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Georgian president accused of using state funds for botox treatments

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Georgian prosecutors said Friday they were probing the alleged misuse of state funds, as accusations surfaced that President Mikheil Saakashvili had spent thousands of dollars of government money on botox treatments in the United States.

“A large-scale investigation has been launched over the misuse of the state budget,” prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Khatuna Paichadze said in televised comments, without revealing details of the subject of the inquiry.

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“The prosecutor’s office has the right to question any person that might have been involved and this could be the president of Georgia,” Paichadze added.

According to alleged expense documents aired by anti-Saakashvili broadcaster Imedi on Friday, the president splashed out more than $11,000 (8500 euro) in government money on cosmetic procedures while visiting New York in 2009 and 2011.

The documents also purported to show that Saakashvili spent around $9,000 of state money in the United Kingdom on a naked portrait of an unspecified US actress.

Givi Targamadze, a lawmaker from Saakashvili’s United National Movement party, questioned the authenticity of the documents and recalled the “embarrassment” caused earlier this year by similar claims — later discredited — that the president spent state funds on a sauna with former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko.

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The latest allegations come amid a slew of investigations into top allies of the increasingly embattled Saakashvili, whose UNM party lost to a coalition headed by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili in October parliamentary elections.

Saakashvili, who must step down when his second term as president expires in October, has accused Ivanishvili, now prime minister, of conducting a politically motivated witch hunt against him and his supporters.

Last week, authorities arrested former prime minister Vano Merabishvili — one of Saakashvili’s closest allies — on graft and abuse of power charges.

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Merabishvili — currently in jail awaiting trial — denies all the charges, including allegations that he used a government employment scheme to funnel money to UNM members.

After taking power in the 2003 Rose Revolution that ousted the former Soviet elite, Saakashvili led Georgia on a strongly pro-Western course aiming for NATO membership that antagonised Moscow.

However his influence has fallen drastically since losing the parliamentary elections, and he appears increasingly like a lame duck ahead of his inevitable departure later this year.

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[Image via Agence France-Presse]

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Top DHS aide resigns amid Trump anger that new anti-immigration plan didn’t get better TV ratings: report

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The Trump White House has long been plagued by record turnover and now Axios is reporting that yet another Trump administration official has found himself out of a job.

According to Axios, Andrew Meehan, a top aide to acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, stepped down this week amid tensions between DHS and the Trump White House.

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Photographs snapped by a shoebox-sized probe that explored the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu have offered new clues about its composition, insights that will help scientists understand the formation of our solar system.

The German-French Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) hitched a ride on Japan's Hayabusa2 spaceship, touching down on the 900-meter (3,000 feet) wide asteroid, whose orbit lies mostly between Earth and Mars, on October 3, 2018.

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2020 Election

Ex-Trump official bashes White House ‘apologists’ who haven’t quit yet: ‘There’s not much hope for them’

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A report on the silence coming from first daughter Ivanka Trump and her White House advisor husband Jared Kushner after Donald Trump attacked American Jews turned to the future of White House aides who are either complicit in the president's policies or stand idly by as he lurches from controversy to controversy.

In an interview with CNN's Brianna Keilar, former Trump adviser J.W. Verret pointed out there are still some "adults in the room" with Trump, but CNN's Kaitlan Collins first pointed out that -- as of late -- Ivanka and Kushner are not among them.

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