Russian Oligarch’s Donations Aim to Help Georgia Fight Corruption


Moskovskiy Komsomolets, Moscow
29 Mar 04

It is wrong to accuse Russia’s oligarchs of being uncaring or
miserly. It emerged yesterday that Senator Andrey Vavilov, former
owner of the Severnaya Neft (Northern Oil) company, who has now
retired from business, is ready to make his own contribution to
combating corruption in Georgia.

Let us recall the famous US philanthropist George Soros’s announcement
that he would supplement the monthly salary of Georgian President
Mikheil Saakashvili by 2,000 dollars and his ministers’ salaries by
1,500 each dollars. The US billionaire wants in this way to make a
contribution to fighting the corruption that is eating away at
Georgia. The official salary of the neighbouring country’s top leaders
is absolute chicken feed. And therefore Soros’s offer should indeed
appreciably improve their financial position. The American’s logic is
that a Georgian president who receives 2,000 dollars per month simply
has no reason to steal. He is able to buy everything he needs himself.

The general consensus of opinion is that it was the Soros Foundation’s
money that paid for the “rose revolution” last fall. It seemed that,
after Tbilisi, the leading financial speculator had decided to turn
his attention to Yerevan. But it is now becoming clear that Georgia
continues to be the central focus of his concerns.

Andrey Vavilov informed your Moskovskiy Komsomolets correspondent
yesterday that, on hearing about the Soros initiative, he is also
unable to remain aloof. In his view it is not only the Americans that
should be fighting corruption and, to that end, paying the Georgian
leaders’ wages. Corruption in Georgia affects Russia even more
severely than the United States – we are neighbours, after
all. Vavilov has set his contribution at the following level: He is
prepared to supplement Mikheil Saakashvili’s pay by 600 dollars per
month and Georgian ministers’ pay by 300 dollars. Vavilov reckons they
will be happy in the knowledge that they are getting money not from a
single source – the Soros Foundation – but also from Russia. This
should increase the independence of Georgia’s top functionaries even

Andrey Vavilov did not clear his personal initiative with Saakashvili
and his subordinates. But he hopes that they will accept it with
gratitude. He is also calling on other Russian businessmen to join him
in the fight against corruption in Georgia.