New Party Assignments in Gurjaani
According to our information, the Governor of the Kakheti region has given instructions to members of the Gurjaani Sakrebulo and village trustees to mobilize prominent and authoritative people who are by birth from Gurjaani. They have been directed, during the pre-election period, to ask these important members of the community to invite at least ten people to support the United National Movement. In exchange for this help, paid vacations have been promised to the trustees. TI Georgia believes that this is another corroboration of the alarming trend of misuse of administrative resources and public office during the pre-election period. We have reported on this in our previous blog.
Our source visited his home village in the end of June and has since provided us with information on this subject. A trustee of this village came to him and said that they were going to mobilize those people who had been born in this village, had been working in prestigious public offices and, as a result of this, have enjoyed significant influence among the locals. These people are required to be in the village for some days before the parliamentary elections. While there, they have been asked to find at least ten others who would be ready to vote for the United National Movement, continued the trustee. In exchange for providing this service, the trustee guaranteed that these recruiters would be given one-week paid vacations. He also stated that the same instructions had been given to the village trustees of the whole Municipality by the Kakheti Governor, Giorgi Gviniashvili and Vice-Governor, Gogita Sibashvili.
We consider that this practice violates legislation in force:
- The people who gave the respective instructions (the Governor and the Vice-Governor) committed a violation of Article 61 of the Georgian Law on Public Service, according to which, “A public official is not allowed to make use of his official position for political purposes.” Accordingly, with respect to violators, disciplinary actions provided by Article 79 of the same statute are to be taken. In addition, it is possible that signs of criminal offences may also be demonstrated by the behavior of superior officials. In particular, according to Article 332 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, misuse of powers by a public official, i.e. receiving an undue advantage for himself or for others is punishable by law. In this case, public officials have used their official powers to give illicit orders to other public officials against their wills by which they exceed their authority as circumscribed by the provisions of the Law on Public Service. In addition, by his actions the Governor has instigated other public officials to commit the same offence – abuse of official powers.
- In addition, paragraph 1 of Article 49 of the Election Code of Georgia prohibits making use of an official position by public servants for election purposes. The promise of one-week paid leave represents unreasonable spending of state financial resources for political purpose, also against the law. According to Article 26 of the Law of Georgia on Political Unions this is unlawful donation in favor of one political party over another.
- In addition, according to the OSCE Copenhagen Document, the Government is obliged to make a clear distinction between the State and political parties.
Accordingly, we refer:
- To the Inter-Agency Commission of the National Security Council on Free and Fair Elections to investigate the abovementioned facts and react appropriately.
- To the Office of the Prosecutor-General to investigate whether there are signs of a violation of Article 322 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, in particular the misuse of official authority.
- To the Government of Georgia to ensure that political party, society and state interests are protected, not to allow repetition of similar actions in the future and to take appropriate measures to ensure a fair and competitive pre-election environment.