Monday, November 5, 2012

Oil, Property and Dirty Politics in Batumi, 2003 onwards, till now!?

-Oil, Property and Dirty Politics in Batumi, 2003 onwards, till now!?
Jeffrey K. Silverman
Recent text in Georgian, translated, as received, 5/11/2012,
Batumi-Tbilisi, Georgia
"When I told you to write about this - that appointing Bacho Akhala,
(his mafia clan) as so called special envoy, or Vera Kobalia (sexy
tourism minister), or Levan Varhsalomidze, head of the region, and the
Batumi City Mayor and so on to government posts would undermine the
reputation of the United States - you as a journalist did not
understand what a serious mistake this was … now you see the result, and you can read more, otherwise nothing will change…. the fact that
you could not make, or publish, the correct analysis - that President
Misha Saakashvili was a robber and the government involved in elite
corruption – the fact you did not write this means you supported
them, and you and those like you are hindering the development of my
country. “So many different funds were allocated by our friends for the reconstruction of our country – all were stolen. Even today you are not writing about this openly. For what purpose are you here in Georgia? Why are you publishing foolishness like this, and looking for someone to blame, when so many crimes are being committed and you are not saying anything about them. This means you are promoting the criminals who are waiting to see how the new, normal government will make them suffer… “You had better tell the truth!
“Let people see that the United States and Americans fight for truth and/or justice; you must present an honest and unbiased face, you must show Georgians that you are sincerely serving them… This is not Azerbaijan, or Armenia, or Russia, this is Georgia, and do not forget this…"
Response: 5/12/2012
As I wrote to a person in the US Embassy at the time, political officer
or cultural attaché
Here we are talking about Batumi only, let us talk first! … and then the energy connections, which are really interesting and much more serious. I will send more soon, and in the background keep in mind the activities of Zurab Zhvania, the former Georgian Prime Minister, and his “untimely” and “most convenient” death. There has always been speculation behind the scenes that there was a Batumi connection with the murder of Zurab Zhvania, due to his efforts to build a government within a government. There is more this than mere speculation, as you and the US Embassy know, even better than me.
Zhvania’s storied history also includes being part of the network of
those involved with the Georgian Shipping Company, his alleged
percentage on each ton of scrap metal exported from Georgia and his
close relations with power brokers and mafia types.
There are also many Kazakh connections to Georgia, especially to
unrecorded exports of oil from Batumi and Poti, West Georgia, which are
also connected to the Batumi Oil Terminal and key players in political
and business circles. The port of Batumi, and especially the political
network of friends and stakeholders within the Batumi oil terminal,
were, and continue to be, the gateway for the little empire belonging to
Aslan and his erstwhile supporters. It is no secret that the real owners of the terminal are also the same
people who were involved in the flurry of recent privatizations and
investment in the "official" post-Aslan Abshadze period.
I learned in passing from a Georgian woman who worked for several years
with the Georgian shipping company that the relationship between Zaza
Gelashvili and Davitadze, the former head of the local intelligence
services in the post-Rose Revolution period, was very close. My source's
connection with him is that she once dated his son, or was a schoolmate
of Davitadze’s son. She is now ___ years old and knows most of the inner
circle of Aslan Abshadze, including Tengiz Arshba and Soso Gogitidze
(KGB chief under Aslan); another Gogitidze, Jemal, was police chief
under Aslan. The deceased wife of Aslan was mother of Gogitize's brother
and now lives in Moscow. However, many of his frontline troops are
still in Georgia and have found employment in the new government.
Zaza Gelashvil is also alleged to be working for the Russian
intelligence Services, and especially for the Mayor of Moscow, Yuri
Luzhkov, personally; his father is on his personal staff (inner circle).
I am told by one of my main sources that all information on operations
being undertaken in Georgia by the Americans and Turks is being provided
directly to the Russian FSB and GRU (military intelligence). Zaza is
presently assigned to personally watch over Levan Varshalomidze (the
Presidential special envoy and first man in Adjaria) and making sure he
does not make too many stupid mistakes or side deals, or lets outsiders,
the non-connected, know too much of what is going on with him and his
family interests.
Naturally such things could compromise Russian interests and the
financial interests of various Kremlin insiders, and especially the
former first family of Adjara. It seems that most of what is happening
in Adjara is being done in support of Russian policy in Georgia.
Returning to Zaza Gelashvili, the source says that all information on
the Central government and what is going on in Adjara is being provided
directly to Moscow. I have used XXXXX before, and he was the former head
of XXXX KGB and on the side of Saakashvili in the days prior to the
downfall and exit of Aslan.
We knew then, as it is better understood now, that this too was a staged
performance for the media and that a deal had been cut for Aslan to
depart, but on the terms that it would be hands off for financial
investments in Georgia, and that connects back to the Batumi oil
terminal. Then came the privatisation process, for which locals did not need to
apply. Adjara did not privatise property as did other regions of
Georgia. That is why so much was available - at one time Adjara was
overripe for the picking, like an old virgin locked away in a prison

Find two rough files about weapons, also about corruption in Batumi and
connections with Moscow, intelligence services, etc. Kazakhs are really
Russians - a front (to buy up things), and wash money. Here is what will
get you started, you can write this up as an interview and ask me
questions as to my sources and how I know all of this (but I am not
going to give the names of important sources they may end up dead). At the end, write that this is solely the opinion of the source, and
must be framed within the local knowledge of an American journalist,
Jeffrey Silverman, who has lived for 18 years in Georgia and the former
Soviet Union.
What is here is about Batumi only, let us talk first! There is a long and established connection between Central Asia and
Adjara and drug dealing and oil shipments by rail. This is common
knowledge, and these connections may go deeper than the Batumi port. The
networks involving Aslan Abashidze, Central Asia and drugs-for-weapons
swaps are another well-established fact and these networks are now even
better established. With the increase in poppy crop in Afghanistan,
there will probably be an even greater flow of drugs via Georgian ports,
and drug processing, and the many of the main players are still in
Kazakhstan - This background information comes from Central Asia, and
will provide you with insight on how scared people are of the investment
climate and how probable it is that Kazakhs are being used as fronts for
Russian special interests. What is harder is to find someone inside
Kazakhstan with info and insights. This is a bit of feedback received on September 7, 2006: "I just met a guy here, Leo, and I think he could help you. He was
writing articles for the Almaty Herald not long ago. He told me a few
minutes ago that he doesn't work there anymore. He was not clear about
it, but I inferred that this is for political reasons. When I asked him
if he could help you with info on Kazakh investors in Georgia he said,
"Excuse me, I have a class at 10 and I have to go…" Classical reaction
from Eurasians… He was afraid of talking about connections and this
Family Connections and Links
The father of the new KGB chief works directly for Yuri Luzhkov, Mayor
of Moscow, and alongside Iosif Orjonikidze, the owner of Medea Hotel and
the sports stadium and one of the deputies of the Mayor of Moscow,
business in Adjara continues as usual. A source explains:
"Iosif is something and he has at least two hotels and is a key advisor
to Yuri Luzkkov (he lives and works in Moscow). These are two of the
hotels where refugees had lived, and were evacuated from, in the last
few months before the properties were privatized. The residents, were
given 7,000 per room and tossed from the hotels (and that amount is not
enough to buy anything (i.e. a flat) in this market).
Who owns what? Only the inner circle knows who the real owners of these properties are,
and this is what I have been able to tap from this information source,
and this only to a limited degree. I have networked with persons
working in local government, the city planner, city architect - the
latter tells me that according to acting Georgian legislation, all
deals must be transparent, and only under the terms of tenders can a
project and proposed design for properties be drawn up. These plans
must even be publicly posted, and this was done in the case of the
Intourist hotel and other flogged off properties (especially those sold
to Ukrainians), and the correct procedures were followed with most
properties, with the notable exception of the so-called Kazakh
purchases. It is clear from the various sources that things are being
done in two directions:
Russian interests and personal financial interests
Real Estate Market
Intourist – some Turks run the place under a 10 year contract, but it is
owned by Aslan and his brother-in-law. I was told that the paperwork is
under the name of Murat Turmadidze, a local. Murat is very close to
Aslan and his cronies.
The hotels Medea and Meskheti were privatised into the hands of Mr.
Iosef Orjonikidze, Vice-Mayor of Moscow city.
Pushkin Street Trade Centre – a large trade centre, also belonging to
Aslan (don't know what is on the paperwork). Aslan has a sense of humor,
and so changed its name to "Moscow Trade Centre".
Tea House – the former Ministry for State Security or Police, near the
port, owned by Tengiz Arshba, member of the Russian Duma, owner of a
Russian sports team and weapons dealer, who is tied in with exports via
Vicktor Bout and other contractors. Very experienced at arms smuggling
and human intelligence, he is “alleged” to have the rank of General in
the Russian FSB.
Interclub - "this is the old name" - and next to property above, also
belongs to Arshba.
The old police headquarters - this is owned by Tengiz Arshba, close to
the new government in Adjara; he regularly plays tennis with Levan
Varshalomidze at the Marina Hotel and Sports complex. They have been
seen playing several evenings, and this is confirmed by several sources,
including those who practice tennis with Tengiz.
Aslan's Kindergarten is also said by the same sources to be owned by
Tengiz Arshba. Arshba is the main player in Batumi, and his brother is
tied in with the breakaway region of Abkhazia. However, this property is
also said to belong to the Kazakhs.
Marina Hotel and Sports Complex – owned by Arshba (40 percent), some
unknown MP (but think it is Jemal Inalishvali, Vice Speaker of the
Georgian Parliament and head of the Georgian Chamber of Commerce, former
head of Poti Port, 30 percent) and Levan Varshalomidze. The Georgian
Minister of Privatisation may also have a share in, or at least
financially benefited from, all of these deals, says the source; this
history and the connections of these players are like a barrel of
Universalmag (Universal Trade Centre) – also said to be owned by Kazakhs
– this is being torn down right now, and is also close to the port and
located on prime real estate.
Red Fisherman Market and Shipping Company, two properties in very close
proximity – Kazakhs are claimed to have purchased these lots.
"Mtsvane Kontskhi" (Green cape) was privatized into the hands of Mr.
Iosef Orjonikidze, Vice Mayor of Moscow, in the form of 10 properties in
the Green Cape Nature Area. I stayed in one for these properties for two
nights (one actually owned by Kazakhs). I am currently waiting to
receive a list of these properties from the source, and some paperwork.
However, one staff member told me that they were all losing their jobs,
and this would be their last year, since the Kazakhs would be coming for
next season and would hire all their own staff.
I was told by one of the staff that the purchase price of these 10
hotels was 1 million dollars, and this paid for the whole nine yards
(lock, stock and barrel). It is clear that these properties could have
been sold individually for higher prices, and some of them were
operating with a profit and not in the red.
Tsikhisdziri - privatized into the hands of Tina Kandelaki, TV anchor
on Russian television and radio. She is half Armenian; used to work for
the 2nd Georgian TV channel. Don't know if this is actually her own
investment. Otherwise, perhaps to show that the Kazakhs are not buying
up everything; some properties have been sold to Ukrainians and some to
Turks, and with these properties everything is said to have been
transparent with the plans and proposals for development submitted with
the tenders. However, these properties are not the same as ocean side
real estate. Included in this partial list of properties is:
Properties near the Makhinjauri Railway Station, the partially completed
new train station which will probably not be finished (Ukraine);
HOPA Bazaar, not far from the Turkish Border (Ukraine).
Analysis and Commentary
Not even those who are supposed to be in the know about who owns what
and all the things going on in Batumi are sure of anything. The
so-called Kazakh investors are coming to be known, as is what still
belongs to the old team which was "run-out-of-town" and it is known
that the Kazakhs are really a combination of the Russians and the "old
team" and the "old money" from the family business in the fiefdom of
Adjara. Kazakh is a description used for public consumption. It is
likely that only those very close to Levan Varshalomidze and the
Georgian Minister of Privatisation in Tbilisi really understand the full
story. It is possible that those in the know include Saakashvili in
these deals as well. As previously noted, Levan Varshalomidze and
President-elect Saakashvili were college mates and studied together in
Kiev. Family and friendship connections are strong in Georgia and even
stronger when money is involved. Guram Varshalomidze, father of Levan,
was Prime Minister of Adjara under Aslan and they stole money together
over the years.
Levan was also connected with, but stole some money from, Aslan, and
this act officially put him on the outside with Aslan. He was not thrown
completely away, but this standoff due to him getting caught with his
hand in the cookie jar was enough to give them the opportunity to
present him as being close to the National Party and Saakashvili for
political consumption. Aslan Abshadze and those with him in fact own the
properties Kazakhs theoretically own. Those closest to him, and these
include the members of his Russian and mafia networks of patronage, are
also owners of these properties. It is difficult to comprehend how all
this can go on without the Central government knowing, unless this was
part of the deal over Adjara in the first place.
You must do an internet search and see what I have published and who is
reading it, as the mainstream media and Georgian media outlets,
including those in English, are owned and controlled by those close to
the US Embassy and those close to the National Movement. All that is necessary for policymakers to know is known, and I have told you on many
occasions that only Georgia can solve its problems - and that Western
countries and organizations only want to use Georgia for their own
direct purposes. All this goes back a long way, and watch tonight on
Maestro, and as before little by little the truth is coming out - we
know who has stood behind all of this, and that there was a government
being set up inside a government. We know what the program is for Georgia, and how it is not designed with
the best interests of Georgians in mind. Look at the work done on May
26, 2012, and then the report of the Young Lawyers Association, and how
that was not acted upon.
Keep your eye on the connections between the Black Sea and the big
picture of things, ports and weapons transfers, as that is where the
next story is - and if Georgia is not careful, it will lead to the
destruction of this country and a “big: Russian win. I know very well
that Georgia is not the other countries you mention and that is why I
hold on to some hope. We have both been beaten for what you say and
what I write.

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