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Chronicle of The Pre-Election Terror

29.03.2010
Gela Mtivlishvili, Kakheti

At the approaching elections of the self-governments, oppression on the supporters of the opposition parties has increased. Law enforcement officers and officials of the local government threaten members and activists of the opposition parties with ceasing social allowances, firing their family members and relatives from jobs, with planting guns or narcotics on them and detention unless they stop their activities in support of the opposition parties. 

The Central Election Commission fixed May 30, 2010 to be the Election Day. Since March 15 the election lists have been checked through the special “Door to Door” program which was funded with 1, 2 million GEL by the state budget; the money was distributed among 12 political parties participating in the elections. In parallel to checking the lists, party activists inform voters about their candidates.

In Kakheti region, the activists of former prime-minister Zurab Noghaideli’s party Movement fort the Just Georgia were mostly oppressed; they were involved in checking the lists within the program Door to Door.

In Lagodekhi district activists quitted Noghaideli’s party

Manana Chalakheshashvili and Mariam Mchedlishvili checked the lists of voters according to the directives of the Lagodekhi district organization of the Movement for the Just Georgia only for four days. On March 21, they refused to continue their activities and left the party. “I do not have time; I do not want and that’s all,” explained Mariam Mchedlishvili her decision.

According to the head of the Lagodekhi district organization of the political party Giorgi Mchedlishvili, the members of the program “Door to Door” were threatened by policemen with creating problems for their family members unless they stopped their activities in favor of Noghaideli’s party.

He added that activists of the movement were oppressed in the village of Tsodniskaro too. “Because of threatening, two more members of the program refused to work. The village governor Badur Kopaliani threatened them,” said Giorgi Mchedlishvili.

The same incidents occurred in Dedoplistkaro district too. Activist of the political party Nino Kadagishvili said governor of the village Sabatlo Davit Gundadze demanded her to stop checking the lists. “Otherwise, he threatened me with firing from the job,” said Nino Kadagishvili who is teacher at the village public school.

Nobody commented on the accusations in Lagodekhi district police department. Governors of the villages Tsodniskari and Sabatlo categorically denied accusations and blamed the members of Noghaideli’s party in spreading false information.

Demonstrations

On February 16, young people held protest demonstration against Zurab Nogaideli near the statue of the King Erekle in Telavi. About 130 people participated in the demonstration. Several of them were students of the Telavi state university. The rest were activists of the local organization of the National Movement.

The demonstration was organized by the representatives of the district organizations of the National Movement and employees of the youth offices of the district administrations participated in it.

The demonstrators protested Noghaideli’s visits to Russia and called me a traitor. At the end of the demonstration, the young people pushed the taxiderms of Nogaideli from the hill.

The news agencies had announced that on the same day students had planned demonstration at 2:00 pm in Gurjaani too but it failed. Participants gathered in the Gurjaani office of the National Movement several minutes before the demonstration. The meeting was led by the representative of the culture department of the Gurjaani district administration Temur Butsashvili and member of the National Movement Zurab Kheviashvili. Although the demonstration was organized by the district administration officials and members of the ruling party, Kakheti region deputy governor Giorgi Sibashvili stated: “This party is so weak in Kakheti, that we would not waste time on opposing them.”

On February 16, TV-Companies Rustavi 2 and Public Broadcasting reported in their evening news programs that students held protest demonstrations against Nogaideli in Gurjaani and Telavi districts in Kakheti.

Persecution in Akhmeta

On March 6, Akhmeta district organization of the Movement for the Just Georgia remained without office.

“The owner of the building Lukhum Meshveliani asked us to leave the office though the term of the rent agreement had not expired. Although, the population has serious financial problems in Akhmeta district and people could rent their spaces to us even at lower prices, we hardly rented the office. If we had not rented the office in Kakheti, we intended to set up a tent in the town center and continue our activities in this way,” said the head of the Akhmeta district office Tengiz Rostiashvili.

The Akhmeta district organization of the Movement for the Just Georgia paid 300 GEL per month to Lukhum Meshveliani. The latter does not clarify why he requested the party members to leave his house though he already rented out it to other people.

According to the press-center of the Movement for the Just Georgia, on March 11, deputy chairperson of the Akhmeta municipality board Jarap Khangoshvili and governor of the village of Duisi Merab Kavtarashvili threatened the party member Shota Kavtarashvili.

“On March 11, Jarap Khangoshvili and Merab Kavtarashvili visited Shota Kavtarashvili at home and requested him to quit political activities and party of Zurab Nogaideli. They even threatened Shota Kavtarashvili with punishing his family members unless he obeyed their request. The visit lasted about 30 minutes. After their leaving, Shota Kavtarashvili felt bad and needed medical assistance,” reported the press-center of the party.

According to the same source, the visit of Zurab Nogaideli was scheduled for March 12. “Shota Kavtarashvili was arranging visit details. Jarap Khangoshvili and Merab Kavtarashvili visited him again. Together with threatening, they demanded Shota Kavtarashvili not to attend the meeting with Nogaideli. Because of illness he really did not attend the meeting on March 12,” reported the press-center.

Jarap Khangoshvili denies the fact of threatening Shota Kavtarashvili. “Shota is my close friend. I friendly suggested him not to work for the party; in this case we would have to part but I did not threaten him; I do not have right to threaten him. Their party accuses us in different violations, but everything is false,” said Jarap Khangoshvili.

On March 12, Zurab Nogaideli, leader of the Conservative Party Kakha Kukava and chairperson of the People’s Party Koba Davitashvili arrived in Akhmeta and held meeting with their supporters.

The official of the Kakheti regional department of the Constitutional Security Department Aleko Ninoshvili observed the meeting (from the black jeep of Nissan with state number ABQ 100). People from other cars also observed the meeting and recorded the names of the attendees. Those cars were: black BMW (WXW 683); white BMQ (DBR - 195); silver Mercedes (IFI - 171) and silver Volkswagen (GDG - 243).

Akhmeta district governor Koba Maisuradze is also blamed in oppressing the supporters of opposition parties. According to the Human Rights Center, the governor threatened several participants of the demonstration with kidnapping.  

“Opposition supporters told our representative, who arrived in Akhmeta, that the district governor demanded them to support the government and quit their activities in favor of any other party. They refused and after that the governor threatened them with kidnapping. Besides that, several days ago, the family of one of the supporters had their social allowance ceased; and family member of another activist was threatened with firing from school where she works as a teacher,” said the representative of the human rights organization.

Koba Maisuradze did not comment on the statement of the Human Rights Center.

According to the president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, further integration of Georgia with the EU depends on the fair elections. The international community will pay attention to all violations observed during pre-election campaign.

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