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Kakheti – Pre-Election Digest # 3

September 3, 2012
From August 19 to August 25, Information Center of Kakheti observed 7 facts of oppression, 1 fact of interference in journalistic activities, 1 fact of interference in agitation activities, 1 fact of violation of requirements of the Election Code by election administration, 2 facts of usage of administrative resources and 1 fact of assumed bribery of voters. Police did not respond to 4 cases which contained signs of criminal offence.

Oppression, Interference, Violence, Inhuman Treatment

Majoritarian candidate wishing to meet prime-minister was dragged away under force –On August 19, Prime-Minister of Georgia Vano Merabishvili met personnel of budget-funded organizations and activists of the National Movement in Dedoplistskaro music school behind a close door. Citizens, who wanted to inform the prime-minister about problems, were not allowed to meet Merabishvili. National Movement’s activists were standing in front of the school building and did not allow journalists of the news agency INFO 9 and TV-Company TV -9 to cover the meeting. After the meeting, majoritarian candidate of the political party Free Georgia in Dedoplistskaro district Tamila Gurashvili asked Vano Merabishvili: “Mr. Vano, pay attention to us if you are a prime-minister,” and at that moment activist of the UNM Shotiko Kochlamazashvili grabbed her and dragged her out by force.
Interference in agitation activities On August 21, activist of the National Movement Natela Indashvili in Vakiri village, Signagi district, whose family members work in the state agencies, did not allow agitators of the Georgian Dream to walk along the road in the village and continue their activities. “We called a citizen who wanted to write an application about her problems. At that moment Natela Indashvili rushed out and started quarrelling with our agitator. Then she abused me. I switched on a camera and started video-recording her; she put her hand on the camera and pushed me away saying “Do not shoot me,” activist of the Georgian Dream Givi Darchiashvili said. “I did not touch him. We want Misha. The agitator does not have right to meet people in our village. Ask people, who they want [to elect],” NAtela Indashvili said.

INFO 9’s journalists were hindered when performing their professional duties in Signagi– On August 24, representatives of pseudo INFO9 Natia Mirianashvili and Diana Bagalishvili interfered in the professional activities of Tinatin Matinov of the news agency INFO 9, who was interviewing lawyer Tengiz Bezhashvili in Signagi. A man was also assisting them and they together did not allow Tinatin Matinov to move about. Pro-oppositionist news agency INFO 9 subordinates to the TV-9. The latter is owned by Igrika Ltd whose owner is Ekaterine Khvedelidze, wife of Bidzina Ivanishvili, the leader of the Coalition Georgian Dream. INFO-9 mostly covers activities of the Georgian Dream and oppression facts on the coalition members.

Police officers are watching: On August 24, Tina Khidasheli, majoritarian candidate of the Georgian Dream in Sagarejo district met residents of Iormuganlo village. Video-team of the also attended the meeting. Tina Khidasheli inquired the personality of the driver and locals told her the driver was a police officer. “I do not work. I just work as a taxi-driver and transport them,” the driver told Khidasheli. “The villagers recognized the car that belongs to police which permanently moves about the village and intimidates people. So, we tried to find out where the young man was working. We found out that he did not have driving license, car documents and ID card. So, he could not have driven without problems in the village which is permanently patrolled by police unless he had relevant permission or instructions,” Tina Khidasheli said. Officers of the Constitutional Security Department of the MIA follow Tina Khidasheli in Lagodekhi district when she meets local people in the frame of pre-election campaign. The CSD officers drive black Mercedes. Khidasheli asked them to introduce themselves and they said they represented the Georgian Dream. Afterwards, Khidasheli requested them to provide membership mandate but they could not. Khidasheli asked them to provide driving license and they refused and introduced themselves as Gigla Chonashvili and Giorgi Zaalishvili. ICK checked the information and found out that the person, who introduced himself as Giorgi Zaalashvili is Zura Grdzelishvili, officer of the CSD Kakheti office. 

Strangers took photos of the Georgian Dream member’s house and car in Samreklo village –On August 23, Nugzar Sekhniashvili, supporter of the Coalition Georgian Dream living in Samreklo village, Dedoplistskaro district, alleged that three strangers visited him at home and took photos of his house and car. “I was in the garden and having heard conversation I went home. They were sitting at table and pretending filling in some papers. I asked their names and they said they were from a newly established NGO but did not say their names. Then they took photos of the car and house. I asked them why they needed photos and again asked their names. They said they were Giorgi Kavtaradze, Giorgi Zhgenti and Goga Shumashikeli. I asked them whether they visited all families and they nodded. I called police and INFO 9. As soon as journalists arrived, the strangers left home. None of them had identification cards; I managed to record their car state number ASI 550,” Nugzar Sekhniashvili of the Georgian Dream stated.

Activist of the Georgian Dream physically assaulted – Activists of the United National Movement physically assaulted Shavleg Aivazashvili, member of the Coalition Georgian Dream in Saniore village, Telavi district. “I was traveling from Telavi to village in the Georgian Dream’s t-shirt. Candidate of the National Movement Vasil Davitashvili was visiting our village together with their activists. When they saw me in Georgian Dream’s t-shirt, they demanded to take it off but I refused. Then they demanded to cut the inscriptions out off it and wear it without them. Then they verbally and physically assaulted me. Several UNM activists were beating me shouting it would be good lesson for me,” Shavleg Aivazashvili said. He did not receive injuries as a result of incident and did not appeal to police. 

Violence against disabled person On August 21, representatives of the National Movement forcibly took Georgian Dream’s t-shirt off Shalva Sinjiashvili, a disabled resident of Anaga village in Signagi district and dressed him in the t-shirt of the ruling party. “I was at home together with my mother. Secretary of our election district Tamar Mirianashvili came to our house and asked me to follow her. They took me to the village administration building and told me why I was wearing the t-shirt and why I had betrayed them. Signagi district governor had not come yet and I was made to wait for him. When he arrived, we got off the car. I asked him what the matter was and he said I would learn soon. They surrounded me, took the Georgian Dream’s t-shirt off me and put the t-shirt and a hat of the UNM on instead. They said I had escaped more problems because I did not have one hand,” Shalva Sinjiashvili said. The specialist of the Anaga village territorial entity Tamar Mirianashvili did not confirm the allegations of Shalva Sinjiashvili.

Tax Inspection inspects the shop of the Georgian Dream’s coordinator On August 21, Tax Inspection started inventarization of the shop in Kvemo Bodbe village, Signagi district, which belongs to Aleksandre Kochlamazashvili, local coordinator of the Georgian Dream. Tax inspectors have not started inspection of other shops in the same village. “I have been running this shop for four years already. Everything was done legally; I hold all documents. Nobody has ever inspected our shop yet. We send financial declarations at the end of each year; I have made declaration this year too; so I have no debts to the state and have paid all our financial obligations completely. My husband is coordinator of the Georgian Dream and they started to inspect of our shop on that purpose. I am a teacher and member of the village election commission from the opposition party. I think this inspection is politically motivated decision,” Nino Lazariashvili, wife of Aleksandre Kochlamzashvili said. The Revenue Service clarified that they are inspecting material values of goods in the shop. “We will not hinder the activities of the tax-payer. We describe material value of the goods and will act in accordance to the Code. Nobody will seal up the shop; they have few products and sealing up will not be necessary,” the Telavi regional office of the Revenue Service clarified.

Georgian Dream’s member claims he was not allowed to take bath in the detention setting during 30 days–On August 22, Georgian Dream’s member Giorgi Natroshvili was released from imprisonment. He was sentenced to 30-day administrative imprisonment for having insulted Marine Chitinashvili, an employee of the Gurjaani district administration. He completely served the term and now claims that he was not allowed to take a bath in the detention setting during 30 days. “Nobody intimidated me in the detention setting but they did not allow me to enter the bathroom during 30 days. I was alone in the cell. I received food there but not so much as my family members were sending me to the prison,” Giorgi Natroshvili said. Police arrested him on July 22 after news resources spread video of the incident that had occurred in Vachnadziani village. Bidzina Ivanishvili, leader of the Georgian Dream, was in Vachnadziani to meet victims of the natural disaster. After his visit an incident occurred between his supporters and Marine Chitinashvili, an employee of the Gurjaani district administration.  After Chitinashvili called Ivanishvili a “bustard”, Georgian Dream’s member Giorgi Natroshvili slapped her in the face. Natroshvili served his term in Telavi temporary detention setting.

Use of Administrative Resources

National Movement’s election HQ in the building of the Anaga village administration– Election HQ of the UNM is functioning in the building of the Anaga village territorial entity in Signagi district. “We are Misha’s people, down with Georgian Dream,” specialist of the territorial entity Tamar Mirianashvili said. The HQ representative Eka Tandashvili also confirmed that the election HQ of the ruling party is located in the building. According to the ICK’s verified information, the National Movement has not signed rent agreement with the Signagi district administration on the space in the village administration. Acting district governor Aleksandre Bokolishvili denied in his conversation with ICK that the UNM’s election HQ is functioning in the building of the Anaga territorial entity. “It is impossible. No HQs are functioning in the building of the territorial entity,” Bokolishvili said.

Levan Bezhashvili is distributing aid: According to the verified information, the former chairman of the Chamber of Control [currently State Audit Office] Levan Bechashvili will be majoritarian candidate of the UNM in Signagi district for the parliamentary elections of October 1. On July 25, Levan Bezhashvili was appointed as a personal representative of the president in Kakheti region. Since then Levan Bezhashvili has been meeting population of the villages victimized by the natural disaster and supervising process of aid distribution with the status of personal representative of the president. The victims of the natural disaster write application letters to him. Besides that, Bezhashvili held several meetings in the Signagi district villages together with the activists of the National Movement. Experts of election issues think Levan Bezhashvili is using administrative resources for pre-election campaign. They said he is seen on TV almost every day as a personal representative of the president; he holds meetings in the villages, promises people to resolve their problems and give instructions to the local governmental officials. Besides that, as ICK has observed, Bezhashvili is resolving the issues which are within the competence of the regional governor and his administration.

Assumed Bribery of Voters

Families, who were not victimized by natural disaster, also received aid Before the elections, the government is distributing compensation in the villages of Kakheti region regardless the fact they were damaged by the natural disaster or not. As a result of natural disaster of July 19, the government divided the victimized families in three categories. A week after the disaster, prime-minister Vano Merabishvili declared that families of the first categories, whose harvest was damaged at 100% will receive a compensation of 1 300-1 500 lari; the second category – who had only 70-80% of their harvest damaged, will receive 800-900 lari; and the third category with 50% damaged harvest will receive 300-500 lari of compensation. The distribution of the money started on August 14. “Everybody is getting compensation – those who were damaged and who were not. I was seriously damaged. I had purchased poison of 3 000 lari and I lost everything. Some people did not receive any damage; they had even sold out their plots but the government gave them 1 500 lari like to me. They did not check families properly. I have not receive any money while those, who had not lost anything, rushed first to get money,” Vakhtang Urchukhishvili, resident of Nasamkhrali village told ICK. “Some families had their plots survived but every family received 1 500 lari in this village,” Shalauri resident Eter Jokharidze said. Families, who do not have plots at all and did not have their houses damaged during natural disaster, also received compensations in Vazisubani village. Lawyer Irine Urushadze of the Transparency International – Georgia said if there was no damage but population received compensations, it is bribery of voters. Telavi district governor Nugzar Khutsaidze excludes bribery of voters and said only first category families received 1 500 lari compensations. 

Violation in Gurjaani – Gurjaani District Election Commission # 12 elected Mariam Khutsishvili to be the member of the Precinct Election Commission # 47 who was secretary of the same PEC during the 2010 local self-governmental elections and breached the requirements of the election code. In accordance to the acting Election Code, DEC shall not elect person to be a commission member, who had violated the Code on the previous elections and it is proved by the court judgment. In 2010, Zurab Danelishvili of the Republic Party and nongovernmental organization Human Rights Center sued the Gurjaani DEC at the court and as a result of discussion, the court concluded that chairwoman of the Gurjaani PEC # 47 Guliko Rostoshvili and secretary Mariam Khutsishvili had breached the Election Code though it had not reflected on the election results and the poll results were not annulled in the PEC. Member of Gurjaani DEC # 12 Beka Maisuradze filed complaint to the Central Election Commission about electing Mariam Khutsishvili in the commission. The CEC satisfied his suit and annulled the resolution (№5/2012-16.08) of the Gurjaani DEC # 12 about election of Mariam Khutsishvili in the PEC # 47. According to the CEC decision, the Gurjaani DEC is instructed to announce competition for the vacant place of the PEC# 47 secretary.

Facts, Which Remained Without Respond

On August 13 and 16 ICK spread photo and video materials about alleged usage of administrative resources in favor of the United National Movement. Based on the recommendation of the Interagency Task Force the CEC responded only to the second fact  and fined governor of the Chalaubani village Valeri Barnabishvili with 1 000 lari, who had election posters of the National Movement in the administration’s building. The first fact was not responded. Posters of the National Movement are placed in a room of the social service in the building of Gurjaani district administration.

Incident in Iormuganlo – Sagarejo district police has not replied to Tina Khidasheli’s August 17 complaint, Georgian Dream’s majoritarian candidate in Sagarejo district; she complained about interference in her pre-election campaign in Iormuganlo village. On August 17, Tina Khidasheli was meeting people in Muganlo and Keshalo where local governmental officials arrived and tried to fail the meeting. Duzagrami village governor Mukhtar Ismailov, Lambalo village governor Alakhair Abdulaev, Tulari village representative in the municipal board Vekil Vekilov, Keshalo village governor Tavtukh Kachiev’s nephew and district administration’s employee, former convicted Ilgar Gajiev were particular aggressive during the incident; the latter tried to break video-cameras. Those people were particularly aggressive towards the representative of the Giorgi Nanuashvili; they assumed he was correspondent of the INFO 9 and physically and verbally assaulted him. Despite that, police arrested members of the Tina Khidasheli’s election HQ Kamarat Mamedov and Natik Rasulov. Court sentenced both of them to 15-day administrative imprisonment. On the same day Tina Khidasheli appealed to Sagarejo district police and requested to start investigation against Duzagrama village governor. The majoritarian candidate appealed to the chairperson of the Interagency Task Force but the commission has not responded to her petition yet.

From August 11 to August 18 Information Center of Kakheti observed 3 facts of interference in journalists’’ activities, 1 fact of assumed bribery of voters, 7 facts of intimidation, 1 fact of watching, 2 detentions, 1 fact of property damage, 5 facts of controversy, 2 cases of failing meetings of the Georgian Dream’s candidates with voters and 2 facts of misuse of administrative resources by the National Movement.

Pre-election Digest # 2 (August 11-18) contained information which alleged that on August 16-17 three facts of interference in professional activities of journalists were observed in the region. Although relevant video-materials were published, police has not launched investigation on them yet. On August 19, ICK appealed to the Gurjaani district department of MIA and requested to start investigation but they did not. 

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
See previous digests: