News

2020 Georgia Election Live Blog: Observer Attacked in Marneuli Clash

On October 31, the citizens of Georgia will elect 150-member parliament through a mixed electoral system with 120 deputies elected through proportional-party lists and 30 lawmakers elected as majoritarians from single-mandate constituencies. The elections are held through a significantly modified electoral system – following months-long protests that started in June 20, 2019, and lengthy foreign mediated negotiations between the ruling Georgian Dream and opposition parties, the Georgian Parliament increased proportional representation from 77 to 120 and decreased majoritarian seats from 73 to 30.

Wednesday, September 30

11:00 GMT+4 – Observer Attacked in Marneuli Clash

During a physical confrontation between activists of the Georgian Dream and United National Movement parties in Marneuli on September 29, Giorgi Mumladze, an observer from the local non-governmental organization “Civil Platform 20/20”, was also attacked. According to Mumladze, he was beaten by Amiran Giorgadze, Marneuli Sakrebulo (city assembly) Chair and Head of Georgian Dream’s campaign office.

The ruling party released a statement on the Marneuli incidents, claiming that drunk UNM activists approached the party office, assaulting their (GD) supporters both verbally and physically, which led to a confrontation.

Tuesday, September 29

22:00 GMT+4 – Journalists, Cameramen Attacked in Marneuli

Journalists and cameramen of two Georgian TV channels – Mtavari Arkhi TV and Georgian Public Broadcaster – were physically assaulted on the evening of September 29 in the town of Marneuli, Georgia’s southern Kvemo Kartli region, while covering election campaign developments.

As reported by pro-opposition Mtavari Arkhi TV, two of their television crews, including two journalists and two camera operators, were physically assaulted, with one of them ending up in a hospital with a head injury as a result. A camera and microphone belonging to the crew were also damaged. According to the GPB, one of their operators was also assaulted in Marneuli, leaving a camera belonging to their crew broken.

Mtavari Arkhi claimed that the confrontation erupted “without any reason” after a journalist tried to record the ruling Georgian Dream party members, while, according to the GPB reports, their journalist was attacked in a clash between the activists of the Georgian Dream and the United National Movement parties.

Georgian Interior Ministry said police are leading an investigation under Articles 126 and 154, involving unlawful interference with the journalist’s professional activities.

The attack on journalists was widely condemned by local watchdogs, while the ruling party accused the UNM of provoking the incident.

Read more here.

17:00 GMT+4 – Activists, Party Supporters Confront over GD Party Flags in Public Square

Police intervened as civic activists, including members of „Gkhedav“ movement, “Shetsvale” movement and “Shame Movement”, confronted supporters of the ruling Georgian Dream party after GD party flags appeared in one of the public squares in Gldani district, Tbilisi.

The activists protested the act as a violation during the election campaign and tried to replace the GD flags with national flags of Georgia.

GD supporters claimed that the flags were hanged upon the wish of the locals to express gratitude for the renovated square.

According to media reports, the confrontation has already settled.

16:30 GMT+4 – CEC Condemns Marneuli District Election Commission Violent Incident

In a public statement, the Georgian Central Election Commission (CEC) claimed that a Marneuli District Election Commission (DEC) employee was physically assaulted during a protest organized by the opposition United National Movement (UNM) in Marneuli. Protestors alleged that the Marneuli DEC did not notify UNM precinct election commission (PEC) members about holding initial sessions. CEC, in its official statement, decried the allegation as “baseless” and condemned the violent incident.

“We are facing the fact of unauthorized persons attempting to invade the District Election Commission,” CEC affirmed, and added that “the parties involved have the full opportunity to apply the relevant legal forms to resolve any issue.”

CEC also urged election observers and international organizations to take note of “the actions of some of the parties involved in the elections, which are aimed at discrediting the election administration, damaging the whole electoral process and trying to create a tense pre-election background.”

Further responding to allegations made by the UNM on the Marneuli DEC deliberately omitting the UNM PEC members from sessions, the CEC stated that “all  members were contacted at the contact points (telephone numbers) provided by them, some of whom did not show up for the meeting, while others could not be contacted due to them providing incorrect phone numbers.”

CEC also noted that 26 members appointed by the UNM took part in PEC session, of which a certain number, even chaired the sessions as senior members.  In addition, according to CEC, an announcement on convening initial sessions at the Marneuli DEC were “publicly published in a visible location in the District Election Commission building.”

14:30 GMT+4 – Okruashvili, Victorius Georgia Presents 5 Majoritarian Candidates

Opposition Victorious Georgia party led by Irakli Okruashvili presented three majoritarian candidates in Kareli-Khashuri, Khulo-Keda-Shuakhevi, and Batumi, and two more majoritarian candidates for the Adjara Supreme Council.

Guram Chalagashvili will be representing the party in Kareli – Khashuri; Otar Shainidze in Khulo-Keda-Shuakhevi, and Iza Surmanidze in Batumi. As for the Adjara Supreme Council, Kakhaber (Nukri) Sirabidze and Aslan Vashakmadze will be the majoritarian candidates for Victorious Georgia.

Leader of the party Irakli Okruashvili announced that European Georgia will support Guram Chalagashvili in Kareli-Khashuri, whereas Victorius Georgia will support Khatuna Gogorishvili, European Georgia majoritarian candidate in Ozurgeti-Lanchkhuti-Chokhatauri.

According to Okruashvili, Victorius Georgia will announce 3 more majoritarian candidates in Telavi-Akhmeta-Kvareli-Lagodekhi, Gori-Kaspi and Kobuleti.

13:00 GMT+4 – European Georgia Presents Part of its Party List

European Georgia, the Georgian opposition party, has presented part of its party list for the October 31 parliamentary elections on September 29, however, without assigning numbers to the candidates.

According to MP Davit Bakradze, Chairperson of the party, the specific order of the parliamentary party list will be decided through the party competition instead of by a few people, and the candidates who will be able to garner the most support from the population will make it into the parliament.

European Georgia also refused to name its Prime Minister candidate, claiming that sharing seats and offices is not one of their goals.

See the list of 33 candidates here.

12:00 GMT+4 – Leader of Conservatives: GD Coalition Damaged Party

Zviad Dzidziguri, Leader of the Conservative Party of Georgia, spoke with the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty about plans for the upcoming polls. Unlike the past 2 parliamentary terms where the Conservatives entered the Parliament of Georgia as part of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition, the party will be running independently in the October elections, after having split from the GD in November 2019 following the failure by the ruling party to switch to fully proportional elections as promised.

MP Dzidziguri said that the party, “of course, was damaged by being a part of the Georgian Dream,” adding that now that they are running independently, the Conservatives had to start everything from scratch.

Asked about possible coalition partners if the party makes it into the next parliament, Dzidziguri said that it was much more likely to form a coalition with the Georgian Dream again than with the United National Movement, which the Conservatives had been confronting with since 2004. The party shares the responsibility for the ruling party’s policies during the 8 years in the GD coalition, he added.

Monday, September 28

19:00 GMT+4 – Vice-Speaker Calls on Citizens, Supporters to Ignore Provocations

In a press conference devoted to the Bolnisi incident, a violent clash between the activists from the ruling Georgian Dream and opposition United National Movement parties, GD MP Mamuka Mdinaradze, the Parliamentary Vice-Speaker, called on the party supporters, as well as on “every citizen” of Georgia, to avoid responding to all kinds of provocations in every possible way and to abstain from violence.

Commenting on the accusations of abuses against opponents during the election campaign, Mdinaradze said that provocations only serve the opposition’s interests and, judging by the high GD ratings, it is even in the “subjective interest of the party” to conduct the elections in a peaceful environment.

18:30 GMT+4 – First PECs Sessions Will Be Held from September 28

From September 28 onward, the first sessions of the precinct election commissions (PECs) will be held, CEC reports. The first sessions will be conducted in all 3 657 polling stations around Georgia.

Ana Mikeladze, CEC Spokesperson, stated at the press briefing that “the authority of PEC members to perform the functions defined by the legislation begins after the first sessions. The PEC members will elect the commission chairperson, its deputy, and the secretary.”

18:00 GMT+4 – CEC and Local Observation Missions Sign Code of Conduct

On September 28, the Central Election Commission of Georgia (CEC) and local CSOs with observation missions have signed the Code of Conduct, CEC reports. The document has been composed for the October 31 Parliamentary Polls and intends protection of professional and ethical norms between CEC and local CSOs monitoring the election process.

According to the document, the signatory parties agree to pursue Georgian law, internationally recognized standards of elections and the Code of Conduct, as well as facilitate fair and transparent polls with the protection of human rights and civil liberties.

15:00 GMT+4 – Police Investigating two Violent Incidents as GD, UNM Trade Accusations

The largest clash, reportedly involving dozens of people with part of them ending up in the hospital, took place in a Chaikhana (a tea-house) in Nakhiduri, an ethnic Azeri-settled village in the Bolnisi municipality of the southern Kvemo Kartli region. The physical confrontation broke out between activists of the ruling Georgian Dream party and the supporters of the opposition United National Movement.

In a separate incident, Nika Melia, opposition majoritarian candidate for Gldani district in Tbilisi, reported that stones were thrown at his campaign rally in an assault that could have resulted in fatal outcomes.

In both incidents, the UNM has been accusing the GD of the violent acts, while the GD members point accusatory fingers back at the UNM, blaming them for provocations and physical assault.

Read more here.

Saturday, September 26

16:00 GMT+4 – Labor Party Presents Majoritarian, Mayoral Candidates

On September 26, the Labor Party of Georgia unveiled the list of majoritarian candidates in 10 out of 30 single-mandate constituencies to run in the October 31 parliamentary elections. The party also named its mayoral candidates as well as candidates who will be running for the City Council (Sakrebulo) membership. The party leader Shalva Natelashvili named himself as the Labor’s prime ministerial hopeful.

In the capital city of Tbilisi, Natelashvili will run in Nadzaladevi district on the joint opposition ticket. His son, Beka Natelashvili will run in Mtskheta-Dusheti-Tianeti-Kazbegi constituency.

The Labor Party’s remaining majoritarian candidates are listed as follows:

  • Nika Vardoshvili – Telavi, Akhmeta, Kvareli and Lagodekhi municipalities;
  • Mikheil Kumsishvili – Rustavi municipality;
  • Ali Badirov – Marneuli and Gardabani municipalities;
  • Temur Tsiklauri –  Bolnisi, Dmanisi, Tetritskaro and Tsalka municipalities;
  • Giorgi Chitauri – Akhaltsikhe, Borjomi, Adigeni and Aspindza municipalities;
  • Samson Gugava – Tkibuli, Terjola, Zestaponi and Bagdati municipalities;
  • Davit Mamaladze – Ozurgeti, Lanchkhuti and Chokhatauri municipalities;
  • Tariel Kalandarishvili – Batumi municipality

The Labor Party named Zurab Lomia as the number one on its party list to run in the Adjara Supreme Council elections scheduled for October 31. Irakli Kikvadze and Otar Kosashvili were named as mayoral candidates for Kutaisi and Kaspi, respectively.

The party also named its majoritarian MP candidates who will be running in by-elections for the City Council (Sakrebulo) memberships – Mamuka Jugeli will run for Krtsanisi majoritarian MP in Tbilisi Sakrebulo; Mariam Gochaleishvili – in Oni; Tamar Menabdishvili – in Telavi and Tatia Maisuradze – in Manglisi (Tetritskaro municipality).

Friday, September 25

16:00 GMT+4 – Ambassador Degnan Reacts on pre-Election Campaigns

On September 25, 2020, United States Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan told journalists that Public Defender’s report about use of violence and intimidation against people in pre-election campaigns is “very disturbing”.

“I think we’ve been very clear that that is the kind of activity and behavior that is going to tarnish Georgia’s elections this October. It is very fortunate to have international and domestic observers who are already watching the scene carefully,” Degnan noted.

The ambassador confirmed once again that the Embassy will deploy teams on election day throughout Georgia to “augment the observers”. In the end, Degnan urged all political parties to make election clean, free and fair.

11:00 GMT+4 – TI Georgia Accuses Tbilisi City Hall of Violating the Right to Assembly  

On September 25, Transparency International Georgia denounced Tbilisi City Hall’s sanctions against the Strategy Aghmashenebeli party for collecting signatures demanding reduction of interest rates on bank loans by locating small-sized tents outside Tbilisi metro stations.

Since June, Municipal Inspection started fining the party permanently under Administrative Offences Code for “arbitrary defacing the appearance of Tbilisi Municipality”, eventually raising the amount of penalties to GEL 70,000, the watchdog noted.

“We reckon that City Hall’s sanctions against the party is a violation of the right to assembly and demonstrations, and therefore, hinders the party’s pre-election campaign,” the watchdog underscored.

Thursday, September 24

17:00 GMT+4 – Ombudsperson Speaks of Abuses during Pre-Election Period

Speaking to the media today, Ombudsperson Nino Lomjaria said that facts of assaults against political opponents, as well as cases of intimidation and blackmail using private life files have been reported in Georgia.

“We are engaging with these issues and will approach relevant authorities and obtain information on how rightly, objectively and timely these abuses are investigated,” – Lomjaria said, adding that earlier practices of previous years show that “practically no one has been held accountable for violent actions committed during the pre-election period.”

15:00 GMT+4 – EU and UNDP Release First Findings from Media Monitoring 

European Union and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) released their first findings from the first 11 weeks of monitoring of mass media coverage of the upcoming parliamentary elections, covering 43 different media outlets, including 12 television stations, 10 radio stations, 8 print newspapers and 13 online editions.

According to the initial findings, Georgian media covers a wider range of political parties and actors than in past elections, however, the coverage is largely shaped by the political agendas of the contending forces, failing to provide in-depth information on topics of potential public interest.

“Unverified information sources and discriminatory language remain an issue in print press, whereas abusive and discriminatory language is used rarely in online media. Gender stereotypes are noted in all types of media, except for radio,” EU & UNDP say.

It was also found that online editions rarely offer their readers critical analysis of the electoral process, and fail to clearly differentiate between paid and editorial content. The monitoring involved observing social media reporting by media outlets as well, concluding that TV stations reach much wider audiences than other sectors.

A separate report addressed TV coverage of foreign influence on Georgian electoral processes, saying that TV channels often provide controversial assessments of such influence, with most of the air-time devoted to the Russian Federation and the United States.

14:00 GMT+4 – Elisashvili, Citizens Present Guria Majoritarian Candidate

Alexander (Aleko) Elisashvili, leader of the Citizens party, presented Lanchkhuti, Ozurgeti, Chokhatauri (western Guria region) majoritarian candidate for the October 31 parliamentary elections.

Otar Kerkadze will be running as the majoriatarian candidate in Ozurgeti, Lanchkhuti and Chokhatauri municipalities of the Guria region.

Indiko Berdzenadze was also recently named as the majoritarian candidate of the party in Samtredia, Tskaltubo, Vani and Khoni municipalities.

Wednesday, September 23

21:00 GMT+4 – UNM-led Bloc Presents Majoritarian Candidates

On September 23, the election bloc United Opposition – Strength in Unity led by the United National Movement (UNM), former ruling party in 2004-12, unveiled the list of majoritarian candidates to run in the October 31 parliamentary elections.

Read more here:

18:00 GMT+4 – Ambassador Kelly Degnan Shares Remarks on Pre-Election Environment

During the launch of the USAID-funded Election Compass application for the October parliamentary elections, Ambassador Kelly Degnan spoke of the pre-election environment in Georgia, the potential for Russian election meddling, and U.S-Georgia relations.

“It’s normal in an election process for things to start getting more and more intense the closer you get to the voting day,” Ambassador Degnan said, expressing that the level of polarization has risen with election day approaching. Nevertheless, the U.S Ambassador commended Georgian political leaders for their ability to collaborate in “establishing ethical guidelines and a structure.” The Ambassador found political parties’ decision to collectively develop and sign on to a code of conduct “encouraging”, though added that it would be “disappointing if we hear cases of voter intimidation, abuse of resources, or vote-buying,” despite the signing of the code of conduct.

Ambassador Degnan warned of the potential for Russian election meddling in the upcoming parliamentary elections, claiming that “it’s fair to assume that it’s going to be happening here too.” Nevertheless, according to the Ambassador, she is confident that the Georgian government and the public are taking Russian disinformation seriously, and “ becoming more alert to the fake news and to those efforts trying to create confusion, create instability and push Georgia off its path to success.”

Ambassador Kelly Degnan also touched upon the phone conversation between Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, and the U.S National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien. The U.S Ambassador noted that “it’s always useful for Washington decision-makers to speak directly with the leader of a country on critical issues of importance.” Ambassador Degnan confirmed that “the elections were discussed” during the phone conversation. There is  “a real expectation”, from the U.S side “that these elections are free, fair, and better than the last,” the U.S Ambassador concluded.

12:00 GMT+4 – UNM Bolnisi Office Vandalized

According to media reports, the opposition United National Movement’s (UNM) Bolnisi office was vandalized last night. Representative of UNM’s regional office Nodar Inadze claimed that the act was committed “somewhere between 5:30 and 6 AM”.

The investigation of the case was launched under the first part of Article 187 of the Criminal Code.

Tuesday, September 22

14:10 GMT+4 – Interior Ministry to Establish Police Groups to Prevent, Respond to Election Violations

Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri, issued an order to establish police groups “to ensure the free, safe and peaceful environment of the October 31, 2020 Parliamentary Elections of Georgia, as well as to prevent and respond to violations.”

According to the order, the Interior Ministry will establish groups responsible for the prevention and response to violations in the regions of Georgia within the operation areas of police departments. The relevant groups have been instructed to take appropriate measures in the areas of ​​action, to ensure that the conduct of pre-election agitation takes place in a peaceful and free environment and to implement preventive police measures in accordance with the Law of Georgia on Police.

“The order obliges police officers to strictly adhere to the principle of political neutrality in the performance of their duties,” the Interior Ministry noted.

12:00 GMT+4 – European Georgia Vows to not Collaborate with Georgian Dream, not to Support Saakashvili as PM

European Georgia leader and Deputy Chairperson of the Parliament Sergi Kapanadze stated that his party has decided to self-impose “two additional political obligations.”

Stressing European Georgia’s unwillingness to form a coalition government with the ruling Georgian Dream Party, Kapanadze asserted that “we will in no case cooperate with the Georgian Dream.” Kapanadze also noted that his party will not support former President Mikheil Saakashvili for the Prime Ministerial post. Saakashvili was named as Prime Ministerial candidate for upcoming October 21 elections by the United National Movement and its satellite opposition parties.

11:30 GMT+4 – European Georgia Boycotts Interagency Commission

According to one of the leaders of the European Georgia party and Deputy Chairperson of the Parliament Sergi Kapanadze, his party has decided to not participate in sessions organized by the Interagency Commission. Kapanadze cited a lack of trust in Justice Minister and Georgian Dream MP Tea Tsulukiani’s leadership of the Interagency Commission as the reason behind the boycott.

Elaborating on European Georgia’s refusal to participate in Interagency Commission meetings, Kapanadze stated that Tsulukiani is well-known for her intolerance of opposing political opinions, and has a background of using the commission “for her own political goals.” “Based on our previous experience with her, Tsulukiani has not once been interested in resolving problems,” the European Georgia leader concluded.

Monday, September 21

20:00 GMT+4 – IRI Announces Arrival of Int’l Assessment Team 

The International Republican Institute (IRI) announced the arrival of its international Technical Election Assessment Mission (TEAM) to assess the October 31 parliamentary elections in Georgia, upon invitation from the Georgian Central Electoral Commission (CEC).

The TEAM consists of five technical long-term analysts who will review all phases of the electoral process and issue a series of reports on their findings, based on in-depth interviews with government officials, the electoral administration, political party leaders, civil society and media representatives.

“These parliamentary elections represent an important step for Georgia’s democracy and a litmus test for Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” said IRI Regional Director for Eurasia Stephen Nix. “IRI’s mission will prioritize key issues affecting electoral integrity, including election administration, media freedom and transparency, campaign finance, political party campaigns, as well as voting safety measures being implemented during the COVID-19 crisis.”

IRI says it has implemented “rigorous safety and security procedures” requiring the assessment team to adhere to the Georgian government’s health regulations in view of the COVID-19-related risks.

17:00 GMT+4 – NDI Launches Elections Observation

NDI announced the launch of a long-term remote monitoring program of the October 31 parliamentary elections. The program will be based on the findings and recommendations of the pre-election report  published in August by the Georgia Election Watch. If necessary, the monitoring will continue into the second round of the elections.

NDI’s team of analysts includes seven long-term analysts and a program director, covering a variety of election-related issues, including: election campaign, election administration, media and information, gender and inclusion issues, and the impact of the coronavirus on elections. To assess progress and challenges on each of these issues, long-term analysts will work remotely with assistants and NDI staff in Tbilisi, using a variety of online information and analysis platforms. NDI will use the collected data in interim and post-election reports to help strengthen the electoral process in Georgia.

Also read:

Sunday, September 20

20:00 GMT+4 – European Georgia Presents Batumi Majoritarian Candidate

The European Georgia party named Armaz Akhvlediani as a majoritarian candidate in the Batumi constituency for the October 31 parliamentary elections. Akhvlediani, a former executive secretary of the ruling Georgian Dream party who quit the party early in 2016, was running as an independent candidate in the Batumi electoral district in the 2016 parliamentary elections and was later the opposition parties’ candidate for appointment as the Head of the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara in 2018.

19:00 GMT+4 – Mikheil Saakashvili Assesses Nika Melia’s Comments on ex-Interior Minister

Mikheil Saakashvili, former President of Georgia and United National Movement leader, assessed Nika Melia’s recent comments regarding Vano Merabishvili.

Nika Melia, UNM’s majoritarian candidate in Gldani, recently stated that he can not see himself in the same group with Vano Merabishvili, former PM and Interior Minister of the UNM government.

Saakashvili stated that he respects Nika Melia’s position, adding that Merabishvili does not plan to take on any political position and is not involved in the political decision-making of the party.

“I think he made the right decision not to be involved in politics, I believe a new generation needs to come,” Sakaashvili added.

Saturday, September 19

19:10 GMT+4 – CEC Assigns Numbers to Parties, Blocs

On September 19, Georgia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) determined the list numbers for the parties and blocs participating in the October 31 Parliamentary Elections.

According to the CEC, 47 out of 58 parties and 2 election blocs registered to participate in the Parliamentary Elections of Georgia participated in the voting held today. Those who ran in previous polls and crossed the election threshold were allowed to use the numbers previously assigned to them according to the law.

15:30 Women Politicians Sign Memorandum on Protecting Women’s Rights

Women politicians from Georgian opposition parties, led by female members of Strategy Agmashenebeli party, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the inviolability of women’s private lives.

The signatories of the MoU included Strategy Agmashenebeli’s Teona Akubardia, independent MPs and former ruling party members Tamar Chugoshvili and Nino Goguadze, European Georgia’s Elene Khoshtaria, and Eka Beselia, leader of the For Justice party.

In the memorandum, women politicians – “regardless of their party affiliation and political opinion” – condemn illegal recording and dissemination of images of private lives, as well as intimidation and blackmailing through the dissemination of such images, and unite to protect women’s rights.

“Dissemination of images depicting private lives of politicians or other public personas through various media, or manipulation and blackmailing through the dissemination of such images have become frequent over the last years. In this respect, women are particularly targeted. Manipulating or publishing private life images is a brutal means to banish women from politics, to morally discredit and completely marginalize them.” – the document says.

The signatories call on relevant authorities to strictly respond to similar facts in order to ensure that, in the future, nobody dares to interfere with private life.

Friday, September 18

20:00 GMT+4 – Ultranationalist Georgian March Holds Demonstrations at Lelo Offices

Ultranationalist Georgian March protested at Lelo for Georgia party’s offices in Kutaisi and Vake, Tbilisi. The members and supporters of the political group blocked the entrance of the Lelo office at Chavchavadze Avenue, Tbilisi, accusing Lelo leader Mamuka Khazaradze of usury and demanding dismissal of the party from elections. In Kutaisi, Georgian March activists also criticized Lelo for its alleged support of George Soros and LGBT community.

In response to the demonstrations, Lelo said that its popularity is increasing and the ruling Georgian Dream party, as well as the parties like Georgian March are trying to discredit Lelo by spreading defamatory information about them.

18:00 GMT+4 – Tbilisi City Court Fines the Alliance of Patriots 

Tbilisi City Court considered an administrative complaint against the Kremlin-friendly Alliance of Patriots filed by the Central Election Commission (CEC) and announced the verdict to fine the party a GEL 2000 for violating Article 45 (3) of the Election Code of Georgia, CEC confirms.

Article 45 (3) of the Election Code states that “the election program shall not contain propaganda for war or violence, appeal for change or overthrow of the existing state and social order by violence, for violation of the territorial integrity of Georgia, for national strife and enmity, or for religious or ethnic confrontation.”

On September 2, ISFED stated that Alliance of Patriots’ campaign clips contained anti-Turkish proclamations and urged CEC to examine 6 campaign clips on the party’s Facebook page on September 2.

17:15 GMT+4 – CEC Approves Health Safety Rules for Polling Day

Central Election Commission of Georgia (CEC) approved an epidemiological protocol for the polling day of the October 31 elections. The protocol defines sanitary and hygiene rules at polling stations and it is based on consultations with key stakeholders from the Election Administration, political parties, CSOs and international organizations.  

Read More:

17:00 GMT+4 – UNM Samgori Election Headquarters has been Raided

Levan Khabeishvili, Tbilisi Assembly (Sakrebulo) member from the United National Movement, who is running for Samgori majoritarian race on endorsed by a number of major opposition parties, reported on his Facebook page on September 18 that the party office of Samgori election headquarters has been raided.

The Interior Ministry told Civil.ge that they are leading an investigation into the case under Article 187 of the Criminal Code of Georgia – damage or destruction of the property.

16:15 GMT+4 – U.S Embassy Donates Medical Protection Equipment to CEC

The U.S. Embassy has donated over USD 73,000 worth of latex gloves, face shield masks, and disinfectants to the Georgian Central Election Committee (CEC) through the U.S. European Command’s Humanitarian Assistance project. The aim of the donation is to assist the Georgian CEC in conducting the October elections in the safest conditions possible.

“The United States is proud to continue to work with our Georgian partners to protect the health and safety of the people of Georgia,” the U.S Embassy in Georgia said.

16:00 GMT+4 – Child Rights NGO Coalition Offers Assistance to Political Parties

The Coalition for Children and Youth, uniting 49 NGOs, is offering assistance to political parties running in the 2020 parliamentary elections to address child rights issues in their election programs. The coalition of NGOs expressed readiness to conduct personal meetings and share informative resources to political parties.

According to the Coalition for Children and Youth, the lack of family support programs and social services for children, the low quality of preschool education services, the absence of a national strategy ensuring inclusive education, and juvenile justice system reform represent the key child rights issues that must be addressed in the election programs of political parties.

Thursday, September 17

22:00 GMT+4 – UNM’s Melia Speaks against Merabishvili, ex-Interior Minister

Nika Melia, one of the leaders of the United National Movement, former ruling party, who now runs for Gldani Majoritarian race, spoke against the former PM and long-serving UNM Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili.

Noting that Merabishvili will not be on the UNM’s proportional party list, Melia highlighted that “I do not see myself in a group with Vano Merabishvili,” Melia asserted.

Although Melia credited Merabishvili for his success in his battle against crime, he said then-Interior Minister Merabishvili should have resigned the post after the murder of 28-year-old Sandro Girgvliani in 2006.

The high-profile case of Girgvliani murder has become the key political issue in 2006 in the country and it keeps reemerging in Georgian politics ever since. The murder, after his reported altercation with high-ranking Security Ministry employees, and the subsequent handling of the case by ex-President Saakashvili’s administration has attracted harsh criticism nationally and internationally.

15:00 GMT + 4 – Ambassador Degnan Commented on the pre-Election Environment in Georgia

On September 16, during her visit at Jvari Monastery, United States Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan made remarks about the pre-Election environment in Georgia, stating that the incidents of voter intimidation have been “very concerning”.

The ambassador also outlined that the embassy will work closely with the election monitoring organization to raise awareness about the possible violations “of the law or tactics that are designed to intimidate voters or vote buying or otherwise interfere with free and fair election,” – said Degnan.

Kelly Degnan encouraged all the parties and candidates to openly participate in political dialogue, present their programs and assist the voters to make informed decisions.

10:30 GMT + 4 – GYLA Releases Interim Report on October Elections

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), a local watchdog, released an interim report on the October 31 parliamentary elections, identifying violations such as 5 cases of alleged vote-buying, six cases of violence, and five cases of alleged ignoring the requirement to separate the state and political parties in the period of June 1 – August 31.

Read more here:

10:00 GMT + 4 – IRI Releases Public Opinion Survey

A recent poll released by International Republican Institute (IRI) reveals that if parliamentary elections were held this coming Sunday, 36% would vote for the ruling Georgian Dream party, 15% for United National Movement – Strength in Unity, 4% – European Georgia, Strategy Aghmashenebeli and Alliance of Patriots – 4% for each, Labor Party – 3%, 2% would vote for Aleko Elisashvili’s Civic Movement/Citizens, Lelo for Georgia and 2% Girchi, per each. 3% said none, while 23% said do not know/gave no answer.

Reckoning country’s direction, 54% said Georgia is going in the wrong direction (down from 68% in October) and 35% said it goes in the right direction, up from 22% in October.

Read more here:

Tuesday, September 15

16:00 GMT+4 – European Georgia will Support Labor Party Majoritarian Candidate in Mtskheta-Mtianeti

Leader of European Georgia Davit Bakradze met with party supporters in Dusheti to announce that  his party will be supporting Labor Party majoritarian candidate Beka Natelashvil in Mtskheta-Mtianeti for the upcoming Parliamentary Elections.

According to Davit Bakradze’s statement, the endorsement of Beka Natelashvili is a strategic decision aimed towards decreasing the chance of vote splitting to the benefit of the ruling Georgian Dream party.

Monday, September 14

14:00 GMT+4 – United Georgia Presents Majoritarian Candidate in Kareli-Khashuri

Nino Burjanadze, leader of United Georgia – Democratic Movement, presented Aleksandre Chkhikvadze as the majoritarian candidate in the Kareli-Khashuri district.

11:00 GMT+4 – NDI Releases Public Opinion Survey Results

According to the public opinion survey released by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) released today, although economic issues remain the major concern for Georgians, a dramatically increasing number of citizens think the country is going in the right direction. Asked about in which direction Georgia is going, 39% said in a right direction (up from 19% in November 2019), the wrong direction – 32% (down from 53% in November), while 20% say Georgia is not changing at all (down from 24% in November).

Read more here:

Sunday, September 13

16:00 GMT + 4 – CEC Address Out-of-Country Voting

Central Election Commission (CEC) spokesperson Ana Mikeladze held a public briefing, elaborating on the details related to out-of-country voting for the upcoming October 31 Parliamentary Elections.

“Despite the fact that throughout the world, in different countries there are differing scenarios in terms of the spread of the coronavirus, according to the information provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as of now, polling stations are scheduled to be open in approximately 40 countries in which we already have prior experience. It should be noted that the functioning of the polling stations, for the given time, also hinges on the situation regarding the pandemic in a particular country,” Mikeladze said.

CEC reminds out-of-country voters that in order to participate in the upcoming elections they “must be either on their respective consular registry or be registered to a foreign address in accordance with the acting Georgian legislature.”

12:30 GMT+4 – MP Gedevan Popkhadze Tests Positive for COVID-19 

Independent MP Gedevan Popkhadze has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement made by Solidarity Alliance of Georgia.  

Gedevan Popkhadze is a former member of the Georgian Dream and one of the founding members of the Solidarity Alliance of Georgia party. Another member, Levan Gogichaishvili, was also recently diagnosed with COVID-19. 

Thursday, September 10

20:00 GMT+4 – Georgian Dream Presents Top 20 of its Party List

The governing Georgian Dream party presented top twenty MP candidates of its party list, who will be contesting in a proportional system in the October 31 parliamentary elections.

Below is the list of top 20 candidates in GD’s party list:

  1. Giorgi Gakharia, the incumbent PM
  2. Archil Talakvadze, incumbent Parliament Chairperson
  3. Irakli Kobakhidze, incumbent MP, ex-Speaker
  4. Tea Tsulukiani, Justice Minister
  5. Mamuka Mdinaradze, incumbent MP
  6. Kakha Kuchava, incumbent MP
  7. Giorgi Kakhiani, incumbent MP
  8. Mariam Kvrivishvili, Tourism Administration Head
  9. Mikheil Sarjveladze, Deputy Justice Minister
  10. Maia Bitadze, Vice Mayor of Tbilisi, former Deputy Environment Minister
  11. Mikheil Daushvili, 30, Business Ombudsman
  12. Giorgi Amilakhvari, Tbilisi Open University Rector
  13. Viktor Sanikidze, Basketball player
  14. Maka Bochorishvili, Deputy Ambassador to the EU
  15. Shalva Papuashvili, lawyer, Associate Professor at Ilia State University
  16. Davit Kacharava, Rugby player
  17. Nikoloz Samkharadze, International Relations specialist, Associate Professor at Tbilisi State University;
  18. Giorgi Khelashvili, IR specialist; Chair of Research Center at the Parliament; Former Deputy Ambassador to the U.S.
  19. Mariam Lashkhi, 32, deputy head of Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency
  20. Beka Davituliani, Tbilisi Sakrebulo member.

16:00 GMT+4 – CEC Files an Administrative Complaint Against ‘Alliance of Patriots’

Central Election Commission (CEC) filed an administrative complaint against the Kremlin-friendly Alliance of Patriots, after International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) urged CEC to examine 6 campaign clips on the party’s Facebook page on September 2.

According to the Central Election Commission, the issue regards Article 45 (3) of the Election Code of Georgia, according to which “the election program shall not contain propaganda for war or violence, appeal for change or overthrow of the existing state and social order by violence, for violation of the territorial integrity of Georgia, for national strife and enmity, or for religious or ethnic confrontation.”

According to CEC, the Court will make a final decision on the administrative penalty. According to the Election Code, violation of campaigning rules is punishable by a GEL 2000 fine.

On September 2, ISFED stated that Alliance of Patriots’ campaign clips contained anti-Turkish proclamations, which were aimed at” fueling hostile attitudes towards Turkey and that the content could also have provoked ethnic and religious hostilities.

ISFED’s statement highlighted one of the party leaders’, Irma Inashvili’s statements and the anti-Turkish campaign banners in Adjara, which were removed after backlash.

Wednesday, September 9

22:00 GMT+4 – Police Detains Two for Verbally Assaulting ‘Strategy Aghmashenebeli’ Activists

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia said police detained two persons for verbally assaulting activists of the “Strategy Aghmashenebeli” party, led by Giorgi Vashadze, on September 9 in Tbilisi. The Ministry said offenders were taken under arrest for minor hooliganism. 

17:00 GMT+4  – Our Georgia – Solidarity Alliance Pauses Campaign after MP tests positive for COVID-19

After the secretary of the Our Georgia – Solidarity Alliance party MP Levan Gogichaishvili’s positive COVID-19 test result, Our Georgia has announced that the party will be temporarily pausing its pre-election campaign.

All members of the party have been scheduled for testing.

Tuesday, September 8

18:00 GMT+4 – ‘Patriots’, Leftist Alliance Jointly Present Majoritarian Candidates

The pro-Kremlin Alliance of Patriots party presented its majoritarian candidates for the upcoming elections, where it will be joining forces with the Leftist Alliance, composed of former Labor members. Irma Inashvili, the Vice Speaker of the AoP, will run in Tbilisi’s Nadzaladevi constituency. See the full list here.

16:00 GMT+4 – Our Georgia – Solidarity Alliance Presents Majoritarian Candidate

The Our Georgia – Solidarity Alliance party presented Nino Gulua as the majoritarian candidate for the Abasha-Martvili-Chkhorotsku-Tsalenjikha constituency.

Secretary General of the party Mariam Jashi described Gulua as “an outstanding female candidate who with her experience and professionalism will honorably represent the interests of Abasha, Martvili, Chkhorotsku and Tsalenjikha.”

Nino Gulua declared that she plans on meeting with the local municipality work groups and the public to present her strategy on developing the region.

13:00 GMT+4 – CEC Press Speaker Addresses Voting from Quarantine

During a public briefing, CEC Press Speaker Ana Mikeladze announced that the Committee is considering ways to enable citizens undergoing mandatory quarantine to vote during the October elections.

The press speaker highlighted that the issue remains to be undecided as CEC is currently waiting for feedback and recommendations from healthcare specialists on the matter.

“We have enough time to develop appropriate protocol and to inform the public. A polling station could be opened in quarantine areas and there could be a transferable ballot box”, Mikeladze said. The press speaker also stated that CEC is working towards providing all voters with face masks.

Monday, September 7

14:30 GMT+4 – Elisashvili, Citizens Present Adjara Majoritarian Candidates

Alexander (Aleko) Elisashvili, leader of the Citizens party, presented Adjara majoritarian candidates for the October 31 parliamentary, as well as Adjara Supreme Council elections.

Genri Dolidze will be representing the Citizens in Batumi majoritarian race for the parliamentary polls.

Giorgi Gabaidze will be running as the majoritarian candidate in Khelvachauri, Keda, Shuakhevi, Khulo constituency.

Elisashvili also presented Giorgi Masalkini, former member of the Adjara Supreme Council in 2004-08 and 2012-16 convocations, ex-Republican, as a majoritarian candidate for the city of Batumi in the autonomous region’s Supreme Council.

12:30 GMT+4 – UNM Names Ex-President Saakashvili as Prime Ministerial Candidate

Grigol Vashadze, chairman of the United National Movement, former ruling party (2003-2012), announced on September 7 that the UNM and its satellite parties of Strength in Unity opposition coalition unanimously supported Mikheil Saakashvili, former Georgian President as their Prime Ministerial candidate for October 31 parliamentary elections. Saakashvili, who has left the country in 2013, is wanted on multiple charges in Georgia, which he denies as politically motivated.

12:15 GMT+4 – Adjara TV Back on Air after Negative Test Results

Adjara TV, a Batumi-based public broadcaster which went off the air on September 5 following a confirmed COVID-19 infection case among the staff, announced its return to broadcasting.

The decision to renew the broadcasting came after the initial test results of some 300 employees had turned out negative.

12 persons have been quarantined following two days of contact tracing, the channel reported.

Saturday, September 5

12:18 GMT+4 – Adjara TV Off the Air after Employee Tests Positive for COVID

The management of the Adjara TV, Batumi-based public broadcaster, decided to temporarily close the channel due to safety concerns following a confirmed infection case of an employee.

The future broadcasting format will be decided according to the testing results of more than 300 employees, the TV channel has reported.

Until then, the channel will be streaming the Georgian Public Broadcaster.

Friday, September 4

18:00 GMT+4 – CEC Registers 66 Parties for the Polls

The registration process for political parties in Georgia for the October Parliamentary Elections was completed on September 4, according to a statement made by Central Election Commission (CEC).

CEC notes that out of 78 parties that applied for registration, 12 were rejected, meaning that 66 parties have been successfully registered for the upcoming elections.

Click here to see the full list of registered parties.

16:00 GMT+4 – Lelo for Georgia Presents Four More Majoritarian Candidates

Lelo for Georgia party, led by banker-turned-politician Mamuka Khazaradze, presented four more majoritarian candidates:

  • Giorgi Chelidze for southern Bolnisi, Dmanisi, Tetritskaro and Tsalka districts; Chelidze earlier served as a majoritarian deputy at Tetritskaro Municipality.
  • Sotsgar Putulyan for Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda constituency in southern ethnic-Armenian majority Javakheti province. The party said Putulyan served as both, surgeon and executive director at various medical establishments in Armenia;
  • Tamar Belkania for Tsalenjikha, Chkhorotsku, Martvili and Abasha constituency in Samegrelo region; Belkania serves as an assistant professor at Tbilisi State University’s Journalist Department.
  • Irakli Talakhadze for Telavi, Akhmeta, Kvareli and Lagodekhi districts in easternmost Kakheti district. Talakhadze, economist by training, held various positions in wine industry.
  • Lelo for Georgia Presents Majoritarian Candidates

15:00 GMT+4  – Party-Switcher MP Okriashvili Re-Joins Forces with UNM

Grigol Vashadze of the United National Movement (UNM) and MP Kakha Okriashvili of the recently established Progress and Freedom Party met to sign a “memorandum of understanding,” which envisages the latter to join forces with the UNM-led Strength in Unity coalition.

Ruling Georgian Dream party’s majoritarian MP Kakhaber Okriashvili and businessmen brothers, Tsezar Chocheli and Lasha Chocheli set up a new political party Progress and Freedom less than a month ago.

“It is clear that there are people in this unity are not aligned ideologically; however, we are readily united in the belief that Georgia must finally begin its path towards becoming a full-fledged democracy”, Vashadze said during the signing of the agreement.

Okriashvili announced that he will be running for election as the United Opposition block candidate in the Dmanisi-Tsalka-Bolnisi-Tetritskaro constituency. Expressing his optimism that his party will be part of the next governing coalition, Okriashvili said the party will guarantee to introduce “the best business-friendly climate” in the country.

The European Georgia party promptly responded to the agreement between UNM and the Progress and Freedom Party, stating that they would not back Okriashvili’s candidacy in the Dmanisi-Tsalka-Bolnisi-Tetritskaro constituency.

See more of MP Okriashvili’s party-switching history here.

02:50 GMT +4 – U.S. Lawmaker: Russia behind Anti-Turkish Election Meddling in Georgia

Adam Kinzinger, U.S. House Georgia Caucus co-chair released a statement late on September 3 (Washington DC time), noting that he is “increasingly concerned by the blatant misinformation by some that claim Adjara is under threat from Turkey.”

Rep. Kinzinger (R-IL) said “this claim is an attempt by Russia to deflect blame for illegally occupying” Georgian territories and “effectively play a role in the important upcoming elections.”

Thursday, September 3

20:00 GMT+4 – NDI to Monitor Elections Remotely, without In-person Observer Delegation

The National Democratic Institute (NDI) said that it “has decided it will not deploy an in-person international observer delegation to Georgia in late October for election day.”

“The global COVID-19 pandemic is still not under control internationally, including in the United States. After reviewing these international conditions, and considering carefully its own capacity to mitigate risks to its partners and itself in this environment,” NDI explained.

The U.S.-founded non-profit stated that it instead plans to cover the entire election process, by deploying two teams that will “work remotely coupled with assistants based in Georgia.”

The team of long-term analysts (LTAs) will be tracking progress in key electoral issues previously identified in NDI’s pre-election report on Georgia. Based on the data collected by the LTAs, NDI plans to release “an interim bulletin that updates the pre-election analysis.”

NDI also said its President Derek Mitchell will be leading a second “virtual election analysis team” that will initiate its operational activities two weeks before election day.

17:00 GMT +4 – Parliament Approves New Provisions on Electoral Violations

The Parliament of Georgia approved by 81 votes new provisions on election offenses with an accelerated procedure.

The following provisions were added to Article 164 of the Criminal Code of Georgia:

1. Influencing voter’s will and/or breach of the secrecy of the ballot, committed under coercion or threat, shall be punished by a fine, home confinement for a term of 6 months up to a year, or imprisonment for up to 2 years;

2. Same acts committed through violence or using material means or managerial dependency shall be punished by a fine, home confinement for a term of 6 months up to 2 years or imprisonment for up to 3 years;

3. Same acts committed more than once, against two or more persons, or by a group shall be punished by imprisonment for up to 4 years.

New provisions go into effect immediately.

15:46 GMT +4 – Regulatory Body Warns Two Party-Affiliated TVs

Georgian National Communications Commission, a regulatory authority charged with overseeing broadcasting and electronic communications, released a statement warning two Georgian party-affiliated TVs – Obiektivi TV and Girchi TV – for illegally airing political ads ahead of the officially announced campaigning period, ordering them to take off the clips from broadcasting.

According to the statement, under Georgian legislation, TV’s are only allowed to run political ads during the pre-election campaigning period, starting 50 days ahead of polls.

The Communication Commission says both TV stations have been airing ads as early as in August, with clips showing party symbols and party leaders, and their contents referring to the upcoming parliamentary elections and activities carried out/to be carried out by the respective parties.

Obiektivi TV was founded by Irma Inashvili, leader of the nativist Alliance of Patriots party, whereas Girchi-TV is broadcasted by Girchi, a Georgian right-libertarian party.

13:00 GMT +4 – GYLA Accuses Defense Ministry of Using Administrative Resources ahead of Polls

Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), a principal watchdog, released a statement, saying that the Georgian Defense Ministry misuses administrative resources during the pre-election period.

According to the Ministry’s decision from August 31, 2020, debts of up to a thousand citizens, accrued since 2009 for the services provided by the Gori Military Hospital, are to be written off.

The watchdog welcomes the government’s initiative to ease financial pressure on citizens, however, states that taking the step some 2 months ahead of polls, as well as reporting it on a day before the official announcement of the election date, “leaves the impression of manipulation”.

GYLA adds that the use of severe social conditions of citizens for electoral purposes is unacceptable.

11:45 GMT +4 – Member Leaves ‘Patriots’ Over Anti-Turkish Banners

On September 3, Archil Mamuladze, a member of the Batumi City Municipal Assembly left the Kremlin-friendly Alliance of Patriots party. Mamuladze’s departure comes in response to the recent controversy regarding the Alliance of Patriots’ anti-Turkish campaign banners.

“I’ve been a member of Alliance of Patriots since 2014. I demanded to meet the bureau I am part of, but I was unable to. I made the decision to leave the party and other coworkers also left the party with me,” Mamuladze stated at the Batumi City Municipal Assembly meeting.

Wednesday, September 2

17:40 GMT+4 – ISFED: Alliance of Patriots Spread Anti-Turkish Campaign Clips

International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) addressed Central Election Commission (CEC) regarding six campaign clips posted on Kremlin-friendly opposition party Alliance of Patriots’ Facebook page. According to the organization, the videos contain anti-Turkish proclamations aimed at fueling hostile attitudes towards Turkey, the content may also provoke ethnic and religious hostilities. The watchdog assesses the cost of advertising to be in the range of USD 100-200, with a potential reach of more than a million voting-age Facebook users.

Tuesday, September 1

19:00 GMT+4 – Central Election Commission Unveils Key Dates and Procedures

The Central Election Commission published the schedule of electoral activities after President Zurabishvili announced the election date. Electoral campaign kicks off on September 1, with various legal obligations in order to restrict the use of administrative resources. On October 26, CEC will release final data on the total number of voters and their breakdown by electoral districts. October 31 is Election Day, with polling stations operational from 8:00 to 20:00.

17:30 GMT+4 – European Georgia Names Akhaltsikhe, Gori Majoritarian Candidates

In Poti, along with presenting the economic reform plan, European Georgia named two majoritarian candidates: Zurab Chilingrashvili will be the party’s pick to run for southern Akhaltsikhe-Adigeni-Borjomi-Aspindzi constituency, while Levan Tarkhnishvili will run in central Gori-Kaspi district.

The party also presented Ronald Meskhi as the candidate for the Terjola mayor elections.

17:10 GMT+4 – European Georgia Unveils Economic Reform Plan in Poti

The European Georgia Party held a presentation in Western Georgia’s port-city of Poti to unveil the economic reform plan for the upcoming parliamentary elections, focusing on minimizing government spending, lowering taxes, creating employment opportunities and eliminating corruption in the judiciary system.

The party leaders, Davit Bakradze, Giga Bokeria, and Gigi Ugulava, who spoke publicly at the event, referred to the economic reform plan as an “agreement with the people,” stressing that the plan will be put into practice “within 100 days”, should the party secure victory in the October elections.

The plan includes the following points:

  • Creating 100,000 jobs after diminishing the tax burden on businesses which would leave each family with an annual income of over 2,000 GEL (USD 650);
  • Decreasing government and bureaucratic spending by GEL 2 billion (USD 647 million);
  • Allocating a share of locally collected taxes to the local municipality;
  • Doubling pension rates;
  • Doubling social welfare payments;
  • Doubling welfare payments for displaced persons;
  • Making the cumulative pension reform voluntary;
  • Transferring ownership of state-owned factories, land, forests, and grazing land to private owners;
  • Resolving the issue of water and gas accessibility in rural parts of the country;
  • Building roads in rural parts of the country;
  • Expanding the jury court system;
  • Introducing elections for local sheriffs, and judge positions;
  • Defeating crime and ensuring the rule of law.

Monday, August 31

15:30 GMT+4 – Georgia’s Parliamentary Election Date Set for October 31

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili set October 31 as the date of holding parliamentary elections in Georgia.

Wednesday, September 23

21:00 GMT+4 – UNM-led Bloc Presents Majoritarian Candidates

On September 23, the election bloc United Opposition – Strength in Unity led by the United National Movement (UNM), former ruling party in 2004-12, unveiled the list of majoritarian candidates to run in the October 31 parliamentary elections.

Read more here:

18:00 GMT+4 – Ambassador Kelly Degnan Shares Remarks on Pre-Election Environment

During the launch of the USAID-funded Election Compass application for the October parliamentary elections, Ambassador Kelly Degnan spoke of the pre-election environment in Georgia, the potential for Russian election meddling, and U.S-Georgia relations.

“It’s normal in an election process for things to start getting more and more intense the closer you get to the voting day,” Ambassador Degnan said, expressing that the level of polarization has risen with election day approaching. Nevertheless, the U.S Ambassador commended Georgian political leaders for their ability to collaborate in “establishing ethical guidelines and a structure.” The Ambassador found political parties’ decision to collectively develop and sign on to a code of conduct “encouraging”, though added that it would be “disappointing if we hear cases of voter intimidation, abuse of resources, or vote-buying,” despite the signing of the code of conduct.

Ambassador Degnan warned of the potential for Russian election meddling in the upcoming parliamentary elections, claiming that “it’s fair to assume that it’s going to be happening here too.” Nevertheless, according to the Ambassador, she is confident that the Georgian government and the public are taking Russian disinformation seriously, and “ becoming more alert to the fake news and to those efforts trying to create confusion, create instability and push Georgia off its path to success.”

Ambassador Kelly Degnan also touched upon the phone conversation between Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, and the U.S National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien. The U.S Ambassador noted that “it’s always useful for Washington decision-makers to speak directly with the leader of a country on critical issues of importance.” Ambassador Degnan confirmed that “the elections were discussed” during the phone conversation. There is  “a real expectation”, from the U.S side “that these elections are free, fair, and better than the last,” the U.S Ambassador concluded. 

12:00 GMT+4 – UNM Bolnisi Office Vandalized

According to media reports, the opposition United National Movement’s (UNM) Bolnisi office was vandalized last night. Representative of UNM’s regional office Nodar Inadze claimed that the act was committed “somewhere between 5:30 and 6 AM”.

The investigation of the case was launched under the first part of Article 187 of the Criminal Code.

Tuesday, September 22

14:10 GMT+4 – Interior Ministry to Establish Police Groups to Prevent, Respond to Election Violations

Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri, issued an order to establish police groups “to ensure the free, safe and peaceful environment of the October 31, 2020 Parliamentary Elections of Georgia, as well as to prevent and respond to violations.”

According to the order, the Interior Ministry will establish groups responsible for the prevention and response to violations in the regions of Georgia within the operation areas of police departments. The relevant groups have been instructed to take appropriate measures in the areas of ​​action, to ensure that the conduct of pre-election agitation takes place in a peaceful and free environment and to implement preventive police measures in accordance with the Law of Georgia on Police.

“The order obliges police officers to strictly adhere to the principle of political neutrality in the performance of their duties,” the Interior Ministry noted.

12:00 GMT+4 – European Georgia Vows to not Collaborate with Georgian Dream, not to Support Saakashvili as PM

European Georgia leader and Deputy Chairperson of the Parliament Sergi Kapanadze stated that his party has decided to self-impose “two additional political obligations.”

Stressing European Georgia’s unwillingness to form a coalition government with the ruling Georgian Dream Party, Kapanadze asserted that “we will in no case cooperate with the Georgian Dream.” Kapanadze also noted that his party will not support former President Mikheil Saakashvili for the Prime Ministerial post. Saakashvili was named as Prime Ministerial candidate for upcoming October 21 elections by the United National Movement and its satellite opposition parties.

11:30 GMT+4 – European Georgia Boycotts Interagency Commission

According to one of the leaders of the European Georgia party and Deputy Chairperson of the Parliament Sergi Kapanadze, his party has decided to not participate in sessions organized by the Interagency Commission. Kapanadze cited a lack of trust in Justice Minister and Georgian Dream MP Tea Tsulukiani’s leadership of the Interagency Commission as the reason behind the boycott.

Elaborating on European Georgia’s refusal to participate in Interagency Commission meetings, Kapanadze stated that Tsulukiani is well-known for her intolerance of opposing political opinions, and has a background of using the commission “for her own political goals.” “Based on our previous experience with her, Tsulukiani has not once been interested in resolving problems,” the European Georgia leader concluded.

Monday, September 21

20:00 GMT+4 – IRI Announces Arrival of Int’l Assessment Team 

The International Republican Institute (IRI) announced the arrival of its international Technical Election Assessment Mission (TEAM) to assess the October 31 parliamentary elections in Georgia, upon invitation from the Georgian Central Electoral Commission (CEC).

The TEAM consists of five technical long-term analysts who will review all phases of the electoral process and issue a series of reports on their findings, based on in-depth interviews with government officials, the electoral administration, political party leaders, civil society and media representatives.

“These parliamentary elections represent an important step for Georgia’s democracy and a litmus test for Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” said IRI Regional Director for Eurasia Stephen Nix. “IRI’s mission will prioritize key issues affecting electoral integrity, including election administration, media freedom and transparency, campaign finance, political party campaigns, as well as voting safety measures being implemented during the COVID-19 crisis.”

IRI says it has implemented “rigorous safety and security procedures” requiring the assessment team to adhere to the Georgian government’s health regulations in view of the COVID-19-related risks.

17:00 GMT+4 – NDI Launches Elections Observation

NDI announced the launch of a long-term remote monitoring program of the October 31 parliamentary elections. The program will be based on the findings and recommendations of the pre-election report  published in August by the Georgia Election Watch. If necessary, the monitoring will continue into the second round of the elections.

NDI’s team of analysts includes seven long-term analysts and a program director, covering a variety of election-related issues, including: election campaign, election administration, media and information, gender and inclusion issues, and the impact of the coronavirus on elections. To assess progress and challenges on each of these issues, long-term analysts will work remotely with assistants and NDI staff in Tbilisi, using a variety of online information and analysis platforms. NDI will use the collected data in interim and post-election reports to help strengthen the electoral process in Georgia.

Also read:

Sunday, September 20

20:00 GMT+4 – European Georgia Presents Batumi Majoritarian Candidate

The European Georgia party named Armaz Akhvlediani as a majoritarian candidate in the Batumi constituency for the October 31 parliamentary elections. Akhvlediani, a former executive secretary of the ruling Georgian Dream party who quit the party early in 2016, was running as an independent candidate in the Batumi electoral district in the 2016 parliamentary elections and was later the opposition parties’ candidate for appointment as the Head of the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara in 2018.

19:00 GMT+4 – Mikheil Saakashvili Assesses Nika Melia’s Comments on ex-Interior Minister

Mikheil Saakashvili, former President of Georgia and United National Movement leader, assessed Nika Melia’s recent comments regarding Vano Merabishvili.

Nika Melia, UNM’s majoritarian candidate in Gldani, recently stated that he can not see himself in the same group with Vano Merabishvili, former PM and Interior Minister of the UNM government.

Saakashvili stated that he respects Nika Melia’s position, adding that Merabishvili does not plan to take on any political position and is not involved in the political decision-making of the party.

“I think he made the right decision not to be involved in politics, I believe a new generation needs to come,” Sakaashvili added.

Saturday, September 19

19:10 GMT+4 – CEC Assigns Numbers to Parties, Blocs

On September 19, Georgia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) determined the list numbers for the parties and blocs participating in the October 31 Parliamentary Elections.

According to the CEC, 47 out of 58 parties and 2 election blocs registered to participate in the Parliamentary Elections of Georgia participated in the voting held today. Those who ran in previous polls and crossed the election threshold were allowed to use the numbers previously assigned to them according to the law.

15:30 Women Politicians Sign Memorandum on Protecting Women’s Rights

Women politicians from Georgian opposition parties, led by female members of Strategy Agmashenebeli party, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the inviolability of women’s private lives.

The signatories of the MoU included Strategy Agmashenebeli’s Teona Akubardia, independent MPs and former ruling party members Tamar Chugoshvili and Nino Goguadze, European Georgia’s Elene Khoshtaria, and Eka Beselia, leader of the For Justice party.

In the memorandum, women politicians – “regardless of their party affiliation and political opinion” – condemn illegal recording and dissemination of images of private lives, as well as intimidation and blackmailing through the dissemination of such images, and unite to protect women’s rights.

“Dissemination of images depicting private lives of politicians or other public personas through various media, or manipulation and blackmailing through the dissemination of such images have become frequent over the last years. In this respect, women are particularly targeted. Manipulating or publishing private life images is a brutal means to banish women from politics, to morally discredit and completely marginalize them.” – the document says.

The signatories call on relevant authorities to strictly respond to similar facts in order to ensure that, in the future, nobody dares to interfere with private life.

Friday, September 18

20:00 GMT+4 – Ultranationalist Georgian March Holds Demonstrations at Lelo Offices

Ultranationalist Georgian March protested at Lelo for Georgia party’s offices in Kutaisi and Vake, Tbilisi. The members and supporters of the political group blocked the entrance of the Lelo office at Chavchavadze Avenue, Tbilisi, accusing Lelo leader Mamuka Khazaradze of usury and demanding dismissal of the party from elections. In Kutaisi, Georgian March activists also criticized Lelo for its alleged support of George Soros and LGBT community.

In response to the demonstrations, Lelo said that its popularity is increasing and the ruling Georgian Dream party, as well as the parties like Georgian March are trying to discredit Lelo by spreading defamatory information about them.

18:00 GMT+4 – Tbilisi City Court Fines the Alliance of Patriots 

Tbilisi City Court considered an administrative complaint against the Kremlin-friendly Alliance of Patriots filed by the Central Election Commission (CEC) and announced the verdict to fine the party a GEL 2000 for violating Article 45 (3) of the Election Code of Georgia, CEC confirms.

Article 45 (3) of the Election Code states that “the election program shall not contain propaganda for war or violence, appeal for change or overthrow of the existing state and social order by violence, for violation of the territorial integrity of Georgia, for national strife and enmity, or for religious or ethnic confrontation.”

On September 2, ISFED stated that Alliance of Patriots’ campaign clips contained anti-Turkish proclamations and urged CEC to examine 6 campaign clips on the party’s Facebook page on September 2.

17:15 GMT+4 – CEC Approves Health Safety Rules for Polling Day

Central Election Commission of Georgia (CEC) approved an epidemiological protocol for the polling day of the October 31 elections. The protocol defines sanitary and hygiene rules at polling stations and it is based on consultations with key stakeholders from the Election Administration, political parties, CSOs and international organizations.  

Read More:

17:00 GMT+4 – UNM Samgori Election Headquarters has been Raided

Levan Khabeishvili, Tbilisi Assembly (Sakrebulo) member from the United National Movement, who is running for Samgori majoritarian race on endorsed by a number of major opposition parties, reported on his Facebook page on September 18 that the party office of Samgori election headquarters has been raided.

The Interior Ministry told Civil.ge that they are leading an investigation into the case under Article 187 of the Criminal Code of Georgia – damage or destruction of the property.

16:15 GMT+4 – U.S Embassy Donates Medical Protection Equipment to CEC

The U.S. Embassy has donated over USD 73,000 worth of latex gloves, face shield masks, and disinfectants to the Georgian Central Election Committee (CEC) through the U.S. European Command’s Humanitarian Assistance project. The aim of the donation is to assist the Georgian CEC in conducting the October elections in the safest conditions possible.

“The United States is proud to continue to work with our Georgian partners to protect the health and safety of the people of Georgia,” the U.S Embassy in Georgia said.

16:00 GMT+4 – Child Rights NGO Coalition Offers Assistance to Political Parties

The Coalition for Children and Youth, uniting 49 NGOs, is offering assistance to political parties running in the 2020 parliamentary elections to address child rights issues in their election programs. The coalition of NGOs expressed readiness to conduct personal meetings and share informative resources to political parties.

According to the Coalition for Children and Youth, the lack of family support programs and social services for children, the low quality of preschool education services, the absence of a national strategy ensuring inclusive education, and juvenile justice system reform represent the key child rights issues that must be addressed in the election programs of political parties.

Thursday, September 17

22:00 GMT+4 – UNM’s Melia Speaks against Merabishvili, ex-Interior Minister

Nika Melia, one of the leaders of the United National Movement, former ruling party, who now runs for Gldani Majoritarian race, spoke against the former PM and long-serving UNM Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili.

Noting that Merabishvili will not be on the UNM’s proportional party list, Melia highlighted that “I do not see myself in a group with Vano Merabishvili,” Melia asserted.

Although Melia credited Merabishvili for his success in his battle against crime, he said then-Interior Minister Merabishvili should have resigned the post after the murder of 28-year-old Sandro Girgvliani in 2006.

The high-profile case of Girgvliani murder has become the key political issue in 2006 in the country and it keeps reemerging in Georgian politics ever since. The murder, after his reported altercation with high-ranking Security Ministry employees, and the subsequent handling of the case by ex-President Saakashvili’s administration has attracted harsh criticism nationally and internationally.

15:00 GMT + 4 – Ambassador Degnan Commented on the pre-Election Environment in Georgia

On September 16, during her visit at Jvari Monastery, United States Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan made remarks about the pre-Election environment in Georgia, stating that the incidents of voter intimidation have been “very concerning”.

The ambassador also outlined that the embassy will work closely with the election monitoring organization to raise awareness about the possible violations “of the law or tactics that are designed to intimidate voters or vote buying or otherwise interfere with free and fair election,” – said Degnan.

Kelly Degnan encouraged all the parties and candidates to openly participate in political dialogue, present their programs and assist the voters to make informed decisions.

10:30 GMT + 4 – GYLA Releases Interim Report on October Elections

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), a local watchdog, released an interim report on the October 31 parliamentary elections, identifying violations such as 5 cases of alleged vote-buying, six cases of violence, and five cases of alleged ignoring the requirement to separate the state and political parties in the period of June 1 – August 31.

Read more here:

10:00 GMT + 4 – IRI Releases Public Opinion Survey

A recent poll released by International Republican Institute (IRI) reveals that if parliamentary elections were held this coming Sunday, 36% would vote for the ruling Georgian Dream party, 15% for United National Movement – Strength in Unity, 4% – European Georgia, Strategy Aghmashenebeli and Alliance of Patriots – 4% for each, Labor Party – 3%, 2% would vote for Aleko Elisashvili’s Civic Movement/Citizens, Lelo for Georgia and 2% Girchi, per each. 3% said none, while 23% said do not know/gave no answer.

Reckoning country’s direction, 54% said Georgia is going in the wrong direction (down from 68% in October) and 35% said it goes in the right direction, up from 22% in October.

Read more here:

Tuesday, September 15

16:00 GMT+4 – European Georgia will Support Labor Party Majoritarian Candidate in Mtskheta-Mtianeti

Leader of European Georgia Davit Bakradze met with party supporters in Dusheti to announce that  his party will be supporting Labor Party majoritarian candidate Beka Natelashvil in Mtskheta-Mtianeti for the upcoming Parliamentary Elections. 

According to Davit Bakradze’s statement, the endorsement of Beka Natelashvili is a strategic decision aimed towards decreasing the chance of vote splitting to the benefit of the ruling Georgian Dream party.

Monday, September 14

14:00 GMT+4 – United Georgia Presents Majoritarian Candidate in Kareli-Khashuri

Nino Burjanadze, leader of United Georgia – Democratic Movement, presented Aleksandre Chkhikvadze as the majoritarian candidate in the Kareli-Khashuri district.

11:00 GMT+4 – NDI Releases Public Opinion Survey Results

According to the public opinion survey released by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) released today, although economic issues remain the major concern for Georgians, a dramatically increasing number of citizens think the country is going in the right direction. Asked about in which direction Georgia is going, 39% said in a right direction (up from 19% in November 2019), the wrong direction – 32% (down from 53% in November), while 20% say Georgia is not changing at all (down from 24% in November).

Read more here:

Sunday, September 13

16:00 GMT + 4 – CEC Address Out-of-Country Voting

Central Election Commission (CEC) spokesperson Ana Mikeladze held a public briefing, elaborating on the details related to out-of-country voting for the upcoming October 31 Parliamentary Elections. 

“Despite the fact that throughout the world, in different countries there are differing scenarios in terms of the spread of the coronavirus, according to the information provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as of now, polling stations are scheduled to be open in approximately 40 countries in which we already have prior experience. It should be noted that the functioning of the polling stations, for the given time, also hinges on the situation regarding the pandemic in a particular country,” Mikeladze said.  

CEC reminds out-of-country voters that in order to participate in the upcoming elections they “must be either on their respective consular registry or be registered to a foreign address in accordance with the acting Georgian legislature.”

12:30 GMT+4 – MP Gedevan Popkhadze Tests Positive for COVID-19 

Independent MP Gedevan Popkhadze has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement made by Solidarity Alliance of Georgia.  

Gedevan Popkhadze is a former member of the Georgian Dream and one of the founding members of the Solidarity Alliance of Georgia party. Another member, Levan Gogichaishvili, was also recently diagnosed with COVID-19. 

Thursday, September 10

20:00 GMT+4 – Georgian Dream Presents Top 20 of its Party List

The governing Georgian Dream party presented top twenty MP candidates of its party list, who will be contesting in a proportional system in the October 31 parliamentary elections.

Below is the list of top 20 candidates in GD’s party list:

  1. Giorgi Gakharia, the incumbent PM
  2. Archil Talakvadze, incumbent Parliament Chairperson
  3. Irakli Kobakhidze, incumbent MP, ex-Speaker
  4. Tea Tsulukiani, Justice Minister
  5. Mamuka Mdinaradze, incumbent MP
  6. Kakha Kuchava, incumbent MP
  7. Giorgi Kakhiani, incumbent MP
  8. Mariam Kvrivishvili, Tourism Administration Head
  9. Mikheil Sarjveladze, Deputy Justice Minister
  10. Maia Bitadze, Vice Mayor of Tbilisi, former Deputy Environment Minister
  11. Mikheil Daushvili, 30, Business Ombudsman
  12. Giorgi Amilakhvari, Tbilisi Open University Rector
  13. Viktor Sanikidze, Basketball player
  14. Maka Bochorishvili, Deputy Ambassador to the EU
  15. Shalva Papuashvili, lawyer, Associate Professor at Ilia State University
  16. Davit Kacharava, Rugby player
  17. Nikoloz Samkharadze, International Relations specialist, Associate Professor at Tbilisi State University;
  18. Giorgi Khelashvili, IR specialist; Chair of Research Center at the Parliament; Former Deputy Ambassador to the U.S.
  19. Mariam Lashkhi, 32, deputy head of Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency
  20. Beka Davituliani, Tbilisi Sakrebulo member.

16:00 GMT+4 – CEC Files an Administrative Complaint Against ‘Alliance of Patriots’

Central Election Commission (CEC) filed an administrative complaint against the Kremlin-friendly Alliance of Patriots, after International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) urged CEC to examine 6 campaign clips on the party’s Facebook page on September 2.

According to the Central Election Commission, the issue regards Article 45 (3) of the Election Code of Georgia, according to which “the election program shall not contain propaganda for war or violence, appeal for change or overthrow of the existing state and social order by violence, for violation of the territorial integrity of Georgia, for national strife and enmity, or for religious or ethnic confrontation.”

According to CEC, the Court will make a final decision on the administrative penalty. According to the Election Code, violation of campaigning rules is punishable by a GEL 2000 fine.

On September 2, ISFED stated that Alliance of Patriots’ campaign clips contained anti-Turkish proclamations, which were aimed at” fueling hostile attitudes towards Turkey and that the content could also have provoked ethnic and religious hostilities.

ISFED’s statement highlighted one of the party leaders’, Irma Inashvili’s statements and the anti-Turkish campaign banners in Adjara, which were removed after backlash.

Wednesday, September 9

22:00 GMT+4 – Police Detains Two for Verbally Assaulting ‘Strategy Aghmashenebeli’ Activists

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia said police detained two persons for verbally assaulting activists of the “Strategy Aghmashenebeli” party, led by Giorgi Vashadze, on September 9 in Tbilisi. The Ministry said offenders were taken under arrest for minor hooliganism. 

17:00 GMT+4  – Our Georgia – Solidarity Alliance Pauses Campaign after MP tests positive for COVID-19

After the secretary of the Our Georgia – Solidarity Alliance party MP Levan Gogichaishvili’s positive COVID-19 test result, Our Georgia has announced that the party will be temporarily pausing its pre-election campaign.

All members of the party have been scheduled for testing.

Tuesday, September 8

18:00 GMT+4 – ‘Patriots’, Leftist Alliance Jointly Present Majoritarian Candidates

The pro-Kremlin Alliance of Patriots party presented its majoritarian candidates for the upcoming elections, where it will be joining forces with the Leftist Alliance, composed of former Labor members. Irma Inashvili, the Vice Speaker of the AoP, will run in Tbilisi’s Nadzaladevi constituency. See the full list here.

16:00 GMT+4 – Our Georgia – Solidarity Alliance Presents Majoritarian Candidate

The Our Georgia – Solidarity Alliance party presented Nino Gulua as the majoritarian candidate for the Abasha-Martvili-Chkhorotsku-Tsalenjikha constituency. 

Secretary General of the party Mariam Jashi described Gulua as “an outstanding female candidate who with her experience and professionalism will honorably represent the interests of Abasha, Martvili, Chkhorotsku and Tsalenjikha.”

Nino Gulua declared that she plans on meeting with the local municipality work groups and the public to present her strategy on developing the region.

13:00 GMT+4 – CEC Press Speaker Addresses Voting from Quarantine

During a public briefing, CEC Press Speaker Ana Mikeladze announced that the Committee is considering ways to enable citizens undergoing mandatory quarantine to vote during the October elections.

The press speaker highlighted that the issue remains to be undecided as CEC is currently waiting for feedback and recommendations from healthcare specialists on the matter.

“We have enough time to develop appropriate protocol and to inform the public. A polling station could be opened in quarantine areas and there could be a transferable ballot box”, Mikeladze said. The press speaker also stated that CEC is working towards providing all voters with face masks.

Monday, September 7

14:30 GMT+4 – Elisashvili, Citizens Present Adjara Majoritarian Candidates

Alexander (Aleko) Elisashvili, leader of the Citizens party, presented Adjara majoritarian candidates for the October 31 parliamentary, as well as Adjara Supreme Council elections.

Genri Dolidze will be representing the Citizens in Batumi majoritarian race for the parliamentary polls.

Giorgi Gabaidze will be running as the majoritarian candidate in Khelvachauri, Keda, Shuakhevi, Khulo constituency.

Elisashvili also presented Giorgi Masalkini, former member of the Adjara Supreme Council in 2004-08 and 2012-16 convocations, ex-Republican, as a majoritarian candidate for the city of Batumi in the autonomous region’s Supreme Council.

12:30 GMT+4 – UNM Names Ex-President Saakashvili as Prime Ministerial Candidate

Grigol Vashadze, chairman of the United National Movement, former ruling party (2003-2012), announced on September 7 that the UNM and its satellite parties of Strength in Unity opposition coalition unanimously supported Mikheil Saakashvili, former Georgian President as their Prime Ministerial candidate for October 31 parliamentary elections. Saakashvili, who has left the country in 2013, is wanted on multiple charges in Georgia, which he denies as politically motivated.

12:15 GMT+4 – Adjara TV Back on Air after Negative Test Results

Adjara TV, a Batumi-based public broadcaster which went off the air on September 5 following a confirmed COVID-19 infection case among the staff, announced its return to broadcasting.

The decision to renew the broadcasting came after the initial test results of some 300 employees had turned out negative.

12 persons have been quarantined following two days of contact tracing, the channel reported.

Saturday, September 5

12:18 GMT+4 – Adjara TV Off the Air after Employee Tests Positive for COVID

The management of the Adjara TV, Batumi-based public broadcaster, decided to temporarily close the channel due to safety concerns following a confirmed infection case of an employee.

The future broadcasting format will be decided according to the testing results of more than 300 employees, the TV channel has reported.

Until then, the channel will be streaming the Georgian Public Broadcaster.

Friday, September 4

18:00 GMT+4 – CEC Registers 66 Parties for the Polls

The registration process for political parties in Georgia for the October Parliamentary Elections was completed on September 4, according to a statement made by Central Election Commission (CEC).

CEC notes that out of 78 parties that applied for registration, 12 were rejected, meaning that 66 parties have been successfully registered for the upcoming elections.

Click here to see the full list of registered parties.

16:00 GMT+4 – Lelo for Georgia Presents Four More Majoritarian Candidates

Lelo for Georgia party, led by banker-turned-politician Mamuka Khazaradze, presented four more majoritarian candidates:

  • Giorgi Chelidze for southern Bolnisi, Dmanisi, Tetritskaro and Tsalka districts; Chelidze earlier served as a majoritarian deputy at Tetritskaro Municipality.
  • Sotsgar Putulyan for Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda constituency in southern ethnic-Armenian majority Javakheti province. The party said Putulyan served as both, surgeon and executive director at various medical establishments in Armenia;
  • Tamar Belkania for Tsalenjikha, Chkhorotsku, Martvili and Abasha constituency in Samegrelo region; Belkania serves as an assistant professor at Tbilisi State University’s Journalist Department.
  • Irakli Talakhadze for Telavi, Akhmeta, Kvareli and Lagodekhi districts in easternmost Kakheti district. Talakhadze, economist by training, held various positions in wine industry.
  • Lelo for Georgia Presents Majoritarian Candidates

15:00 GMT+4  – Party-Switcher MP Okriashvili Re-Joins Forces with UNM

Grigol Vashadze of the United National Movement (UNM) and MP Kakha Okriashvili of the recently established Progress and Freedom Party met to sign a “memorandum of understanding,” which envisages the latter to join forces with the UNM-led Strength in Unity coalition.

Ruling Georgian Dream party’s majoritarian MP Kakhaber Okriashvili and businessmen brothers, Tsezar Chocheli and Lasha Chocheli set up a new political party Progress and Freedom less than a month ago.

“It is clear that there are people in this unity are not aligned ideologically; however, we are readily united in the belief that Georgia must finally begin its path towards becoming a full-fledged democracy”, Vashadze said during the signing of the agreement.

Okriashvili announced that he will be running for election as the United Opposition block candidate in the Dmanisi-Tsalka-Bolnisi-Tetritskaro constituency. Expressing his optimism that his party will be part of the next governing coalition, Okriashvili said the party will guarantee to introduce “the best business-friendly climate” in the country.

The European Georgia party promptly responded to the agreement between UNM and the Progress and Freedom Party, stating that they would not back Okriashvili’s candidacy in the Dmanisi-Tsalka-Bolnisi-Tetritskaro constituency.

See more of MP Okriashvili’s party-switching history here.

02:50 GMT +4 – U.S. Lawmaker: Russia behind Anti-Turkish Election Meddling in Georgia

Adam Kinzinger, U.S. House Georgia Caucus co-chair released a statement late on September 3 (Washington DC time), noting that he is “increasingly concerned by the blatant misinformation by some that claim Adjara is under threat from Turkey.”

Rep. Kinzinger (R-IL) said “this claim is an attempt by Russia to deflect blame for illegally occupying” Georgian territories and “effectively play a role in the important upcoming elections.”

Thursday, September 3

20:00 GMT+4 – NDI to Monitor Elections Remotely, without In-person Observer Delegation

The National Democratic Institute (NDI) said that it “has decided it will not deploy an in-person international observer delegation to Georgia in late October for election day.”

“The global COVID-19 pandemic is still not under control internationally, including in the United States. After reviewing these international conditions, and considering carefully its own capacity to mitigate risks to its partners and itself in this environment,” NDI explained.

The U.S.-founded non-profit stated that it instead plans to cover the entire election process, by deploying two teams that will “work remotely coupled with assistants based in Georgia.”

The team of long-term analysts (LTAs) will be tracking progress in key electoral issues previously identified in NDI’s pre-election report on Georgia. Based on the data collected by the LTAs, NDI plans to release “an interim bulletin that updates the pre-election analysis.”

NDI also said its President Derek Mitchell will be leading a second “virtual election analysis team” that will initiate its operational activities two weeks before election day.

17:00 GMT +4 – Parliament Approves New Provisions on Electoral Violations

The Parliament of Georgia approved by 81 votes new provisions on election offenses with an accelerated procedure.

The following provisions were added to Article 164 of the Criminal Code of Georgia:

1. Influencing voter’s will and/or breach of the secrecy of the ballot, committed under coercion or threat, shall be punished by a fine, home confinement for a term of 6 months up to a year, or imprisonment for up to 2 years;

2. Same acts committed through violence or using material means or managerial dependency shall be punished by a fine, home confinement for a term of 6 months up to 2 years or imprisonment for up to 3 years;

3. Same acts committed more than once, against two or more persons, or by a group shall be punished by imprisonment for up to 4 years.

New provisions go into effect immediately.

15:46 GMT +4 – Regulatory Body Warns Two Party-Affiliated TVs

Georgian National Communications Commission, a regulatory authority charged with overseeing broadcasting and electronic communications, released a statement warning two Georgian party-affiliated TVs – Obiektivi TV and Girchi TV – for illegally airing political ads ahead of the officially announced campaigning period, ordering them to take off the clips from broadcasting.

According to the statement, under Georgian legislation, TV’s are only allowed to run political ads during the pre-election campaigning period, starting 50 days ahead of polls.

The Communication Commission says both TV stations have been airing ads as early as in August, with clips showing party symbols and party leaders, and their contents referring to the upcoming parliamentary elections and activities carried out/to be carried out by the respective parties.

Obiektivi TV was founded by Irma Inashvili, leader of the nativist Alliance of Patriots party, whereas Girchi-TV is broadcasted by Girchi, a Georgian right-libertarian party.

13:00 GMT +4 – GYLA Accuses Defense Ministry of Using Administrative Resources ahead of Polls

Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), a principal watchdog, released a statement, saying that the Georgian Defense Ministry misuses administrative resources during the pre-election period.

According to the Ministry’s decision from August 31, 2020, debts of up to a thousand citizens, accrued since 2009 for the services provided by the Gori Military Hospital, are to be written off.

The watchdog welcomes the government’s initiative to ease financial pressure on citizens, however, states that taking the step some 2 months ahead of polls, as well as reporting it on a day before the official announcement of the election date, “leaves the impression of manipulation”.

GYLA adds that the use of severe social conditions of citizens for electoral purposes is unacceptable.

11:45 GMT +4 – Member Leaves ‘Patriots’ Over Anti-Turkish Banners

On September 3, Archil Mamuladze, a member of the Batumi City Municipal Assembly left the Kremlin-friendly Alliance of Patriots party. Mamuladze’s departure comes in response to the recent controversy regarding the Alliance of Patriots’ anti-Turkish campaign banners.

“I’ve been a member of Alliance of Patriots since 2014. I demanded to meet the bureau I am part of, but I was unable to. I made the decision to leave the party and other coworkers also left the party with me,” Mamuladze stated at the Batumi City Municipal Assembly meeting.

Wednesday, September 2

17:40 GMT+4 – ISFED: Alliance of Patriots Spread Anti-Turkish Campaign Clips

International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) addressed Central Election Commission (CEC) regarding six campaign clips posted on Kremlin-friendly opposition party Alliance of Patriots’ Facebook page. According to the organization, the videos contain anti-Turkish proclamations aimed at fueling hostile attitudes towards Turkey, the content may also provoke ethnic and religious hostilities. The watchdog assesses the cost of advertising to be in the range of USD 100-200, with a potential reach of more than a million voting-age Facebook users.

Tuesday, September 1

19:00 GMT+4 – Central Election Commission Unveils Key Dates and Procedures

The Central Election Commission published the schedule of electoral activities after President Zurabishvili announced the election date. Electoral campaign kicks off on September 1, with various legal obligations in order to restrict the use of administrative resources. On October 26, CEC will release final data on the total number of voters and their breakdown by electoral districts. October 31 is Election Day, with polling stations operational from 8:00 to 20:00.

17:30 GMT+4 – European Georgia Names Akhaltsikhe, Gori Majoritarian Candidates

In Poti, along with presenting the economic reform plan, European Georgia named two majoritarian candidates: Zurab Chilingrashvili will be the party’s pick to run for southern Akhaltsikhe-Adigeni-Borjomi-Aspindzi constituency, while Levan Tarkhnishvili will run in central Gori-Kaspi district.

The party also presented Ronald Meskhi as the candidate for the Terjola mayor elections.

17:10 GMT+4 – European Georgia Unveils Economic Reform Plan in Poti

The European Georgia Party held a presentation in Western Georgia’s port-city of Poti to unveil the economic reform plan for the upcoming parliamentary elections, focusing on minimizing government spending, lowering taxes, creating employment opportunities and eliminating corruption in the judiciary system.

The party leaders, Davit Bakradze, Giga Bokeria, and Gigi Ugulava, who spoke publicly at the event, referred to the economic reform plan as an “agreement with the people,” stressing that the plan will be put into practice “within 100 days”, should the party secure victory in the October elections.

The plan includes the following points:

  • Creating 100,000 jobs after diminishing the tax burden on businesses which would leave each family with an annual income of over 2,000 GEL (USD 650);
  • Decreasing government and bureaucratic spending by GEL 2 billion (USD 647 million);
  • Allocating a share of locally collected taxes to the local municipality;
  • Doubling pension rates;
  • Doubling social welfare payments;
  • Doubling welfare payments for displaced persons;
  • Making the cumulative pension reform voluntary;
  • Transferring ownership of state-owned factories, land, forests, and grazing land to private owners;
  • Resolving the issue of water and gas accessibility in rural parts of the country;
  • Building roads in rural parts of the country;
  • Expanding the jury court system;
  • Introducing elections for local sheriffs, and judge positions;
  • Defeating crime and ensuring the rule of law.

Monday, August 31

15:30 GMT+4 – Georgia’s Parliamentary Election Date Set for October 31

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili set October 31 as the date of holding parliamentary elections in Georgia.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

მსგავსი/Related

Back to top button