Transparency International Georgia is carrying out monitoring of pre-election processes. There are some evidences revealing different kinds of violations of the election code during the pre-election period (from August 1). The relevant government bodies have reacted on two violations but there are still some facts which should be investigated.
1. On August 5, Vazha Makharadze, Head of the Dvabzu village in Ozurgeti municipality, was personally delivering “United National Movement’s” campaigning materials during working hours. According to article 45 (4) (H) and article 49 (1) (C) of Election Code of Georgia, it is prohibited for civil servants in state authorities and local self-government to participate in pre-election campaigning during their working hours. Violation of this article will result in administrative fine of GEL 2000.
2. On August 19, the police officers were dressed up in T-shirts with symbols of “United National Movement” on the holiday feast at the Bakhmaro resort in Chokhatauri municipality. Such activity constitutes involvement in election campaigning. According to Article 45 (4) (G), Ministry of Internal Affairs officials are prohibited from participating in election campaigning.
Violation of this article will result in administrative fine of GEL 2000.
Politicians often use vote buying in the run up to elections which isprohibited by the article 47t of the Electoral Code and is punishable under Article 164 of the Criminal Code of Georgia.
On August 25th, such violation occurred on Vazhaoba holiday, where Zurab Otiashvili, majoritarian MP candidate from “United National Movement”, handed over GEL 500 to Giorgi Basilashvili, one of the participants of the holiday. This fact was confirmed by both sides. Such action should be regarded as vote buying which is punishable under the the criminal code by three-years of imprisonment and by disqualification from elections.
Similar violation occurred on August 12, when “United National Movement” organized feast holiday, on which ordinary citizens and supporters of the ruling party were attended. Actions like this are punishable under the Article 47 (1) (A) of the Election Code. Election subjects are prohibited from handing over, providing or distributing gifts and other material property (except for campaign material) to Georgian citizens (Despite their cost) personally or through other individuals. Such action is considered as vote buying. Despite the fact that event took place in public space, only shortlisted persons were allowed to join the table full of meals. Checking of guests by special lists was carried out by exercising administrative resources, namely with a help of police.
Usage of administrative resources in pre-election
1. There has been interference in pre-election campaign using administrative resources. In Jvali village in Tsalenjikha Municipality gas was released towards members of “Georgian Dream”, holding a meeting with local residents, supposedly, from the car belonging to local self-government representatives.
2. On August 15, administrative resource was used unlawfully on rehabilitation of the central road in Kapanebi village (Khelvachauri Municipality), within the “Village Program”. The renovation was preceded by workers dressed up in “United National Movement’s” T-shirts. This fact was confirmed by some local residents, which expressed their gratitude towards the ruling party for implemented works. Rehabilitation of the road in the pre-election period represents vote winning activity by “United National Movement”. Besides that, Capanebi village’s case constitutes unlawful usage of administrative resources and violates Article 48(E) of the Election Code. It prohibits usage of state or local budgetary programs for party’s election purposes. In this case, we have clear evidence that the ruling party used the “Village Program”, funded from the state budget, for the party’s political aims.
3. Similar violation was detected in Telavi, where people wearing “United National Movement’s” T-shirts were delivering state-run aid (flour, oil, macaroni, washing powder). In this case administrative resources were used on behalf of the ruling party.
Breaking the Rules of Placing Campaign Materials
The rules of placing campaign materials are often violated in pre-election periods. Article 46 (E) specifies buildings and constructions on which placing posters and campaign materials is banned. According to the paragraph 2 of the mentioned article, it is prohibited to place election posters inside or outside the buildings of the local self-government after the election date is set. However, number of facts occurred violating the above mentioned article.
1. On August 16, campaignposters of “United National Movement” were placed on the walls in the cabinet of the head and other servants of the Chalaubani village administration, in Gurjaani municipality. Besides that, the ruling party’s electoral number was depicted on the walls and windows of the building. Inter-agency Commission reacted on the fact and reported the fact to Central Election Commission of Georgia. As a result, the head of the village was fined by GEL 1000.
2. On August 13 the similar violation was discovered in the office of social service, in the building of Gurjaani Municipality.
3. “United National Movement’s” campaign placate was also discovered in the cabinet of Mindia Aptsiauri, the head of military registration service. After the reaction of Inter-agency Commission and Central Election Commissions, administrative procedings were commenced against Aptsiauri.
Transparency International Georgia:
- Welcomes Inter-agency Commission and Central election Commission’s reaction on two above mentioned facts in due time. Also appeals them to launch investigation about other violation.
- Appeals Prosecutor’s office to commence investigation about above mentioned facts which could be qualified as criminal offences prescribed in article 164th of the Criminal Code.