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How Governmental Officials from Chokhatauri Traveled to the Ukraine?

Nato Gogelia, “Guria News”

About 500 observers were sent to the presidential elections in the Ukraine on January 17 from Georgia (they were mostly from governmental structures); they had to leave Georgia on January 14. Although it is strange, two residents of Chokhatauri district – chairperson of the ruling party fraction of the municipality board Shota Siradze and deputy district governor Dimitri Koripadze – were among those observers. They were selected from 12-me- list. Their colleagues said in their interviews with us that – maybe they were chosen because of their physical abilities. Officials from Chokhatauri district do not have other explanations why Koripadze and Sirzadze were sent to the Ukraine.

On January 12, meeting of observers, who were supposed to go to the Ukraine, was held in Kutaisi where they received instructions.  Details of the meeting are not known. However, according to lobby information, they were ordered to observe the elections without additional noise for one principle: “Iushchenko is friend and relative of the president of Georgia.”

Dima Koripadze knows why he is going to the Ukraine but cannot say who and why selected him.

- Shota Siradze and I are going there on January 14.

- Why you and Shota Siradze only? Your colleagues told us you were selected because of your physical appearance…

- We all residents of Chokhatauri district have good appearance …

- Then tell us why you and not. Let us say, Gia or Zurab?

- I do not know; I was not in the commission.

- Who selected you?

- I do not know.

- Ok, but you are not going to the Ukraine with your own initiative? Who told you to go there as an observer?

- (Several minutes later he replied) district Governor Mamuka Dolidze.

- Did Dolidze decide to send you there?

- No, he did not, there was a list and he chose us from the list.

- What was the principle of the selection and who selected you?

- I do not know

- Who funds your departure?

- We are going there as international observers of the government of Georgia. The sum was allocated from the state budget.

- The funds are not allocated from local budget.

- They allocated money for business-leave for one day and night.

- It is very interesting how you will observe the elections. If they were held in Guria region, it would be easier… you should know some methods of the elections. What will you do in the Ukraine?

- Observers observe elections democratically in order to prevent various violations, etc

- Dima Koripadze said he supports democracy in the Ukraine too.

- Of course, he does. Each of us is obliged to act in accordance to the law and constitution.

- Who do you think will win the elections? Everybody knows that Georgia supports Iushchenko…

- I do not know. If it were Georgian elections, I could say. But I cannot say anything about Ukraine.

- Then, please tell us who will win elections of local self-government in Georgia?

- Are you asking about Chokhatauri district?

- Ok, tell us about your district

- National Movement

- Why, because Dima Koripadze and Shota Siradze represent the ruling party in the district?

- Dima Koripadze, Gia Giorgadze, Mamuka Dolidze, Anton Khundadze and others represent the National Movement.

- And will you win because you represent the ruling party?

- Of course. We believe it.

Head of financial department of the Chokhatauri district administration Zurab Chantladze clarified that 35 USD was allocated from the local budget for the food of Siradze and Koripadze a day during their stay in the Ukraine (it is one-month pension of a retired person in Georgia). Central budget was funding their accommodation and travel expenses.

On January 14, officials, ready to leave for the Ukraine, could not even fill in their forms and had to unpack their suitcases. Central Election Commission of the Ukraine refused to accept them.

Experts state about 4 million GEL was spent from the local budget only for the nutrition of 2 000 Georgian observers in the Ukraine.

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