ISFED Condemns the Violence in Zugdidi

Physical violence broke out in Zugdidi during the Sakrebulo by-election of May 22.  Several members of the United National Movement were injured as verified by the Media reports.

Violence escalated nearby #53 polling station of Zugdidi (#67.17 district) between the Georgian Dream activists and the members of the United National Movement.  The activists tried to force the UNM leaders, among them Giga Bokeria, Tengiz Gunava, Nika Melia, to leave the area outside of polling station.  After UNM members refused to leave the territory, the confrontation between the activists and UNM representatives overgrew into physical violence.  Several members of the UNM, including Giga Bokeria and Nika Melia were injured as a result of the incident. 

A single crew of the police was present initially at the place of the incident, and could not effectively prevent the violence. Additional crews only arrived later. 

Media reports showed that several athletes were among the Georgian Dream activists.  Regrettably, the practice of involving physical capacities of athletes as a tool for political clashes is still an ongoing issue. 

According to the ISFED observer, after UNM members left the territory, activists were shouting: “There is no place for murderers in school [polling station was located in the school building], glory to the Georgian Dream”. 

ISFED condemns the incident and considers that such violence contradicts the principles of democratic, free and free elections. 

ISFED calls on the law-enforcing bodies to effectively investigate the incident, timely identify the persons involved and ensure strictest legal responsibility.  Herewith, it is of utmost importance for the law-enforcing bodies to secure maximum safety of electoral processes and the conduct of the elections in a peaceful manner. 

ISFED calls on political parties and their activists to suspend any aggressive action and refrain from further violent escalation of the electoral process. 

ISFED observes the Sakrebulo by-elections of May 22 in Gardabani, Gldani, Zugdidi, Kaspi, Ozurgeti, Tskaltubo and Khobi polling districts through up to 40 observers.