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On The Cutting Edge of Elections

December 24, 2007

The presidential election are coming closer and closer. Despite the constant claims of opposition on numerous cases of abrogation during the pre-election campaign, almost nothing has been changed. A part of society standing on the edge of up-coming elections prefer to be quiet while another part does not avoid assumption of current events directly and reacts acutely.

A lot of people visit the Kutaisi Office of the Human Rights Centre. They inform staff members about the various unlawful occurrences. The Kutaisi Office of the ruling party and the Kutaisi Regional Election Commission declare that the accusations are groundless and everything is in order.

Who is lying? Is in fact everything all right? - The following cases will reveal the real situation.

Case I

“I have been working in the Kutaisi Auto Factory for years now. I served under the leadership of different employers but I have never been so insulted yet. Two days ago, one of the factory board members warned me that if I did not vote for Mikheil Saakashvili I would lose my job,” The owner of our company is the brother of David Bezhuashvili, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. During such a “frank conversation” my employer reminded me to vote for the former president several times. In two days, my colleague and I should go to the local municipal government and there we could clear up our duties. Presumably, we have to persuade the population living nearby to support Saakashvili in the election. This is oppression and by his behavior my employer has insulted me as an employee. Of course I am not going to play somebody’s game and even do not fear losing my job. I will behave as my heart, mind and conscious will dictate me,” - states Nana Lomidze, an associate of Kutaisi Joint Stock Company “Industry”.

Case II

Nino Burdjanadze, member of parliament and acting president, visited Kutaisi on December 21. At first, she met teachers and then representatives of the medical society.

“The busses appeared early in the morning in our hospital yard. Saakashvili supporters were standing in the foyer of the building and forcing us to go towards the busses. “Hurry up and take your seat in the busses, Nino Burdjanadze has been waiting for you for a long time,”-cried a young boy. Nobody asked us if we were willing to meet her or even had enough time for this meeting. When you do not have any opportunity to decide freely and you are interfered at work, at home and forced to listen, support and vote for one person, it is a violation of human rights, isn’t it?”, - declares Lali Gegeshidze, employee of Kutaisi Otar Chkhobadze Hospital.

Case III

“My friend works in the Kutaisi Jail #2. Last week she phoned and asked me to dictate her mine and my family members’ passport data and ID numbers. Of course I guessed why she needed it. She was honest and admitted that she was  instructed to do so by the prison administration. What could they do, the stooges of Akhalaia are working for Saakashvili... My friend failed to get my assistance, but I am sure that too many people will be cheated by them. Everybody will agree that the ID numbers and the passport data are the main components for making the falsification of the election possible. The National Movement does not have any other chance and it tries to use all means for maintaining its government,” - states Ana Dogonadze, a Kutaisi resident.

Case IV

“I live in Kharebava Street, in a nine-storey flat. There are 30 families in our part of the building. Three of them are abroad. They were registered to the voters list without difficulties, despite the fact that neighbors have informed representatives of the election commission about their absence. In addition, three dead persons, including a 10-year-old child, are registered to the voters list as well. When we told them about these mistakes they promised to correct them. I am sure that on January 5 my dead neighbors and those who are abroad will still be on the voters list. The opposition is highlighting these facts but nothing is changed and there is no any response from the government. The government knows if it does not commit fraud in the election it will lose the power. That is why our government is falsifying the election,” - states 72-year-old Jora Gognadze.

Case V

“The head of our election district is my neighbor. Of course he is from the National Movement and does his best. He visited our family and tried to find out our views on Saakashvili’s government. We were aware that our opinion will not be acceptable for him but anyway we honestly declared that on election day we were going to back for the opposition. The head of the election commission has explained us for 30 minutes that all deceivers would be punished after the election, because the government would decode the votes given by certain people and find out who we voted for. They cannot deceive me and my family members, but a lot of people will believe these lies. Why does no one tell him that this is not agitation, this is just oppression and a violation of the law? –asks Nino Chkhetiani, a Kutaisi resident.

There are too many unlawful instances during the pre-election campaign. Kutaisi residents in different districts are concerned by various problems. Although the number one problem still remains  the falsification of election lists.

Shorena Kakabadze, Kutaisi.