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“Mechiauri did not have a single voter in Tianeti and I pulled him in as a Majoritarian MP. I begged people and visited almost every household and village. Everybody was telling me:  ‘We will vote for him but this kid will betray you.’ Indeed, it came true. Immediately after the elections in 1999, he jumped to the Citizens’ Union of Georgia and later on joined the United National Movement and today I am hearing some surprising news that in my party, the Citizens’ Union of Georgia and the United National Movement, he, as one of Ivanishvili’s university mates, has been sent to spy on us and act as his (Ivanishvili’s) informant. He is a good conspirator but never says a single word about this. Ironically, he had a billionaire buddy and used our funds for his campaign. We were very generous to give him our last dime for the elections.”

On 29 June 2015, a reader addressed us with the request to verify a statement by Shalva Natelashvili. On 28 June 2015, Mr Natelashvili, as a guest on the talk show, Reaktsia,

stated that Tamaz Mechiauri was elected to the Parliament of Georgia from the Labour Party in 1999 and then joined the Citizens’ Union of Georgia the same year. Later on he collaborated with the United National Movement and, what is more important, has been Bidzina Ivanishvili’s informant as one of Mr Ivanishvili’s mates from his university days.

FactCheck

studied Tamaz Mechiauri’s political past.

According to the information on the website of the Parliament of Georgia, Tamaz Mechiauri’s political career started in 1995. In 1995-1999, he was a member of the fourth convocation of the Parliament of Georgia and chaired the Subcommittee for Customs in the Committee of Finance and Budget Affairs. Mr Mechiauri was elected to become a member of the fifth convocation of the Parliament of Georgia (1999-2004) as well. Regarding the MP’s political affiliation, he was a member of the Socialist Party of Georgia in 1997 and elected to the Parliament of Georgia in 1999 after winning Tianeti’s single mandate constituency as a member of the Labour Party of Georgia. There is no information about his being a member of another political party (including that of the Citizens’ Union of Georgia).

In his interview with FactCheck,

Tamaz Mechiauri stated that he was elected as a member of the Parliament of Georgia from Tianeti’s single mandate constituency in 1995 as an independent candidate. In the Parliamentary elections of 1999, he ran for office as a member of the Labour Party of Georgia. However, as clarified by the MP, the Labour Party and Shalva Natelashvili himself failed to pass the threshold and were left without seats in the Parliament of Georgia. Tamaz Mechiauri and Pridon Injia were the only two members of the Labour Party who gained enough votes to win their respective constituencies. Therefore, Mr Mechiauri claims that he had not abandoned the Labour Party. Moreover, after the 1999 Parliamentary elections he decided to stay in the Political Council of the Labour Party and did not join any other political party including that of the Citizens’ Union of Georgia. In 2003, he ran in Tianeti’s constituency again as an independent candidate.

FactCheck

contacted the Labour Party of Georgia for its comment. According to the party’s Political Secretary, Giorgi Gugava, after the 1999 Parliamentary elections Tamaz Mechiauri decided to distance himself from the Labour Party of Georgia and informally “joined” the Parliamentary Majority (Citizens’ Union of Georgia). Mr Gugava indicated that Tamaz Mechiauri had a very active cooperation with the Citizens’ Union of Georgia and voted for its initiatives, be they the approval of a new government or the endorsement of the state budget. Giorgi Gugava also mentioned that Mr Mechiauri also used to cooperate with the United National Movement. Giorgi Gugava rejected Tamaz Mechiauri’s statement that he (Mechiauri) decided to retain his membership in the Labour Party of Georgia’s Political Council and asserted that Mr Mechiauri did not have contact with the party after the 1999 Parliamentary elections.

During the United National Movement’s tenure as the ruling party (2004-2012), Tamaz Mechiauri ceased to be a member of the Parliament of Georgia. In 2004, Mr Mechiauri was the Director of the Gldani-Nadzaladevi District Tax Inspection Service. In 2004-2007, he was the Director of the Tax Inspection Office in Gori (Shida Kartli and Mtskheta Mtianeti) and in 2007 in Telavi (Kakheti). After the 2012 Parliamentary elections, Mr Mechiauri became an MP from the party list of Bidzina Ivanishvili‘s Georgian Dream coalition.

In regard to his education, both Tamaz Mechiauri and Bidzina Ivanishvili graduated simultaneously from the Engineering-Economics Faculty of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University in 1980.

Conclusion FactCheck

cannot analyse whether or not Bidzina Ivanishvili and Tamaz Mechiauri do indeed have a long-time friendship with each other and whether or not Mr Mechiauri “has been Ivanishvili’s informant” as claimed by Shalva Natelashvili in his usual manner.

In 1995-2004, Tamaz Mechiauri was a member of the fourth and fifth convocations of the Parliament of Georgia. After the 1999 Parliamentary elections, Mr Mechiauri won Tianeti’s majoritarian seat as a member of the Labour Party of Georgia. He asserted that after the 1999 Parliamentary elections he had not abandoned the Labour Party of Georgia and remained as a member of the party’s Political Council. However, according to Giorgi Gugava, Tamaz Mechiauri had left in the aftermath of the 1999 Parliamentary elections and in fact joined the Parliamentary Majority.

In 2004-2007, Tamaz Mechiauri served as the Director of the Gldani-Nadzaladevi, Gori and Telavi Tax Inspection Offices.

The former Prime Minister of Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili, and Tamaz Mechiauri were indeed university mates.  The MP himself confirmed this fact in his interview with FactCheck.

Both Mr Ivanishvili and Mr Mechiauri graduated from the Engineering-Economics Faculty of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University in 1980.

FactCheck leaves Shalva Natelashvili’s statement without verdict.

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