eng_2014 ადგილობრივი თვითმმართველობა

Transparency International Georgia and International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) react to recent incident in Zugdidi

A rally outside the United National Movement’s campaign headquarter in Zugdidi was followed by verbal and physical confrontation on 6 June 2014.

Earlier the same day, family members and friends of Paata Karadava, a Defense Ministry intelligence officer who went missing in 2008, held a protest in Zugdidi.[1] They were later joined by representatives of the Georgian Dream Zugdidi staff’ youth wing and supporters. They gathered outside the United National Movement´s headquarter in Zugdidi and attempted to break into the office but the law enforcement officers who had arrived there prevented them from doing so.

The protesters started throwing stones at the members of the United National Movement Zugdidi campaign staff and slapped Tengiz Gunava - a candidate for the office of the head of municipal administration. This was followed by verbal and physical confrontation between the two groups. Consequently, the confrontation resulted in a facial injury for Salome Makatsaria, a United National Movement candidate for the Zugdidi Municipal Council. Participants of the protest were demanding Gunava’s withdrawal from the elections, claiming that Gunava was also involved in the intelligence officer’s abduction and death as he was the head of the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti Main Regional Directorate at the time.

Representatives of Transparency International Georgia and ISFED have met both with the United National Movement’s and with Georgian Dream’s members.

As reported by the United National Movement:

According to the information provided by the United National Movement to the nongovernmental organizations, the following individuals took part in the rally:

Edem Kekutia, head of the Chkhoria village administration of Zugdidi Municipality; Vladimer Kvartskhava, head of the Akhalsopeli village administration of Zugdidi Municipality; Besik Kozua, a specialist at the Akhalsopeli village administration of Zugdidi Municipality; Giorgi Salia, an employee of the Zugdidi Municipality administration;
Members of the Georgian Dream Zugdidi staff’ youth wing:  Giga Lukava, Manuchar Malania, Malkhaz Malania, Mariam Abralava, Levan Kukava, Murtaz Lagvilava, Beka Jikia, Tengiz Abuladze, Goga Ghadua, Misha Janashia, and Giga Sichinava.
According to the United National Movement representatives, the rally and the subsequent confrontation were organized by the staff of the Georgian Dream´s local organization of Zugdidi.

As reported by the Georgian Dream:

In their conversation with our representatives, representatives of staff from the Georgian Dream´s local organization of Zugdidi did not rule out the possibility that Georgian Dream supporters and staff members took part in the rally, although they categorically denied that Georgian Dream and its Zugdidi staff were involved in organizing this rally.

Involvement of the law enforcement bodies:

It is worth noting that the law enforcement bodies worked effectively and made an important contribution to defusing the tension. During the incident, the patrol police detained two individuals on the charges of minor hooliganism and resistance to police. The Zugdidi District Court imposed a 400-lari fine on one of them on 7 May.

Involvement of the law enforcement bodies:

It is worth noting that the law enforcement bodies worked effectively and made an important contribution to defusing the tension. During the incident, the patrol police detained two individuals on the charges of minor hooliganism and resistance to police. The Zugdidi District Court imposed a 400-lari fine on one of them on 7 May.

Our representative, who visited the site of the incident, noticed several Georgian Dream activists, including Manuchar Malania, Malkhaz Malania, Kote Gurguliani, Alleksandre Molashkhia, Murtaz Lagvilava, Temo Kikaleishvili, Giorgi Kikaleishvili, and Giga Lukava.

Transparency International Georgia and Fair Elections urge political parties and their activists to refrain from aggressive actions that could create further tension during the election campaign.

At the same time, we call on investigative bodies and the interagency commission to identify and investigate the likely cases of pressure on candidates and to sanction the relevant individuals.

 


[1] The Ministry of Internal Affairs announced on 5 June that it had solved the case of abduction and murder of Defense Ministry intelligence officer Paata Kardava. According to the ministry, Roman Shamatava, former head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Constitutional Security Department’s Abkhazia Main Directorate who is already in custody over the so-called Khurcha terrorist attack, was involved in Paata Kardava’s case.