Former Georgian PM says authorities grow rich while most people remain poor

RIA Novosti / David Hizanashvili
Leader of the opposition Fair Georgia party Zurab Nogaideli has accused the authorities of neglecting people’s needs and the monopolization of business.

­The country’s “catastrophic price growth” could result in social upheaval, Nogaideli said at a news conference on Thursday. The regime of President Mikhail Saakashvili “will never abandon” the monopolization of business, which aggravates people’s conditions, he said.

The authorities control local businesses, blocking their development, while investment is shrinking, Nogaideli stressed. Food prices in Georgia are rising and officials are growing rich, he said, describing the situation.

Since the beginning of the year, food prices have increased by 25 per cent, the politician said. According to Nogaideli, only seven per cent of people lived in poverty in 2007, and now this number has reached 15 per cent. More than 60 per cent are poor people, he noted.

Saakashvili blames the world financial crisis on the price growth, but everyone can see that all businesses are being controlled by the representatives of the current regime, Nogaideli said.

He was nominated by the president for prime minister in February 2005, but resigned in November 2007. In January this year he created a new party, “Fair Georgia,” after his former associates dismissed him as leader of a party with a similar name.

Nogaideli has also been widely criticized by political opponents for contacts with the Russian leadership. Disagreements and disunity within opposition prevents it from gaining influential positions in the current political spectrum.

In many ways Nogaideli echoed words of another opposition leader – Nino Burdzhanadze, who heads the Democratic Movement-United Georgia Party. She recently warned that the deteriorating situation in Georgia may result in “a social explosion.”