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ELECTIONS

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2008-04-14
CEC and Georgian Parliament: No to Transparent Elections
The Central Election Commission (CEC) is trying to limit the transparency of the upcoming elections. The amendment adopted by the Parliament on March 21 has this aim in mind. Under the conditions of this amendment, tapes from the video cameras in the polling stations will no longer be made publicly available.

2008-04-14
Saakashvili Invites Shevardnadze’s Supporters Back to the Parliament
April 21 is the deadline for the introduction of majority candidates for various election precincts. In spite that several days remain till this candidate is official those from the Kakheti already knows who will be candidate for the leading party in their region. Alongside of businesspersons and people from former leading party “Citizen’s Union” current high-ranking officials from the Security Service Departments and Prosecutor’s Offices also take part in the Parliamentary Elections on May 21 2008.

2008-04-10
Teachers Are Terrorized, Disobedient Ones Fired
The closer that parliamentary elections are approaching the supporters of the opposition political parties are being that much more threatened and abused, including family members. The district administration, municipality council, police department, prosecutor’s office, district offices of the leading party, as well as other governmental bodies have closed ranks being the ruling National Party. They are trying their best to win opposition activists over to their side by threatening and blackmailing. If the opposition activists refuse to come across to their side they are soon fired from their jobs or worst. There are even instances of where those without jobs are being threatened with the possibility of their relatives being set up and arrested for crimes they did not commit, which is another ploy to pressure them into changing their political loyalties.  

2008-04-08
Pre-Election Shenanigans in Gori
Badri Nanetashvili, Shida Kartli “media magnate” is trying to return to power politics for a second time.  It is documented Nanetashvili, director of TV-company Trialeti, now wants to become a MP.  He used to be an MP until he was dismissed from the parliament on June 21, 2006 based on a decision of the majority of MPs. The reason for his dismissal was that Nanetashvili was still involved in entrepreneurial activities, which is a conflict of interests and law. Moreover, he was blackmailing high governmental authorities and businesspersons of Shida Kartli with discrediting news reports on his TV Company. The Public Defender’s report of 2006 fully describes his activities and why he was kicked from the Parliament. 

2008-04-03
Whose Membership Is More Important in Parliament: “Businessmen or Drivers?”
The pre-election battle has already started heating up for the up-coming Parliamentary Elections on May 21. Political parties, both oppositional and governmental ones, have been actively involved the process with finger pointing, name calling and deal making. Each party has its own selective method of fighting it out in the political trenches. The National Movement tries to gain the sympathy of people in various ways, not only by making various promises but tries to improve its image by offering familiar faces for future parliament members.  In the new list of National Movement you will see not only culture figures but pragmatic business leaders as well. Why would such upstanding and successful people ever want to get politics in the first place? Are they ready to give up their successful businesses and get into the fight against the opposition and become public servants?
2008-04-02
Stones Thrown in the Flooded Liakhvi River, Yellow-Red Facades, Japanese Quince Trees against Poverty
At last the pre-election campaign in Gori has been initiated in the name of “Poverty Reduction Program” and prosperity is within a stones throw. With much fanfare in the last week almost all high-ranking officials from the executive government have visited Gori and its various districts. The officials enjoyed watching how stone were being thrown in the flooded Liakhvi River. Several ministers with their deputies arrived in Gori from Tbilisi just to see heaps of stones that had delivered from Marneuli district.

2008-04-01
Sidewalks and Side-deals: Characteristic Feature for Pre-Election Campaign
Pre-election campaign is starting out with the removal of broken sidewalks and ends with the laying of a new layer of concrete or tiles, which will need replacement the next election. Habits are hard to break, especially when the local government maintains the same traditions as to what has gone before. Now it is all busy work and the central part of the city is getting dug in the run-up to May parliamentary elections.

2008-03-31
Prosecutor’s Office Investigates Election Violations but Violators “Not Punished”
The final report of the International Observation Mission on the Snap Presidential Elections of January 5 2008 in Georgia stresses that the elections were carried out with many blatant violations. The report assesses the counting of the votes and the preparation of elections reports in negative terms. Local observation organizations also speak about flawed election reports. Georgian Public Defender has applied to the Prosecutor’s Office alongside international and local observers to react on above-mentioned violations. The investigation was kicked-off based on the many appeals. However, despite several evidences, there has not been a single instance where someone has been prosecuted for violations of election law.

2008-03-26
Vardzelashvili Preferred Regional Governor than Majority MP
The on-going fight for a seat in the Georgian parliament will supposedly start at the beginning of April in Shida Kartli Region when the pre-election campaign will be officially announced. According to the Human Rights Center the National Movement, leading party, has slated its candidates in all four districts in the region. Some personnel changes were made in New Rights; the new movement “Georgian Politics” managed to open the regional office earlier than the HQ was opened in Tbilisi. However, parties do not announce their candidate, which means in short that they have not made the final decision.
2008-03-26
Poverty in Vineyards: Saakashvili Meets Only Grateful Farmers
Georgian President visited Kakheti Region of East Georgia. It is noted that Mikheil Saakashvili personally oversaw the distribution of fuel among peasant farmers in Kakheti. Several peasants, who were hand-picked for a carefully staged meeting; naturally they thanked the president for the government’s active and open relationship with the populace. Residents of other districts also wanted to meet the president in Tsnori, and they were recorded on film following Saakashvili as he visited agricultural plots during a one hour PR tour. 
2008-03-21
What Is the Connection between Tents Set Up in Zugdidi, Hunger-strikers and “Misha Is Great” (the song)”?!
Oppositionists in Zugdidi are on hunger-strike with the accompaniment of the song “Misha (the name of Georgian President) Is Great!” three tents are set up in the main avenue near the statue to Zviad Gamsakhurdia. Hunger-strikers who have been on protest for eight days already listen to the song “Misha is Great”’ during ten hours a day. The remote control for the fountain and the song is in the building of the District Municipality Board leaders of the opposition parties claim the local government breaches the rights of hunger-strikers.

2008-03-21
Old People over Eighty Are Also on Hunger-Strike
Despite the suppression from the Police and Prosecutor’s Office, four members of the New Rights have entered their fourth day of hunger-strike. Yesterday, the health conditions of Gocha Khutsishvili seriously deteriorated and he was taken to the Intensive Therapy Department of the District Hospital by ambulance. Today two eighty-year-old women joined the hunger-strikers. Through this extreme form of protest, the two are calling for the protection of human rights in Georgia, to investigate the November 7 events and the resignation of Nino Burjanadze, the chairperson of the Georgian Parliament. 

2008-03-19
“Resurrected” Majority MPs or Lazy Cons
Based on Sociological Survey, absolute majority of voters does not know who the majority MP from his/her is district. 963 people out of 1 385 interviewed respondents think that it is not necessary to have an MP from each district. They claim that these people will do nothing more than acquiring property in their district and interfering in the activities of the local government.

2008-03-18
Really: Poverty Reduction in 50-Days-after-5-Years
With political fanfare the Georgian President Regional Governors were ordered to implement a 50-day poverty reduction program in various Georgian regions. However, this daunting task may be easier said than done and locals aver that if the governors are not successful it will not have an impact on the governors – as they will not be punished for their shortcoming.  The program is more about rhetoric than reality so few will really be disappointed.

2008-03-17
Nino Burjanadze-MP through Majority System of the Canceled Elections
“The government remembers about voters only during elections and it is self-evident. This woman [Nino Burjanadze] does not care about the people, she never asks us about our problems. However, during the pre-election campaign she promised us many things but it has all been in vain. Shame on her,” it is an extract from the interview with seventy-four-year-old Natela Gorgadze. Almost every resident of Kutaisi shares grief because of that woman.

2008-03-14
Police Seized List of Supporters of the Political Movement “Tavisufleba”
On March 9 a list of 30,000 supporters of the Political Movement “Tavisufleba” disappeared from the Zugdidi-Tbilisi Central highway. Near Abasha distinct two unidentified people stopped the driver of the mini-bus as it was traveling towards Tbilisi and seized the documents from him by force. Regional representatives of the “Tavisufleba” have already appealed to the Abasha district police station to investigate a politically motivated holdup.

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