Steward of the Property of Blind People

უსინათლოთა კავშირი

How does the property of blind people become someone else’s behind closed doors?

Authors: Ia Asatiani and Aidan Yusif

I met Esma near the Avlabari metro to take her to a meeting at the Union of the Blind. As we were walking on the damaged pavement, I was constantly dictating where there was a dent or a bump and where she should pay more attention or be even more careful. I was trying to find a way to pass the cars on the pavement without having to make Esma walk on the road.

Passing this section, which is 1.5 km, took me 25 minutes with Esma. After overcoming many obstacles, we arrived at the building, which is supposed to be the most adapted and convenient for blind people.

staircase of over 20 old, slippery stone steps

“Georgia’s Union of the Blind” – is written on the wall next to the rusty, broken gate. Built in the Soviet era, the discolored building depicts precisely what this article will tell you.

You’ll have to climb up a narrow staircase of over 20 old, slippery stone steps to get from the yard to the primary office. Here, two blind people physically cannot walk past each other. The two-story building has damaged wooden windows and a collapsed facade. The interior spaces of the building with curved walls need to be tailored to the needs of those it’s built for.

The interior doors are without hints and braille inscriptions. For blind people to find their desired cabinet, they’d have to count the entries and know if they need to enter the third door from the right or the fifth. The most sought-after is the chairman’s office, which holds board meetings. The chairman’s office has two leather doors, in which neither sound nor the noise of the waiting crowd gets through.

Behind the double, soundproof doors, it is right here that the board meetings occur, where a majority vote decides the issues relevant to the members of the Union. The process is just as opaque as the door of the chairman’s office.

We arrived at the Union’s building on the 31st of March at noon. Esma was supposed to attend the board meeting. She was in the waiting room of the chairman’s office, waiting to see if they’d let her into the meeting, which she had a legal right to attend. During this, the administration members either answered Esma’s questions disrespectfully, condescendingly or left her questions unanswered.

Esma Gumberidze is 28 years old and has been blind since birth. She was still a pupil when she became a member of the Union. Later, she became more interested in the activities of the Union and started to attend board meetings more frequently. She believed doing this would be helpful for the blind people residing in Georgia.

Despite waiting for two hours, she did not get to attend the meeting. The acting chairman, Sopho Khutsishvili, told her she did not owe her an explanation for why she didn’t let her participate in the discussion. She told her to go and complain to the court if she thought her rights had been violated.

The chairman’s office has two leather doors.

According to Esma, all this started in the summer of 2021, when she openly supported the Union’s hunger strikers protesting the organization’s management problems. During this period, Esma began to write about the current situation of the Union on Facebook.

“I used to attend board meetings without any problems before, but after the summer of 2021, they sent me back for the third time without an explanation. They won’t let me in simply because they don’t want to. When I called the police, the former chairman Revaz Maisuradze told me they didn’t let me attend because I post everything on Facebook,” – says Esma.

What was Esma writing on Facebook about? She was openly criticizing the management of the Union of the Blind and how they disposed of the common property.

The Union’s property and the companies it founded are worth millions. Since the 90s, thousands of hectares of land and the buildings placed on them have been registered, and the process of transferring property from the state is still ongoing. For example, in 2022, by the government’s decree, 4,900 sq. m. of land in Senaki was given to them by a free usufruct.

We tried to determine why and how much property the government gave this organization. We requested this data from the National Property Agency. However, they did not provide us with any information.

As of 2023, the Union is a shareholder or founder of 52 companies or Non-entrepreneurial, Non-commercial Legal Entities (NNLE). These companies own real estate around the whole country. Suppose we trust the Union’s 2018-2020 budget documents over these three years. In that case, these companies have brought the union financial benefits of 794,000 GEL.

Even though the Union has property, this property is not used by their blind members equally. Revaz Maisuradze and his entourage have used these assets for personal benefits for years. He’s been working in the organization ever since it’s been founded in the year 1998. First, he was a library employee and then the audit committee chairman. Since 2001, he has become the chairman three times, and now he is an advisor to the chairman.

The Union’s member Zurab Gurchiani told us, “Revaz Maisuradze is more dangerous when he’s not the chairman. When he is, he tends to hold back.”

Everyone we’ve talked to while preparing the materials unanimously confirmed that, in reality, the decisions are still being made by Maisuradze instead of the formal chairman.

უსინათლოთა კავშირის ოფისი
Union’s office at Tbilisi

Revaz Maisuradze has been openly accused of wasting funds and making decisions that were non-profitable to the organization by some of the Union’s members ever since 2007. even then, they proclaimed that the Union’s real estate was being sold illegally, scattered across the territory of Georgia.

Parallel to the alienation of the Union’s property, the personal property of Maisuradze’s family has been growing since 2016. Now there are 14 apartments registered in his and his wife’s name in Tbilisi, one hotel room and one apartment in Bakuriani, one apartment in Batumi, commercial space in Tbilisi, two private houses with plots of land in Adigeni and Tkhinvala.

Maisuradze bought his last property in Bakuriani for 52,000 dollars in February 2023. During 2017-2018, he bought two apartments in Tbilisi for 66 thousand dollars. And in the village of Tkhinvala, he purchased land for 42,336 GEL, on which he built a private house.

Maisuradze’s salary, which he received while chairman of the Union, was 950 GEL. Now, as the advisor to the chairman, his salary is 930 GEL.

Maisuradze is blind himself. However, he has privileges. Unlike Esma, he doesn’t have to overcome thousands of obstacles while walking in the streets. He has a personal driver to take him to board meetings or to work in a $13,000 Toyota car.

How did the Union of the Blind accumulate assets?

The Union of the Blind was established in 1926. During the Soviet times, the Union did use state property. However, there was nothing registered in its ownership. In 1998, along with adopting the new civil code, the Union was re-registered. It became the Non-entrepreneurial Non-commercial Legal Entity (NNLE) Union of the Blind of Georgia, AKA “GB Union.”

After the new registration, the Union began registering the property in its name. As the members tell us, the property is worth millions of GEL. Even the Union’s former chairman, Phridon Lobzhanidze, can’t tell us the exact cost of it. We couldn’t calculate it either since after 1998, part of the registered property had already been alienated.

The Union of the Blind owned agricultural lands, apartments, hotels, recreational and educational facilities, vacation homes, and construction businesses. For example, the so-called building of mining chemistry (in Didube) is built by the Union’s construction business.

The funds earned from the alienation and rental of the property should be used on solving the problems of blind people: they should have created better social assistance programs and projects, learned braille, had accessible education, and raised work qualifications. The Union should have offered the blind free legal assistance, cared for their health, and employed them.

უსინათლოთა კავშირის ოფისის ინტერიერი
Hall at the Union’s office

During journalistic research, which we conducted for eight months, we spoke to 14 blind people, the Union’s members, and the former chairpersons. From what they said, it’s clear that they could not benefit from what this Union was created for. Instead, Revaz Maisuradze and his entourage take everything that they want.

Protests against him from blind people were reoccurring from time to time. For example, in 2007, after the end of the 21st reporting congress, four members of the Union announced a hunger strike. One of the hunger strikers was Giorgi Marjanidze. In an interview with “Radio Liberty,” he said: “Our demand is: stop the looting of the property of the Union of the Blind of Georgia, bribery, and the unconditional resignation of the chairman – he does not have the moral right to be the chairman of the Union of the Blind.”

The hunger striker’s requests were not fulfilled. The chairman did not resign, and no one has investigated the process of property alienation either. During these years, dozens of statements against “GB Union” were accumulated in the investigative agencies, mainly the complainants demanding an investigation on property alienation and income transparency.

One of the complainants was Giorgi Enuqidze. In 2014 he became a member of the Union, and in 2021, he became the deputy chairman. He repeatedly addressed the prosecutor’s office and the financial police with a request to investigate the economic activities of the Union.

We studied three incidents in which the personal interests that the governing link of the union organization used while alienating the property are apparent. I will tell you about it below, but before that, I will tell you about what blind people have told us about the Union’s utility.

How does the organization of the blind serve its members?

For a person to become a member of the Union, they have to be 1st and 2nd group blind. According to oral sources, there are approximately 15,000 blind people in Georgia. The exact number is not recorded. The Union currently has up to 3,000 members. They pay a membership fee of 1-3 GEL yearly.

The Union’s annual income and expenditure are within one million GEL.

The fact that the organization’s budget has irregularities and the money must be spent more transparently proves that their accountant also appropriated 74 thousand GEL from the Union’s budget in 2017-2019. that the organization’s budget has irregularities and the money is not spent transparently, also is proved by the fact that their accountant also appropriated 74 thousand GEL from the Union’s budget in 2017-2019. Two sources tell “iFact” that the accountant spent this money on gambling. The money being appropriated is confirmed by the budget documents that the Union gave to their member Esma Gumberidze and the prosecutor’s letter, in which the Union was recognized as the injured party. The accountant was arrested, pleaded guilty, and was released with a plea agreement.

This Union was created for the sole purpose of making the lives of blind people in Georgia easier. It is supposed to mediate between blind people, state institutions, and international organizations; help the Union’s members develop, receive education, raise their qualifications, and get employed; care for their health and improve their living conditions.

The organization is indeed fulfilling some of the obligations on that list. However, the question is how effectively they are doing it. If we believe their current chairman Sopho Khutsishvili, the Union only managed to get one of their members employed. She said this in November of 2022, on the air of “Radio Imedi.”

The Union also provides financial assistance, 22-25 GEL per member, once a year. They help socially disadvantaged blind people monthly. And they pay the veteran members, who have been in the Union for over 50 years, up to 37 GEL monthly. The Union pays scholarships to blind students and provides business loans of up to 5,000 GEL to members.

ესმა გუმბერიძე
Esma Gumberidze

From speaking to the organization’s blind beneficiaries, it’s clear that to them, these aids are wretched and do not satisfy their real needs. The members also tell us about the tense environment within the Union. The leadership chooses a dictatorial management style, does not listen to criticism, and threatens the members disagreeing with them with a different motive.

“There is no civilization within the Union. Some things are being done, but they’re done poorly in a communist regime… No one can talk too much; it’s not allowed; they must obey the leadership, and whatever they say should be done, Maisuradze and some Sopho,” – says short-sighted 31-year-old Tiko Bekoshvili. She lost her vision in 2017, but she is not a member of the Union, nor does she plan to be.

From what Tiko said, we know that the Union of the Blind cannot present their problems to the state, fulfill the function of an intermediary link, nor are they oriented on making blind people solid and independent. The Union’s support is sometimes limited to sending holiday presents to blind people.

“We do not need food; we need development. They need to provide us with services so that instead of taking oil provided by others, we earn it ourselves.” – says Tiko. She can’t even go anywhere alone and needs her relatives’ help. The Union of the Blind does not have a guide service.

In Tbilisi, only the city hall has a guide service for blind people. However, this service has a long queue since only four people are employed in this position.
“I tried it; I tested it…I wanted to, let’s say, go to the doctor. They told me I would have to wait at least a month; I was 14th in the line. I have to wait until the accompanying person is free and then get sick, ” – recalls Tiko.

One of the unit’s members, 31-year-old Stanislav Tsibuski, who has been blind since birth, tells us the same thing. He works as a translator in Temka, Tbilisi. And he goes to work from Isani. Due to its expense, he cannot use a taxi daily and needs an accompanying person to walk on foot. According to him, you must agree with this person at least two weeks in advance.

Blind people do not shy away from speaking up about this issue; they speak to us about it openly. However, voices of their plight cannot go through the double doors of the chairperson’s office.

How was the Union’s real estate being alienated?

Story 1

During the 2000s, a settlement of blind people was located in Phonichala, on the Rustavi highway, on an area of up to 12 hectares. In addition to their houses, you would find enterprises, cultural-educational and artistic spaces here.

Today, this territory in Phonichala is divided into more than 50 plots, most of which are owned by private owners and companies. The land and their buildings sold slowly over the years; some were given away for free, so the Union did not benefit from any part of these deals. Only three plots (up to 1.05 hectares) belong to the “GB Union” in this territory, which is only 9% of the old property. The Union’s companies, however, own up to 3.3 hectares of land, approximately 28% of the old property.

Our research uncovered a scheme by which this territory was alienated. The Union of the Blind establishes a company with private individuals in which they invest their real estate as initial capital. And in return, generally, they get a 49 percent share. The second shareholder becomes the owner of the company’s 51 percent,

Next begins the reorganization and division of these companies. The newly registered companies get handed over to the new owners. Accordingly, the real estate also has a new owner.

An excellent example of this scheme working is the agreement between the “Georgian Business Academy” and the Union of the Blind.

The “Business Academy” is a vocational educational institution established in 2010. The Union of the Blind and Ia and Kakhaber Eradze founded it. The Eradzes are friends of Maisuradze. This is confirmed by the Union’s former chairman Phridon Lobzhanidze, former deputy chairman Giorgi Enuqidze, and Maisuradze’s childhood friend and head of the Union’s Phonichala branch, Varlam Gharibashvili.

When the deal was made, Kakhaber Eradze was a civil servant, and he still is now: in 1997-2003 in the Ministry of Finance, and from 2010-2017, he worked at the “National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement.” since 2020, he has been the center’s deputy director.

When the “Business Academy” was founded, 49% of the shares belonged to the Union of the Blind, and 51% belonged to Ia and her brother Kakhaber Eradze. The Union put the first floor (842 sq.m) of the house of culture owned by the Union in the company’s capital. The space’s value was determined at 82,540 GEL. The Eradzes had to renovate this property for 85,900 GEL, equip it with inventory, and turn it into an educational institution. However, it was written in the Union’s board meeting protocol that the academy will be able to admit up to 400 students per year, and from this, they will have a yearly income of 300-350 thousand GEL.

The following year, the Union of the Blind added 8,185 square meters to the capital of the Business Academy. They included two plots of land with the building and structures so that the Eradzes did not invest any additional money in the common property of the company, nor did they undertake any other obligations in exchange for receiving the real estate.

The educational institution was opened and successfully cooperates with state programs that finance students’ professional education. According to the charter, the Union of the Blind was supposed to receive “substantial income” from the Business Academy, to which they transferred their property.

საქართველოს ბიზნეს აკადემიის შენობა
Georgian Business Academy

In the protocol of the September 2020 board meeting, it is written that 2019 the academy had a profit of 31,445 GEL. 49% of this profit, or 15,500 GEL, was supposed to be received by the Union of the Blind. However, this did not happen. “GB Union’s” acting chairman, Sopho Khutsishvili, confirmed in a phone interview that the Union has never received a share of the profits accumulated by the Business Academy. Moreover, the Union of the Blind gave the Business Academy a loan of 60,000 GEL for its development. The loan was covered in 2019-2020.

It turns out that Maisuradze, under the name of the Union of the Blind, created a company with his friends that received the Union’s real estate, renovated it, and started it up again with the help of the Union. The profits then returned to the company and were updated with new inventory. The Union of the Blind, however, did not benefit from this deal.

The content of the deal was changed in 2021. the Union’s acting chairman, Sopho Khutsishvili, told us that they need money to finance their programs, and because of that, they have to find ways to earn funds. Since the Union couldn’t receive a share of the Business Academy’s profits, it was decided to be reorganized to still receive rent from this real estate given to the Business Academy.

The “Business Academy” underwent reorganization, and it was divided into two companies: “Phonichala 9” and “Phonichala 10”. These companies were given the 841,000 GEL worth of real estate that the Business Academy once received free of charge from the Union of the Blind. The owners of the new companies are still the Union of the Blind (49%) and the Eradzes (51%).

That same day, the Union of the Blind decided to give their 49% share to the Business Academy for free, so they did. After the reorganization, the Eradze siblings own 50-50 percent of the academy’s profits. It turns out that the Union of the Blind gave the Eradzes 428 thousand GEL worth of property as a gift. In return, they got no financial benefits.

Unlike the Union, the Eradzes took advantage of this deal. In return for their initial capital, 85,900 GEL, they received a functioning and profitable educational institution and 428 thousand GEL worth 6,250 sq. m. real estate.

You may be asking how much the newly created “Phonichala 9” and “Phonichala 10” rented the former property of the Union of the Blind to the Business Academy. One sq. M. for 81 Tetri. So, 9,440 sq. M. of land with 2,822 sq. M. of building on it for 10,000 GEL per month. From this, only 4,900 GEL belongs to the Union, and Ia and Kakhaber Eradzes share 5,100 GEL as profit equally.

It would be much more logical and financially beneficial to the Union if they rented out this space from the beginning and got the money from it. This way, giving up real estate to a private person wouldn’t be necessary.

We asked the current chairman why this property was given to the Eradzes, why a tenant was found who would renovate the building in exchange for rent, and what profit the Union has gained from this deal.

Sopho Khutsishvili became the chairman of the Union 20 months ago. The last “Business Academy” events happened during this period. She should know the details of this transaction best.

“I don’t know those details yet. Presumably, they couldn’t find a tenant that would invest money and say, “I’ll renovate it and take it,” – said Sopho Khutsishvili, who, during this phone interview, promised to find out more details and asked us to contact her again the next day. However, The next day, she told us that she did not want to talk anymore and told us not to use the interview recorded the previous day even though we told her that we were recording the conversation and intended to use it on the first call.

We contacted Ia Eradze with the same questions. She owns and directs the “Georgian Business Academy (GBA).” She also agreed to the interview initially; however, after the first question, she hung up and did not answer us again. We even texted her to arrange the interview, but she did not respond.

The former deputy chairman, Giorgi Enuqidze, tells us that this deal was one of the reasons why the conflict between him and the current leadership of the Union began. This tension eventually ended with him getting fired since, as he told us, Enuqidze was openly against the decisions damaging the Union.

At the beginning of 2022, Enuqidze filed his first complaint against the Union in the prosecutor’s office since, in his opinion, this story clearly shows all the violations that have happened in the Union over the years.

გიორგი ენუქიძე
Giorgi Enukidze

“When I asked why we were giving GBA’s shares to the Eradzes for free and why Revaz Maisuradze thought that the property only belonged to the Eradze [and not the union too], he answered by telling me that it’s their property and that they bought it with the company’s money, even though the owner of 49% of the academy was the “GB Union” ….I also asked these questions during the board meeting and waited for the vote. When eight out of nine people raised their hands to agree with the decision to transfer GBA’s shares to the Eradzes free of charge, I explained the share’s value in detail. I asked one of the board members, do you know the value of this 49% we are giving to the Eradzes and what kind of harm it does to us? Their word-for-word response was – Rezo said that, so how bad can it be? He wouldn’t say something bad and harmful to us,” – says Enuqidze.

According to our information, the prosecutor’s office has investigated the GBA matter and the Union’s other financial decisions or transactions.

Story 2

In 2008, the Union of the Blind leased 1,050 sq.m. with its building. This plot is also located near the Business Academy in Phonichala. LLC “MedGeorgia” paid 1,575 USD monthly for nine years for using the property. In 2017, a new contract was signed for a 5-year term, with which “MedGeorgia” would pay 2,620 USD per month for 1,400 sq. M. of land and 1,579 sq. M. building. Now a clinic in this building is temporarily closed due to renovation works.

At first glance, everything is in order; the Union is renting its property for profit. Although, the intricate and already familiar scheme of property alienation also applies to this case.

In July 2020, the Union of the Blind created LLC “Phonichala 8” and included this real estate in its capital. Now 49% of LLC “Phonichala 8” is owned by the Union, and Davit Khutsishvili bought 51% for 177,500 GEL. He was the director of “MedGeorgia” from 2018-2020.

Khutsishvili turned out to be very insightful. He got “MedGeorgia” out of a problematic situation and benefited from it. All this by using the Union’s property.

During this deal, the Union’s leader was Revaz Maisuradze. His letter states that LLC “MedGeorgia” couldn’t pay the rent on time, and by 2020 this company owed the Union 73,000 GEL.

During our research, we found a record in the public registry database that since June 2019, insolvency proceedings against LLC “MedGeorgia” have started. A trial was even held. The company claimed it lacked the financial resources to cover the debt.

The then director of “Georgia,” Davit Khutsishvili, contacted the Union of the Blind with the idea of a business partnership in 2020. According to the offer, if the Union founded a new company and transferred the property leased by “MedGeorgia” to it, Khutsishvili was willing to buy 51% of the newly registered company’s share for 200,000 GEL and fulfill the duties of the director, however, in the end, Khutsishvili ended up buying the share for 177,500 GEL.

This agreement could be more beneficial to the Union. The purchase agreements confirm that Union reduced the price for Khutsishvili and thus reduced 22,500 GEL from the budget. The monthly rent received from “MedGeorgia” was reduced from the Union’s budget, and 2,620 USD was decreased to approximately 1,000 USD.

At the meeting, the board members were convinced that this deal was suitable for them because our tenant doesn’t pay us rent. With the help of a new business partner, the company’s director, it’ll be easier to get what belongs to us. He will gain personal motivation to cover all of “MedGeorgia’s” debts successfully. In addition to that, we will take 200,000 GEl, which will help us fulfill our tax obligations. We remind you that “MedGeorgia” was the tenant that didn’t pay the rent for months and had accumulated its past debt, 73,000 GEL.

Three months after the registration of the new company, Khutsishvili was dismissed from the dictatorship of “Georgia.”

In 2020-2022, the Union was supposed to receive 77,800 USD from LLC “MedGeorgia” as a lease, so approximately 233 o00 GEL. The Union took only 135 thousand GEL from this since the rest went to the second shareholder of the newly founded “Phonichala 8,” AKA Khutsishvili.

It turns out that Khutsishvili could withdraw more than half of the amount he paid for the share of “Phonichala 8” with only a two-year lease. And he will probably see the benefits in the future since Khustishvili still owns a 51% share of the company, 713 sq. M. of land and the 805 sq.m. building on it.

There is suspicion that “MedGeorgia’s” financial problems and inability to pay rent were part of the scheme through which Davit Khutsishvili became a shareholder of the Union’s property. Unfortunately, the private company’s financial documents are closed to the media, and we cannot say whether “MedGeorgia” had problems paying the rent when the deal was made.’

In January 2021, Khutsishvili addressed the Union, requesting a new change. Now, the five-year lease became a twenty-year one, on condition of renovating the building and the construction of new floors. This matter was also discussed at the Union’s meeting, and the board agreed. However, we already discussed that the tenant did not fulfill the above duties. Moreover, “MedGeorgia” still hadn’t covered their debts to the Union even when requesting this new agreement.

The 20-year lease failed. However, a trial was held in 2021-2022, at which LLC “MedGeorgia” and LLC “Phonichala 8′ agreed that the lawsuit would be dropped and that the lease would increase to $3,000 by the end of the lease term.

LLC “MedGeorgia”

We wanted to ask the Union’s former chairman, Revaz Maisuradze, why he kept “MedGeorgia” as a tenant and signed new contracts with them when the company could not pay rent and had financial problems. Revaz Maisuradze refused to answer any of the “if’s” questions despite our many attempts. Then we asked the current chairman, Sopho Khutsishvili, what was going on with “MedGeorgia” and whether or not they were paying the rent now.

Sopho Khutsishvili told us in the interview that the situation has not improved and that they would likely have to evict “MedGeorgia” from their premises. We addressed Davit Khutsishvili with the same question.

“there are problems with the tenant, and we are discussing these problems. We must resolve them the same way we did a few years ago. The debt amount was paid, and a new agreement was signed due to the court’s agreement, which was then, unfortunately, broken. Now we’re forced to resort to enforcement and start the eviction,” – said Davit Khutsishvili. According to him, “MedGeorgia’s” debt is approximately 15,000 USD.

We also became interested in the funds with which Khutsishvili bought the share of this business and what benefits the Union of the Blind saw from this transaction. He told us that he bought a stake in “Phonichala 8” with a bank loan, and the Union itself named the value. Khutsishvili then counted with his banker and considered that the deal was acceptable,

“I think that our business partnership is going well. It’s beneficial for both of us. Ever since I became a partner, the Union of the Blind has gained more money than ever before. The lease was 2,600 USD and became 3,000,” says Khutsishvili.

Davit Khutsishvili is a dual citizen of Russia and Georgia, and he also owns shares in two other companies besides the ones mentioned above. The activities of these businesses are also related to the medical field.

Story 3

One of the Union’s numerous real estate is on Kalandadze Street in Ortachala, Tbilisi. Now there are two corpora built by the “Monolith Group” on a plot of 3,845 sq.m. The Union of the Blind had office space here until 2015, and renting it out brought the organization at least 2,500 USD a month.

This territory was given to the Union of the Blind by the state free of charge in 1998. in 2007, the Union began renting its real estate.

In 2015, an agreement was made between the Union of the Blind and the construction company “Monolith Group.” The Union gave “Monolith Group” the territory for the construction of corpora on the condition that he would get 1,300 sq.m. of renovated commercial space in the same complex. Besides the retail space, five parking lots were also given to the Union of the Blind with the right of use.

2016 the auditor estimated one square meter of this land at 250 dollars. Adjacent to the same ground, the “Monolith Group” paid 285 dollars for one sq.m. in the same period. We also checked the value of other lands near this property. Throughout 2014-2016, the land prices in this area ranged from 277 to 340 dollars. If the Union sold a square meter of its property for $277, it would have received at least 97 thousand dollars more.

The total value of 1,308 square meters of commercial space given to the “Monolith Group” by the Union of the Blind was estimated at $967,920.

We asked the former director of the “Monolith Group,” Zaza Ichqitidze, how this agreement was made. He told us that a large land area is undervalued by about 10-20%, and he gave the maximum value to the Union. It was a prestigious place, and I didn’t back down.

რევაზ მაისურაძე
Revaz Maisuradze

The Union did not remain in debt to the company either: they took obtaining the city hall’s agreement to the construction projection and the construction permit upon themselves.

Many people in the Union couldn’t understand why the management was exchanging this area for three times more petite size. In the record of this meeting, they explain that the building needs renovation and money and that the Union does not have that kind of luxury for that.

We contacted the then-chairman of the Union of the Blind, Fridon Lobjanidze. He told us that Revaz Maisuradze negotiated with “Monolith.” he confirmed during his conversation that even when he was the formal chairman, all of the decisions were made by Maisuradze. Lobjanidze also told us that he didn’t even participate in the elections for the second term because Revazi was going to vote, and it was unacceptable to oppose him. He also added that Maisuradze was his childhood friend.

We asked Lobzhanidze why he agreed to exchange 3,845 sq.m. for 1,300. “The building collapsed, and we could no longer care for it. The last tenant couldn’t pay the rent. We invited developers. They told us that they wanted some profit, and we had no choice except to agree proposed price,” said Lobjanidze.

The company’s former director, Zaza Ichqitidze, told us that this construction was not his initiative and that the Union was looking for a builder for this object. His relative and the deputy chairman of the Union, Tariel Gurul, addressed him with this proposal. Four people participated in the negotiations, including Maisuradze and Lobjanidze.

After the completion of the construction, the Union of the Blind gained 1,308 sq.m. of commercial space, which is now leased to the private school “new generation.” the school was paying $5,335 in rent in 2019-2022. From September 2022, the rent was increased to $8,000.

It’s also interesting that this new building is being rented at a lower price than the market. The school rented one sq.m. for 6 dollars while the office right next to that was leased for 20 dollars for one sq.m.

Fourteen months after signing a contract on the Ortachala property with the Union of the Blind, “Monolith” started a new construction in Varketili on the land that belonged to Revaz Maisuradze’s wife. We asked the former director of “Monolith,” Ichqitidze, how the company chose this land.

“Because we were building well, the wife of one of them decided that she had the land and that if we offered good conditions, she would give us that land in exchange for money and space. It makes no difference to me who’s wife someone is. I am an ordinary businessman; If the conditions are good, I’ll sign a contract with you,” – says Ichqitidze.

Ludmila Maisuradze had 1,794 sq.m. of land in Varketili, on Javakheti Street, part of which she had bought on her own and function of which was given to her by her mother in 2008. LLC “Monolith” built a ten-story building in this place and gave Ludmila 13 apartments and 780 sq.m. of commercial space worth 234,000 USD instead of 1,794 sq.m. The company paid Ludmila Maisuradze an additional $150,000.

Thus, Ludmila Maisuradze received the real estate of 2.3 times less area in exchange for her property, and 150,000 dollars were added. This was when the Union of the Blind received 2.9 times less space than its property and did not receive additional compensation.

We asked the then-director of the company how this calculation was made.

“the Union of the Blind had a coefficient of 1.5, [Maisuradze’s land’s] coefficient was 4.6, now calculate it as a percentage, I paid the blind in Ortachala a bit too much, but as it was a prestigious place, I did not back down. Varketili was very beneficial to me. Then in Ortachala, I added some things, brought some things to the committee, spent money, and managed to do some things. I had an agreement with the Union in advance; if I do something with my funds and change it, you’ll have nothing to do with it,” -said Ichqitadze.

The coefficients that Ichiqitdze mentions determine how many stories a builder can build in this or that territory. The higher the coefficient, the bigger the area of the building; therefore, the greater the profit from the building.

We checked on the website of the Tbilisi Architecture Service whether or not Ichqitidze was telling the truth. The Union of the Blind initially did have a k2 coefficient of 1.5, which means that a builder could build a building here that could have a total area of 5,767 sq.m. but the matter becomes more interesting when we see that before signing the contract with “Monolith,” the land is divided into two parts and the Union of the Blind helps the companies change the zones.

რევაზ და ლუდმილა მაისურაძე
Revaz Maisuradze and his wife

Besides that, the “Monolith Group” also bought 500 sq.m. of adjacent land and added it to the Union’s ground. By increasing the land area, they could build one building with a coefficient of 2.8 and another with 3.3. the total size of the buildings is 16,200 sq.m.

The “Monolith Group” finally received a coefficient of 3.4 and 6,100 sq.m. on Ludmila Maisuradze’s land. They built a building with space. Remember that, on average, real estate prices in Ortachala are 28% higher than those in Varketili.

Ludmila Maisuradze bought another apartment from “Monolith” in 2017 on Shavishvili Street in Tbilisi. – 66 sq.m. for 53,000 dollars.

In the end, who benefited more from this deal? The Union of the Blind, or its “governor’s” family?

We tried to interview Revaz Maisuradze. He accused us of writing an ordered article and did not answer questions afterward.

When Maisuradze says “inspection,” he means the barely started investigation by the prosecutor’s office. The members of the Union of the Blind have been asking the prosecutor’s office to investigate the organization’s finances ever since the previous government. According to our information, investigators seized financial documents from the Union of the Blind for inspection in March.

It’s difficult to say when and how the investigation will end. However, Esma Gumberidze does not lose hope and is ready to wait for the restoration of justice just as patiently as she waits to attend the ongoing meetings behind the opaque, soundproof doors.

“I expect that the signs of crime will be revealed, the Union will be known as the victim, and the perpetrators will be held accountable. All this will break the stereotype that people with disabilities are “innocent angels” and cannot commit crimes.”

თუ გსურთ, გავაგრძელოთ კორუფციის კვლევა, მაშინ გახდით ჩვენი ფინანსური მხარდამჭერი
Farce and Peril Around “Golden Canopy”
ოქროს ჩარდახის რეაბილიტაციის პრობლემები

Farce and Peril Around “Golden Canopy”

Our research revealed that the engineer and architect are not familiar with the

თვალი მიადევნეთ სხვა ამბებსაც