A rally against the newly appointed Governor - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

A rally against the newly appointed Governor

22 January, 2013

A protest was held today, January 17 in front of the Zugdidi regional administration building against the appointment of Mr. Tengiz Gunava as Governor of the region. Among the protest participants were members and supporter of Protect Georgia, a civic movement, Women for Peace organization, and the Georgian Dream coalition.

The organizers of the protest brought the rally participants from Zugdidi as well as other territorial bodies within the municipality; dozens of taxi-vans parked close to the rally scene was a proof of this.

Transparency International Georgia tried to find out who had paid the transportation costs of the activists. The protestors alleged that they had paid the money themselves, and the coordinators registering the taxi-van numbers refused to comment.

Suspicions arose that municipal administration employees were involved in bringing hundreds of citizens to take part in the protest, after it became known that a meeting was held in a house in Rustaveli str. # 26 a couple of days before the event. The meeting was led by Kakha Mikaia, head of Protect Georgia and Lali Antia, a member of the organization Women for Peace. Lali Antia’s son, Gurgen Sartania, is deputy to the head of the Zugdidi municipality Edisher Toloraia. This meeting was also attended by heads of the local councils and representatives of the local administration, according to information disseminated by Livepress.

Transparency International Georgia was informed by an anonymous source that at the meeting the representatives of the local administration were told to bring 50 citizens each and that Georgian Dream supporters working in the public service were actively involved in that process.

Zugdidi Municipality representatives denied their involvement with the rally. Maia Ghurtskaia, Head of Public and Media Relations Service at the municipality, explained that the acting governor Edisher Toloraia was already a public official and had no time for party activism in spite of the fact that he might have the desire to do so. For informational purposes, Edisher Toloraia remains head of the Georgian Dream Zugdidi branch. Transparency International Georgia was informed of this by Edisher Toloraia himself.

Coalition member Free Democrats distanced themselves from the rally. Gia Alasania, a member of Free Democrats told Transparency International Georgia they had not received any instructions regarding the rally from the party's central office and, therefore, did not attend the protest.

Kakha Mikaia, a Protect Georgia representative denies having commissioned the governors and local administration representatives to mobilise people. As for Lali Antia she also denies the media reports. Lali Antia was arrested by the Zugdidi police on 15 January for egg throwing at MP Akaki Bobokhadze during the consideration of constitutional amendments, and the court imposed on her a fine of 100 GEL for petty hooliganism.

Transparency International Georgia calls on the Samegrelo regional and district heads, both acting and in office, to prevent any use of administrative resources to mobilize or transport protesters or for other party event s, as these actions are prohibited by Georgian legislation.