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On 21 February 2013, at the plenary session of the Georgian Parliament, Member of the Parliamentary Minority, Tariel Londaridze, stated:  “As for the veterans, I can assure you that the Department of Veterans Affairs was transferred from the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia to the sphere of governance of the Ministry of Defence of Georgia… Based upon the new decision, this unit was returned to the Government. Several months have passed since then but nothing has been accomplished in the meantime, even positions are not being filled… To this day, people are going from door to door in search of their financial aid of GEL 500 and still are at loss of figuring out whom they are supposed to address.”

FactCheck

took interest in the abovementioned statement and decided to check the accuracy of the facts.

Based upon Resolution No. 102 of the Georgian Government, dated 23 January 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs was converted into a separate unit – State Veterans Affairs Office (LEPL).

According to Decree No. 40 of the Prime Minister of Georgia, dated 14 February 2014, Giorgi Peradze was appointed as the Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Nevertheless, at the moment (as of 11 March), as we were told at the Ministry of Defence of Georgia, no other personnel are being appointed at the department. Furthermore, there is no interim staff in place and the office does not have a website.

The Department of War Veterans Affairs of Georgia was established in 1997 by Decree of the President of Georgia as an independent unit within the executive Government of Georgia. In 2004, according to the Law of Georgia on Structure, Powers and Order of Activities of the Government of Georgia, the Department of War Veterans Affairs was reorganised into a sub-state department. In 2004, the abovementioned department, as a sub-state unit, was transferred to the sphere of governance of the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs. In 2011 it was transferred to the Ministry of Defence of Georgia.

Based upon amendments to the Law of Georgia on State Compensation and State Academic Scholarship, state compensation equal to GEL 500 will be given to the family members of deceased veterans participating in international operations or other peacekeeping activities starting from 1 January 2014 as well as to those deceased in the aftermaths of the events of May 1998 and 22-24 August 2004. The abovementioned groups include parents, spouses, children to the age of 18 years and disabled children.

The state compensation is given by the Social Service Agency (LEPL). Therefore, citizens belonging to the aforementioned groups have to address the Social Service Agency in order to receive their due compensation. In the case of submitting the set of necessary documents and applications, compensation will be issued from the first day of the following month. Of note is the fact that the certificate confirming veteran status of the deceased is one of the necessary documents for receiving the compensation. This certificate was previously issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs of the Georgian Armed Forces; currently, it is issued by the State Veterans Affairs Office.

We contacted the Ministry of Defence of Georgia as ordinary citizens and inquired where to obtain the certificate of veteran status in order to receive deceased veterans’ compensation. According to the representative of the Ministry, such certificates are issued by the Government Office of Veterans Affairs although it is impossible to obtain the certificate at this stage owing to a temporary suspension of the work of the Government Office of Veterans Affairs. Since it was impossible to get in touch with the personnel of the newly-formed State Veterans Affairs Office, the Ministry of Defence assisted us in contacting a representative of the Chancellery of the former Department of War Veterans Affairs who confirmed the fact that the abovementioned Office is indeed currently not in operation.

FactCheck

also made contact with the State Disbursements Department of the Social Service Agency (LEPL). According to their clarification, the Social Service Agency started to receive applications for the deceased veterans’ compensation starting from January 2014 and has appointed compensation in the amount of GEL 500 per month to those citizens having already submitted their relevant documentation. Therefore, citizens not having the certificate confirming the veteran status of the deceased will not be able to receive compensation until the Government Office of Veterans Affairs resumes its operational functions.

Conclusion In the course of our inquiry on the given subject, FactCheck

established that in agreement with the stipulations of Ordinance No. 102 of the Georgian Government issued on 23 January 2014, the Department of War Veterans Affairs was transformed into an LEPL in the form of the Government Office of Veterans Affairs. This office was subjected to the Georgian Government, as was indicated by the MP in the abovementioned statement, from 2011 through 2013, however, the Department of Veterans Affairs was under the governance of the Ministry of Defence.

On 14 February 2014, Giorgi Peradze was appointed as the Director of the Government Office of Veterans Affairs although the personnel of this unit still has not been formed as was highlighted in Londaridze’s statement. The MP asserts that the Government Office of Veterans Affairs was established several months ago which proves to be inaccurate given the fact that the aforementioned office was formed on 23 January 2014 while Londaridze made his statement on 21 February.

As for the government compensation, starting from 1 January 2014 GEL 500 will be given to the family members of individuals deceased by the cause of injuries received in international operations or other peacekeeping activities as well as to the family members of those deceased on the grounds of injuries received in the events of May 1998 and 22-24 August 2004. The state compensations are issued by the Social Service Agency (LEPL). According to the Social Service Agency’s State Disbursements Department, the Agency indeed started to receive applications for compensation in January 2014 and has appointed compensation in the amount of GEL 500 per month to those citizens having already submitted their relevant documentation.

It is also of note that citizens are required to submit a certificate confirming the veteran status of the deceased in addition to the other required documentation in order to receive the aforementioned compensation. At this stage, however, it is impossible to acquire the abovementioned certificate as the Government Office of Veterans Affairs is currently not operating. This, naturally, renders it impossible to obtain deceased veterans’ compensation.

Therefore, we conclude that Tariel Londaridze’s statement:  “The Department of War Veterans Affairs was returned to the Government. Several months have passed since then but nothing has been accomplished in the meantime, even positions are not being filled… To this day, people are going from door to door in search of their financial aid of GEL 500 and still are at loss of figuring out whom they are supposed to address,” is Half TRUE.