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US Ambassador calls to investigate

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, May 31
US Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly labeled the Kortskheli incident - a clash at a regional polling station that left people beaten after supporters of opposing political parties started fighting one another during the by-elections - as an act of political violence, which, according to him, is unacceptable for a democratic country.

The Ambassador stressed that such incidents are harming the fair electoral environment, especially in an election year.

“We encouraged and called on the Georgian government to fully investigate this incident in order to prevent political pressure and violence in the future," he said.

The US Ambassador also spoke about the need for a dialogue between political parties, especially in the pre-election period in order to develop the rules of political behaviour.

A clash erupted between supporters of the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG) party and the United National Movement (UNM) opposition party outside a polling station in the western Zugdidi municipality on May 22 during the by-elections of local governing body, the Sakrebulo.

Leaders of the UNM were amongst those beaten during the clash.

The UNM stated that the Government stood behind the clash, when the Government representatives said the confrontation was staged by the UNM which wished to display the Government was unable to hold peaceful elections.

Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili condemned the fact and tasked the relevant bodies to make the law stricter over election violations.

Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office stated they are investigating the case. However, no one has been detained so far despite the fact video footage reflect the faces of all those involved – athletes and sportsmen among them - who participated in the clash.

Analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze says the Government might not be behind the clash, but there might be some participants who are supporters of the GDDG.

However, the analyst says the Government must not wait until the law becomes stricter and they must address the clash immediately and punish those who started the fight.