a population of 53,000.

The activities of some N(N)LEs are notably similar, raising suspicions of artificially inflated employment numbers. For instance, in Zestaponi, there are two N(N)LEs working in sports and six in the field of culture.

On March 4, 2024, we visited the Museum of Local Lore in Zestaponi, N(N)LE Union of Museums, to investigate what employees there do before elections. Long-time employees of the museum guided us to the director’s office. One was introduced to us as the guardian of the fund, and the other as a leading specialist in community-oriented programs. They talked to us for a long time about their activities in the museum.

We also found out that they combine their activities in the museum with their membership in the election administration: Ema Klibadze, the leading specialist in community-oriented programs, was the secretary of the commission of the first election precinct of Zestaponi in 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2021. She says, this year, no one has yet asked to be an agitator for the pre-elections.

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“I balance this job with that one month(of election); there is no problem. We are prohibited from speaking loudly, since I am, and likely will be, in the election administration. Other employees are members in different precincts. That additional income is also quite important along with this salary. We support this government, so what else can we do?” said Emma Klibadze.

We asked Davit Nioradze, the head of the administrative service of Zestaponi City Hall, whether civil servants’ participation in elections poses a risk of bias and what measures are being taken to address this concern. He responded that N(N)LE employees can be members of political parties and that there are no legal restrictions on them being part of the election commission.

N(N)LEs submit annual reports to the City Hall detailing their activities. The document should outline what they accomplished during the year and the benefits they provided to the citizens. If these reports were fully published publicly, These reports would also promote transparency. After all, the “Russian law” was introduced for this purpose, to enhance “transparency” and “awareness” within society.

As public information, we requested the reports of the N(N)LEs under their jurisdiction from the Zestaponi City Hall. Their response was that the reports are available on the website. However, only the 2021-2022 reports of the N(N)LEs are accessible on the official City Hall website.

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Audit Service on the Inefficiency of Zestaponi’s N(N)LE’s

 The State Audit Service is assessing the effectiveness of N(N)LEs activities in Zestaponi Municipality. According to a report published in 2023, several N(N)LEs in Zestaponi have overlapping functions. Furthermore, funding for these organizations and the number of employees have increased over the years.

 The City Hall could not demonstrate to the audit service why maintaining separate N(N)LEs was effective, nor could they justify the additional costs incurred. Merging these organizations would save budget without affecting service quality. 

According to the audit service, “only in 2021-2022, more than 417.8 thousand GEL was spent on the remuneration of the employees of the administration in the mentioned N(N)LEs”.

 Zestaponi’s sports centers include the Mikheil Saladze Sports and Recreation Center, which operates with nine different functions, and the Sakvarelidze Sports Center, which operates with 13 functions. Both centers share the same goal: to promote a healthy lifestyle among teenagers, reduce time spent on the streets, and showcase sports achievements.

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 The audit service also wrote that, for example, the duties of four employees of the sports and health center are unjustified:

·  The main specialist who organizes the personnel.

·  The leading specialist who monitors business trips.

·  Two specialists who check incoming and outgoing letters.

During the audit research period, 2021-2022, 51,000 GEL was spent on their salaries.

 When asked about the unsubstantiated functions of N(N)LEs employees, Zestaponi City Hall did not provide a concrete answer. Instead, Davit Nioradze, the head of the administrative service of the City Hall, highlighted the successful results of N(N)LEs.

 “All cannot be evaluated by one criterion, but the progress is obvious: development and increasing dynamics. Sports N(N)LEs have won many awards and prizes at the Georgian and international levels. Cultural N(N)LEs hold competitions and festivals, and the number of students and activities increases. The quality and range of municipal services have improved in the Cleaning and Maintenance Service Center. The same can be said about the Municipal Health Center and the Pre-School Union,” Nioradze explained.

“Vague, Unsubstantiated” – Audit Service on Imereti City Councils’ N(N)LE’s

The inefficiencies identified by the State Audit Service were not limited to Zestaponi. Similar issues were found in the N(N)LEs of Samtredia, Kharagauli, Terjola, and Khoni, where activities were also described as vague and unsubstantiated.

მუსიკალური
Musical School in Samtredia

Samtredia: According to 2019-2020 data, Samtredia had four different N(N)LEs providing primary music education, two for art, and three sports clubs in addition to a complex sports school. A total of 1,803,220 GEL was spent on these organizations during this period.

The audit service noted that the functions of these N(N)LEs were similar and overlapped, offering the same services to citizens. The audit concluded that a single organization could efficiently handle these functions. Samtredia City Hall failed to justify the need for multiple organizations—four for sports, and six for music and art.

Kharagauli: The audit service examined Kharagauli’s N(N)LEs for 2017-2018 and found that “the functions and duties of the employees there are either not defined at all, or they are duplicated.” For example, the functions of 16 civil servants across five different N(N)LEs could not be confirmed. According to the Audit Service, despite the fact that in 2018, the number of N(N)LE’s decreased by 7 compared to the previous year, the funding provided to them increased by 260,800 GEL.

Terjola: In 2017-2018, Terjola’s N(N)LEs employed non-functional staff. The audit reported that 32 people were employed in the municipal center of artistic education, culture, and tourism, with 12 of them being center coordinators. The audit found no justification for the need for seven of these 12 coordinators, deeming the 74,800 GEL paid for their salaries as an ineffective expense.

Khoni: The audit service found that the number of employees in Khoni’s N(N)LEs for 2017-2018 was also unreasonable, leading to ineffective expenditure of the funds allocated for their salaries.

Who is the “Discoverer of Talent Among Students” or “Sports Selector”?

When we arrived for an interview at the Zestaponi Sports and Health Center, four people greeted us at the door. However, after learning our identity, none of them wanted to talk at length. They escorted us to the office of Director Guram Kakoishvili, who confirmed he is the brother of the deputy chairman of the Zestaponi City Council.

When asked about the difference between his sports school and the sports center named after Saladze, Kakoishvili replied, “There is no difference; it is the same. There is a sports school there for up to the age of 17, and this is a health center with no age limit.”

The role of the “sports selector” highlights the vague duties of N(N)LEs employees. 

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There are three “sports selectors” working in Zestafoni sports clubs. In 2023, a total of 21,084 GEL was spent on their salaries. The task of “selectors” is to “discover talent” among schoolchildren and involve them in one or another type of sport.

Former football player Tamaz Machkashvili, 72, has been a selector at the Saladze Sports Center for four years. He mentioned that he doesn’t have a monthly workload and had no work in January or February. His busiest time is in September when the school year starts and teams at the sports school need to be filled.

Machkashvili searches for children interested in football, basketball, table tennis, kickboxing, or wrestling. He first consults with physical education teachers and then visits classrooms to talk to students about the importance of sports.

“We have relationships with schools and physical education teachers. Everyone is familiar with us, and we go looking for children. Then we bring these children to fill the sports school groups. For example, there should be 15-18 children for basketball and 20-25 for football. If the group is not filled, I am obliged to come and promote it,” Machkashvili explained.

Four such selectors are also employed in Baghdati and Khoni sports clubs. Ivane Kiltava, the director of Amtredia Sports School, told us that he used to handle this work himself, for which he received an additional 200 GEL. After that, this state was abolished.

This indicates that the work of a selector could be done without a separate staff. However, by creating this position, municipalities have added more civil servants dependent on budget money.

We asked Guram Kakoishvili, the director of the sports school named after Simon Sakvarelidze, if he considers it justified to allocate a separate budget for the selector staff. He responded, “This position is not our invention; it is an European standard. It brings children to us, and we need its existence.”

We posed the same question to Davit Nioradze, the head of the administrative service of Zestaponi City Hall. He denied that selectors only have a few months of work, stating, “In sports institutions, children are accepted and selected in different sections throughout the year.”

How Do Government N(N)LE’s Operate During Elections?

In the period leading up to elections and on the day itself, N(N)LEs often serve the ruling party, closely following its directives. “iFact” spoke with two former civil servants who worked in N(N)LEs in Zestaponi under both previous and current governments. They agreed to speak under the condition of anonymity.

Our journalistic investigation revealed that the previous government deprived civil servants of their right to freely choose in elections, a practice that persists to this day.

Levan (name changed) worked in Zestaponi’s government during the Soviet era and experienced both the “National Movement” and “Georgian Dream” regimes. He held various roles in the agitation-propaganda, education, culture and sports departments. 

“Since you work in that institution, you are obliged, no matter which government comes, to do the work that the [party] needs. That is what I was doing. During the elections, I was obliged to vote for the government. The style is the same, the action is the same, the agitation-propaganda is the same,” Levan told us.

Lisa (name also changed) worked in Zestaponi City Hall under the “Georgian Dream” government. She detailed the employment scheme for party activists. “Where they have people to employ, they create a position. For example, this is how a particular position was created for a particular person in the Garden Association. It was said in advance at the council that this and that person will be appointed. The same thing happened in the Union of Culture and Art. Employing party activists is doubly beneficial: those who employed them are grateful, and those who see that an active person got a job think, ‘I will help them too, after all, maybe the government will employ me too,’ says Lisa, who is now a former civil servant.

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Revaz Laghidze named Musical School

According to Davit Losaberidze, an analyst of self-governance issues, the authorities have always been tempted to use N(N)LEs for political purposes, especially when the powers of self-governments increased. “Of course, there is a solution, but do we want it? The political class of Georgia and similar countries talks about a solution until it seizes power. Then they themselves do the same thing… the government becomes a clan. For example, you are a city hall official or a school teacher, the mayor angered you, or you were asked to perform a political task and refused. What are you going to do? Would you go to a higher paying school or college, work on your own farm, or what? You are completely dependent on the government.”

Giorgi Sioridze, the head of the Central Election Commission and a member of “Lelo,” acknowledges that using N(N)LEs to consolidate power is not new, referring to the scheme as an “employment office.” He states that the previous government also used it successfully. “These positions are created only for the purpose of getting people employed and the ruling team ‘possess’ them… [the government] can no longer see the line between the party and the state. All this has a certain payoff for the pre-election period. These people should perform the so-called function of coordinators, agitators, district heads. Sometimes it happens the other way around – first they engage in agitation and after the elections they get employed.”

What Does the Law Say About Election Campaigning by N(N)LE’s?

According to the Election Code, members or heads of the Election Commission can concurrently work in the City Hall or in N(N)LEs of the City Hall. Such dual roles are considered incompatible, for Minister, member of parliament or chief of staff, chairman/deputy of municipality council, mayor and deputy mayor, judge, his assistant inspector or prosecutor’s office employee. When employees of N(N)LEs work in the Election Commission, their official duties are temporarily suspended for those days, and they are allowed to go on vacation.

Giorgi Sioridze, an opposition deputy chairman of the CEC, highlights a potential conflict of interest: people employed by the ruling party might protect the party’s interests in the election commission, thereby affecting election results.

To confirm the involvement of Zestaponi N(N)LEs employees in elections, we examined the CEC documents, particularly the lists of precinct election commission members. As a result, “iFact” identified 8 individuals, at different times, were enrolled in election commissions at the same time as working in the  N(N)LEs of the City Hall. These individuals used to hold various positions within the commissions, with some serving as ordinary members and others as chairmen or deputy chairmen.

According to “iFact” sources, the following individuals were involved in the precinct election commissions of Zestaponi at different times between 2017 and 2021: Emma Klibadze and Ia Shalamberidze from the Museum Association, Mariam Sulakvelidze from the City Hall Cleaning Service, Shorena Malaghuradze, Marekhi Maglagelidze, and Maya Bochoidze from the Kindergarten Association, Otar Bochorishvili from the Sports Center, and Mariam Amilakhvari from the Art School.

“iFact” attempted to contact these individuals, but either they did not answer the numbers listed on the official website of Zestaponi City Hall, or their numbers were unavailable. We asked Guram Kakoshvili, the director of the Sports Center, to connect us with Otar Bochorishvili, an employee of the Center. However, he refused to assist, saying, “Your question about the sports selector made me angry.” Ultimately, we were only able to speak with Maia Bochoidze,  the head of the Cleaning Service and his employee, Mariam Salukvadze. They confirmed their roles in the election commissions alongside their work in N(N)LE and added that they did not see any problem with that. Maya Bochoidze told us that she is still in the election commission.

While these actions are not illegal, researchers express concerns about the impartiality of election administrations staffed by City Hall employees. Levan Natroshvili, Deputy Executive Director of the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, acknowledges these risks: “Theoretically, it is not a problem for budgetary organization employees to work in the Election Commission. However, it becomes problematic because public service and budgetary organizations are politicized. The ruling party often expects loyalty from these employees. This raises questions about whether public officials can remain impartial during elections.”

Giga Guruli, deputy chairman of the only opposition faction “National Movement” in Zestaponi City Council, shares this concern. He argues that people are employed in legal entities for election purposes, but efforts to combat this practice have been ineffective. Despite media, CEC, and international observers highlighting the issue, no substantial changes have occurred. “When someone receives a salary for minimal work, they are often expected to assist their employer in some capacity. We suspect that many N(N)LE employees are registered to help the government during elections. For a small town like Zestaponi, the number of N(N)LE employees is suspicious. Therefore, their lists should be public,” Giga Guruli stated.

It also emerged that the City Hall refuses to disclose the names of N(N)LE employees.

What is the Solution?

How can we change the situation so that in the future, government N(N)LEs no longer become the “lifeline” for authorities to maintain power and secure guaranteed votes in elections? We asked our respondents to suggest solutions.

Davit Losaberidze, an analyst of self-governance issues, explains that the solution lies in creating diverse job opportunities in the region and separating local and central governments both politically and financially. If mayors can make decisions independently, without the central government determining salaries and budgets, they will no longer be obligated to follow the orders of the ruling party. “In such a case, municipalities won’t be used as a unified administrative resource. Can you imagine a representative of Bush or Trump going to the mayor of San Francisco and saying – bring your officials to a rally? Their reaction would be clear. The solution is to increase the powers of self-governments. In decentralized countries like the USA, Switzerland, or Scandinavia, if the government instructs the city hall to use administrative resources, people will not take it. In the next elections, they won’t even cross the threshold,” says Losaberidze.

Alongside decentralization, political parties and researchers advocate for multipartyism, where no single group can hold power, making it harder to control the regions. Another crucial step for the opposition is to demand the liberation of the Central Election Commission (CEC) from party influence. “We must elect a government that ensures the independence of the CEC. For that, we need a high voter turnout. It is our duty to explain to citizens that their vote is confidential and that high turnout makes it difficult for the government to manipulate the results,” says Keti Barbakadze, a member of “Droa.”

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Levan Natroshvili, Deputy Executive Director of the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, agrees: “The solution is a multi-party democracy. Different groups will hold power, more opposition will enter local governments, and mayors will be appointed from different parties. This will balance influences and prevent everyone from serving a single party. Without this, it is very difficult to find a solution, even if you change the laws.”

In the example of Zestaponi, we have shown how the government works to increase and strengthen its administrative resources, making civil servants the “right hand” of the party. This practice of using N(N)LEs for political purposes is not unique to Zestaponi. Recent events have shown that the government instructs people paid from the state budget to attend public gatherings and support the oligarch or to spread propaganda.

Our respondents hope this harmful practice will end when political power is distributed among different parties, resulting in a multi-party parliament. This will be decided in five months, with the results of the upcoming elections.

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The material was prepared as part of a project funded by the New Democracy Fund, with the support of the Danish government. Investigative journalists team “iFact” is responsible for the material, and the content of the material may not reflect/concur with the view of the donor.

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