Transparency International Georgia responds to suspicious withdrawal of November 18 edition of newspaper Qronika + from circulation
The November 18 edition of newspaper "Qronika +" included an article reviewing the companies owned by family members and relatives of the First Deputy Minister of Interior, Giorgi Zedelashvili and describing their participation in the state tenders. The article mentions several other officials, including the Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure, Davit Shavliashvili and the Deputy Chairman of the Roads Department, Vazha Panchulidze. Further, the materials refer also to business interests of Zviad Jankarashvili, the Executive Secretary of the Georgian Dream's Political Council. Jankarashvili is the former Head of the Ministry of Interior's General Inspection. The article claims that all above-mentioned persons are linked to each other by registered shares in various companies.
We are informed that the last edition of newspaper Qronika + was purchased in an organized manner from all distributors simultaneously and it could not reach ultimate customers. Transparency International Georgia has checked this information in several newspaper booths in Tbilisi and other large Georgian cities (Batumi, Kutaisi and Zugdidi) and found that the November 18 edition of newspaper "Qronika +" is not on sale.
Business interests of the officials and the state procurements related to them trigger public interest, because such materials inform citizens about conflicts of interests and potential cases of corruption.
Transparency International Georgia does not possess information on the accuracy of facts alleged in the newspaper. Yet, the fact that this newspaper edition is not on sale raises doubts that dissemination of information was obstructed intentionally to make the critical journalistic materials about the officials unavailable to citizens.