ISFED demands that Goga Khaindrava retract his slanderous allegations and make a public apology

During Imedi’s Week talk show on Imedi TV on February 1, 2015, Mr. Goga Khaindrava accused ISFED and its executive director Nino Lomjaria of being involved in political corruption scheme over the past few years. He alleged that Georgian non-governmental organizations were part of the “big corruption scheme” of misspending financial resources allocated for Georgia by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). Khaindrava claims that “SIDA was supposed to finance poverty reduction programs and it was transferring money to NDI and Eurasian Development Fund.  The money was used to finance research and election fraud in favor of the United National Movement, to preserve their regime.”

“ISFED received millions of dollars, allocated for poverty reduction, which was spent on various research of political nature ... you personally, your organization has received 2-4 million worth of grants over these years” – said Khaindrava to Executive Director of ISFED Nino Lomjaria. He claimed that he had proof that ISFED received these funds: “I have reports proving that you received millions and if you reject it I will publish these reports because this scheme was hidden by Saakashvili. I received the information from Sweden... You know you received the money... I am not saying that you received corrupt money but that the scheme was corrupt” – declared Khaindrava. 

First and foremost, Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), a highly reputable international organization is the most important partner and donor organization for Georgia. SIDA’s work in Georgia focuses on democracy, human rights and gender equality, market development, agriculture and environmental protection. 
To promote health, education, humanitarian, infrastructure, environmental and other projects, since 2013 alone SIDA has spent 115 095 Swedish kronor (app. 14 million US dollars) in support of Georgian government and civil society. Competing for SIDA’s funding is a labor intensive, competitive and transparent process. 

Goga Khaindrava’s accusations against Executive Director of ISFED Nino Lomjaria are false and serve the purpose of discrediting not only active NGOs in Georgia but also benevolent financial aid rendered by the international donor organization to Georgia. ISFED declares with full responsibility and readiness to provide corresponding documents (contracts, audit opinions, etc.) to all interested individuals that started from October 2011 (when Nino Lomjaria assumed responsibilities of Executive Director) ISFED received two small grants from the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF) funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), totaling 34 371 US dollars. Neither of the grants was used to fund a political project. 

Below are details for each project: 

1) Project Name: Monitoring election administration composition, stage 2 (stage 1 was conducted for 2010 self-government elections) 
Budget: 14 380 US dollars
Project dates: August 1 – October 31, 2012. 

The project was implemented by the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) and Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) in 73 election districts in Georgia. The project aimed at analyzing the process of recruitment of members of election administration for the 2012 parliamentary elections, compliance of election officers with the Code of Ethics, monitoring election violations and their prosecution. The monitoring collected information about gender balance of election commission members and their party affiliation. The monitoring revealed conflict of interests in precinct election commissions and found cases of reappointment of commission members who had been previously imposed with disciplinary liability during 2010 self-government elections. Recommendations for improvement were presented to the Central Election Commission. See details of the research outcomes. 

Notably, the project did not provide salary for any of ISFED’s employees. Instead, entire budget was used to finance project activities. 

2) Project Name: Civil Society Involvement in the Local Decision-Making Process

Budget: 19 991.22 US dollars
Donor: (EPF)/SIDA 
Project dates: January 20 – December 20, 2012

Geographic scope of the project covered 6 municipalities from Samtskhe-Javakheti, Kvemo Kartli and Shida Kartli regions. The project focused on capacity buildings of local community organizations, media and individual citizens for monitoring and controlling local self-government authorities. In frames of the project ISFED trained up to hundred civil society representatives who participated in monitoring. Self-government authorities were presented recommendations for improvement. Further, advocacy campaigns by individuals and organizations achieved concrete results. Active citizens were awarded during final project presentation. 

From 2006 to 2011 ISFFED received two grants from NDI funded by SIDA

 Project name: monitoring of election administration composition, stage 1; budget – 15 000 US dollars; dates – April 1 – June 30, 2010; partner – Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association

 Project name: Post-Election Monitoring of 2008 Parliamentary Elections; budget: 56 999.24 US dollars; dates: May 10 – April 10, 2008
From 1995 to present, over the period of twenty years ISFED has received total of 106 370 US dollars in indirect funding from SIDA. None of the projects was a political research. 

We are ready to provide any interested party with information about funding sums received, their purpose and relevant documents. 

In this light, ISFED urges Mr. Goga Khaindrava to immediately provide “the evidence” proving that ISFED received millions of dollars for implementing political projects. Otherwise, he must apologize for slanderous statements damaging the reputation of ISFED. 

Once more, we’d like to highlight SIDA’s greatest contribution to building of democratic institutes in Georgia and supporting welfare of Georgian people.