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.
“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.
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.
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.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]
Andrew Cuomo threatens to bail on CNN interview when his brother shows vintage photo of governor in bellbottoms
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) appeared to feign anger during a CNN interview Wednesday in which his brother, Christopher Cuomo, showed a vintage photo of their family with the elder brother clad in bellbottoms, a rhinestone belt and an unfortunate attempt at an afro.
The younger Cuomo is still suffering from the effects of coronavirus, appearing redfaced and wiping his brow. However, his brother noted that he seemed more animated than he has in days.
"Now I've seen you referred to a little bit recently as the 'Love Gov' and I'm wondering if that's making you a little soft on the president, that you don't want to really criticize him, because you need him and now's not a time for fighting," said the younger Cuomo. "But don't you have to balance that with calling him out if he's doing things that you don't think are great for the people of your state to be hearing and experiencing? Love Gov?"
Fox News hosts are going back to downplaying threat from coronavirus: report
Major Fox News personalities like Sean Hannity spent weeks assuring viewers that the novel coronavirus wasn't a serious threat. In recent weeks, however, they have shifted to a different narrative, acknowledging that the virus is dangerous but giving President Donald Trump credit for taking action and criticizing Democrats' lack of action — even though many Democrats, in fact, warned the pubic first.
But according to The Daily Beast, even as there is no clear end to the crisis in sight, and even as the U.S. crosses 13,000 deaths, many Fox News hosts are going back to downplaying the virus, either telling viewers it wasn't as bad as advertised and urging the president to end public safety measures against it.
The dangers of Trump TV: MSNBC host hammers Fox News as ‘genuine public health threat’ amid pandemic
Tuesday night, Fox News decided that all anyone needed to do is to pump Americans with a Malaria drug and send them back to work to save President Donald Trump's economy.
Speaking Wednesday night, MSNBC host Chris Hayes bashed the conservative network for downplaying the seriousness of coronavirus, saying that they are "a genuine public health threat."
While Trump has advisers like Dr. Anthony Fauci, he also has the unofficial advisers he sees on Fox News.
They "are coalescing around the idea the whole thing is just overblown and we need to pump everyone full of the malaria drug and get them back to work. This is what you heard if you watch trump tv just last night," Hayes said. He then played clips illustrating exactly that, with hosts ranting and raving about the virus not being as serious as the flu.