Signs of nepotism in Chkhorotsku Municipality
The election of an independent candidate Besik Esebua as chairman of Chkhorotsku Municipality Council in late August caused a confrontation between representatives of the Georgian Dream Coalition’s Regional Organization and other members of the council. At the time, Georgian Dream representatives accused Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Levan Izoria of interfering in the work of Chkhorotsku Municipality local government, and encouraging nepotism.
Gogi Sordia, leader of the Republican Party Regional Organization and member of the Georgian Dream Coalition, stated at a press conference on August 30: “The deputy Minister of Internal Affairs is interfering with the work of local government and abusing power to employ his relatives on various positions.”
Sordia also published a list of persons, who were allegedly appointed to various positions with the deputy Minister’s recommendation. The list included Levan Izoria’s 7 cousins:
Lela (Lia) Kvirkvelia was appointed as an investigator at Chkhorotsku Police Department. According to a report by TV 3, Kvirkvelia confirmed being related to Izoria, however, denied his involvement in her recent appointment;
Davit Kvirkvelia was appointed as a driver at the Police Academy;
Inga Kvirvelia was appointed as a director of a kindergarten in Chkhorotsku;
Paata Katsia was appointed as the deputy head of Samegrelo - Zemo Svaneti division of the Patrol Police. According to an asset declaration form submitted by Katsia on August 8, 2014, he previously held the position of head of organizational department of the same division.
Aleksi Chikovani was appointed as head of a police station in Chkhorotsku.
Sopo Chikovani was appointed as a specialist at the Cultural Center and Sports School Union after 2012 parliamentary elections.
Madlena Shonia was appointed as a specialist at Chkhorotsku Municipality’s Education Center Union.
Representatives of the Georgian Dream Chkhorotsku Regional Organization did not specify the exact dates of these appointments.
These family connections are disputed. Badri Keburia, head of Chkhorotsku Municipality’s Education Center Union, confirmed that Inga Kvirkvelia, Sopo Chikovani and Madlena Shonia are indeed Izoria’s relatives and hold abovementioned positions. A report by TV 3 allows us to claim that Lela Kvirkvelia, Davit Kvirkvelia, Paata Katsia, and Aleksi Chikovani are also Izoria’s relatives and occupy abovementioned positions.
Aleksandre Chikaidze, Minister of Internal Affairs, however, denies any family connections between Levan Izoria and these persons. According to the Minister: "Levan Izoria does not have any family connections with these people. I have investigated the matter and can say that this was simply a deliberate smear campaign against Mr. Izoria and does not correspond to reality."
Izoria and Esebua deny all accusations. Izoria asserts the released information as a deliberate attempt to discredit him. Esebua confirmed recommending Inga Kvirkveluia as head of a kindergarten, however, “not because she is Izoria’s relative, but because she had all the appropriate qualifications.” Besik Esebua also denies Izoria interfering with the work of local government bodies.
Transparency International Georgia believes that local governments and other public institutions must conduct their staffing policies in an independent, fair and lawful way. This means hiring new employees only through a competitive process and open and transparent competition rules. The main criteria for selecting a civil servant should be experience, qualifications, and appropriate fit for the position.
It is important for public institutions to be able to independently exercise that authority which constitutes their direct competence. Therefore, it is crucial to avoid selection of civil servants based on their family ties, or party or political affiliation. Officials holding political positions should issue recommendations only when a position has such a requirement. Interference of state-political officials in staffing policies of unrelated public institutions or issuing of verbal recommendations in favor of specific candidates can strengthen nepotism and lead to indirect influence on state institutions.