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Kakheti- Pre-Election Digest # 1

August 21, 2012

Information Center of Kakheti observed 1 fact of assumed bribery of voters, 2 facts of firing people from jobs, 1 fact of detention, 5 facts of intimidation, 1 interference in professional activities, 8 facts of fining people and facts of misuse of administrative resources by the United National Movement in the Kakheti region from August 1 to August 10, 2012.

Assumed Bribery of Voters


(Free Food to Voters in Gurjaani from Christian-Democrat Movement) On August 1, Transparency International – Georgia, which implements monitoring of pre-election process, petitioned to the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia Murtaz Zodelava and State Audit Office. The monitoring organization requested them to start investigation of the fact which occurred on July 31, 2012 in Gurjaani when Christian Democrat Movement served local population with feast; ICK had spread photo and video-materials of the fact.

“According to the Information Centre of Kakheti, on July 31st the political union Christian-Democratic Movement set a tableful of meals for the electorate during a pre-election meeting in Gurjaani. We believe that such conduct may be considered vote buying and it requires profound investigation. According to materials from the Information Centre, the leaders of the party refused to be sponsors of the event and claim that all products (wine, meat, tomatoes, cucumbers, and bread) were brought by the gathered people, and the party only organized the event. However, the majority of participants state that they did not pay anything and were invited by the Party. It can be seen from the video footage that the event was perceived by the public as the Christian-Democrats’ treat. According to the Organic Law of Georgia on the Political Unions of Citizens, it is prohibited for political parties to transfer monetary assets, gifts or any other material or nonmaterial values through its candidates, representatives or other persons, directly or indirectly, to the Georgian citizens. In addition, according to Article 1641 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, direct or indirect transfer of money or other assets in connection with election process is penalized by the restriction of liberty for up to three years, or a fine. Therefore, evidence of a criminal offence can be demonstrated in this case. It should be taken into account that the entity involved in the incident is a political party actively involved in an election campaign and, therefore, the existence of electoral purposes is unquestionable. We refer to the State Audit Office of Georgia and to the Office of the Prosecutor-General to investigate the aforementioned fact and act accordingly,” the statement of the Transparency International – Georgia reads.

On August 3, State Audit Office spread information that Financial Monitoring Service of Political Parties had started investigation of the fact. “The State Audit Office will thoroughly study the activities of the political subject and its compliance with the Organic Law of Georgia on Political Unions of Citizens and will inform the public about the conclusion rendered on the administrative proceedings,” the statement of the Financial Monitoring Service reads.

“Chamber of Control must not waste time on such unserious issues; let them investigate those cases with real signs of bribery which we observe every day from the side of the ruling and other political parties too,” a leader of the Christian-Democrat Movement Levan Vepkhvadze said and added that he cannot understand why the State Audit Office wonders “why a person brought meat and roasted it and served his friend with it? I think it is a bit unserious allegation. If they fine those people who brought ten kilos of meat there, will they have to bring 50 kilos of meat as fine?” Vepkhvadze told Interpresnews.

Firing of People from Jobs

Vano Natsarashvili – was fired from security service United Security On August 2, ICK reported that member of the Georgian Dream’s Gurjaani office Vano Natsarashvili was fired from job. Vano Natsarashvili was working at the security service –United Security and was guarding at the Gurjaani Medical Center. “I had been working at the security service United Security since April 2012; they had head office in Tbilisi. The security office had appointed me to guard at the Gurjaani medical center. Since I joined the Georgian Dream, representatives of the security service came and threatened me; they said unless I stopped cooperation with the party, I would lose a job. They were speaking about Zviad Kviralashvili but I do not know why. Police officers also warned me about it but I did not leave Georgian Dream. Three weeks later I was called from the work and told I was reduced. They staged a performance as if personnel reduction happened at the office. Two more people were fired but soon they were recruited back,” Vano Natsarashvili told ICK. The information center called the administration of the United Security to find out reasons of Vano Natsarashvili’s firing but coordinator of the Kakheti office Giorgi Gogiashvili did not wish to speak about the issue at all. “It is nobody’s business and we are not telling anybody the reason of his dismissal. Georgian Dream has nothing to do with it,” Gogiashvili told ICK.

Alaverd Lomidze was fired from the Company “KvarelTskalMomsakhureba” On August 9 collector of the Water Distribution Company KvarelTsaklMomsakhureba, Alaverd Lomidze, 65, resident of Akhalsopeli village in Kvareli district, was fired from job. Lomidze told ICK that several days before he had attended meeting of the Georgian Dream’s leaders with local population and Gigla Bezhanishvili threatened him with firing. “Initially he threatened me and today he fired me. He said I am oppositionist but I am not member of any political party. Why did they fire me, was not I fulfilling my duties? Is it government? My chief Gigla Bezhasnishvili personally blamed me in being an oppositionist. I have nothing to hide; once I attended Ivanishvili’s meeting in Kvareli club. I was nearby and entered there. Do not I have right to attend the meeting and learn information? Afterwards, they called me and warned they would fire me if I attend the meeting again. I said I was not party member and had just attended the meeting. Although I did not go to the Georgian Dream’s meetings since then, I was fired,” Alaverd Lomidze told ICK. “It is his personal opinion; nobody has threatened him. He is retired person. We offered him either to get pension or to continue getting salary and he chose pension,” Gigla Bezhanishvili, director of the KvarelTskalMomsakhureba told ICK. Alaverd Lomidze claims nobody had offered him choice between pension and salary. “Even if they had offered it, do not I have right to work? Do they breach law when they have an accountant who is at the age of pensioner?” Lomidze wondered.

Detention, Oppression, Fining, Interference

Georgian Dream’s activist Giorgi Chincharauli Detained – On August 6 ICK reported that law enforcement officers detained Giorgi Chincharauli, 30, activist of the Georgian Dream in Dedoplistskaro. Head of Georgian Dream’s Dedoplistskaro district office Lekso Tamazashvili told ICK that police officers put Giorgi Chincharauli into the car without any explanations and took him to temporary detention setting in Signagi. “Giorgi Chincharauli is our activist. Today, he went to Dedoplistskaro from Gamarjveba village and police officers were waiting for him at the mini-bus. The witnesses say the police officers demanded him to get into the police car without explanation of the reason. He got into the car and police officers took him to Signagi temporary detention setting. The law enforcement officers allege Giorgi did not obey their orders and cursed them. So, they requested 90-day imprisonment for disobedience and verbal assault but our lawyer timely took up his case and Giorgi escaped imprisonment; they imposed 400 lari fine on him. He claims there was no controversy between him and police officers; they just asked him to get into the car,” Lekso Tamazashvili told ICK.

Free Georgia made statement about oppression to leave their Kvareli office On August 8, representatives of the political party Free Georgia held protest rally in front of the district administration and police office in Kvareli and protested their demand to leave office. Coordinator of the party’s Kakheti office Giorgi Mosiashvili said according to the instructions of Zurab Adeishvili [Minister of Justice] and Marika Verulashvili [majoritarian candidate of the UNM] they were demanded to leave the office. “We have a district office in Kvareli; they categorically demanded the office owner to annul contract with us. We, political party Free Georgia, will do our best not to leave the office. Our contract states that the owner shall warn us about similar decision a month before. Despite that, allies of Adeishvili and Verulashvili categorically demanded him to expel us from the office. We are fully aware that the Free Georgia creates, created and will always create serious problems for this government. I call upon the government, international monitoring missions, accredited diplomats, ambassadors to pay attention to this fact,” Giorgi Mosiashvili said. “Two months ago, we rented an accommodation from Ioseb Varamashvili. Initially I suggested him to inform the district administration about our agreement in order to avoid future problems. He said it was his property and he was independent in the decision. I was in the office yesterday all day long; I do not know who passed by our office; in fact everybody knew that there was an office there. The flat owner talked with me yesterday but he did not say anything like that. At about 10:00 pm he called me on the phone and asked to leave office today. He said he could not agree on renting the office to us. Apparently he was oppressed but he does not name concrete people,” head of Kvareli district office of the Free Georgia said. Office owners said they were not oppressed and they requested the political party to leave their space because they intend to open a restaurant there. “It is our decision. We want to open a restaurant there and we asked them to leave the space. We are going to open the restaurant in ten days and they should leave the office,” Ioseb Varamashvili’s wife told ICK. The family have hostel in their house. Free Georgia has not left the office yet.

Law enforcement officers took Georgian Dream’s member to a cemetery and threatened him On August 9 ICK reported that Georgian Dream’s member, resident of Tsnori in Signagi district Nikoloz Kikilashvili blamed head of Kakheti office of the Constitutional Security Department Soso Tsitsishvili and deputy head of Signagi police department Besik Lekiashvili in oppression. “They came to my home by jeep. They said they represented security service and head of Kakheti regional office of Security Service Soso Tsitsishvili was calling me to his office. I am not a criminal; I have not done anything wrong so I followed them; however, I did not expect them to verbally and physically assault me. They took me to a forest-park near cemetery where there are cottages. Soso Tsitsishvili, Beso Lekiashvili and one more person were waiting for me in one of the cottages; I did not know who the third person was; he did not say anything. Tsitsishvili and Lekiashvili told me to quit Georgian Dream and leave Georgia immediately. They gave me one week time to do it; otherwise they threatened me with imprisonment. I said I was not going to obey their demands. I spent about 20 minutes in the cottage; they verbally and physically assaulted me. It was ordered by Nugzar Abulashvili. Several days ago, Abulashvili demanded my 14-year-old son to take off Georgian Dream’s t-shirt but he did not,” Nikoloz Kikilashvili told ICK. ICK got in touch with Nugzar Abulashvili but did not comment on the issue. “Come on; who obeys my orders?” Abulashvili said and cut off line. Abulashvili is head of Signagi district office of the United National Movement. We could not get in touch with Soso Tsitsishvili and Besik Lekishvili.

Oppression on teachers in Akhmeta – On August 9 ICK reported that head of Akhmeta Resource Center, Bela Marukashvili, forces teachers of public schools to agitate in favor of Akhmeta’s majoritarian candidate Petre Tsiskarishvili from National Movement; if they do not obey, she threatens to fire them. “School directors were called and ordered to force all teachers in our villages to work for Petre Tsiskarishvili. We should go to districts and ask people what problems they have, who they support, and what they want from Petre Tsiskarishvili and the government. All teachers should give written reports to their school directors until August 15 and the directors will give reports to Bela Marukashvili. Of course, we will have to do this work without payment. We were told that those who refuse will not have their contracts continued from September,” Duisi and Kvemi Alvani public school teachers told Information Centre of Khaketi. Head of Akhmeta education resource centre Bela Marukashvili made no comments on the allegation. Bela Marukashvili is member of Akhmeta municipal board from the National Movement. Her father, Omar Marukashvili, is head of Akhmeta Information Centre. The latter has office in the building of municipal board and is funded by local budget. Bela Marukashvili’s brother, Vazha Marukashvili, is manager of Khaketi regional office of Energy Distribution Service Centre. Bela Marukashvili personally intimidated a respondent of the ICK and Georgian Dream’s supporter Gulchina Tsikoria. She demanded the owner of the house where the lonely and socially vulnerable woman sheltered to expel her from the house.

A leader of the Kakheti youth branch of the National Movement Threatens– “People like you would have been stoned down in Israeli,” Erekle Ambardanishvili – on August 10 ICK spread information “people like you would have been stoned down in Israeli,” Ambardanishvili, head of youth branch of the Kakheti office of the National Movement told correspondents of the news agency INFO 9 and activists of the Georgian Dream. ICK tried to call Erekle Ambardanishvili several times but other person answers phone calls on his personal number; the stranger replies Erekle is busy and cannot talk with us. Kakheti region coordinator of the United National Movement Giorgi Botkoveli did not answer our phone calls either. Representatives of the Kakheti regional governor’s administration said Erekle Ambardanishvili does not work at their office. Incident between youth branch members of the Coalition Georgian Dream and National Movement occurred in Telavi yesterday. Activists of the National Movement approached Georgian Dream’s members when they were recording data about victims of natural disaster.

Interference in Chantliskure(Kvareli district) - On August 5 an incident occurred in the village Chantliskure of Kvareli district. Georgian Dream’s majoritarian candidate Davit Kevkhisvili was holding meeting in the village populated with ethnic minorities; the National Movement’s supporters joined the meeting and asked the agency Info-9 journalists to stop reporting. “I came, I love Georgia, and I am Mikheil Saakashvili’s woman. The whole village should vote for Mikheil Saakashvili. Everyone who is here should vote for him. If they do not I will learn about them and make a list of those people and then they will see”, said a female supporter of the ruling party who was dressed in a National Movement t-shirt. Afterwards, she asked Info-9 Journalist Nino Khucishvili to stop reporting. “Everything is over, close that, stop talking” the woman said. Her friend also tried to hinder journalist’s activities by putting hands on the camera-lens.

Black list of Voters in Dedoplistskaro On August 10, ICK published a statement of Tamila Gurashvili, head of Dedoplistskaro district office of the political party Free Georgia. According to her statement, activists of the United National Movement were carrying out polls in the village and voters, who do not support the UNM, were included on special lists. “After the Election Day was announced, the government intensified activities of their coordinators. I was notified by our coordinators from border-line villages that about 30-50 agitators work in each village. They have divided streets and enter every family. The agitators hand out election booklets of the National Movements “More Benefit to People” and inquire which political party they vote for and whether they support the majoritarian candidate of the UNM Zaza Kedelashvili. If somebody declares that they do not support the ruling party or refuses to answer questions, they are inserted on the so-called Black List and threaten them that the list will be delivered to a relevant place,” Tamila Gurashvili said and added that it is oppression and breaches requirements of the Article 28 Paragraph 1 of the Constitution of Georgia that ensures privacy of polls.

Car Seized in Akhmeta – On August 10, Akhmeta district police officers evacuated car of Spartak Zviadauri, brother of Georgian Dream’s majoritarian candidate in Akhmeta Zurab Zviadauri, to a penalty parking place. Zakaria Kinkladze, member of the Georgian Dream’s Akhmeta office, told ICK that police officers seized car from Spartak Zviadauri because of disobedience. “Different person was driving Spartak Zviadauri’s jeep Mitsubishi SPA 007; he had car documents and driving license with him. Police stopped him in Akhmeta center and several minutes ago they took the car by evacuator. Police officers claim the car did not obey the police officer’s demand in the morning. However, the car was parked near our office from the morning and if the driver did not obey them, why did they recall about it only in the afternoon?! Moreover, there was no disobedience fact; Spartak Zviadauri is also Coalition member,” Zakaria Kinkladze told ICK. Two days ago Zurab Zviadauri spread statement about putting sand in his car engine when it was parked on the penalty parking place in Gori that damaged his car.

Georgian Dream’s Activists Fined - Police officers massively fine members of Georgian Dream in Kakheti. Law enforcement officers fined Merab Ivanashvili from Lagodekhi 340 lari in two days. “We were traveling from Lagodekhi to Ulianovka village in three or four cars; I was last in the row. I saw police cars following me in the mirror. I did not break traffic rules; I was driving at the speed of 60 km per hour. Soon, police officers demanded me to stop the car; they said I had crossed the axial line but I actually had not done this. Five people were sitting in my car and everybody confirmed that I had not breached the rules but police officers fined me 200 lari. On August 7, I was stopped at petrol-station in Kavshiri village and they fined me 100 lari. They accused me of crossing the axial line though I had not because I knew that the police car was following me. The next day I was in Georgian Dream’s office in Lagodekhi. Having left office, I went to the village; the police followed and stopped me. I had passengers in the car; everybody had their seat belts on but police officer accused us of not; as a result I was fined 40 lari,” Merab Ivanashvili told ICK. Police officers fined another member of Georgian Dream, Kakhaber Kevlishvili, 400 lari in Lagodekhi. Two administrative protocols were drawn up on Kevlishvili for having incorrectly outrun cars. “I told police officers I had not outrun any car and that they were fining me illegally. They said I could complain about their protocol anywhere I wished,” Kakhaber Kevlishvili said. Another member of Georgian Dream, Gia Bitsadze, was fined 100 lari in Lagodekhi. “I was blamed for crossing the axial line when I had not done it. But I cannot prove the opposite,” Bitsadze said. According to the ICK’s information, on August 5 and 9 police officers fined Levan Khvistani, member of Georgian Dream’s Telavi office. They drew up administrative protocol on him alleging he did not have permission to transfer his car from petrol to auto-gas and for having breached traffic rules. Representatives of the Kakheti Department of the Patrol Police and the Kakheti regional MIA department did not comment on the massive fining of Georgian Dream’s members in the region. None of the people who were fined have sued the imposed administrative protocols. They said it is useless because it will not change anything.

Misuse of Administrative resources

Number of employees in village territorial entities was increased in Khaketi. Labor contracts with citizens were signed on the positions of specialists till the end of October. Their monthly salary is 250 lari. According to opposition parties, number of employees increased in territorial entities in connection with pre-election period and government will use them in favor of the National Movement. Telavi district governor Nugzar Khutsaidze confirmed new employees were added to Telavi municipality and they have signed three month contracts.

“New employees were really hired but it didn’t happen only in Telavi, it happened throughout the region and Georgia. We have not added knew personnel directly in board administration; new people were recruited in territorial authorities. We needed additional stuff because we plan sport events and we have some other instructions too and attorneys could not fulfill their duties alone, so we added knew people,” Telavi district governor told ICK.

Video Polls

Polls in Akhmeta – which candidate will you vote for on the Election Day – Do you know majoritarian candidates in Akhmeta district Zurab Zviadauri and Petre Tsiskarishvili and whom will you vote for on the Election Day?  Information Centre of Khaketi carried out polls in two villages Akhshani and Kistauriin Akhmeta district and asked those questions.. Respondents were selected at random. Most of respondents said they will vote for Petre Tsiskarishvili. Parliamentary elections will be held on October 1 2012; Zurab Zviadauri will be majoritarian candidate from the Georgian Dream in Akhmeta and Petre Tsiskarishvili, acting MP, will be majoritarian candidate from the National Movement.

Polls in Akhalsopeli- which candidate will you vote for on the Election Day?-  do you know Kvareli district majoritarian candidates Marika Verulashvili and Davit Kevkhishvili and who will you vote for on the Election Day? – ICK carried out polls with this question in Kvareli district village Akhalsopeli. Our Journalist selected 50 respondents at random. 13 respondents said they will support Marika Verulashvili, 9 supported David Kevkhishvili and 18 people preferred not to answer to this question. 10 people haven’t yet decided whom they will vote for. Marika Verulashvili will be majoritarian candidate from the National Movement and David Kevkhishvili from the Georgian Dream in the parliamentary elections scheduled on October 1, 2012.

Information Center of Kakheti will publish pre-election digest every Saturday before October 1, 2012
Responsible person for the content of the digest Gela Mtivlishvili
Cell phone:  599 34 34 77