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ISFED Releases Second Interim Report on Pre-Election Environment

On August 4, the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), a local watchdog, released its second interim report on the upcoming October parliamentary polls. The report, covering a period from July 5 through August 3, highlights several violations, among them the signs of vote-buying, alleged cases of political pressure, and political discrimination.

ISFED noted that it had identified 8 cases of possible vote-buying, among them 5 allegedly committed by the governing Georgian Dream party, 2 – by the United National Movement, and one – by Lelo for Georgia.

It also revealed five cases of possible political dismissals; five alleged cases of political pressure/intimidation; two cases of the possible use of administrative resources; one case of exerting pressure on election observer, one case of interfering in political activities; one case of political discrimination; and one case of hampering party registration process.

ISFED said dismissals observed in Zugdidi, Martvili, Tkibuli, and Chiatura Municipal bodies possibly aim to effectively involve the dismissed municipality employees – that are not allowed to campaign during work hours – in the pre-election campaign.

The CSO then spoke of the police search in the family of European Georgia party member, during which police allegedly attempted to plant drugs in the house. ISFED also noted that Lelo for Georgia approached them about alleged pressure/threatening against their party activists.

The watchdog also referred to an alleged case of pressure by the ruling party on civic activists. It noted that activists were pressured to cancel the planned rally against the HeidelbergCement company in Kaspi, which would reportedly negatively influence the Georgian Dream’s campaign ahead of October polls.

ISFED said it revealed possible cases of abuse of administrative resources in Imereti region’s Sachkhere Municipality and easternmost Kakheti region’s Lagodekhi. The watchdog alleged that public servants of the Lagodekhi Municipality gathered in the local ruling party office on July 8 with a possible aim to give them party instructions ahead of the electoral campaign.

The report also highlighted that Khashuri and Khelvachauri municipalities withheld social assistance allegedly on grounds of demanders’ political affiliations.

The watchdog also spoke of high-ranking Orthodox cleric’s involvement in the pre-election campaign. Bishop Giorgi Jamdeliani, who oversees Marneuli and Hujabi Eparchy, angered against Marneuli Mayor Zaur Dargali -Georgian Dream’s majoritarian candidate – over the Soviet-era monument, reportedly called Dargali “a traitor” and called on the parish not to vote him in the upcoming polls.

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