Property owned by municipality council chairmen of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

Property owned by municipality council chairmen of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti

04 September, 2014

After local government elections of June 15, 2014 new council chairmen have been elected in every municipality throughout Georgia. We consider it appropriate, in terms of existing public interest, to disclose the experience carried and property owned by the people charged with leading these local government reprehensive bodies.

The information gathered by Transparency International Georgia on Samegrelo - Zemo Svaneti municipality council chairmen and their family members is based on analysis of asset declarations submitted by some of these officials as well as data made available by the Public Registry. It is worth noting that asset declarations for some of these chairmen have not yet been uploaded to the Civil Service Bureau website, resulting in an incomplete profile for these specific officials.[1]

Zugdidi City Municipality

Merab Kvaraia, former acting deputy governor of Zugdidi Municipality, has been elected as the chairman of Zugdidi Municipality Council. Kvaraia served as the deputy head of Zugdidi Tax Service since 2001. He was a member of the People’s Party before 2003 and an MP representing the party Aghordzineba (Revival) in the failed Parliament of 2003. Kvaraia was arrested on August 26, 2005 and sentenced to 6 years and 6 months of imprisonment for abusing authority as the deputy head of Zugdidi Tax Service and wastefully spending a large amount of public funds in 2001. Merab Kvaraia was discharged from prison on February 24, 2012 and became a member of the commission on Political Prisoners established at the parliament of Georgia. Since 2013 he has been serving as the acting deputy governor of Zugdidi Municipality since 2013.

According to the asset declaration form submitted by Merab Kvaraia on March 5, 2013, he and his family own three houses in Zugdidi Municipality, one house in Gali, three apartments in Tbilisi, a non-residential space in Zugdidi, and several land plots in Zugdidi Municipality and Gali. Follow the link for more detailed information. Merab Kvaraia is also a chairman of Kvaraia Family Name Union.

Zugdidi Municipality

Lasha Gogia, a representative of the Georgian Dream Coalition, has been elected as chairman of Zugdidi Municipality Council. Gogia has a background in economics and has worked in both private and public sectors. More specifically, he served as the head of monetary department at the Zugdidi branch of the Post Bank of Georgia between 1998 – 2002. He was also an assistant to the chairman of Zugdidi District Election Commission between 2003 – 2004; senior specialist at Labor, Health and Social Affairs Department in Samegrelo - Zemo Svaneti between 2004 – 2005; operating officer at the Zugdidi Office of Samegrelo – Zemo Svaneti Constitutional Department in 2005; chairman of Zugdidi Municipality Council Finance and Budget Commission between 2005 – 2006; deputy council chairman between 2006 – 2008; director of LTD Clean Line between 2008 – 2012; director of LTD High Service between 2012 – 2013. In 2013 Gogia was appointed as chairman of Zugdidi Regional Organization of the party Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia.

According to the Public Registry, Lasha Gogia is a full owner and director of LTD Medhouse (registered on July 20, 2011). Gogia owns an agricultural land plot of 2,001 square meters in Zugdidi Municipality village Tsaishi (cadastral code -, and a 146 square meter building on Sokhumi Street in Zugdidi (cadastral code – Lasha Gogia has not submitted his asset declaration yet.

Mestia Municipality

Maizer Japaridze, former deputy governor of Mestia, was elected as chairman of Mestia Municipality Council with a majority vote of 28 against 1. Zurab Chartolani was elected as the deputy chairman. Japaridze was first an engineer and later became the director of Mestia communal farm between 1998 – 2004. He was a construction engineer at LTD Alioni 99 between 2004 – 2007, and served as the manager of Mestia branch of the United Water Supply Company of Georgia between 2010 – 2011. Since 2012 Japaridze had served as deputy governor of Mestia Municipality.

According to the asset declaration form submitted by Maizer japaridze on March 20, 2014, he owns a house and a nonresidential space in Mestia (Gabliani Street) as well as 4 separate land plots in Mestia Municipality with a total area of 17,500 square meters.

Self Governing City of Poti

Otar Kharchilava was nominated by the initiative group and elected as chairman of Poti City Council with 8 votes on the council’s first meeting on July 14, 2014. According to media reports, Kharchilava’s rival - Levan Chochia, representing the Georgian Dream Coalition, was backed by Poti Majoritarian MP and Parliamentary majority representative Eka Beselia. Otar Kharchilava has experience working at both Poti city hall and the city council. He was twice convicted of illegal use, purchase and storage of drugs in 2007 and 2010. In 2010 he was released after paying GEL 50,000 as part of a plea bargain, and in 2013 was cleared of his criminal record by the decision of the then president Mikheil Saakashvili.

According to the Public Registry, Otar Kharchilava owns a 625 square meter nonagricultural land plot in Poti, together with a few buildings attached to it (cadastral code – He does not own shares in any legal entity.

Otar Kharchilavas’s asset declaration form has not yet been uploaded to the Civil Service Bureau website.

Chkhorotsku Municipality

The first meeting of Chkhorotsku Municipality Council proved to be tense with 12 council members representing the Georgian Dream Coalition, and supporting the party’s candidate Koba Jikia, leaving the meeting as a sign of protest. The meeting concluded with an independent candidate Besik Esebua being elected as chairman with 16 votes.

Besik Esebua was born in Senaki on June 23, 1961. He has a background in medicine and has spent a number of years working at different medical institutions.[2]

 He was a member of Chkhorotsku Municipality Council and chairman of its Social Affairs Committee between 1998 – 2002; head of Healthcare and Social Affairs Department at Chkhorotsku Municipality Administration between 2000 – 2002; Chkhorotsku Council member and governor of the village Akhuti between 2002- 2003; and head of Chkhorotsku majoritarian MP V. Izoria’s office between 2003 – 2004. Besik Esebua is the chairman of the regional organization of the political coalition Alliance for Georgia since 2009, and member of Chkhorotsku Municipality Council since 2010. After October 2012 Parliamentary elections Esebua was elected as the chairman of Chkhorotsku Municipality Council.

According to the asset declaration form submitted by Besik Esebua on January 30, 2014, he owns 4 separate land plots (with a total area of 67,553 square meters) and a house in Chkhorotsku Municipality village Akhuti. Esebua and his family members do not have registered ownership of any other property or company shares.

Abasha Municipality

The first meeting of Abasha Municipality Council was also proved to be tense. Two candidates were nominated for the position of council chairman, Davit Kacharava representing the United National Movement and Paata Kurdovanidze representing the party Industry Saves Georgia. Neither of the candidates were able gather enough votes in the first round of elections as 8 council members representing the Georgian Dream left the meeting, accusing Kurdovanidze of having contacts with the National Movement. Paata Kurdovanidze was eventually elected as the council chairman in the second round. A doctor by training, Kurdovanidze also writes articles and in recent years has held different positions, including that of the director, at Abasha hospital. He also served as the member of the Georgian Parliament between 2004 – 2008.

Paata Kurdovanidze is a member of administration at Georgian Heraldry House. His son Mikheil Kurdovanidze owns a 66.8 square meter apartment (under construction) in Tbilisi (cadastral code –; his daughter Salome Kurdovanidze owns a 65.18 square meter apartment (cadastral code – in Tbilisi (118 Aghmashenebeli Street) and also co-owns a cellar with the same address (cadastral code – Paata Kurdovanidze has submitted his latest asset declaration form in April of 2008.

Tsalenjikha Municipality

Tsalenjikha Municipality Council was unable to elect its chairman in the first round of voting. Neither of the two candidates nominated in the first round, Koba Shanava and former chairman Davit Belkania, could gather the required number of votes. Belkania withdrew his candidacy in the second round, while Shanava was not re-nominated, resulting in the victory of a Georgian Dream representative Temur Ghvinjilia, who is also the majoritarian council member representing the center of Tsalenjikha.  Ghvinjilia is an engineer-economist by training.

Temur Ghvinjilia owns 20% shares in LTD Tsalenjikha Sagzao and 30% at LTD She-li. He co-owns an agricultural land plot in Tsalenjikha Municipality Zghvaia settlement (cadastral code – He also owns two separate agricultural land plots with a combined area of 7,412 square meters in Tsalenjikha Municipality village Mikava (cadastral codes – and

Temur Ghvinjilia’s asset declaration form has not yet been uploaded to the Civil Service Bureau website.

Martvili Municipality

Aleksi Gabisonia, a representative of Georgian Dream Coalition, has been elected as chairman of Martvili Municipality Council with 36 council members voting for him.

An engineer-electrician by training, Aleksi Gabisonia has worked as the lighting master at Georgian Films between 1993 – 1995; chief specialist at the LTD Bolshevik Farm located in Moscow’s Serpukhov district between 1995 – 1999; deputy director of religious merchandize shop Madli between 2001 – 2006; accountant at LTD Oshki between 2006 – 2008, and manager of marketing and supplies at the same company between 2008 – 2012; and member of the analysis and consulting group at a research organization ACT Research between 2011 – 2012.

Aleksi Gabisonia owns 50% shares of LTD Oshki. His asset declaration form has not yet been uploaded to the Civil Service Bureau website.

Khobi Municipality

Edisher Jobava, Georgian Dream representative and acting deputy governor of Khobi Municipality between 2013 - 2014, was elected as chairman of Khobi Municiplaity on July 14.

According to the asset declaration form submitted by Edisher Jobava on December 19, 2013, both he and his father Vilen Jobava own land plots of 5,000 square meters each in Khobi’s Kolkheti settlement. Vilen Jobava also owns a land plot and a house in Khobi, both on Vazha-Pshavela Street. Edisher Jobava’s daughter Tatia Jobava is a 20% shareholder of LTD Murkvami.

Senaki Municipality

Kakhaber Rusia was elected as chairman of Senaki Municipality Council with 16 council members voting for him on July 14. His rival Khvicha Jishkariani, former deputy governor of Samegrelo – Zemo Svaneti (a position he left in May) and second in the Georgian Dream party list, received 13 votes.

On August 13, one month after the council elections, Kakhaber Rusia left the position of council chairman. According to various reports, Rusia is to be appointed as the deputy governor of Samegrelo - Zemo Svaneti.

As a result, another council meeting was held on August 21, where Khvicha Jishkariani was elected as the new chairman. Jishkariani served as the head of Senaki Security Service in 2003. He was part of the counterintelligence service in Poti between 2004 – 2005, and headed Senaki Military Police between 2005 – 2006. Lately Jishkariani has served as head of Samegrelo Office of the State Security Service, and managed the Georgian Dream campaign office in Samegrelo before being appointed as the deputy governor of the region.

A Public Registry search does not yield any results related to property and company shares owned by Khvicha Jishkariani.

[1] According to the Law on Conflict of Interest and Corruption in the Public Service, certain officials are required to submit asset declarations to the Civil Service Bureau within two months of appointment.

[2] Follow the link for more detailed information:

Author: Archil Todua