Opposition Complains About “Unequal Conditions” in Gori
April 22, 2008
Saba Tsitsikashvili, Gori
Locals are predicting that pre-election campaign among the candidates of majority membership of the parliament will be too tough. The opposing sides of the National Movement and United Opposition was added with yet a third side, Jumber Patiashvili who also will be participating in the balloting. The Patiashvili’s factor has turned everything upside down in Gori. The local authority has panicked. The election HQ of the leading party works very hard and puts in overtime in trying to land on its feet.
The government fist suspected that the main opponent from the side of the United Opposition would be Teo Tlashadze, a supporter of Irakli Okruashvili, former Defense Minister. However, things soon changed and the ruling party was disappointed that Tlashadze will not be standing in the race after all. Levan Terashvili, another candidate, was an advisor to Irakli Okruashvili in various fields. While Gori residents expected Tlashadze and Terashvili to start quarreling in the election HQ of the National Council, the United Opposition introduced Giorgi Mosidze as its candidate in Gori. Mosidze’s father has been the leader of Gori Musical Choir and he has some close links to the Gori district.
On April 22 the United Opposition officially introduced their candidate to voters in Gori. Giorgi Mosidze, one of the leaders of the New Rights, was shared with potential voters as their candidate in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Mosidze stated in the HQ several days before the introduction that the authority intended to win the elections in Gori with the support of the police. It means that the law enforcers intend to arrest opposition activists and members of opposition parties. Zurab Chinchilakashvili, Deputy Regional Governor, reacted to Mosidze’s statement and called them as being totally absurd.
As for Jumber Patiashvili, reportedly he was introduced after the “Entrepreneurs” created an alliance with his political movement ‘Ertoba”. Patiashvili then became a majoritarian MP (single mandate) from Gori and was Irakli Okruashvili, being elected as majority MP back in 2003; he even refused to enter the parliament and joined with executive government.
The Patiashvili’s factor had a major impact on Gori’s political space, which was at the expense of the “National Movement” and which at the time, had wanted to present its own candidate. In 2004, it was also claimed that they wanted to offer Gogi Mchedlishvili from “Burjanadze-Democrats” to Gori population. However, Okruashvili insisted on naming Jumber Patiashvili in Gori. In doing so Okruashvili paid Patiashvili back for the kind deeds that had been afforded to him. Voters should remember parliamentary back to the elections in 2003, and just after the now infamous Rose Revolution. Jumber Patiashvili was taking part in the elections in the name of “Ertoba” in Gori district. In the run-up to the Rose Revolution, he was allegedly the rival of Irakli Okruashvili, a representative of the National Movement. Several days before the Parliamentary Elections on November 2, 2003 Patiashvili canceled his candidature and stood down in favor of Okruashvili.
Non-governmental organizations place emphasis on the unequal conditions that exists between the parties. For example, the working group of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) published a report dealing with observed violations in the pre-election campaign.
GYLA observed that public officials-Zaza Gorozia, Samegrelo-Zemo-Svaneti Regional Governor, Levan Bezhashvili, Kakheti Regional Governor and Ramaz Nikoleishvili, Guria Regional Governor, participate in the pre-election campaign, which is totally against the law. They introduced the candidates standing for majority membership in the Georgian Parliament to local voters.
Giorgi Chkheidze, the chairperson of the GYLA told how Article V of the Georgian General Administrative Code had been violated. According to the article national or local governmental officials do not have right to participate in pre-election campaign while they are carrying out their professional duties. “We conclude that regional governors did in fact take part in pre-election campaigns by introducing the candidates to potential voters. Moreover, they expressed their support for such candidates,” said Giorgi Chekheidze during a recent briefing.