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The News in Brief

Tuesday, October 16
Watchdogs Warn Against Voter Mobilization by Municipal Authorities

Three leading Georgian civil society organizations claim municipal authorities in several regions of Georgia are mobilizing supporters for the ruling party-endorsed candidate, Salome Zurabishvili. The CSOs stress this violates the country’s electoral legislation.

The organizations, including GYLA, TI and ISFED, say they hold evidence that employees of non-profit legal entities, public agencies funded and operated by municipality governments, have been instructed to compile lists of potential voters of Salome Zurabishvili.

According to the Watchdogs, the employees were asked to fill out and submit premade forms with personal details of ten likely voters. “The employees said the supporters’ lists were being compiled to secure Salome Zurabishvili’s victory in the first round,” reads their statement.

The CSOs say employees interviewed by their observers fear they may be dismissed if they speak out about the problem. Watchdogs believe this contains “elements of coercion and pressure,” and amounts to use of administrative resources, which is banned by the legislation.

The civil society organizations call on the municipal authorities and the ruling party to avoid abusing the administrative resources ahead of the upcoming presidential elections, and on public servants to “refuse to follow partisan orders and speak openly if it takes place.”

37 y/o woman released by South Ossetia, says she was mistreated during apprehension

A Georgian woman released Tuesday by Tskhinvali says he was physically abused when she was apprehended but was treated better during her 10-day long captivity.

Maia Otinashvili, a 37-year-old mother of three minors, was handed over to Georgian authorities at the village Ergneti after allegedly paying a 15,000 ruble (USD 227) fine and being given a one-year probation.

She was seized by force in her own orchard, on territory controlled by Georgia’s central authorities, Otinashvili says, adding that during her detention she was physically abused because she resisted. Then she was rushed blindfolded to a Russian military facility in Tsinagari, she said.

But during her detention she wasn’t beaten as was reported earlier, Otinashvili said.

“I stayed one day at the Russian [military] base, from morning till evening. I had to sign some papers there. Then I was moved to Tskhinvali jail,” Maia Otinashvili recalls.

“On the fifth day, I was tried by [Akhalgori] court and sentenced to one month of pre-trial captivity. Altogether I was taken to two court hearings and [eventually] sentenced to one-year probation,” Otinashvili said to Georgian journalists insisting on her innocence.

Maia Otinashvili was charged with facilitating people to cross ‘the state border’ illegally. Her house in the village of Khurvaleti is adjacent to the conflict line. Tskhinvali regime claim she was detained inside the territory of the breakaway republic, which has been flatly denied by Otinashvili and several eyewitnesses.
(DF watch)