Political Donations Quarterly Newsletter No. 5 - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

Political Donations Quarterly Newsletter No. 5

15 November, 2023

The newsletter gives an overview of the donations made by political parties from July 1 through September 30, 2023. From the trends that have been identified, particularly noteworthy are the donors of the Georgian Dream, more than half of whom are individuals connected with companies producing wine or other alcoholic beverages. A considerable part of them have been receiving various types of subsidies, preferential loans, or public procurement contracts from the state for many years. In addition, some of the donations raise the suspicion that they are made through fictitious donors, which is a violation of the law.

From July 1 up to September 30, 2023, all the parties received donations of up to GEL 1,901,299 in total, which is four times as much as the respective figure of the previous quarter (GEL 453,336). The Georgian Dream received 65% of the donations – GEL 1,238,000; the United National Movement (UNM) ranks second with GEL 274,677, the Lelo for Georgia party ranks third with GEL 186,020, and Generations for Georgia[1] ranks fourth with GEL 180,000 (for full data, see the figure below).

The UNM takes the lead in terms of the number of donors, who made a donation 55 times during the reporting period; the Georgian Dream received 51 donations, although the share of large donors among them is far higher.


Overview of donors of the Georgian Dream

From July 1 up to September 30, most of the Georgian Dream’s donors were individuals connected with companies producing wine or other alcoholic beverages. The “winemaker” donors donated a total of GEL 940,000 to the Georgian Dream in August and September, while they have given more than GEL 2 for the benefit of the ruling party since 2012 (see Table 1).   

The wine-producing companies connected with the donors have obtained simplified procurement contracts worth more than GEL 4 million since 2013; they received preferential agro credits of more than GEL 14 million in the years 2013-2021, and subsidies in the amount of more than GEL 17 million in 2021-2022 (see Table 2).  

The donations of the “winemaker” donors were made precisely in the period before the grape harvest of 2023, for whose subsidy of more than GEL 60 million has been appropriated in the state budget. Fifteen of the companies connected with the donors are involved in the Subsidy Program for Grape Harvest (see Table 2).[2]

It is noteworthy that, against the background of subsidies of millions of lari, at least three companies connected with the donors – Askaneli Brothers, Tsinandali Old Cellar, and Georgian Wine House – were among the wine-producing companies that exported the most wine to Russia in 2022.[3] The high dependence of the Georgian wine on the Russian market contains a threat, as Russia uses it as a lever for political pressure. TI Georgia has already disseminated a recommendation in which it calls on the Georgian government to stop subsidizing those companies that increase Georgia’s economic dependence on Russia.[4]

In total, 51 donors donated GEL 1,238,000 for the benefit of the Georgian Dream in the past quarter, which is more than the combined donations made in the previous three quarters – from October 1, 2022, to July 1, 2023, 22 donors donated GEL 778,000 in total to the ruling party.  

The aforementioned companies practically have not obtained public procurement contracts in the reporting period, although they have obtained 1,700 simplified procurement contracts worth more than GEL 4 million since 2013. Of this, up to GEL 1 million was received by Telavi Cellar LLC, a company connected with Paata Tsiskarishvili, more than GEL 800,000 went to Saamo LLC connected with Zurab Dekanozishvili, and a contract with a value of up to GEL 760,000 was obtained by Company Besini LLC connected with Archil Lobzhanidze.

A part of the alcoholic beverages companies connected with the aforementioned donors received preferential agro credits of up to GEL 12 million in the years 2013-2021 and subsidies in the amount of more than GEL 17 million in 2021-2022.[5] In the table below, see a list of those companies connected with the donors that have received various subsidies or preferential agro credits from the state, as well as total donations made by individuals connected with these companies for the benefit of the Georgian Dream.

In addition to the aforementioned scheme, an examination of Georgian Dream donors during the reporting period has once again fueled suspicions regarding the authenticity of certain contributors. There are indications that some donors may not be genuine contributors donating their own money to the party but rather conduits for funds from their employers' winemaking companies. For instance, Giorgi Bubuteishvili,[7] the chief accountant of JSC Sarajishvili, contributed 15,000 GEL to Georgian Dream, while Davit Abzianidze,[8] the chief technologist of the same company, donated 35,000 GEL to the ruling party. Irakli Naneishvili,[9] the chief winemaker of LLC Falavani winemaker company, also made a contribution of 30,000 GEL to Georgian Dream.

Similar facts were reported in the November 11th broadcast of the program "Nodar Meladze's Saturday",[10] further heightening concerns that Georgian Dream's donors might be violating the law by channeling funds through intermediaries. The segment featured Shalva Sharmanashvili, an accountant at the winemaker company "Tiflisky Vini Pogreb" LLC, confirming his donation of 60,000 GEL to the party.

It is worth noting that such practices are explicitly prohibited by Georgian legislation, which forbids the channeling of donations to a political party through third parties. Violation of this rule carries a penalty equivalent to double the amount of the donated sum.


[1] The party's Chairperson is Shota Shalelashvili, a member of the 9th parliament (2016-2020) elected on the ballot of the Georgian Dream.

[2] Companies that participate in the Subsidy Program for Grape Harvest in 2023, https://bit.ly/3FJEx8U

[3] Top 10 Exporters that sold the most wine in Russia in 2022, bm.ge, 12/02/2023, https://bit.ly/3tXLUXF

[4] Georgia's Economic Dependence on Russia Continues to Grow: January-June 2023, TI Georgia, 29/09/2023, https://rb.gy/pi9yo9

[5] For more information, see the 2022 publication of TI Georgia, Grape Harvest and Elections — Overview of the State Subsidy Program for Grape Harvest,  https://rb.gy/g41r6i

[6] In addition to the 10 companies listed in this column, the following companies connected with donors also participate in the Subsidy Program for Grape Harvest: Gombori LLC, Kakhuri Qvevri LLC, Dekanozishvili Cellar LLC, Urushadze Cellar LLC. 

[7] There are two different donors associated with JSC Sarajishvli, both of whom are named Giorgi Bubuteishvili. One is a shareholder of the company, while the other is the chief accountant. For more information, please refer to the individual financial statements and independent auditor's report for JSC "Sarajishvili" for the year ending December 31, 2022, available at https://reportal.ge/ka/Account/Login, as well as the List of JSC Sarajishvili insiders as of 2021, which can be found at https://gse.ge/upload/Scan_bb2fb7c3.pdf

[8] "Business Standard" program, Adjara TV, 20.03.2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSiX-HUODvU

[10] "How the Georgian Dream Launders Party Money", Nodar Meladze Saturday, TV Pirveli, 11.11.2023, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOY47dAnLEI