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Pre-Election Monitoring of Elections for the Parliament of Georgia and Adjara Supreme

Council on October 8, 2016


First Interim Report

26 July, 2016
Tbilisi

This report is made possible by the support of the American people, through the United States Agency for
International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The views expressed in
this report reflect those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the views of the USAID, the United States
Government and the NED.

1. Introduction
On July 1, 2016, the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) launched its preelection monitoring, with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development
(USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The present report covers the period from
July 1 through July 18, 2016, as well as developments that began to unfold before July 1 and continued
during the monitoring period.

2. Key Findings
During the reporting period, the pre-election campaign took place in a largely peaceful environment.
Despite official launch of the campaign period, political parties and election stakeholders rarely held
large-scale meetings with voters. However, electoral subjects began to unveil their party lists and
majoritarian candidates. ISFEDs long-term observers (LTOs) attended 52 meetings held by electoral
subjects throughout Georgia, in July 1-18.
During the monitoring, ISFED identified 2 cases of intimidation/harassment based on political
affiliation, 3 cases of dismissal from work on alleged political grounds, 2 instances of violence, 2
cases of possible vote buying, 5 cases of participation of unauthorized individual in campaigning,
and 2 cases of misuse of administrative resources.
Some municipalities made changes in their local budgets in order to invest more in social and
infrastructural projects. Although the Election Code prohibits such changes within 60 days ahead of
elections, activation of social campaigns and mobilization of budget funds for social projects lead us to
believe that initiation or expansion of social projects in some municipalities has to do with the formal
launch of the pre-election campaign. ISFED found 8 such cases during the reporting period.
Rima Beradze, who serves as a member of Tbilisi Sakrebulo and the Chair of the Georgian Dream
Democratic Georgia faction, provided medical assistance to teachers through a charity organization. This
incident contains signs of vote buying. The charity organization that provided the service with party
symbols, which charity organizations are prohibited from in pre-election period. The possible act of vote
buying is currently investigated by the State Audit Office (SAO), while the Central Election Commission
(CEC) is investigating possible involvement of an unauthorized individual in pre-election campaigning.
Levan Varshalomidze, representative of the United National Movement in Adjara made individual
agreements with voters about his pre-election pledges. We must note that any such action is a negative
form of influencing voters because voters may view these signed agreements as binding, not as an
expression of candidates will.
During the reporting period ISFED studied three cases of dismissals on alleged political grounds. All
three dismissals occurred in municipality self-governments and victims alleged that they had been
dismissed due to their political opinions and affiliation.
We also identified instances of campaigning by local civil servants during working hours through the
social networking site Facebook. In particular, they shared posts/photos/videos related to party activities.
Former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili, who is currently serving as Governor of Ukaines
1

Odessa Oblast and is a citizen of Ukraine, participated in pre-election campaign in violation of the
Election Code requirements.
We found a case of abuse of state resources in Baghdati in particular, official website of Baghdati
Municipality and its Facebook page were both used to campaign in favor of the party Georgian Dream
Democratic Georgia.
An important focus of the pre-election monitoring is elections for Adjara A/R Supreme Council to be held
on October 8, same time as the parliamentary elections. A serious challenge related to the Supreme
Council elections was the process of composition of Adjaras Supreme Election Commission and setting
boundaries for electoral districts. The process was flawed and was preceded by politically biased
decisions of Adjaras Government and the Supreme Council.
In July 2016, series of amendments were introduced in the organic law of Georgia, the Election Code of
Georgia. These amendments were initiated and adopted on the basis of different considerations, including
gaps in the Election Code, acts of violence that occurred during by-elections, problems related to polling
stations set up under special circumstances (so-called special polling stations), etc.
We must note that despite recommendations of NGOs and political parties, and lengthy discussions, no
fundamental changes were made in the electoral system. We also regret that the legislature did not
support the initiative about gender quotas, aimed at promotion of participation of women in the
parliament. Therefore, we believe that changes made in the electoral framework are inadequate to ensure
any substantial improvements in the electoral environment.

3. Recommendations
Local self-governments (LSGs) should:

eliminate cases of politically motivated dismissals;


ensure smooth and indiscriminate access of political parties to buildings that have been
designated as potential venues for pre-election events;
inform LSG employees about their rights and responsibilities during the pre-election period.

Electoral subjects/political parties should:

prevent their candidates, party representatives or legal entities associated with the party from
transferring, promising or incentivizing voters with money, gifts and services;
pre-election promises should be related to the party platform while information about funding
sources should be transparent; in addition, when deciding which forms of presentation to choose
to present their pre-election pledges to voters, party representatives should opt for methods that
will not mislead voters or be perceived as attempts of vote buying.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for Free and Fair Elections (IATF) should:

come up with special recommendations requiring to place a special visible sign on vehicles that
belong to or are rented by LSGs, to show that the vehicle is the property of a municipality. This
will prevent use of government vehicles for campaign purposes;
come up with special recommendations prohibiting campaigning through social media by civil
servants during working hours.

4. Alleged Politically Motivated Dismissals

Gori
Zaal Gudadze, an employee of the Department of Spatial Planning and Infrastructure, Gori
Municipality Sakrebulo, was dismissed from work. He had been working at Sakrebulo as an
expert/consultant for infrastructure issues since 2014, and his work contract was to expire upon
expiration of the term of Sakrebulo. He was retrenched as a surplus employee. While Gori
Sakrebulo is authorized to hire 12 employees under work contracts, Mr. Gudadzes above-thelimit appointment was intentional. In particular, Mr. Gudadze was first dismissed by Sakrebulo
Chair Ilia Metreveli alongside other four employees on June 16, 2016, but the order of dismissal
was invalidated in two hours. In between, Mr. Metreveli hired members of his Georgian Party
under work contracts (Irakli Okruashvili and Kakha Ergemlidze), after which he invalidated the
orders of dismissal and appointed the previously fired employees above the limit. Following the
dismissal, two employees Zaal Gudadze and Giorgi Aptsiauri were reinstated under work
contracts, while three other employees that had previously been appointed following a selection
process, were reinstated as acting employees, which means that they will have to go through the
selection process all over again.
Zaal Gudadze alleges that his dismissal was politically motivated. He states that Sakrebulo Chair,
who is a member of the Georgian Party, is trying to hire members of his party in Sakrebulo.
Georgian Young Lawyers Association is now representing Mr. Gudadze and three other
employees (who have been appointed as acting employees) in court.

Telavi
On July 13, Tanamgzavri TV reported alleged politically motivated dismissal of Maguli
Charbadze, an employee of Telavi City Halls department of culture. Her husband and close
relatives are supporters of the United National Movement opposition party.
ISFED found out that on July 6, under the order of Telavi Mayor Platon Kalmakhelidze, Maguli
Charbadze was dismissed from the department of culture, education and monuments protection of
Telavi City Hall. She had been working there since 2008.
According to Maguli Charbadzes lawyer Giorgi Sibashvili, Ms. Charbadze was summoned by
Deputy Mayor Levan Liluashvili on July 6. The deputy mayor demanded that she submit an
application for resignation but she refused to.
Maguli Charbadze believes that her dismissal has to do with political activities of her spouse and
her brothers-in-law. In particular, her brothers-in-law, Zurab Charbadze and Mamuka Charbadze
have been active members of the United National Movement since 2003, while on July 1 they
attended presentation of the UNMs economic platform in Telavi.
The order of dismissal cites Article 93 and para.2 of Article 99 of the Law on Civil Service as
grounds for Ms. Charbadzes dismissal. These provisions allow dismissal for failure to fulfill
official responsibilities, if any other form of disciplinary liability has already been applied against
the employee.
According to Giorgi Sibashvili, disciplinary measure (letter of reproof) was applied against her
client on December 25, 2015, but no disciplinary proceedings had been launched against her since
then.
4

Keda
On June 30, Director of Keta Municipality Kindergartens Iashe Tebidze dismissed a music
teacher at Dologni Kindergarten (Keda Municipality), Maka Devadze for expiration of labor
contract. Ms. Devadze believes that her dismissal was politically motivated.
Maka Devadzes dismissal was preceded by a complaint (explanatory note) submitted by 14
employees of Dologni Kindergarten stating that Maka Devadze was a high-conflict person,
unsociable and was not on good terms with other employees of the kindergarten.
Maka Devadze informed ISFEDs observer that in reality, she had been dismissed for two
different reasons: in particular, kindergarten staff abused children, which she protested and
threatened to publicly disclose the facts of abuse. She also alleged that her dismissal was
politically motivated, considering that she had declined an offer of Roman Bedinadze,
majoritarian member from the Georgian Dream Democratic Georgia in Keda Municipality
Sakrebulo (from Makhuntseti Community) to work for the Georgian Dream Democratic
Georgia, even though she had been working as the GDs local office coordinator months before.
In addition, Maka Devadze stated that her mother is an active supporter of the UNM.
According to Ms. Devadze, she plans to file a defamation suit in court in connection to the
explanatory note of the kindergarten staff. She also said that all fourteen employees of the
kindergarten were pressured into signing the note.
Notably, majoritarian of Keda Municipality from Makhuntseti Comunity Mr. Bedinadze
confirmed that Ms. Devadze was offered to continue her cooperation with the Georgian Dream
Democratic Georgia office.
Maka Devadzes allegations about politically motivated dismissal were categorically rejected by
Director of Kindergarten Unions of Keta Municipality Atashe Tebidze and Dologni Kindergarten
Manager Maka Baramidze. They state that Ms. Devidzes allegations are false and slanderous.
They also dismissed allegations about child abuse and forcing kindergarten staff to sign the
explanatory note as a shocking lie. According to Maka Baramidze, Ms. Devadze had started a
conflict at work the very first day and the conflict had lasted for 6 months. She had also received
a letter of reproof for her failure to adequately fulfill her work-related responsibilities. Director of
the Kindergartens Union Aishe Tebidze stated that he had tried to mediate the conflict a number
of times but without any success.

5. Political Harassment and Intimidation

Chokhatauri
Guram Chalagashvili, representative of the Civic Platform New Georgia reported to ISFED that
coordinators and activists of the party were harassed by Deputy Gamgebeli of Chokhatauri
Municipality Mindia Zhgeria and representatives of villages of Chokhatauri Municipality
territorial body. In particular, Mindia Zhgeria summoned a coordinator of New Georgia and
threatened to take away her social benefits if she continued to pursue party activities. According
to Mr. Chalagashvili, the coordinator stopped working for the party following the incident. He
was reluctant to provide name of the coordinator.
5

Mr. Chalagashvili stated that representatives of a village of Chokhatauri Municipality territorial


body are harassing the socially vulnerable by threatening to take away their social benefits if they
continue to attend meetings organized by the New Georgia.

Vani
According to Giorgi Vashadze, Chair of the Civic Platform New Georgia, as a result of pressure
from the authorities, owner of a commercial rental space in Vani refused to rent his space to the
partys majoritarian candidate.
During an interview with ISFED, Majoritarian Candidate of the Civil Platform New Georgia
Giorgi Tabidze stated that the party wanted to rent a commercial space for office in Vani in the
building that also housed an office of the party Georgian Dream Democratic Georgia.
According to the candidate, the party had reached a preliminary agreement with owner of the
commercial space Nugzar Baghdavadze, according to which they would sign a lease agreement
valid from July 8 through October 9; however, at the last minute owner of the space backed off,
saying that because he was an active supporter of the Georgian Dream, he was refusing to rent the
space to any other party. Nugzar Baghdavadze has confirmed this information.

6. Acts of Violence

Batumi
On July 1, the political union Peoples Government staged a protest rally together with the party
Our Country outside the UNM office in Batumi. Participants of the rally attempted to post photos
of Sulkhan Molashvili on the building facade, which led to a verbal confrontation between
representatives of the Peoples Government and the UNM. The verbal conflict later grew into a
physical one. Police arrived at the scene and interfered effectively. 1

Khelvachauri
On July 3, the former chair of Adjara Government, Levan Varshaloidze was met by supporters
and UNM members at Sarpi Border Checkpoint. According to media reports, head of NGO Center for Combating Corruption, Merab Ghoghoberidze threw a shoe at Levan Varshalomidze
which was followed by verbal assault from the supporters of Mr. Varshalomidze. Following the
incident Mr. Ghoghoberidze was detained by the police, while District Court of Khelvachauri let
him off with a verbal warning under Article 116 of the Code of Administrative Offences of
Georgia (disorderly conduct).
In connection to the same incident, on July 7, a trial for members of Khelvachauri and Keda
Sakrebulo from UNM named Kenan Kakhidze and Bakar Baramidze, as well as the UNM activist
Zaza Tarieladze was held. They had been charged with disorderly conduct and police resistance.
Khelvachauri District Court found police resistance charges to be unfounded and let them off
with a verbal warning.
According to the UNM, the fact that administrative proceedings were brought against their
members several days later is indicative of political intimidation and harassment. They believe

See Public Broadcasters report: http://1tv.ge/ge/news/view/129804.html

that protest of their supporters after Merab Ghoghoberidze threw a shoe at Levan Varshalomidze
was a natural reaction.

7. Possible Vote Buying

Tbilisi
According to a news release published on the official website of Tbilisi Sakrebulo on June 30 2,
under the initiative of Rima Beradze, who serves as a chair of Sakrebulo faction Georgian Dream
for Democratic Georgia and a majoritarian member of Sakrebulo for Chughureti District, public
school teachers in Chughureti District received free medical examinations organized by Ketevan
Barateli, head of the organization Georgian Dream Healthy Future. The examinations for
nearly 200 public school employees were performed in St. Michaels Clinic.
Logo of the organization Georgian Dream Healthy Future displayed on their Facebook page
was similar to the logo of the party Georgian Dream Democratic Georgia 3, while the name
used by the organization on Facebook contained symbols of the Georgian Dream party. This
raised suspicions that the organization pursued the foregoing activities to advance interests of the
Georgian Dream Democratic Georgia. 4
Georgian Dream Healthy Future carries out charity work, as shown by a number of media
reports also available on the official Facebook page of the organization. This is in violation of the
requirement of the Election Code of Georgia stipulating that charity organizations are prohibited
from participating in election campaign 5, which the Code defines as actions that facilitate election
of an electoral subject. 6
Provision of free medical examinations to public school teachers by Majoritarian Member of
Sakrebulo Rima Beradze and the non-profit legal entity Georgian Dream Healthy Future
contained possible signs of vote buying. Article 252 of the organic law of Georgia on Political
Unions of Citizens prohibits vote buying and stipulates that a party is prohibited from giving
funds, gifts and other material or non-material possessions to citizens of Georgia personally or
through its candidates, representatives or other persons. Violation of requirements of Article 252
will be punished by imposition of a fine on the party, the party representative, or the legal entity
concerned, amounting to ten times the value of the possession (service) or the deal in question.
For natural persons the fine will amount to double the value. 7
ISFED applied to the SAO and the CEC, requesting a probe. The SAO is currently investigating
possible act of vote buying by the party Georgian Dream Democratic Georgia and non-profit
organization Georgian Dream Healthy Future, while the CECs investigation is focusing on
possible illegal participation of the non-profit organization Georgian Dream Healthy Future in
campaigning. 8

See information published on Sakrebulos website: http://bit.ly/29wtVub


See current and original logos of the organization: http://imgur.com/tdzgc0n
4
Following ISFEDs statement, the organization removed its logo from the Facebook page and replaced it with a
different logo
5
Article 45.4(g) of the organic law of Georgia, the Election Code of Georgia
6
Article 2(z8) of the organic law of Georgia, the Election Code of Georgia
7
Article 342.6 of the Organic Law of Georgia on Political Union of Citizens
8
See ISFEDs statement: http://www.isfed.ge/main/1076/geo/
3

Batumi
On July 18, former head of Adjara Government Levan Varshalomidze started signing individual
agreements with a certain group of voters. According to those agreements, the UNM undertook to
implement the program of social housing in 2017-2020 after coming into power. The program
envisages building of 40 apartment buildings with total of 2800 apartments, for the following
three groups of population:
1. Grade I and grade II victims of eroded zones in the highlands of Adjara;
2. Those who live in barracks of Batumi or in run-down buildings;
3. Dwellers of the so-called Dream Town.
According to Varshalomidze, the project with total value of GEL 120m. will be implemented
with financial support from local budgets and donor organizations. 9 However, the agreements do
not specify sources of funding.
Signing of individual agreements is problematic, because voters may view the agreements as
binding, not as an expression of candidates will. Mr. Varshalomidzes actions amount to a
negative form of influencing voters as singed individual agreement may create impression of
liability among voters to cast a vote in favor of a particular party or a candidate.

8. Participation of Unauthorized Individuals in Pre-Election Campaign


Under the organic law of Georgia, the Election Code of Georgia, public officers of state authorities are
prohibited from conducting and participating in election campaigning during normal business hours
and/or when they are directly performing their duties (para.4, Article 45).
During the reporting period, ISFED didnt find any instances of public officers attending campaign
meetings of political parties during normal business hours; however, we found that public officers in
certain municipalities used their Facebook pages for campaigning in favor of the Georgian Dream
Democratic Georgia during working hours.
Ozurgeti

Head of Ozurgeti Municipality Gamgeoba Khatuna Surguladze shared campaign materials of the
Georgian Dream Democratic Georgia on her personal Facebook page during normal business
hours;

An employee of Ozurgeti City Halls procurement service, Aleksandre Sarishvili shared the
Georgian Dreams campaign materials (photos and videos) on his personal Facebook page during
normal business hours.

ISFED believes that publishing information in support of/against any political party (including on a
Facebook page) by public officers during work hours amounts to violation of campaigning regulations.
Akhalkalaki - Marneuli

See information about the meeting with voters: http://rustavi2.com/ka/news/52137

Former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili participated in the UNMs pre-election campaign in
violation of campaign rules. He urged voters to support the UNMs majoritarian candidates. Article 45
(4f) prohibits foreign citizens from participating in election campaign.

On July 14, the UNM introduced their majoritarian candidate for Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda.
Akhaltsikhe-based Channel 9 TV reported that former president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili,
who currently serves as a Governor of Ukraines Odessa Oblast, addressed voters from a TV
screen during the meeting. 10

On July 11, UNMs majoritarian candidate in Marneuli Akhmed Imamkuliev organized an event
for opening election headquarters. The event was attended by Gigi Tsereteli, Giga Bokeria, other
members of the party and voters. Mikheil Saakashvili addressed the audience through Skype and
urged them to support the UNMs majoritarian candidate.

Tbilisi
Provision of free medical services (examinations) for public school teachers in Chughureti
District by charity organization Georgian Dream Healthy Future amounts to participation of an
unauthorized person in pre-election campaign.

9. Misuse of Administrative Resources

Baghdati
On July 18, the Georgian Dream Democratic Georgia party introduced majoritarian candidates
in Imereti Region. 11 Baghdati Municipality Self-Government published information about the
event on its official website and Facebook page. 12 Both news releases contained party symbols.
Using municipality website to publish information about party activities contains signs of misuse
of administrative resources, prohibited under Article 49.6 of the Election Code of Georgia, which
reads: In the course of campaigning, it is prohibited to produce, by funds from the State
Budget/local self-government unit budget of Georgia, campaign materials, video or audio
materials, or to create the website or any part thereof where any electoral subject/political party
or its sequence number assigned during elections is displayed and/or which comprise materials
in support of/against any electoral subject/political party.

Akhmeta
On July 18, Kakheti Information Center reported that Cultural Center of Akhmeta Municipality
refused to rent the event hall to the UNM. 13
ISFED found out that on July 15, the UNM applied to Akhmeta Cultural Center with a written
request to rent the hall for holding an event to introduce a majoritarian candidate of Akhmeta on

10

See the meeting footage: http://bit.ly/29VoRkM


See the information about nomination of candidates by the party: http://netgazeti.ge/news/129899/
12
See campaign materials published on the website of Baghdati Municipality: http://bagdati.gov.ge/?p=3006
13
See information reported by Kakheti Information Center: http://ick.ge/articles/29308-i.html
11

July 18. The Center refused to provide the venue, stating that on they were hosting an evening
concert of Kvetera (a dance company) at 15:00 on July 18.
ISFEDs observer contacted UNMs representative Shakro Terterashvili but he declined to
comment. He only stated that the majoritarian candidate would be introduced in the downtown
area of Akhmeta.
Director of Akhmeta Culture Center Kakha Mamulashvili informed ISFEDs observer that by the
time the UNM requested the venue, they had already scheduled a concert. They offered another
hall for a much lower price but the party declined the offer and decided to gather outdoors for the
meeting.
Later Akhmeta Municipality Cultural Center released photos from the Kvetera event. I should be
noted that the photos show only the stage, not the audience. 14 In addition, it is peculiar that the
evening concert was held in the afternoon, at 3:00pm.
Under the Election Code, LSG bodies must draw up, within five days after the commencement of
election campaign, a list of premises where election campaigning is likely to be conducted and
must submit it to the DEC. The DEC should make public the list of premises allocated by the
LSG bodies within two days after the receipt thereof, should ensure equal availability of the
premises for all political parties and electoral subjects, and draw up a schedule, in agreement with
political parties and electoral subjects, for the electoral events (if the events of different electoral
subjects coincide and the electoral subjects fail to come to agreement, the sequence of events
should be determined by casting lots).

10. Scaling up of Local Social and Infrastructure Projects


Under the Election Code of Georgia, within 60 days before the Election Day, it is prohibited to implement
such projects/programs that have not been previously included in the State Budget of Georgia, the
republic budget of any Autonomous Republic of Georgia, or the budget of any local self-government
unit. 15
It is also prohibited to increase the amount of welfare benefits (pensions, hardship allowances,
allowances, etc.), except for benefits the increase of which was provided for by the legislation of Georgia
at least 60 days before Election Day, and to fund the welfare benefits (pensions, hardship allowances,
allowances, etc.) that were not provided for by the legislation of Georgia at least 60 days before Election
Day. 16
As the 60-day prohibition approaches, some municipalities have started making changes in local budgets
and mobilizing funds for social and infrastructural projects. Although direct use of party symbols within
the projects implemented by municipalities were not detected, scaling up of social campaigns and
mobilization of budget funds for social projects lead ISFED to believe that initiation or expansion of
social project in some municipalities are connected to the launch of the official pre-election campaign.

14

See photos published by Akhmeta Culture Center: http://bit.ly/29US7FO


Except when projects/programs are funded within the allocations provided for by the respective program code of
the respective budget and/or by the funds from such allocations, as well as by the funds allocated by donors at least
60 days before Election Day.
16
Article 45 of the of the organic law of Georgia, the Election Code of Georgia
15

10

Ozurgeti

By its June 6, 2016 resolution no.15, Ozurgeti Municipality Sakrebulo made changes in the
municipal budget to increase funding for social welfare program for provision of medical services
to the vulnerable by GEL 25,000. It also increased welfare program for persons with special
needs by GEL 22,3 thousand.

By its July 1, 2016 resolution no.13, Sakrebulo made changes in its budget to increase funding for
the following programs by total of GEL 1,107,771: infrastructure program (by GEL 996,943);
program for provision of medication and cash benefits for the socially vulnerable (by GEL
20,000); program for assistance of families with many children in particular, cash benefits for
children between the ages of 4 and 18, who live in families registered with scores ranging from
57,001 to 150,000, were increased from GEL 15 to 25 (per child).

Batumi

On June 7, changes were made in social programs approved within the 2016 budget of Batumi
Municipality to increase number of beneficiaries of a free diner for the socially vulnerable up to
500.

On July 1, in electoral district no.79 of Batumi, students employment program was launched for
200 students registered in Batumi.

On July 12, in electoral precinct no.79 of Batumi, changes were made to increase the local (city)
budget for 2016 by GEL 63 500 at the expense of gambling business and other types of income.
The budget will allocate one million for residents of a run-down building at 54 Eristavi Str., while
the rest of the funds will be spent on infrastructure and sports events.

Lanchkhuti
According to a news release published on Lanckhuti Municipality website on July 4 17, under the
initiative of Lanchkhuti Municipality Gamgebeli Zaza Urushadze, socially vulnerable persons
and persons with disabilities in each administrative unit with movement difficulty will be
provided with a one-time dinner two times a week. The municipality estimates their number at
40. The information has also been published on the municipalitys Facebook page. 18
According to official reports, Gamgebeli instructed his assistant to prepare lists of socially
vulnerable persons and persons with disabilities throughout the municipality to register them for
free dinners. Dinners will be provided by non-commercial legal entity Free Dinners for the
Socially Vulnerable.

Kutaisi

17

See information published by Lanchkhuti Municipality: http://lanchkhuti.org.ge/index.php/2011-07-25-06-4533?start=30


18
See information published on the official Facebook page of Lanchkhuti Municipality: http://bit.ly/2a8ex89

11

According to an MOU signed between Kutaisi City Hall and the Center for Primary Healthcare
No.1, public school teachers in Kutaisi will receive free medical examinations every Saturday.
The MOU envisages provision of comprehensive diagnostic examinations and tests. 19
Budget adopted under the resolution no.114 of Kutaisi Municipality Sakrebulo allocates funding
for prophylactic examinations in institutions of secondary education, while according to public
information obtained by ISFED, the memorandum between Kutaisi City Hall and the Center of
Primary Healthcare was signed on July 5, 2016, i.e. after official launch of the pre-election
campaign.

Keda
On June 13, Keda Municipality Sakrebulo amended December 29, 2015 Resolution no.23 on
Keda Municipality Budget 2016. As a result, the municipality budget was increased by GEL
843,267. During the meeting of Sakrebulo, it was announced that Gamgeoba and Sakrebulo staff
would receive supplementary pays amounting to 50% of their wage, instead of 100%, in order to
use the money saved by reduction of the supplementary pays total of GEL 42,700 to purchase
tin material for roofing for socially vulnerable families in Keda.
This is the first time supplementary pays were slashed to free up financial resources in favor of
socially vulnerable families in Keda Municipality.

11. Adjara A/R Supreme Council Elections


On June 8, the President of Georgia set the date for Adjara A/R Supreme Council Elections. Adjaras
legislative elections are scheduled to be held the same time as the parliamentary elections of Georgia, on
October 8. 20

Staffing of Adjaras Supreme Election Commission

Despite the upcoming elections, the Supreme Election Commission (SEC) of Adjara was not fully staffed
up until July 5, 2016. For the period of six months, offices of the SEC Chair and one of the members
remained vacant. Both positions were filled by Adjaras Supreme Council on July 5, following a selection
process 21; however, the Supreme Councils decisions were preceded by lengthy political debates, which
delayed the process of selection for 6 months. Members of the Supreme Council were absent from
meetings held for selection of candidates. As a result, because quorum requirement was not met,
competition for selection of the SEC Chair was ruined 3 times, and for selection of the SEC member
two times. 22

Delayed Process of Redistricting

19

See the information: http://topnews.com.ge/news/8338


Ajara A/R Supreme Council Elections were scheduled under the Presidential Decree no.03/06/03
https://www.president.gov.ge/ge/PressOffice/Documents/LegalActs?p=10381&i=1
21
In December 2015, term of office of SECs Chair expired. First public competition to fill the vacancy was
announced on December 30, 2015, and ended on July 5, 2016. The Supreme Council selected Parment Jalaghonia as
the SEC Chair and Sophio Kakhadze as a member of the SEC: http://ajaraonline.ge/?newsid=451
22
See ISFEDs statement on the process of selection of the SEC Chair: http://www.isfed.ge/main/1013/geo/
20

12

By virtue of new regulations introduced in the Election Code of Georgia on December 23, 2015, electoral
district boundaries were predominately determined under the Election Code, while the CEC was put in
charge of redrawing boundaries for electoral districts in Tbilisi, Rustavi, Kutaisi and Batumi. 23 The
Election Code did not provide any regulations as to how to determine electoral district boundaries for
Adjara A/R Supreme Council Elections. The Law on Adjara A/R Supreme Council Elections stipulates
that if the Supreme Council elections are held the same time as the parliamentary elections, district
boundaries in Adjara A/R must coincide with boundaries determined by the CEC.
Pursuant to the Election Code, the CEC determined boundaries for 30 majoritarian districts, including
those of Batumi Electoral District, while boundaries for remaining three districts in Adjara A/R remained
undetermined up until July 14, 2016. Therefore, electoral subjects that were seeking to participate in
elections were unable to register.
Despite the gaps in the Law on Adjara A/R Supreme Council Elections, the Supreme Council did not
make any necessary legal amendments in order to tackle problems related to drawing of boundaries.24
Therefore, on July 14, 2016, the Supreme Election Commission established that electoral district
boundaries for Adjara A/R Supreme Council Elections would coincide with boundaries of majoritarian
districts determined under the Election Code and by the CEC.

12. Public Meetings and Pre-Election Promises


ISFEDs long-term observers monitored pre-election campaign of political parties in all electoral districts.
ISFED records meetings that observers attended personally. Meetings with voters have not entered an
active phase yet.
ISFED observers attended 52 public meetings of electoral subjects that took place during the period of
July 1-18, 2016, including: 17 meetings by the United National Movement; 11 meetings by Paata
Burchuladze State for the People; 10 by the political union Civic Platform New Georgia; 9 by Free
Democrats; 2 by the New Political Center Girchi; 2 by the Georgias Alliance of Patriots; 1 by the party
Our Homeland.
ISFED observers also recorded promises made by candidates and/or political parties during these public
meetings, outlined below:
"Paata Burchurchuladze State for the People"

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24

Implementing pension reform and increasing pension up to GEL 250;


Solving problems of the socially vulnerable;
Improving conditions for persons with disabilities;
Universal healthcare;
Creating 60 000 new jobs to tackle unemployment;
Eliminating problems of roads, lack of water and gas supply in all villages;
Visa-free regime with the EU;
Deepening trade ties with Russia;
Increasing Georgias share in the EU market;

Articles 110 and 1101 of the organic law of Georgia, the Election Code of Georgia
See Ajara TVs report about the issue: http://ajaratv.ge/news/ge/3023/saarchevno-olqebis-daudgeneli.html

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Improving education system and developing new technologies; establishing a program that
provides fair education funding.

United National Movement


Promoting economic development and tackling unemployment problem; protecting businesses
and investments; developing Free Industrial Zones; promoting small and medium enterprises;
Reducing profit tax down to 15% by 2017, to 2,5% by 2018 and to 10% by 2019;
Reducing income tax to 10%;
Abolishing financial police and tax amnesty for all, starting from January 1, 2017;
Increasing teacher salaries;
Promoting development of agriculture;
Tourism development;
Tackling communal problems repairing run-down buildings, improving roads;
Remedying the housing crisis for the poor through social housing and providing accommodation
for a symbolic price of GEL 1.
Free Democrats
Increasing living wage to GEL 250; increasing pension up to GEL 300; increasing minimum
wage to GEL 500;
Creating a free industrial zone in Gldani;
Establishing legal regulations for gambling;
Solving unemployment problem.
Alliance of Patriots of Georgia
Tackling unemployment and harsh social conditions;
Improving roads and infrastructure;
Increasing pension age up to 60 years for men and up to 55 years for women;
Solving problems of depositors and mortgagors, and compensating for damage.
Civic Platform New Georgia
Providing benefits for small and medium enterprises;
Creating jobs.
Party Our Country
Restoring relationship with Russia, Ossetians and Abkhazians;
Economic development.

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13. Important Changes in the Election Legislation


In July 2016, series of amendments were introduced in the organic law of Georgia, the Election Code of
Georgia. These amendments were initiated and adopted on the basis of different considerations, including
gaps in the Election Code, acts of violence that occurred during by-elections, problems related to polling
stations set up under special circumstances (so-called special polling stations), etc. These amendments
introduced the following new regulations:

Presence of police officers outside a polling station without PEC Chairs request or approval is
allowed under special circumstances, if it is absolutely necessary to protect public order and
eliminate any disturbances;

Special polling stations will no longer be set up in military units throughout Georgia; instead,
military workers will cast their polling stations closest to their duty stations. For such polling
stations, maximum number of voters is 2000 (per station);

Military voters will be able to vote in majoritarian elections irrespective of their place of
registration, if they have been stationed at their place of deployment for at least 6 months;

Military voters that are unable to leave their place of deployment due to their service or health
conditions will vote through a mobile ballot box.

Number of qualified electoral subjects that are entitled to free airtime for political advertising has
been increased. All parties from an electoral bloc, as opposed to only a party registered as number
one on the list of the bloc (as prescribed by previous regulations), will be able to use free airtime
for political advertising;

To participate in the 2016 elections for the parliament of Georgia, voters who have been removed
from registration according to their place of residence, or whose registration has been declared
invalid or who have been registered without an indication of address shall appear at the Agency
for Development of State Services before 1 August 2016 and be registered according to their
place of residence or only indicate their place of actual residence and take a digital photo.

Under the Decision of the Constitutional Court, initiative groups are now able to nominate
Mayoral/Gamgebeli candidates for local self-government elections.

There were other changes made in the Election Code in an effort to remedy some gaps.
Changes were also made in the Criminal Code of Georgia; in particular, Article 1621 was added to the
Code, prescribing fine and/or deprivation of liberty for violence or threats of violence inside a polling
station, inside or outside the place that houses an electoral commission or during pre-election canvassing
or pre-election campaign events.
We must note that despite recommendations of NGOs and political parties and lengthy discussions, no
fundamental changes were made in the electoral system. We also regret that the legislature did not
support the initiative about gender quotas, aimed at promoting participation of women in the parliament.
Therefore, we believe that changes made in the electoral framework are inadequate to facilitate any
substantial improvements in the electoral environment.

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14. About the Monitoring Mission


ISFED performs monitoring of the pre-election environment in all electoral districts of Georgia through
68 long-term observers.
ISFEDs pre-election monitoring covers the following important areas:

Election administration activities;


Public meetings of electoral subjects and their political activities;
Promises made by electoral subjects to voters;
Cases of harassment/intimidation or alleged politically motivated dismissals;
Possible instances of vote buying;
Formation of voter lists, etc.

During the monitoring ISFED relies on public information requested from administrative agencies, as
well as information provided by electoral subjects, media, NGOs and individual citizens.
ISFED verifies each report by interviewing witnesses and all sides of the incident.
In addition to monitoring, ISFED reports violations during meetings of the Inter-Agency Task Force for
Free and Fair Elections, to ensure that further actions are taken in a timely manner.
ISFED periodically informs the public about pre-election incidents and trends by releasing/disseminating
statements and reports, and holding press conferences.

This report is made possible by the support of the American people, through the United States Agency for
International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The views expressed in
this report reflect those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the views of the USAID, the United States
Government and the NED.

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