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Tuesday, September 18
ISFED Releases Interim Report on Election Campaign

International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) released on September 13 its first interim report on elections, highlighting a number of shortcomings revealed in the composition of precinct election commissions and other violations.

The local election watchdog said that its 69 long-term observers have been monitoring the pre-election process since August 1.

The first interim report covers the period from August 1 to September 8. Among potential violations revealed during this period, the authors enumerate the cases of physical confrontation, alleged politically motivated pressure, use of administrative resources, voter bribing and hampering election campaign.

composition of election commissions

According to the report, irregularities in selecting the non-permanent members of district election commissions as well as the organization of competitions for selecting the members of precinct election commissions were one of the main challenges.

While analyzing the selection process in 73 district commissions, the potential cases of nepotism were identified in 14 cases, identifiable Georgian Dream’s supporters or activists were elected in eight cases out of 73 district commissions.

The report says that the process of selecting members of precinct election commission was also problematic. “Before announcing a competition, a phone conversation was disseminated with the chairperson of the Krtsanisi district election commission, where he allegedly confirmed that he agreed on the candidates of precinct commissions with the head of Georgian Dream’s headquarters. Shortly after dissemination of the phone conversation, he resigned,” the report reads.

ISFED said in its report that the opposition United National Movement demanded to hold interviews with the candidates in 45 precinct election commissions, but all of these requests were rejected.

Attempts to bribe voters

According to the interim report, several public events were held in some municipalities in an attempt to cajole the voters that created the risks of vote-bribing and of using executive remit for campaigning. Moreover, the alleged involvement of charitable and religious organizations in the election campaign was also observed, that is banned by the election code.

Pressure on the media

The interim report highlights the issue of imposing a fine on Rustavi 2 TV for airing a political ad without notifying the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) about it. ISFED argues that a TV channel has an obligation to send similar notification only if there are less than 50 days left before the elections.

It also criticized GNCC for its decision, according to which TV channels were urged to recheck the reliability of public opinion polls commissioned by them.

ISFED also draws attention to the recent controversy surrounding Iberia TV, whose owner alleges to be pressured by the government to yield the company.


ISFED called on election administration to remain politically impartial at all levels in election commissions and also recommended GNCC to revoke its decision obliging TV channels to verify the veracity of the public opinion polls or face a fine. It also called on charitable and religious organizations, as well as local self-government bodies to observe the requirements and restrictions envisaged by the election code.

Young men are leaving Gali en masse to seek work abroad

Young people are leaving their homes here in Gali, Abkhazia, to seek work opportunities abroad. In the last month, about 50 young people, most of them men, have left for Poland from one of the villages in the district, DFWatch was told by locals.

“Work here [in Poland] is like slavery, but we have no other option. On the other side of Enguri, I can not find a normal pay with my profession and disastrous harvest on this year urge me to find livelihood abroad,” a young pharmacist from Tagiloni village, who left behind his family and now lives in Poland, told DFWatch.

“The main problem is the lack of an apartment. I asked the government several times to give my family a place to live, but they always refused,” he said, referring to a special program by the Georgian government which includes providing free living space to IDPs.

“Moreover,” he said in a conversation recorded by Skype. “Once I crossed the Enguri [administrative borderline] and they annulled my IDP card. This is our government. Thus I had to emigrate to Poland. In principle, conditions here are almost like slavery, but the pay is relatively decent for sustaining my family,” he said with a visible discontent towards the Georgian government.

Another young man who also left for Poland says he had to leave behind his seven months old baby.

“I used to work at construction sites in Tbilisi, but there the pay was so little, I couldn’t feed my family,” he said. “Here, in Abkhazia, one can find the same job in Pitsunda or Sokhumi but often the employers deceive workers and after construction is completed, don’t pay. So I had to leave.”

The third person we interviewed had a similar story. He also criticizes the Georgian government for negligence and says what’s most bitter is that he can’t communicate properly with his wife and two kids who live at his parents’ home in Gali.

“I don’t know how long I can last here. The older son knows me from photos, the youngest doesn’t know who I am at all,” he said.

The fourth person we talked to says that a disastrous harvest of hazelnuts, which is their main product to sustain themselves, has rendered the economic situation for Gali residents effectively unbearable.

“Now the harvest is destroyed,” he said. “What should the 18-19-year-old boy do in the village all day? The main part hangs around drinking or smoking [weed]. There is almost total unemployment and the only possibility is to flee abroad, and if you are lucky enough to find a decent job, you can sustain yourself and also support your family.”
(DF watch)