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Georgia Election Live Blog: EU External Affairs Lead Spokesperson on Georgia’s Political Deadlock  

On October 31, the citizens of Georgia voted to elect 150-member parliament through a mixed electoral system: 120 MP seats were contested through party lists and 30 lawmakers were to be elected as majoritarians from single-mandate constituencies. The electoral system was modified significantly following months-long protests that started on June 20, 2019, and were a result of foreign-mediated negotiations between the ruling Georgian Dream and opposition parties.

Tuesday, November 24

11:00 GMT+4 – EU External Affairs Lead Spokesperson on Georgia’s Political Deadlock

Lead Spokesperson for the External Affairs of the European Union Peter Stano endorsed the recent EU Delegation to Georgia statement, which expressed hope that the ruling Georgian Dream party and the opposition will overcome the political impasse following 2020 parliamentary elections.

Saturday, November 21

20:30 GMT+4 – More Than 100 Violations Observed, GYLA Says

As of 20:00, GYLA observed more than 100 violations, including instances of breach of secrecy, influencing voter’s will and obstruction of observer’s activities.

“Similarly to the first round, the mobilization of unknown people near polling stations can be seen throughout the country. GYLA observers are not allowed to exercise their authority and in some instances, they were even threatened,” the watchdog highlighted in its statement.

GYLA observers filed 24 complaints, out of which 10 were in DECs and 14 in PECs.

17:00 GMT +4 – GYLA: Voters Pressured Despite Less Competitive Runoffs

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), a local watchdog observing the runoffs, said that controlling voters’ wills “remains a challenge despite less competitive runoffs” of the 2020 parliamentary elections.

According to the CSO, coordinators and activists are mobilized at the polling stations, creating an environment of psychological pressure on voters.

GYLA further listed two cases at precincts in Tbilisi’s Didube-Chugureti district and Rustavi, Kvemo Kartli, where the above-mentioned groups obstructed activities of the observers deployed by the watchdog.

15:15 GMT +4 – ISFED: Ruling Party Coordinators Mobilized Outside Precincts Amid Low Turnout

International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy said ruling Georgian Dream party coordinators are mobilized outside “the majority of precincts” amid low voter turnout.

As of 15:00, ISFED observed irregularities such as one instance of possible vote-buying, two instances of obstructing observers’ activities and one person voting several times.

12:00 GMT+4 – GD Campaign Chief Claims Opposition Boycotted 2016 Election Runoffs

“Despite the fact that the opposition, similarly to the last [2016] parliamentary elections, has again refused to participate in the second rounds, I remind you that their [oppositions candidates’] surnames remain on the ballots,” ruling Georgian Dream party campaign chief Irakli Kobakhidze said during a party briefing.

Contrary to GD campaign chief’s claims, in 2016, the opposition participated in 48 of the 50 runoffs, with the two notable exceptions being UNM’s Sandra Roelofs in Zugdidi and Irakli Alasania of Free Democrats in Gori district, that opted for not contesting in the second round.

Also Read:

11/10/2016: UNM Opts Against Boycotting Parliament, MP Runoffs

Friday, November 20

18:00 GMT+4 – Opposition Leaders Meet EU, U.S. Ambassadors Ahead of Talks with GD

On November 20, opposition leaders from the United National Movement (UNM), European Georgia, Lelo, Girchi, Strategy Aghmashenebeli, Citizens party, Labor Party, and pro-Kremlin Alliance of Patriots party – that are boycotting next parliament despite having crossed 1% election threshold, in addition to ex-Speaker Nino Burjanadze’s United Georgia, held separate meetings at EU Ambassador Carl Hartzell’s residence, with U.S. Ambassador Kelly Degnan also in attendance.

UNM Chairman Grigol Vashadze said following the meeting that he reiterated to the Ambassadors, that snap elections, a changed Election Administration, and release of alleged political prisoners remain the opposition’s key demands. “I expect a compromise proposal from the Georgian Dream,” Vashadze remarked.

Giorgi Vashadze of the Strategy Aghmashenebeli said that a solution for the political impasse is in the hands of the ruling party, not the opposition, stressing that he has “not heard a single proposal from the Georgian Dream.”

The meetings come in preparation for the third round of foreign-facilitated dialogue between the governing Georgian Dream and the opposition parties. The sides had two rounds of negotiations on November 12, and November 14, albeit achieved no solutions to end the political deadlock.

14:00 GMT+4 – Labor Leader Slams German Ambassador

Labor Party leader Shalva Natelashvili slammed Berlin’s Tbilisi envoy Hubert Knirsch, saying “the German Ambassador is Bidzina Ivanishvili’s [ruling Georgian Dream party Chairman] infamous personal lobbyist.”

Labor leader’s remarks come as German Ambassador Hubert Knirsch urged the Georgian opposition, refusing to join the parliament, to participate in the political process. Ambassador Knirsch stressed that Georgia does not have much time to lose amid significant challenges, which require joint efforts to be overcome.

12:00 GMT+4 – ISFED to Deploy Limited Observation Mission

The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), key local election watchdog, announced that it will monitor the second round of the 2020 parliamentary elections on November 21 through a limited observation mission of 35 mobile groups in 17 majoritarian districts. 

ISFED noted that opposition parties’ boycott of the runoffs, as well as COVID-19 concerns, were key reasons behind the decision to limit the observation mission.

Thursday, November 19

13:00 GMT+4 – UNM Announces Decision not to Participate in Runoffs

Davit Kirkitadze, United National Movement’s majoritarian MP candidate for Rustavi constituency, announced in today’s press conference that none of the UNM majoritarian candidates will participate in the runoffs of the October 31 parliamentary elections.

“Also, I would like to say that we are not going to take part in this farce in any manner, neither are we going to obstruct this process which only one political group in Georgia calls elections,” he noted, adding that the party made the decision to boycott the runoffs “right on the next day after it had become known about this farce.”

Wednesday, November 18

12:00 GMT+4 – GD’s Kobakhidze Talks Pompeo Visit, OSCE PA Statements

Georgian Dream Executive Secretary, MP Irakli Kobakhidze told journalists that Secretary Pompeo’s visit to Tbilisi is a “vivid confirmation” of close strategic cooperation between the countries, as well as the United States’ support to the pro-American government.

“After the meetings with the representatives of the government, we can surely state that Michael Pompeo’s visit to Georgia will give a new impetus to Georgian-American strategic cooperation,” Kobakhidze underscored.

Former speaker also discussed OSCE Parliamentary Assembly leaders’ calls on Georgian political parties to overcome political deadlock emerged after hotly-contested October 31 parliamentary elections.

“Our partners reaffirmed that the polls were conducted in a competitive environment, in accordance with fundamental human rights. In this respect, the calls of OSCE PA representatives on opposition to enter parliament and continue their activities in democratic institutions is important,” Kobakhidze said, once again inviting opposition to publicly debate about the elections in details.

Monday, November 16

12:00 GMT+4 – Opposition Leaders Meet at Labor Party Office

Opposition leaders held another meeting at the Labor Party office to discuss the future action plan ahead of third round of talks with the government facilitated by foreign diplomats.

The opposition parties discussed the scheduled protests with a special focus on Secretary Pompeo’s visit and November 21 demonstrations. Part of the parties do not agree with the United National Movement’s proposal to form corridors of shame at the election precincts during runoffs.

“We consider different forms of protests, including a human chains at several places in Tbilisi. Of course, there will be various types of protests on the day of so-called runoffs,” UNM member Tinatin Bokuchava told journalists.

One of the leaders of European Georgia Giga Bokeria said that the results of election do not reflect people’s real choice, but he does not agree with the idea of corridors in this particular situation. According to Zurab Japaridze, Girchi also declines to join the corridors protest.

Considering diversity of opinion, leader of the Labor Party Shalva Natelashvili confirmed that the opposition did not finalize their plan.

11:00 GMT+4 – Nika Melia’s Campaign Office Attacked

The United National Movement’s Gldani majoritarian candidate Nika Melia’s campaign office was attacked in Tbilisi. Allegedly, stones and “Molotov cocktails” were thrown at the office, which was damaged in the fire.

Georgian Interior Ministry launched an investigation under Article 187 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, involving damage or destruction of property.

Saturday, November 14

18:00 GMT+4 – Ruling Party, Opposition Meet for Second Round of Talks

The ruling Georgian Dream party and eight opposition parties met at the residence of U.S. Ambassador Kelly Degnan for the second round of talks, two days after the political dialogue began through the facilitation of foreign diplomats.

Full Article:

15:00 GMT+4 – Protest Outside Parliament Resumes

With the process of political dialogue between government and opposition facilitated by foreign diplomats continues, thousands of demonstrators, as well as opposition party members and activists, have resumed protesting what they deem as rigged elections outside the Parliament building in Tbilisi, on Rustaveli Avenue.

The opposition leaders claim that their demands remain unchanged – conducting snap elections, changing the Central Election Commission (CEC) Administration, and releasing “political prisoners.”

Shalva Natelashvili, the leader of opposition Labor Party, said that they did not accept the proposal to recount the votes at the negotiations with the government. “Our position about necessity of new elections remains unchanged, as there is no other way out,” Natelashvili remarked.

Friday, November 13

15:00 GMT+4 – ISFED Reports on Election Lawsuit Outcomes

The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) reported that it filed a total of 19 lawsuits in the common courts, appealing against District Election Commissions’ (DECs) decisions to reject the recount or annulment of final vote tallies in 33 polling stations. According to ISFED, after filing lawsuits, only 2 DECs were instructed to recount the results of 4 polling stations. 

A recount of ballots cast for majoritarian candidates in one election precinct in the Samgori district left results unchanged as the data corrected by the amendment protocol corresponded to the precinct’s original data.

Results were recounted in 3 election precincts in the Saburtalo district. A recount in one precinct also left results unchanged, though ISFED noted that the voters’ lists were not checked during the recount.

ISFED said that an “imperfect recount” in one election precinct showed that the ruling Georgian Dream party had received one vote less than it should have, while the United National Movement received one extra vote.

Another “imperfect recount” in an election precinct in the Saburtalo district, according to the watchdog, revealed that the number of invalid ballots stood at 53, based on the precinct’s summary protocol, and at 35,  based on the ammendment protocol. ISFED reported that the actual number of invalid ballots was 34.

14:15 GMT +4 – Georgian, Lithuanian Foreign Ministers Hold phone Talk

11:00 GMT+4 – TI Georgia Reports on Election Lawsuit Outcomes

Transparency International (TI) Georgia, a key election watchdog, reported that it has appealed the results of 42 election precincts in 11 districts in court, of which appeals in 39 precincts were not satisfied.

According to the watchdog, results were recounted in three election precincts. A recount in one election precinct in the Khelvachauri district revealed that the ruling Georgian Dream party had received one extra ballot in its favor. In an election precinct in Batumi, a recount showed that the Girchi party received 4 votes, when it should have received 36.

The watchdog also reported that the Bolnisi district court instructed the Marneuli district election commission to recount votes in one election precinct where there was evidence of one person casting multiple ballots. TI Georgia said it demanded the annulment of the precinct results as a recount would fail to amend election fraud in the given instance; however, the demand was not satisfied by the district court.

Thursday, November 12

21:00 GMT+4 – Opposition, Ruling Party Launch Political Dialogue

After a series of protest rallies and boycotting the next parliament, the opposition and the ruling party agreed on November 12 to launch a political dialogue through facilitation of foreign diplomats.

Full Article:

15:30 GMT +4 – Opposition Leaders Meet with Foreign Ambassadors

According to media reports, opposition leaders are meeting with foreign diplomats at the residence of U.S. Ambassador Kelly Degnan, with EU Ambassador Carl Hartzell and French Ambassador Diego Colas also in attendance.

Media footage shows leaders of the opposition United National Movement, European Georgia, Alliance of Patriots, Lelo, Girchi, Citizens and Labor parties arriving at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence.

TV Pirveli channel says Georgian Dream senior lawmaker Archil Talakvadze also arrived at the meeting.

15:00 GMT+4 – GYLA Reports On Results of Election Lawsuits

According to the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), key election watchdog, it has appealed the results of 38 election precincts in court, of which only 12 have been satisfied.

The final vote tally in one election precinct in the Rustavi District was completely annulled due to bureaucratic shortcomings, and inconsistencies, the watchdog claimed.

Significant errors were observed when recounting votes in two precincts in the Didube district. In one precinct, the ‘Citizens’ party received 2 votes according to the final vote tally, though turned out to receive 32 following the recount.

In another precinct, the recount revealed that invalid ballots were included in the final vote tally, GYLA reported. In addition, it is unclear how many citizens cast their vote in the election precinct, as the special list of voters in quarantines/self-isolation was not included in the sealed documents of the precinct. GYLA said it requested that the precinct results be annulled, though based on the Didube DEC’s decision, the votes were recounted.

14:00 GMT+4 – Opposition Unaware of Alleged Foreign-Backed Talks

During an interview aired last night on Rustavi 2 TV, United National Movement (UNM) Chairman Grigol Vashadze revealed that “diplomatic representatives from [Georgia’s] strategic partners” unsuccessfully attempted to facilitate negotiations between the opposition and the ruling Georgian Dream party. Since the interview, leaders from major opposition parties have come out to stress that they do not have knowledge of alleged foreign-backed talks.

Zurab Japaridze from the right-libertarian Girchi party, expressing his confusion toward Vashadze’s remarks, said, “Is the UNM leader lying? What failed talks is he referring to? Who were [the talks] disrupted by and when? For what reason?”

European Georgia party leader Gigi Ugulava accused Vashadze of lying, underscoring that Vashadze was not conducting talks with international partners on behalf of the opposition. Ugulava also said that the UNM Chairman’s statements are threatening to the unity of the opposition.

Saba Buadze from the Lelo for Georgia party said Vashadze’s statements are inconsistent with what other UNM representatives are communicating during opposition consultations.

UNM member Zaal Udumashvili said he has not been informed about the details of the alleged foreign-backed talks, though stressed that he agrees with the UNM Chairman’s call for dialogue.

Wednesday, November 11

22:30 GMT+4 – UNM Chair Says Foreign-Backed Talks Between Opposition, GD Broke Down

Following statements that stirred controversy both within the United National Movement (UNM) and the wider opposition, UNM Chairman Grigol Vashadze sat down with Rustavi 2 TV for an exclusive interview.

Vashadze said street protests must continue so that the government can acknowledge its citizens’ demands, though stressed that dialogue is also necessary to overcome the existing political crisis. “If we do not go into negotiations, we will never know if they will turn out to be successful,” Vashadze said.

Vashadze also revealed that a “diplomatic representatives of our [Georgia’s] strategic partners” attempted to facilitate dialogue between the opposition and the ruling party, though noted that the attempt was unsuccessful. “We are all to blame,” the UNM Chairman said, adding that the alleged negotiations backfiring triggered his initial controversial statement.

“The last straw was when the almost prepared dialogue was disrupted by the commanders of the diplomatic missions of our strategic allies; everything was prepared and it did not work out,” Vashadze explained. The UNM Chair said that he is not allowed to reveal who the facilitators of the dialogue were.

Since Vashadze’s interview, opposition leaders from Lelo, Strategy Aghmashenebeli, European Georgia, and Girchi parties said that they have not been informed about alleged foreign-backed talks with the ruling party.

15:00 GMT+4 – Small-Scale Protests Erupt as DECs Finalize Summary Protocols

According to media repots, a number of small-scale protests have erupted outside various District Election Commissions (DECs) throughout Georgia as DECs finalize summary protocols from the October 31 parliamentary elections.

Reportedly, demonstrators are rallying near Samgori, Vake, Saburtalo and Gldani DECs in Tbilisi, as well as in front of Batumi, Poti, Ozurgeti, Gori, and Tskaltubo DECs.

District Election Commissions are holding summary sessions today after which the deadline for summarizing voting results formally expires.

Tuesday, November 10

21:00 GMT+4 – EU Ambassador Welcomes Calls for Dialogue from Political Leaders, NGOs

Carl Hartzell, EU Ambassador to Georgia, welcomed in his tweet “recent calls from political leaders and NGOs for dialogue to resolve current impasse and to advance the democratic agenda,” pledging support on the part of the EU delegation to Georgia and the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi.

19:40 GMT+4 – RSF Asks Government to Ensure Journalists’ Safety

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a Paris-based watchdog, stated that during the protest on Sunday night outside the Central Election Commission at least seven journalists were injured by the water cannons used by the police, with equipment being damaged as well. RSF said it “asks for the government to ensure their safety during their work.”

16:45 GMT+4 – Watchdog Alarmed by Journalists Injured During November 8 Protest

TI Georgia stated it is alarmed by “the instances of journalists receiving injuries and having their professional activities obstructed,” during the November 8 protest outside the Central Election Commission (CEC) building.

The statement called on the government to ensure an “appropriate environment for the professional activities of journalists” and “to pursue by law the persons responsible for said incidents.” The watchdog highlighted the importance of the journalists being reimbursed for the damages as well.

16:30 GMT+4 – Four Opposition Parties Issue Joint Statement

Four parties, European Georgia, Lelo, Girchi, and Strategy Aghmashenebeli issued a joint statement reiterating their refusal to recognize “the results of a rigged election” and to participating in the November 21 runoffs.

“Our demands remain unchanged – conducting snap elections, changing the Central Election Commission (CEC) Administration, and releasing political prisoners. These are the issues that should be discussed with the Ivanishvili [Georgian Dream Chairman] regime through the mediation of Georgia’s international friends,” the statement reads.

The statement also underscores the parties’ commitment to peaceful demonstration, adding that the opposition will renew protests on November 14, 15:00, and will also form a human chain on November 21, instead of participating in the runoffs.

16:00 GMT+4 – German Ambassador Backs Initiating Talks Between GD, Opposition

German Ambassador to Georgia Hubert Knirsch issued a statement on the prospect of negotiations being held between the opposition and the ruling party over the parliamentary elections. 

“Political tensions following the first round of parliamentary elections in Georgia has also caused worry in Germany. Therefore, we are glad that leading politicians from both sides are coming out with the initiative of conducting dialogue. Georgia’s democratic development is important for the whole region. All political actors have this responsibility. We will support discussions between them to the best of our ability,” the German Ambassador’s announcement reads.  

14:30 GMT+4 – UNM’s Dekanoidze Slams Vashadze, Vashadze Clarifies Previous Statement

Responding to Grigol Vashadze’s statement, UNM MP candidate Khatia Dekanoidze said that the contents of Vashadze’s announcement were not agreed upon with the UNM political council and with party leaders. 

“It is disappointing that the party Chairman is making such statements without prior discussion,” Dekanoidze noted, adding that she is not against negotiations, but that they should only take place on terms shared by the whole opposition spectrum.

Following Dekanoidze’s statement, Vashadze further clarified his position on the negotiations, underscoring that he supports the continuation of protests. Though, Vashadze also noted that “a political component must be added to this protest immediately – through mediation from strategic allies in the form of negotiations on the implementation of principles of fair elections.” 

Vashadze also stressed that UNM would not participate in runoff elections or enter the next parliament until the negotiations are successfully completed. 

“Once and for all we must all work hard so that in the future the normal [political] process is not replaced by street protests due to election fraud,” the UNM Chairman concluded. 

Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili swiftly responded to Vashadze’s announcement, stating that he is in complete agreement with the UNM Chairman.

13:30 GMT+4 – UNM Chairman: Processes Should Move to Negotiating Table

Grigol Vashadze, Chairman of the United National Movement (UNM), said that amid economic, social, political and demographic challenges, in addition to regional military escalation, street processes should be immediately replaced with negotiations.

“I call on all political parties: let’s urgently move the processes to the negotiating table, replace the street with the tribune of all levels of legislative bodies and call upon all powers to take the country out of deep crisis,” Vashadze stated.

The UNM Chairman also underscored that it is necessary to recount disputed election precincts together with strategic partners, which will give the opposition the majority in Parliament and end the crisis in the country.

“The CEC chairperson should resign. An investigative commission should be formed in the next Parliament, which will examine violations of the ongoing elections and reveal responsible persons,” Vashadze concluded.

13:30 GMT+4 – CEC on Election Complaint Review Process

According to the Central Election Commission (CEC) approximately 1941 complaints have been made in District Election Commissions (DECs) since the start of election day, of which 1272 were issued by election subjects, and 564 – by observer organizations. Appeals were mostly issued concerning procedural violations and discrepancies in final vote tallies (summary protocols).

The Election Administration said that DECs have recounted results in 39 election precincts: 6 cases based on their own initiative; 14 cases based on applications/complaints, and 19 cases based on court decisions.

CEC noted that up to 24,500 votes were recounted, though underscored that “in most cases results remained unchanged,” while “in some instances” final vote tallies were clarified and amended by DECs.

11:00 GMT+4 – Archil Talakvadze Says Opposition Wants to Divide Public

Incumbent Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze of the ruling Georgian Dream party said that by attacking the election results, the opposition wants to encourage division and confrontation in society. 

“We want to unite the public, and this is possible only through respect and recognition of the election results,” Talakvadze underscored.

The Parliament Speaker also noted that the opposition should not encourage people to disrupt public order during street protests. “If you want to get something done, there are things to get done in Parliament, not in the street,” Talkavadze said. 

10:00 GMT+4 – GYLA on November 8 Protest

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) issued a statement underscoring that the use of police force against demonstrators rallying outside Central Election Commission (CEC) headquarters on November 8 was “illegal,” “disproportionate,” and “unwarranted.”

According to GYLA, the police were legally obliged to issue an official warning to the demonstrators before using “special means”, such as water cannons, to disperse the rally, unless an immediate dispersion became necessary to protect a citizen or a police employee from harm’s way.

The watchdog stressed that protestors did not pose an immediate threat when the police used water cannons without prior warning at 21:43. The Interior Ministry also confirmed that no prior warning was issued at the time.

The watchdog noted that the use of water cannons was also disproportionate, as according to international standards, “special means” are only to be used when a large group of demonstrators begins to pose an immediate threat and cannot be dealt with on an individual basis.

GYLA stressed that water cannons were used on peaceful demonstrators and small groups on a number of occasions, injuring up to 10 rally attendants. GYLA also condemned the use of water cannons given the dire epidemological situation and healthcare crisis in Georgia.

Acknowledging that a small group of protestors were using force and disobeying police orders during the protest, GYLA noted that the use of force by a small group does not automatically transform an otherwise peaceful protest into a non-peaceful one. The watchdog said that law enforcement is obliged to separate peaceful and non-peaceful participants, making the police’s general use of force “unwarranted.”

00:20 GMT+4 – Opposition Leader Fined for Defying Curfew

Khatia Dekanoidze, MP candidate from the United National Movement, was reportedly stopped and fined by the patrol police when she was driving her car in the city center.

According to reports, the police officer in charge said the fine amounted to GEL 2,000 (USD 600) for breaching Article 42 (10) of the Administrative Offences Code, involving the violation of rules of isolation and/or quarantine imposed in relation to provisions of the Law of Georgia on Public Health. Dekanoidze said she will not accept the fine, calling the provision unconstitutional.

Monday, November 9

22:50 GMT+4 – Public Defender: Use of Gov’t Decree against Assemblies Unconstitutional

Public Defender of Georgia released a statement saying that Law on Public Health allows restriction of freedom of movement, but not of the right to assembly and demonstration. “Thus, it would be unconstitutional to use the Government Decree to restrict demonstration and expression,” the statement reads. The Public Defender called on authorities to respect the freedom of expression of protesters and abstain from sanctioning them for breaching regulations that restrict movement from 22:00 until 05:00 in certain cities.

22:10 GMT+4 – Head of Patrol Police on Detentions

Vazha Siradze, Head of Patrol Police, explained the detention of Shame Movement activists citing the potential danger firewood could pose and recalling incidents of using it for violence. “They have set fire in front of the Parliament, which could threaten the lives of protesters as well as policemen,” Siradze said, referring to the Law on Assemblies and Demonstrations that restricts bringing similar items into the rallies.

Siradze added that one of the activists, Lekso Machavariani, also stated that he would not comply with lawful orders of the police and used offensive words against policemen.

Activists were reportedly detained as they were trying to supply the rally with firewood to stay warm overnight.

22:00 GMT+4 – Rally Continues Despite Curfew

Opposition leaders and part of protesters remained in the rally on Rustaveli Avenue despite the curfew in effect from 22:00, declaring disobedience.

21:50 GMT+4 – Reports of Detention of Activists ahead of Curfew

Three activists from the “Shame Movement” Nodar Rukhadze, Giorgi Mzhavanadze, and Lekso Machavariani have been detained by the police prior to the start of curfew at 22:00 as they were reportedly trying to supply the rally with firewood to stay warm. 

21:00 GMT+4 – CSOs: Gov’t-Imposed Curfew ‘Unconstitutional’

Four Georgian CSOs – Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI), International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED),  Human Rights Center (HRC), and Transparency International Georgia have released a joint statement saying that announcing curfew by government decree is unconstitutional since the Government of Georgia has no legislative authority to restrict the freedom of movement. “What’s more, this move is perceived as an attempt to crack down on the ongoing protest wave,” – the statement says, adding that such restriction per se does not constitute an efficient, necessary and proportionate means to attain a legitimate objective.

20:30 GMT+4 – Opposition Announces Two Future Demonstrations

While addressing the public outside the Parliament building, one of the leaders from the United National Movement (UNM), Nika Melia, announced that the opposition has decided to organize another large-scale demonstration on Saturday, November 14 at 15:00.

In addition, Melia once again underscored the opposition’s refusal to participate in November 21 runoff elections, and said that on the same day the opposition plans to form a human chain from Rustaveli Avenue to Vake Park with demonstrators.

18:00 GMT+4 – Protest Outside Parliament Resumes

With the opposition’s common demands still unmet, thousands of demonstrators, as well as opposition party members and activists, have resumed protesting what they deem as rigged elections outside the Parliament building in Tbilisi, on Rustaveli Avenue.

The protest is expected to conflict with the COVID-19 22:00-05:00 curfew that came into effect today in Tbilisi and in Georgia’s other large cities.

15:00 GMT+4 – CEC Ready for Dialogue “Under a Peaceful Format”

The Central Election Commission (CEC), in a recent announcement condemning the protest near CEC headquarters, said that the events that took place on November 8 represented “an unacceptable means of pressuring and influencing” the Election Administration. 

Noting that the 2020 election process has not yet been concluded with ongoing legal disputes, recounts of final vote tallies, and runoff elections still expected to take place, CEC asserted that “specific political actors” are disrupting the process, as well as “deliberately discrediting” the independence of the Election Administration. 

In the announcement, CEC also expressed its readiness to discuss election-related matters “under a peaceful format” and “with the participation of various actors involved.”

“We urge international partners and local NGOs to facilitate dialogue, which is important for civic agreement in the country,” the announcement concluded. 

12:45 GMT+4 – PM Gakharia: “There Is No Alternative to Negotiations”

Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, discussing yesterday’s demonstration, said that the political process needs to “immediately move” to political and legal platforms. “There is no alternative to negotiations,” PM Gakharia asserted, noting that the call for talks was initiated by the ruling party, as well as by Georgia’s strategic partners.

However, the Georgian Prime Minister also stated that there should be no compromises regarding “any violations, any incitements to violence that took place yesterday,” at the demonstration in front of the Central Election Commission (CEC) building.

12:15 GMT+4 – Some 27 Persons Injured During the Protest

Deputy Interior Minister Kakhaber Sabanadze stated that during the protest some 14 law enforcers, three journalists and 10 protesters were injured. As Sabanadze reported, some received first aid on the spot, while others are being treated at hospitals.

12:10 GMT+4 – Interior Ministry Briefing on the Protest

First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Kakhaber Sabanadze held an Interior Ministry briefing today, elaborating on the police’s decision to use water cannons against protestors who were gathered outside Central Election Commission (CEC) headquarters.

“Yesterday, during the protest held in Tbilisi, the participants’ behavior went beyond the limits set by the law on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” Sabanadze said, adding that protestors violently broke through the police cordon, caused damage to state vehicles and attempted to illegally invade CEC headquarters.

The First Deputy Minister stressed that the Interior Ministry’s decision to use water cannons against the protestors was “urgent,” as protestors continued to pursue “illegal actions” despite the police issuing several warnings in advance.

Kakhaber Sabanadze also denied allegations of police using tear gas against protestors, underscoring that the police was, in fact, using pepper spray.

According to the briefing, 19 people were detained for disturbing public order and disobeying the lawful demands of the police. The Interior Ministry also noted that the events that unfolded outside CEC headquarters are being investigated under Article 225 (organisation, management or participation in group violence), 1 and 2 of the Criminal Code of Georgia.

01:35 GMT+4 – Opposition Leaders Call for Protests at 18:00 Outside Parliament

Opposition leaders UNM’s Nika Melia and Alexander (Aleko) Elisashvili of “the Citizens” called on protesters to gather at 18:00, Monday, outside the Parliament building on Rustaveli Avenue. The protest outside the Central Election Commission building seems to be slowly subsiding, but crowds still remain outside CEC premises.

The statements followed a tense standoff between protesters and riot police. Police kept using water cannons against protesters for some 10 minutes.

01:30 GMT+4 – Ombudsperson Calls on Gov’t, Opposition to Take Steps Toward De-escalation

Public Defender Nino Lomjaria issued another statement, asking:

  • the Government to take urgent steps toward de-escalation, “this is your responsibility;”
  • opposition leaders to urge their supporters to peace and to take all measures at their disposal to de-escalate tensions;
  • the Central Election Commission to do “what shall be done.”

01:20 GMT+4 – GD MP Kobakhidze Warns UNM’s Melia, Calls on Interior Ministry to ‘Use Proportional Force’

MP Irakli Kobakhidze of the Georgian Dream, former Speaker, made comment from the GD headquarters after police used water cannons for the second time during the night.

“I’d like to comment on the ongoing storming, led by criminal Nikanor Melia, against the Central Election Commission,” Kobakhidze said, and claimed that like during June 20, 2019 tensions outside the Parliament, “Melia and his group of supporters are now leading assault against CEC.”

“We warn them, they each and every one of them will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. As we have said before, polarization and aggression are caused not by the criminals being in the prisons, but their presence in politics. Time will come very soon in Georgia when criminals will serve their sentences in prison to the fullest extent of the law,” MP Kobakhidze highlighted.

“We call upon all participants of unlawful gathering to refrain from addressing illegal actions. We call upon the Ministry of Interior to use proportional force,” former Speaker concluded.

01:15 GMT+4 – Water Cannons Used for Around 10 Minutes

Police kept using water cannons against protesters outside the CEC for around 10 minutes.

01:03 GMT+4 – Police Resumes Using Water Cannons

Tensions heightened outside the Central Election Commission building as protesters broke the fence separating riot police and the protest participants. Minor clashes took place between the sides. Following several warnings, police have resumed using water cannons.

00:10 GMT+4 – GYLA: Use of Water Cannons Unjustified

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), a Georgian CSO, commented on the ongoing tensions in a rally outside the CEC office. GYLA said in a statement that “instead of adequately responding to existing questions in the public and creating mechanisms of political dialogue on the government’s part, citizens of Georgia have to face the police, and the situation becomes harder to manage.”

Noting that, outside the exceptional cases, the use of special means needs to be preceded by a warning, the CSO said that the use of water cannons amid the hardened epidemiological situation and healthcare crisis is “unjustified.”

Sunday, November 8

23:50 GMT+4 – ISFED: Police Used Excessive Force with no Prior Warning

International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), a local election watchdog, slammed the use of excessive force by the state during the rally outside the Central Election Commission office. “Use of water cannons was completely groundless,” ISFED’s statement said, adding that the rally was in its initial phase at the time. “Since the rally did not exceed peaceful expression forms and lawful limits, there was no ground to use force,” ISFED noted, saying that disproportionate force was used with no prior warning by law enforcers.

23:15 GMT+4 – Public Defender: Use of Force with no Prior Warning “against Law”

Commenting on “extremely sad developments” outside the Central Election Commission office, Public Defender Nino Lomjaria said that using force on protesters without prior loud warning “is against law.” Lomjaria noted that, even after issuing a warning, police are not allowed to use force “as long as the rally remains within the law,” calling on police to stop using “disproportionate force” on protesters.

23:05 GMT+4 – Watchdog Says Police Actions “Gravely Violated” Right to Assembly, Manifestations

Transparency International Georgia, a local civil society organization, issued a late-night statement, noting that police actions “gravely violated” constitutional right to assemble and manifestations.

22:30 GMT+4 – MIA: Protesters Tried Storming CEC Building

Following reports of police using water cannons on protesters outside the building of the Central Election Commission (CEC), the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) has released a statement saying that protesters tried storming the CEC building later in the day, “as seen in the footages and which has been averted by the police.”

“Since the participants of the rally resorted to violent means and did not comply with the instructions of the police,” the statement says, the MIA used “proportional force within their authority.”

The Ministry calls on organizers and participants of the rally to maintain the public order and comply with police demands, saying it will promptly avert any offenses “within the law.”

21:45 GMT+4 – Police Uses Water Cannons on Protesters

TV live videos show water cannons used on peaceful protesters, as media reported, outside the Central Election Commission building. Larger crowds led by the opposition that started rallying from the Parliament at 20:00 have not yet reached CEC headquarters.

water cannons used on protesters outside the CEC. Screengrab from TV Pirveli video.

21:00 GMT+4 – GD Executive Secretary on Meeting Opposition: We’ll Wait for Int’l Partners

Commenting on today’s opposition rally, Georgian Dream’s executive secretary Irakli Kobakhidze said that opposition leader Nika Melia lied about party members reaching out to the opposition. Instead, Kobakhidze suggested that UNM’s Tina Bokuchava has contacted him and Speaker Archil Talakvadze over holding a meeting regarding the elections. 

“We explained that, according to the information we had, our international partners wanted to arrange a meeting between the ruling party and the opposition,” Kobakhidze said, adding that “we always take the views and proposals of our international partners into account and would wait for their position.” Irakli Kobakhidze said that, otherwise, the ruling party did not propose holding any meeting today.

20:00 GMT+4 – UNM’s Melia Announces March Toward CEC Headquarters

Large crowds of protestors are expected to move toward Central Election Commission (CEC) headquarters as the deadline for meeting the opposition’s demands has expired.

UNM’s Nika Melia stated opposition representatives were contacted by leaders from the Georgian Dream party who said that they would be willing to negotiate with the opposition tomorrow. Melia requested that the ruling party address the demands of the opposition today, and announced the march toward CEC headquarters in response.

The opposition plans to set another deadline for the ruling party after arriving at CEC headquarters according to the UNM leader.

16:00 GMT+4 – Opposition Announces Common Demands

As protests on Rustaveli Avenue continue, leader of the European Georgia party Elene Khoshtaria announced the opposition’s three common demands, adding that the ruling Georgia Dream (GD) party has until 20:00 to satisfy the demands.

First, the Central Election Commission (CEC) must schedule snap elections as the opposition refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of the October 31 results.

The opposition has also called for the resignation of CEC Chairperson Tamar Zhvania, stressing that she enabled election-rigging in favor of the ruling party on October 31.

The opposition also demanded the release of three alleged political prisoners: Giorgi Rurua, one of the shareholders of the pro-opposition Mtavari Arkhi TV, and of two former Border Demarcation Commission members Iveri Melashvili and Natalia Ilychova, detained due to a recently initiated criminal investigation into ceding lands to Azerbaijan.

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15:50 GMT+4 – UNM’s Nika Melia Says Opposition Ready to Meet Ruling Party if CEC Chairperson Resigns

Leader of the United National Movement (UNM) party Nika Melia said the opposition would be willing to meet with the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party if Bidzina Ivanishvili, GD chairman, decides to order the resignation of Tamar Zhvania, chairwoman of the Central Election Commission (CEC), until 20:00.

“Should Ivanishvili make up his mind and call for the resignation of Tamar Zhvania, opposition representatives are ready to meet with Ivanishvili to discuss setting up new [snap] elections on your [protestors’] behalf,” the UNM leader said.

15:10 GMT+4 – Opposition Leaders Address Protestors

As protestors continue to rally outside the parliament building, opposition leaders have taken the stage to address the public.

Elene Khoshtaria from the European Georgia party stressed that today’s protests supersede party interests, as well as disagreements within the opposition. “We are not standing here today for for parliamentary seats, or for any particular group. We are standing here for a free choice, for an election that they decided to take away from us,” Khoshtaria said.

Mamuka Khazaradze, chairman of the Lelo for Georgia party, asserted that no negotiations will take place between the opposition and the ruling Georgian Dream party until the Central Election Commission (CEC) admits to election-rigging and schedules snap elections.

“Different party flags can be seen here, but we have come for one thing, […] we have one goal to fight for – we want to live in a free, normal, honest country,” Citizens party leader Aleko Elisashvili said, underscoring that the opposition must continue to maintain its unity despite past disagreements. 

15:00 GMT+4 – Protestors, Opposition Rally Outside Parliament Building

After a week of rising political tensions, thousands of protestors, as well as opposition party representatives and activists, have gathered in front of the Parliament building on Rustaveli Avenue for the largest protest over election-rigging since election day. A simultaneous protest is taking place in Batumi, in the western Adjara region.

Refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of the first round of the October 31 parliamentary elections, protestors are demanding snap elections to break the existing political deadlock between the ruling Georgian Dream party and the opposition.

Saturday, November 7

15:00 GMT+4 – TI Georgia Slams Courts for Refusing to Allow Online Hearings

Transparency International (TI) Georgia, a key election observer, said that not a single court has accepted its request to conduct hearings for election-related complaints online. The watchdog also added that a majority of its lawyers are currently in self-isolation due to the epidemiological situation deteriorating nationwide.

14:30 GMT+4 – TI Georgia Says CEC Backtracks as Appeals Move to Court

TI Georgia said that after announcing about appealing results of 42 precincts in court, the Central Election Commission (CEC) contacted the watchdog, underscoring that the Election Administration’s “unequivocal position” is to support the recounts. TI Georgia stated that CEC asked them to provide information on the appealed districts, so that district commission representatives could take the CEC’s position regarding the annulment of said precincts into account during the court process.

The watchdog said it agreed to provide CEC with the requested information, stressed, however, that DECs had refused the opportunity to recount final vote tallies during the complaint review process.

Transparency International (TI) Georgia said District Election Commissions (DECs) refused to satisfy 95% of its 62 recounting complaints.

Friday, November 6

18:30 GMT +4 – TI Georgia Demands Annulment of Results, Recount in 42 Precincts

Transparency International Georgia said it will demand in Court the annulment of summary protocols and recounting of 42 precincts. The watchdog stated it previously filed 62 appeals in PECs and DECs regarding the discrepancies in the final vote tallies, out of which only three were recounted, while 40 were not satisfied and 19 were not reviewed.

18:00 GMT +4 – 1 Detained over Shots near Ivanishvili Business Center

The Ministry of Interior stated about detaining one person following reports about shots fired during a protest rally near the business center of Bidzina Ivanishvili, chairman of the ruling party, on November 6. 

According to the statement, police detained the suspect hours after he allegedly fired multiple shots while driving through a traffic tunnel in Sololaki, Tbilisi, in the vicinity of the business center. 

The perpetrator, previously convicted for robbery, now faces charges under Article 236 (3,4) of the Criminal Code, involving illegal purchase, storage, and carrying of firearms, and foreseeing imprisonment for a term of 3 to 7 years. 

According to the statement, police seized a “presumably” sound pistol containing 2 air bullets as evidence, and 6 spent cartridges were seized at the crime scene.

15:00 GMT +4 – GD MP Assesses Election Appeal Process

One of the ruling Georgian Dream party leaders, MP Mamuka Mdinaradze assessed the appeal process of the October 31 parliamentary elections, stating that during the pre-election period, as well as on the election day, only “a minimal amount” of appeals were filed. However, as Mdinaradze claimed, after preliminary results put GD in the lead, complaints were filed en masse, with different organizations appealing the same instances of violations.

He stated that no significant violations or signs of “vote-rigging” were found when summary protocols of some 20 precincts were recounted, accusing the opposition of attempting to “falsely prove that election results were falsified.”  

Thursday, November 5

21:30 GMT+4 – President Zurabishvili on Protests over Election-Rigging

As nationwide protests over election-rigging continue in front of District Election Commission (DEC) buildings, President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili issued a statement, stressing that the protests are impeding the work of the Election Administration.

“The ongoing protests in front of DEC buildings, especially the aggressive actions of protesters, are hindering the work of the Election Administration, which requires a calm environment in order to protect each vote,” the President’s announcement reads.

20:30 GMT+4 – Unrests at Kutaisi, Tbilisi DECs as Protests over Election-Rigging Continue

Unrest involving physical and verbal confrontations erupted in and outside the District Election Commission (DEC) in Kutaisi, Imereti, as protests over faulty voting results continue nationwide. Protesters interrupted the scheduled DEC session, demanding, among others, participation of opposition mayoral candidates in the session and recount of the voting results in “almost every precinct.”

In a separate development, another incident with physical confrontation took place outside the Isani DEC, Tbilisi, where 9 persons had been detained in yesterday’s protests.

A rally is also reported outside the DEC of Mtatsminda, Tbilisi, where police are preventing opposition candidates from entering the building to attend the DEC session.

16:00 GMT+4 – Finance Minister Slams Opposition Rallies As Lari Plummets

Finance Minister Ivane Machavariani stated that there are no objective reasons behind deteriorating the national currency and that the current depreciation is mainly related to the negative expectations caused by “political tensions and radicalism” in the country.

Referring to the opposition protests on election results, Machavariani underscored that refusing “violent” political measures would play positive role in stabilizing Lari exchange rate and reducing spread of COVID-19 infection.

13:00 GMT+4 – 12 Detained in Protests at DECs

12 persons have been detained by police following protests at the District Election Commissions (DECs) in Tbilisi last night, including 9 persons at the Isani DEC and the other 3 at the Saburtalo DEC. Protests that included party and civic activists erupted following concerns of election-rigging based on the reported imbalances in summary protocols. At least 3 persons have been hospitalized after the unrest, media reported. 

According to the Ministry of Interior, 5 out of 12 persons detained under Articles 166 and 173 of the Administrative Offence Code, involving charges of “disorderly conduct” and “non-compliance with a lawful order or demand of a law-enforcement officer”, have already been released on the basis of the written statements. The cases of the remaining 7 are currently decided in court.

12:00 GMT+4 – Mtskheta DEC Annuls Ksani Prison Majoritarian Vote Results

The Central Election Commission adjusted the results in the Mtskheta, Dusheti, Tianeti and Kazbegi Majoritarian constituency, following the Mtskheta District Election Commission’s decision to annul the majoritarian vote tally of a polling station at the Ksani Penitentiary due to “significant mistakes.”

Results published earlier showed ruling party candidate Shalva Kereselidze claiming a first-round victory with a slim 0.1% margin, narrowly surpassing over 50% of votes. Kereselidze currently has 49.67% of the votes under his name. Although CEC has not announced the final results yet, a runoff is expected.

The special precinct hosted at Ksani Prison is where the Public Defender’s Office representatives were not allowed to enter on the Election Day on October 31, as several convicts verbally abused and obstructed the fulfillment of duties of its representatives.

In a statement released today, the Public Defender welcomed the decision. “The scale of the election irregularities made it clear to the Public Defender’s Office why certain prisoners attacked representatives of the Public Defender’s Office, which was not prevented by the administration [of the prison],” the Ombudsperson noted.

Wednesday, November 4

22:00 GMT+4 – CEC Announces Complaint Review Outcomes

The Central Election Commission (CEC) announced the outcomes of complaint reviews in a number of District Election Commissions (DECs).

According to CEC, ballot papers were recounted in one precinct each in Bolnisi, Khashuri, and Khulo election districts with results remaining unchanged. Results were also left unchanged following a recount in one election precinct in the Saburtalo DEC.

Based on complaints submitted by ISFED and GYLA, key election observers, CEC recounted annulled ballots in one election precinct in the Ozurgeti DEC with the final outcome remaining unchanged.

Without specifying further details, CEC also said reviewing election disputes have concluded in Vake, Mtatsminda, Isani, Samgori, Nadzaladevi, Gori, and Gldani DECs.

The complaint review process at DECs will last until November 5, according to CEC.

18:40 GMT+4 – Talakvadze Says Opposition Boycott Serves Russian Interests

Incumbent Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze discussed the opposition boycotting Majoritarian runoffs and the new Parliament, claiming that the opposition “know they will most likely lose the runoffs as well, so they preemptively say they will not participate.”

Talakvadze also argued that former President Saakashvili, UNM-leader, “who is a citizen of another country,” interfered in Georgian elections by participating in campaign activities.

The incumbent Parliament Speaker also argued that the opposition powers are “boycotting results of democratic elections,” which serves the interests of Russia.

18:30 GMT+4 – CEC Deputy Chairperson Briefing on Summary Protocol Discrepancies

Central Election Commission Deputy Chairperson Giorgi Sharabidze held a briefing on discrepancies in summary protocols, stating that CEC unambiguously recommended to District Election Commissions to recount any summary protocols in doubt if substantiated by evidence or well-grounded arguments.

15:00 GMT+4 – GD Meets With OSCE/ODIHR Representatives

Leaders from the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party met with OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) representatives for a discussion of Georgia’s October 31 parliamentary elections.

Incumbent Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze, who made remarks following the meeting, said OSCE/ODIHR reiterated that the 2020 elections were “highly competitive” and that “fundamental rights were safeguarded.” Talakvadze also urged all sides to respect the elections’ outcome.

According to GD campaign chief Irakli Kobakhidze, reported inconsistencies in final vote tallies were also discussed during the meeting. Kobakhidze said that the ruling party expressed its willingness to specify and correct the inconsistencies in a transparent manner, adding that he hopes all parties will be represented in the next parliament. 

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Tuesday, November 3

22:00 GMT +4 – Interior Ministry Detained One Person over Assault on Journalist

Interior Ministry has confirmed that police detained one person over attacking a Publika journalist on Election Day outside a polling station in the Gldani district of Tbilisi.

Police have launched an investigation under Articles 187 and 154 (1) of the Criminal Code of Georgia, involving damage or destruction of property and unlawful interference with journalist’s professional activities.

20:00 GMT +4  – Sporadic Demonstrations Begin in Georgia

Opposition parties and supporters gathered outside the Adjara government building in Georgia’s western city of Batumi, protesting the results of the October 31 elections.

Meanwhile, Central Election Commission Chairperson Tamar Zhvania’s meeting with international, local observers and diplomatic missions went on amid protests outside the CEC building, with protesters damaging the police-erected barriers with stones.

Later in the evening, opposition protesters also gathered outside Vake District Election Commission, where appeal review procedures were reportedly ongoing, protesting discrepancies in the summary protocols.

17:30 GMT+4 – Public Defender Says Observer Organizations Subject to Insults, Intimidation

Public Defender Nino Lomjaria said key election observers’ (GYLA, ISFED, TI Georgia) monitors have been subject to intimidation by District Election Commissions during the complaint review process.

In her statement, the Public Defender called on the Central Election Commission to ensure “a safe and healthy work environment, free of intimidation, for observer organizations.”

15:00 GMT+4 – Alliance of Patriots to Boycott Next Parliament

Irma Inashvili, leader of Kremlin-friendly Alliance of Patriots (AoP) party, which according to preliminary CEC results garnered 3.14% of votes, announced that the AoP will also renounce its parliamentary mandates.

14:00 GMT+4 – CEC Chairperson Meets With International, Local Observers, Diplomatic Missions

CEC Chairperson Tamar Zhavnia held a meeting with international and local observers, as well as diplomatic missions, discussing various accusations raised on the preliminary results.

Regarding discrepancies in summary protocols circulating in the media, Zhvania said that discrepancies occurred since some self-isolated/quarantined voters were not eligible to cast majoritarian votes. The Chairperson added that in some other cases, summary protocols with disbalances are being disseminated without their corresponding correction protocols.

Regarding allegations of delayed preliminary results, Zhvania said that CEC published the results seven and a half hours after polls were closed, compared to seven hours in 2017 mayoral and municipal elections and eight hours in 2012 parliamentary elections.

Zhvania added that 18 mobile ballot boxes have been recounted, with one annulled in the majoritarian vote and nine annulled completely.

13:15 GMT+4 – Ex-President Margvelashvili Urges Georgian Dream to Start Negotiations

Former President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili issued a statement calling on the ruling Georgian Dream party to start negotiations with the opposition.

12:00 GMT+4 – Opposition Parties Sign Agreement Renouncing Parliamentary Mandates

Opposition parties, namely, the United National Movement-led election bloc Strength in Unity, European Georgia, Lelo for Georgia, Strategy Aghmashenebeli, Girchi, Citizens, Labor Party, Republican Party, State for People, European Democrats, Free Democrats, Free Georgia, Freedom party, United Georgia, Tribune-CDM, Victorious Georgia, For Justice party, Law and Justice, and the Christian-Democratic Movement signed an agreement pledging to boycott the next parliament.

“We, the opposition parties […] renounce our parliamentary mandates and we pledge to take all political and legal steps to not accept our seats in the parliament – neither de jure nor de facto,” the agreement reads.

The signatories, which include parties that both managed and failed to pass the 1% election threshold, all acknowledge that the October 31 election took place under a number of significant violations and therefore, failed to express the will of the Georgian people.

According to Labor Party leader Shalva Natelashvili, who led the signing ceremony, the Kremlin-friendly Alliance of Patriots party has also agreed to renounce its parliamentary mandates despite not being present at the event.

Monday, November 2

22:00 GMT+4 – CEC Responds to Allegations of Summary Protocols Fraud

The Central Election Commission of Georgia (CEC) released a statement, claiming that “deliberate” disinformation regarding the discrepancies in summary protocols has been circulating in the media/social media, aimed at breeding “distrust towards election process and election results.”

According to the CEC, in some of the protocols where numbers do not add up, the discrepancies may be caused by “objective circumstances” where self-isolated/ quarantined voters that cast votes in electoral districts other than of their registration were only given proportional/party-list ballots. 

As regards the protocols with real discrepancies, CEC said that processing of preliminary data, including clarifications of the members of respective precinct election commissions, is still underway, alleging that some of the respective protocols are deliberately published without “correction protocols” or clarifications in order to mislead the public. As for the protocols that have been appealed, CEC noted that the complaints will be reviewed and processed in accordance with the law. 

The Central Election Commission has also published some of the examples of summary protocols containing discrepancies, clarifying the causes for disbalance. 

20:00 GMT+4 – TI Georgia Appeals Summary Protocols of 61 Precincts

TI Georgia appealed summary protocols of 61 precincts, covering 19 out of the 30 election districts. The watchdog demanded recounting in 60 of the precincts due to discrepancies between the number of ballots and the number of signatures in the voters’ lists and annulation of results in one precinct of Marneuli constituency where, according to a TI Georgia observer, a person voted more than once.

18:30 GMT+4 – PM of Armenia Congratulates Georgian Dream on Election Victory

Prime Minister (PM) of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan and Georgian PM Giorgi Gakharia held a phone conversation during which the Armenian head of government congratulated the ruling Georgian Dream party for securing victory in the parliamentary election.

18:00 GMT+4 – UNM/Strength in Unity to Boycott Next Parliament

Strength in Unity, an election bloc led by the United National Movement, which according to preliminary CEC results garnered 27,13% of votes, announced that it does not recognize the legitimacy of election results and will, therefore, boycott the next parliament.

18:00 GMT+4 – Strategy Aghmashenebeli Party to Boycott Next Parliament

Giorgi Vashadze, leader of Strategy Aghmashenebeli party, which according to preliminary CEC results garnered 3.15% of votes, announced that the party will boycott the next parliament.

17:30 GMT+4 – Girchi Party to Boycott Next Parliament

Zurab Japaridze, leader of right-libertarian Girchi party, which according to preliminary CEC results garnered 2.89% of votes, announced that the party, refusing to recognize the results, will boycott the next parliament.

17:00 GMT+4 – Lelo for Georgia Calls for Snap Elections

Badri Japaradize, leader of Lelo for Georgia party, which according to preliminary CEC results garnered 3.16% of votes, announced that his party does not acknowledge the legitimacy of election results and will also refuse to enter the next parliament. Japaridze called for snap elections to take place as soon as possible.

16:30 GMT+4 – UNM/Strength in Unity Refuses Adjara Supreme Council Mandates

In a press conference held on November 2 with other opposition parties, Strength in Unity, an election bloc led by the United National Movement, announced that it is refusing the mandates for the Supreme Council of Autonomous Republic of Adjara, the region’s 21-member legislative assembly. The Supreme Council elections were held on October 31, parallel to the general parliamentary elections in Georgia.

According to the statement, authorities have rigged the October 31 elections, and while the opposition could secure up to 15,000 more votes than the ruling party, Georgian Dream was still able to capture double as many mandates as the opposition “in violation of all norms.”

The UNM and other opposition parties announced a rally outside the Adjara government building on November 3 to defend their votes.

Only two forces – the ruling Georgian Dream party and the UNM-led bloc Strength in Unity – were able to cross the 5% threshold in the proportional part of the Supreme Council elections, garnering 45,86% and 33,95% of votes, respectively. GD has also managed to secure a first-round victory in one of the three single-mandate majoritarian constituencies of the Adjara Supreme Council, while run-offs are expected in the remaining two where GD majoritarian candidates will face the UNM/Strength in Unity candidates.

15:00 GMT+4 – Labor Party Says Election Results “Illegitimate”

Shalva Natelasvhili, leader of the Labor Party, which according to preliminary CEC results garnered 1% of votes, said that not only the opposition, but ruling Georgian Dream members too should refuse to enter the next parliament. Natelashvili stated, however, that boycotting the parliament will only prove successful if all opposition parties refuse to enter the legislative body.

Labor leader then expressed hope that the U.S. voters will not reelect on November 3 President Donald Trump, “Putin’s lobbyist” in the U.S., whom he alleged, made a deal with Georgian Dream chairman Bidzina Ivanishvili. This deal, Natelashvili argued, manifested itself in “warm statements” from “certain people,” alluding to the post-election statement of the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, that while critical of a set elements of election process, did not question overall legitimacy of the vote.

14:00 GMT+4 – European Georgia Boycotts Parliament

European Georgia (EG) Chairman Davit Bakradze announced at a briefing that his party has decided to boycott the parliament, adding that EG, which according to preliminary CEC results garnered 3.78% of votes, will not participate in runoffs planned to take place in 14 out of 30 single-mandate majoritarian districts.

09:00 GMT+4 – Archil Talakvadze Says UNM Pressuring Parties to Boycott Parliament

Incumbent Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze of the ruling Georgian Dream party called on political parties that passed the electoral threshold not to give in to “the United National Movement’s pressure” on boycotting the Parliament.

Talakvadze stated that during the time of the previous government, opposition parties could “only exist under the UNM’s umbrella,” arguing that now the “monopoly” of the party has ended, and opposition parties can pursue their own independent politics.

Sunday, November 1

18:10 GMT +4 – Opposition Protests Outside Ivanishvili’s Residence

Opposition parties and supporters protesting the preliminary results of yesterday’s parliamentary polls left Rustaveli Avenue marching towards GD chair Bidzina Ivanishvili’s residence.

17:00 GMT+4 – President of Azerbaijan Congratulates Georgian Dream on Election Victory

According to the Georgian authorities, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia held a phone conversation during which President Aliyev congratulated the ruling Georgian Dream party for securing victory in the parliamentary election.

The two also discussed strategic relations between Georgia and Azerbaijan.

16:30 GMT+4 – Former PM Kvirikashvili Says GD Displayed Greed for Power

Former Georgian Dream Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said the ruling party displayed its greed for power by manipulating poll results, “which could cost both, the government and the country dearly.” Former PM warned of dangerous consequences of not “taking steps towards national consolidation, inclusive politics and reducing polarization” amid social hardships, economic crisis, and pressing geopolitical issues.

16:30 GMT +4 – Opposition Hit the Streets

Major opposition parties and supporters hit the streets rejecting the preliminary results of the October 31 parliamentary vote, that forecast Georgian Dream to form a third consecutive government.

16:00 GMT+4 – Recounting Ballots Would Reduce Distrust, TI Georgia Says

Transparency International (TI) Georgia issued an announcement calling on the Central Election Commission (CEC) to recount ballots at “problematic election precincts” as a means to diminish distrust and reduce political tensions following election day.

The watchdog underscored that all main opposition political parties have expressed distrust toward the election results, citing issues with summary protocols. According to TI, approximately 7% of the summary protocols showed discrepancies between the number of ballots and the number of signatures in the voters’ lists. The watchdog noted that the delayed announcement of initial results also contributed to distrust.

15:40 GMT+4 – ‘Citizens’ Party Chairman Urges Opposition to Boycott Parliament

Citizens party chairman Aleko Elisashvili called upon all opposition parties that managed to pass the 1% election threshold to boycott the parliament and refuse legitimizing the election results. Instead, Elisashvili urged opposition parties to demand snap elections.

15:00 GMT+4 – Results of the Election ‘Illegitimate’, Lelo Says

Lelo does not recognize the results of the election stating that GD rigged elections by means of intimidation, vote buying and electoral falsification. “We call on the voters and civil society to unite. Snap election is the only way out from this impasse,” the party stated.

13:00 GMT+4 – Most Poorly Organized Election Under Georgian Dream, GYLA Says

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) announced that, based on its findings, general election day proceeded with “significant violations” throughout all stages, adding that the tense atmosphere, which marked election day, affected both voters’ and election observers’ behavior.

Violence and attempts to control the will of voters were key issues, according to GYLA, as well as the disorganization of Precinct Election Commissions (PECs). The watchdog noted that yesterday’s general election was the “most poorly organized election under the Georgian Dream.”

In addition to violations of COVID-19 safety measures, PECs also failed to deliver timely results. In some cases, more ballots were issued than confirmed by voters’ signatures, leading to public mistrust. In many cases, election documents were unsealed as they were being transferred from PECs.

GYLA also took note of other violations such as breach of voter secrecy, violations of inking procedures, violations in regards to the mobile ballot box, presence of unauthorized persons in the vicinity of election precincts, obstruction of the work of observers and journalists, vote buying, among others.

12:00 GMT+4 – New Article Added to the Journalist Case, Interior Ministry Says

Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Kakha Sabanadze held a press briefing about the ongoing investigations on the incidents during parliamentary elections.

In total, investigation has been launched on 12 incidents, while 16 cases of administrative offenses were revealed.

Sabanadze also reported about the assaults on journalists stating that new article implying interference in journalist’s professional activities has been added to the ongoing investigation of Gldani incident.

11:00 GMT+4 – TI Georgia Says Elections Were a Step Back

Transparency International (TI) Georgia, who monitored the general election with some 600 local observers, reported that it has recorded 170 violations with 46 complaints filed. Analysis of violations, according to the local watchdog, “makes it clear that the October 31 elections were a step back compared with the 2016 parliamentary elections.”

TI Georgia underscored that the Central Election Commission (CEC) announcing results 7.5 hours after polling stations closed, represented a “deterioration of the practice established during the elections over the last eight years”, giving opposition parties reasons to suspect that results were possibly manipulated.

According to TI Georgia, violations included physical confrontations, obstruction of the work of observers and journalists, breach of voter secrecy, alleged instances of bribing voters, alleged vote rigging, among others.

10:00 GMT +4 – 2/3 Precincts Counted: GD – 48,58%, UNM – 26%

With 69.35% precincts counted, that is from 2,668 out of 3847 precincts, the ruling Georgian Dream garnered 48.58% (617,249) votes in the October 31 parliamentary elections, followed by the United National Movement with 26.07% (331,285), European Georgia – 3.77% (47,903), Lelo for Georgia 3.28% (41,733), Alliance of Patriots – 3.24% (41,125), Strategy Aghmashenebeli – 3.15% (40,035), Girchi – 39,110 (3.08%), Elisashvili – the Citizens – 1.42% (18,099), Labor Party – 1.02% (13,007), United Georgia – Democratic Movement – 0.86% (10,889).

10:00 GMT +4 – GYLA Slams CEC over Delays in Publication of Summary Protocols

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association said that it negatively evaluates the CEC delays in publication of summary protocols. Releasing full picture about the results of polls ‘timely’ is extremely important, GYLA stated.

“Unfortunately, CEC could not display high standards of swiftness and transparency. For this reason, the publication process of the Parliamentary Elections results raised questions and feeling of manipulation among citizens,” GYLA underscored.

03:30 – Preliminary Results Published

According to the preliminary results, published by the Central Election Commission with significant delays, from 1085 out of 3847 precincts, the ruling Georgian Dream garnered 54.72% (193,418) votes in the October 31 parliamentary elections, followed by the United National Movement with 23.61% (83,447), European Georgia – 3.99% (14,117), Alliance of Patriots – 3.34% (11,810), Lelo for Georgia 2.66% (9408), Strategy Aghmashenebeli – 2.46% (8705).

The results of the precincts of the largest cities, including the capital city of Tbilisi, Kutaisi, and Batumi are largely undercounted.

00:05 GMT +4 – Campaign Chief Says GD “Convincingly Leading” in 13 Majoritarian Constituencies

Georgian Dream campaign chief Irakli Kobakhidze said the ruling party is convincingly leading in 13 majoritarian constituencies, with first-round victories “practically guaranteed.”

Saturday, October 31

23:20 GMT +4 – Mtavari Arkhi TV Exit Polls in Tbilisi Majoritarian Constituencies

Mtavari Arkhi TV released results of exit poll conducted by Ipsos for Tbilisi majoritarian constituencies, according to which Nika Melia is the sole majoritarian hopeful to secure a seat in the first round, with 53% of votes against Levan Kobiashvili’s 38%.

Regarding the other seven majoritarian districts, the exit poll says second-round runoffs will be held in all. Nadzaladevi, Isani, Saburtalo are the only constituencies with a ruling party candidate in the lead. Results are following for the rest of the 7 districts:

Mtatsminda-Krtsanisi

  • European Georgia’s Shalva Shavgulidze – 46%
  • Georgian Dream’s Beka Odisharia – 35%;

Vake

  • Elene Khoshtaria (EG) – 47%
  • Nodar Turdzeladze (GD) – 33%

Saburtalo

  • Davit Sergeenko (GD) – 35%
  • Aleko Elisashvili (Citizens) – 21%
  • Badri Japaridze (Lelo) – 19%

Isani

  • Kakha Kakhishvili (GD) – 35%,
  • Khatia Dekanoidze (UNM) – 32%,
  • Giorgi Vashadze (Strategy Aghmashenebeli) – 19%

Samgori

  • Levan Khabeishvili (UNM) – 49%
  • Sozar Subari (GD) – 33%

Didube-Chughureti

  • Zurab Japaridze (Girchi) – 35%
  • Gia Volski (GD) – 33%
  • Anna Dolidze (independent) – 16%

Nadzaladevi

  • Mikheil Kavelashvili (GD) – 35%,
  • Shalva Natelashvili (Labor) – 33%.

23:00 GMT +4 – ISFED Publishes Final Press Release

The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) said in its final press release for October 31 that vote process in the most of the polling stations of the country has been conducted mainly in accordance with the law procedures.

“However, vote secrecy, inking verification procedures and casting of lots, regulations related to COVID-19 and other procedural violations, were problematic during the poll,” ISFED reported, adding that the most problematic parts of the voting process were physical confrontations at certain precincts and the attacks on media representatives.

Massive mobilization of party activists/coordinators at the precincts controlling and counting electors’ votes remained a problem. The facts of oppression, physical attacks and intimidation against ISFED’s observers have been detected. 

For the time being, ISFED made 85 appeals at precinct election commissions, as well as 89 appeals at the District Election Commission.

21:00 GMT +4 – GYLA: “Voting Proceedings Took Place Amid Significant Violations”

GYLA said that voting proceedings took place amid significant violations at the whole set of polling stations, while tense environment affected voter behavior and monitoring. Violence and pressure on voters were the key highlights of the 2020 parliamentary elections, according to the watchdog.

The violations were mostly regarding possible vote-buying, obstructing activities of election observers and journalists, non-registered persons voting at precincts as well as issues with marking and mobile ballot boxes.

As of 21:00, GYLA has filed 76 appeals, of which 43 were filed at the precinct level, and 33 at the district level.

20:50 GMT+4 – Ex-President Saakashvili Says He is Not Seeking Positions in New Gov’t

Georgia’s former President Mikheil Saakashvili issued an announcement following exit poll results published by four different TV channels. In his remarks, the ex-President implied that he is willing to forfeit his bid as Prime Minister hopeful for the sake of forming a broader opposition coalition.

“In these circumstances, I want to say that our [the opposition’s] main goal is to establish a united national government. I declare that I am not striving for any positions in this government. We must seek consensual figures and we must manage to establish a united national government. I welcome the fact that the opposition signed an agreement, refusing to form a coalition with Ivanishvili [Georgian Dream chairman]. We must establish a broad coalition of opposition forces so that we can overcome the harsh legacy of the Georgian Dream,” the ex-President said. 

20:15 GMT +4 – Second Half of the Day Marked by Tensions, TI Georgia Says

TI Georgia said the second half of the polling day was marked by tensions, including violent incidents in Tbilisi’s Gldani district, as well as in Marneuli and Zugdidi. “Mobilization of coordinators and activists outside the precincts often led to tensions,” – watchdog added.

Watchdog highlighted that at most of the polling stations, COVID-19 safety measures were being violated, adding that often voters were not asked to remove their masks for identification either. TI Georgia noted media footage showed possible cases of vote-buying.

In total, as of 20:00, TI Georgia observers recorded 150 minor and relatively serious violations and filed 35 complaints.

20:10 GMT+4 – Interior Ministry Reports on Election Incidents

Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Kakha Sabanadze held a press briefing about the ongoing investigations on the incidents during parliamentary elections.

In total, investigation has been launched on 9 incidents, while 15 cases of administrative offenses were revealed. “Administrative proceedings were initiated on 7 facts and 10 persons have been taken under arrest, while interviews were conducted in connection with 8 facts,” Police reported.

Out of 10 detained persons 6 were connected to the Gldani incident. As of violation against TV Pirveli and Publika journalists, Sabanadze stated that investigation has been launched on the fact of damaging other’s property, but the charges can be re-qualified as the investigation proceeds.

20:00 GMT +4 – Polling Stations Closed

Over 3,600 polling stations closed nationwide at 20:00, vote count is underway.

19:00 GMT+4 – Mobilization of Party Activists Remains a Problem, ISFED Says

The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) said that, as of 19:00, massive mobilization of party activists/coordinators at the precincts controlling and counting electors’ votes remains a problem. The watchdog also stated that representatives of local Mayors in the status of observers have been identified. “Their presence at the place can be perceived as control of the voters,” ISFED concluded.

The watchdog also reported that media outlet Newpost takes photos and videos of electors. Physical violence has also been observed at several precincts, while vote secrecy still remains a problem at certain polling stations.

As of 19:00, ISFED made 66 appeals at precinct election commissions, as well as 58 appeals at the District Election Commission.

18:30 GMT+4 – Cyber-attack on Public Broadcaster Servers

According to the Georgian Public Broadcaster, its servers have been hit by a cyber-attack; the national TV channel is unable to broadcast as of now. Relevant agencies are investigating the attack, as technical support transitions the channel to its reserve servers.

18:00 GMT+4 – ‘Significant Violations’ Continue at Certain Precincts, GYLA says

Following its previous report, the Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) reported that voting procedures are still ongoing with “significant violations” at certain election precincts.

From 14:00 to 18:00, according to GYLA, observed violations included breach of secrecy, alleged incidents of controlling the will of voters, obstructing the work of observers, violations in marking and voting procedures, and incidents of violence, among others.

The watchdog also noted that a large number of “suspicious persons” are mobilized in the vicinity of election precincts throughout the country, leading to violent confrontations in some cases.

As of 18:00, GYLA has filed 64 appeals, of which 37 were filed at the precinct level, and 27 at the district level.

17:40 GMT+4 – “There is no place for cheating, intimidation, or vote buying,” Congressman Kinzinger

17:00 GMT+4 – ‘More Violations Compared with 2018 Presidentials, 2016 Parliamentary Polls,’ TI Georgia Says

TI Georgia said “more violations have been observed compared with the 2018 presidential and the 2016 parliamentary elections.”

The watchdog said stated that electoral processes were marked by confrontations near some polling stations, but the overall situation was peaceful at the majority of the precincts.

The watchdog said its observers recorded a total of under 130 minor, as well as some comparatively serious violations during 12:00-17:00 and filed 31 complaints, adding that there have been more recorded violations than by the same time during the 2018 presidential and 2016 parliamentary elections.

TI Georgia highlighted incidents involving journalists, with TV Pirveli journalist attacked and Publika journalist’s phone broken. Other violations included expulsion of observers, breach of secrecy, procedural violations, presence of unauthorized persons at or near precincts, violations of COVID-19 safety measures, and voting without marking.

16:45 GMT+4 – Ombudsperson’s Office Prevented from Observing Voting in Penitentiary Facility

In a statement released today, Ombudsperson’s office said it was prevented from observing the voting process in the 15th penitentiary facility in Ksani, Mtskheta. The representatives of the Ombudsperson’s Office, the statement says, were verbally assaulted by a group of inmates and prevented from fulfilling their duties after they paid an ad-hoc visit to the facility with the aim to observe the general situation of inmates and the voting process. Staff members of the facility, including the director, were present on the site but failed to properly respond to the incident.

The Public Defender’s office stressed the problem of criminal subcultures in Georgian penitentiary facilities, resulting in rights abuses of inmates by other, influential inmates. The office further assessed that the incident hindered the body from exercising its fundamental as well as UN-bestowed special mandate. Public Defender called on state authorities to study the incident.

16:15 GMT+4 – ‘5 Persons Detained,’ Head of Patrol Police Department Comments on Gldani Incident

Head of Patrol Police Department Vazha Siradze commented on the violent incident at #79 polling station in Gldani, stating that the Interior Ministry has detained five persons. The administrative detention has been imposed upon detainees for police disobedience and minor hooliganism.

As for the alleged shootings at polling station, Siradze said that he cannot confirm this fact.

16:10 GMT+4 – GYLA Calls for Prompt Response to Violence against Media Workers

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), one of the local CSOs observing the October 31 elections, calls on the Ministry of Interior to promptly and effectively respond to acts of violence against media workers. According to the CSO, several media workers were verbally and/or physically assaulted in the vicinity of the #79 polling station in Gldani, Tbilisi, with some of them attacked by the same person.

GYLA calls on police to ensure the safety of media workers through their reporting on the voting day.

15:30 GMT+4 – Mobilization of Party Activists Intensifies, ISFED Says

The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), one of Georgia’s oldest election watchdogs, said that, as of 15:00, mobilization of party activists/coordinators at the precincts controlling and counting electors’ votes has intensified. The watchdog stated that this type of violation has been observed at 18 precincts of 11 constituencies. Incidents of photographing voters also have been detected at certain precincts.

ISFED also underscored that violation of vote secrecy remains a problem. At certain precincts the inking verification procedure has been conducted with violations.

As of 15:00, ISFED made 47 appeals at precinct election commissions, as well as 33 appeals at the District Election Commission.

15:00 GMT+4 – Interior Ministry Initiates Probes into 6 Alleged Violations

According to a recent Interior Ministry briefing, the Government agency has initiated probes into 6 alleged violations as of 15:00. The alleged violations are listed as follows:

  • Tbilisi, 40th polling station: Alleged physical assault against United National Movement activist Zviad Kuprava. Investigation started under Article 126 (1) of the Criminal Code.
  • Kutaisi, 37th polling station: Alleged verbal and physical assault against Labor Party Kutaisi mayoral candidate Irakli Kikvadze. Investigation started under 162 (3) of the Criminal Code.
  • Tbilisi, 39th polling station, Dashtapa village 52nd polling station, Kizilajlo village 89th polling station: Alleged incidents of violence. Investigation started under 126 (1) of the Criminal Code.

15:00 GMT+4 – ‘No Room for Vote Buying’, Ambassador Degnan Says

U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan told journalists in Marneuli that “in a fair election there is no room for vote buying, there is no room for voter intimidation, there is no place for forcing people to photograph their ballots”.

Ambassador also underlined the importance of the election day to the country and urged people to vote. “The Central Election Commission has done so much to prepare for this and to make it safe for people to come out and vote despite COVID-19,” Degnan concluded.

14:00 GMT+4 – ‘Significant Violations’ at Certain Precincts, GYLA says

The Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), one of the key election watchdogs, stated that voting procedures are ongoing with “significant violations” at certain precincts.

From 10:00 to 14:00, according to GYLA, observed violations included breach of secrecy, alleged incidents of controlling the will of voters, obstructing the work of observers, and violations of COVID-19 safety measures.

12:30 GMT+4 – Just Under 100 Violations Recorded, TI Georgia Says

Transparency International (TI) Georgia, a local watchdog, said elections are taking place in “a mostly peaceful environment”, though added that there have been more recorded violations as of 12:00 than there were by the same time during the 2018 presidential election.

The watchdog claimed its observers have recorded a total of under 100 minor, as well as some comparatively serious violations as of 12:00, and have filed 15 complaints.

According to TI Georgia, violations include expulsion of observers, breach of secrecy, procedural violations, late opening of election precincts, presence of unauthorized persons at or near precincts, violations of COVID-19 safety measures, issues with filing complaints, registration of incoming voters in polling stations, agitation at poling stations, and voting without marking.

11:30 GMT+4 – Breach of Secrecy Major Problem, ISFED Says

The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), one of Georgia’s oldest election watchdogs, said breach of vote secrecy is one of the major problems. The watchdog stated that voters leaving voting booths with open bulletins, with their choices visible at the people present at precinct, were observed.

ISFED also underscored that presence of party coordinators/activists, comparing the voters with their lists of supporters, remains a problem. Head of ISFED, Elene Nizharadze said the watchdog assesses the latter as pressure on the voters and attempt to control the expression of the free will.

As of 11:00, ISFED made 10 appeals at precinct election commissions, as well as 6 appeals at the district election commission.

10:30 GMT+4 – U.S. Ambassador: “No Room for Violence, Indimidation”

U.S. Ambassador Kelly Degnan told journalists outside the Central Election Commission that “there is no room for violence and intimidation and we will be looking for that sort of thing as observers.”

10:10 GMT+4 – Polls Going In a Peaceful Environment, Interior Ministry Says

As of 10:00 elections are held in a peaceful environment, without serious violations or incidents, the Interior Ministry announced.

10:00 GMT+4 – Process Mostly Orderly, Minor Procedural Violations Observed, GYLA Says

The Georgian Young Lawyers Association, one of the key election watchdogs, stated that as of 10:00, elections are going mostly orderly, without major violations. The watchdog noted however, that minor ‘negative tendency’ of procedural violations observed, with observers not permitted at the polling stations, casting lots done with flaws, as well as precinct election commission members not performing the functions assigned to them after drawing of lots. The watchdog said it revealed over 10 violations so far.

09:55 GMT+4 – PM Gakharia Cast His Vote

Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia casting his vote: “I voted for a European, western state, formed on the foundation of democratic values, justice, & strong economy. No one can think of returning back to the past, I voted for the future.”

Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia casting his vote. Photo: Guram Muradov / Civil.ge

08:45 GMT+4 – President Zurabishvili Cast Her Vote

President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili cast her vote in downtown Tbilisi: “We are all voting today to build a country that we all dream of, that is a European, democratic state; today we are taking yet another step in this direction.”

President Salome Zurabishvili casting her vote. photo: Eana Korbezashvili / Civil.ge

08:00 GMT+4 – Voting Kicks Off

3,657 polling stations opened at 08:00. There are 3,526,023 voters eligible to cast a ballot in the elections, including 14,170 registered abroad, according to the Central Election Commission (CEC).

Friday, October 30

18:00 GMT+4 – President of Lithuania on Georgia’s Upcoming General Election

14:00 GMT+4 – US Mission to NATO Reacts to Upcoming Elections

13:30 +4 – British Embassy Will Observe the Elections

“As part of wider international election monitoring efforts, the British Embassy Tbilisi will be observing Georgian 2020 Parliamentary Elections on 31 October,” the statement reads.

12:00 GMT+4 – CSOs to Open Elections Media Center

With the support of Open Society Georgia Foundation, local watchdogs, including GYLA, ISFED and TI Georgia, announced opening of Elections Media Center that will operate on October 31 and November 1.

The elections media center, situated in Rooms Hotel Tbilisi, will inform journalists and society about the election process. The results of monitoring will be aired live on Open Society Georgia’s Facebook page.

Thursday, October 29

15:00 GMT+4 – Pro-opposition TV Journalist Accuses Ruling Party of  Eavesdropping

Pro-opposition TV Pirveli journalist Nato Gogelia accused ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party of eavesdropping on her conversations, citing GD campaign chief MP Irakli Kobakhidze’s recent announcement during a public address.

In today’s public address, MP Kobakhidze claimed a conversation took place between TV Pirveli journalist Nato Gogelia and UNM Ozurgeti Organization leader Beso Katamadze during which Gogelia requested information from the UNM member on election precincts where the opposition is conspiring to “stir noise and commotion.”

“…Kobakhidze, during today’s briefing, publicly confirmed that the government is listening to me,” the TV Pirveli journalist said responding to the GD campaign chief’s announcement. Gogelia also shared a screenshot from her cellphone confirming that the phone conversation cited by Kobakhidze indeed took place

Refuting the GD campaign chief’s allegations, Gogelia said Katamadze was informing her that UNM was expecting provocations from the ruling party at election precincts in Nasakrali and Chanieti.

11:00 GMT+4 – Girchi TV Hacked Last Night

Right-libertarian New Political Center Girchi party’s production unit, as well as its channel Girchi TV, were hacked last night according to the party’s leader Zurab Japaridze. 

The production unit and the channel, which Girchi uses for creating election content is “completely paralyzed” three days before the election, Japaridze said.

Wednesday, October 28

14:30 GMT+4 – ‘Traitorous’ UNM Must Be Abolished, Defense Minister Says

Defense Minister Irakli Garibashvili issued a statement on his Facebook page, slamming opposition United National Movement (UNM), former ruling party, and Mikheil Saakashvili, former Georgian President ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections.

“Clown Saakashvili, a traitor to the country, who transferred age-old territories and holy places, murderer, and oppressor of the people, and his traitor gang [UNM] cannot remain in Georgian politics after the elections; this traitorous force must be abolished,” the Defense Minister said in the statement.

12:40 GMT+4 – GD Campaign Chief Accuses UNM of Considering Post-Election Revolution

During a public address, ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party campaign chief MP Irakli Kobakhidze accused opposition United National Movement (UNM) of considering the prospect of a post-election revolution, alleging that UNM has established “revolutionary headquarters” led by former Prime Minister and long-serving UNM Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili.

According to MP Kobakhidze, UNM has also been studying public opinion on acceptable forms of protesting the parliamentary election results, with “occupying state buildings and using physical or armed force” being presented as one of the possible answers in UNM’s public opinion survey.

Urging the public to ignore the GD campaign chief’s statement, UNM MP Salome Samadashvili denied allegations, adding that the ruling party is attempting to discredit the opposition and sow fear among voters.

12:38 GMT+4 – Schools With Polling Stations Move Online

Education Minister Mikheil Chkhenkeli announced that schools, where polling stations will be opened on election day, have moved to online teaching for a week. The schools will be disinfected after election day on Monday and Tuesday and reopened next Wednesday, November 4.

12:30 GMT+4 – U.S Ambassador on Georgia’s Elections

U.S Ambassador to Georgia Kelly C. Degnan issued remarks on the upcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia.

Tuesday, October 27

22:00 GMT+4 – Self-isolated Persons Were Sufficiently Informed on Special Voting Procedures, CEC Says

The Central Election Commission (CEC) issued a statement underscoring that politically driven actors are attempting to “impede the work of the [Election] Administration and discredit it.”

The CEC statement comes after opposition party members and protestors rallied in front of CEC headquarters, blaming the CEC for insufficiently informing self-isolated voters on special-voting procedures, failing to effectively manage the self-isolated voter registration process, and demanding an extension to the mobile ballot box registration deadline.

Stressing that CEC used all possible means to sufficiently inform self-isolated persons on special voting procedures, the Election Administration stated that the protests were an “attempt to pressure the Election Administration, discredit it and disrupt its work.”

14:30 GMT+4 – Watchdog Remarks on Mobile Ballot Box Service

Transparency International (TI) Georgia, a local watchdog, issued remarks concerning the Central Election Commission’s (CEC) mobile ballot box service for self-isolated voters, expressing concern over a number of bureaucratic barriers hindering the voter registration process.

While welcoming CEC’s decision to extend the deadline for requesting the mobile ballot box service, TI Georgia underscored that given the the high number of self-isolated persons, it was evident that the initially allotted registration period, which was from October 24 to 26, would be insufficient.

TI Georgia noted that eligible voters in self-isolation are not sufficiently informed that they cannot be included in the mobile ballot box list without contacting the Ministry of Health first. According to the watchdog, after calling the CEC hotline with a registration request, voters are transferred to the Health Ministry’s hotline, leading to an overload of both hotline services. In addition, TI Georgia reported that even after the registration deadline was extended, the Health Ministry told eligible voters via its hotline that the registration process had already been concluded.

Noting that a number of people informed TI Georgia that the Ministry of Health did not have them in the list of voters in self-isolation, the watchdog said that the Ministry lacks an exhaustive list of persons in self-isolation, potentially leaving thousands of voters unable to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

TI Georgia recommended that CEC make use of an automatic registration system without requiring voters to contact the CEC hotline for registration. The watchdog also reiterated its previous request to CEC to set up special elections precincts in quarantine zones and medical institutions.

14:00 GMT+4 – CEC Update: Deadline for Requesting Mobile Ballot Box Extended to 18:00

According to the Central Election Commission (CEC), the deadline for requesting mobile ballot box service for self-isolated voters has been extended once again to 18:00, October 27.

The previous deadline expired today at 14:00.

14:00 GMT+4 – European Georgia MPs, Protestors Rally for Extending Mobile Ballot Box Registration Deadline

European Georgia party MPs Elene Khoshtaria and Khatuna Gogorishvili, as well as protestors, rallied in front of the Central Election Commission (CEC) headquarters, demanding that CEC Head Tamar Jvania extend the registration deadline for the mobile ballot box service to 22:00, October 27.

While CEC already extended the initial deadline to October 27, 14:00, Elene Khoshtaria, as well as local observers, said that a number of self-isolated persons have been attempting to request registration for the mobile ballot box service via CEC hotline without any success.

Livestreaming the protest, MP Khoshtaria announced that the deadline for requesting mobile ballot box service for eligible self-isolated voters was extended to 18:00. CEC also confirmed the deadline extension.

Urging self-isolated voters to keep calling the CEC hotline, MP Khoshtaria said that CEC vowed to call back all self-isolated persons that could not be answered due to hotline overload.

11:00 GMT+4 – U.S Mission to OSCE on Georgia’s Elections

The U.S mission to the OSCE issued a statement on the upcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia.

Monday, October 26

23:00 GMT+4 – Armwrestling Federation President Leaves Georgian Dream Party

Georgian Armwrestling Federation President Soso Jachvliani announced his decision to leave the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party, underscoring that the party is supporting efforts to pressure him into resigning from his post as Federation President.

“This regime [GD government] must go”, Jachvliani said on pro-opposition Mtavari Arkhi TV, adding that a “mafia-like group” has formed in the Armwrestling Federation that is attempting to exert influence over the institution.

On October 17, an Armwrestling Federation board meeting was cut short as a clash broke out between Jachvliani and members of the Georgian Armwrestling national team. Since then, a number of athletes from the Armwrestling Federation have been openly calling for Jachvliani’s resignation, alleging the President of misuse of Federation funds, as well as of illegally sacking training personnel.

On the same day, the Sports’ Ministry sanctioned the Armwrestling Federation by cutting its budget funding. Jachvliani claimed that sanctions against the Federation and demands for his resignation are part of an organized effort.

18:35 GMT+4 – Victorious Georgia Party’s List of MP Candidates

Victorious Georgia party, led by Irakli Okruashvili, former Defense Minister and currently a joint opposition majoritarian candidate in Tbilisi’s Saburtalo district, presented its party list to the Central Election Commission (CEC) for the October 31 parliamentary elections. Okruashvili tops the list, followed by Guram Chalagashvili and Koba Makharadze.

View the list of top 20 MP candidates from the Victorious Georgia party below:

17:50 GMT+4 – CEC Update: Deadline for Requesting Mobile Ballot Box Extended to October 27

According to the Central Election Commission (CEC) press speaker Ana Mikeladze, the deadline for requesting mobile ballot box service for self-isolated voters has been extended to October 27, 14:00.

The previous deadline expires today at 22:00.

15:30 GMT+4 – OSCE PA to Deploy 28 Short-Term Election Observers

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (PA) announced on October 24 that it will deploy a team of 28 short-term election observers for Georgia’s October 31 parliamentary elections.

According to the announcement, on election day observers will take notice of the campaign environment, the legal framework, election administration, election day procedures, and media coverage.

For More: 

12:40 GMT+4 – GD Campaign Chief Accuses Opposition of Using ‘Deepfakes’

Ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party campaign chief MP Irakli Kobakhidze announced that according to information available to his party, “representatives of the radical opposition” are creating fake content, “using programs such as, for example, deepfake” – a form of hyper-realistic deceptive synthetic media.

“We remind you that through such programs, it is even possible to falsify people’s video images”, MP Kobakhidze said, adding that “such materials can be posted on social networks on the eve of the election or on election day, which voters should pay special attention to.”

Former Georgian President and United National Movement Prime Ministerial Hopeful Mikheil Saakashvili denied MP Kobakhidze’s accusations, claiming that the campaign chief’s remarks manifest the ruling GD party’s refusal to accept fair defeat in the October 31 parliamentary elections.

12:30 GMT+4 – CEC: Final Day to Request Mobile Ballot Box Service

The Central Election Commission (CEC) issued an announcement reminding voters in self-isolation to request voting via mobile ballot box service by calling the CEC call center. The deadline for requesting a mobile ballot box expires today, at 22:00.

According to CEC, its database includes about 9,000 eligible voters who will be in self-isolation on election day. As of now 1,500 voters have applied to the CEC call center with a request for a mobile ballot box.

CEC underscored that the mobile ballot box service can only be requested by those self-isolated voters who are already registered in the CEC database, which was last updated on October 25.

Thursday, October 22

19:30 GMT +4 – NDI Launches Third Phase of International Election Integrity Program

The National Democratic Institute (NDI) announced the start of a third phase of the international election integrity program – the virtual election analysis mission, ahead of the October 31 parliamentary elections.

NDI will focus on several key themes, including election administration, campaign environment, informational environment, gender and inclusion and the impact of COVID-19, issuing a detailed report on November 3.

17:00 GMT+4 – Solidarity Alliance Party’s List of MP Candidates

Political Union of Citizens Our Georgia – Solidarity Alliance party, founded by former ruling Georgian Dream party members in the Independent Members of Parliament Fraction presented its party list to the Central Election Commission (CEC) for the October 31 parliamentary elections. Chairperson of the party Mariam Jashi leads the list, followed by Beka Natsvlishvili, Levan Gogichaishvili and Gedevan Popkhadze.

View the list of top 20 MP candidates from the Our Georgia – Solidarity Alliance party below:

16:30 GMT+4 – Conservative Party’s List of MP Candidates

Zviad Dzidziguri – Conservative Party of Georgia presented its party list to the Central Election Commission (CEC) for the October 31 parliamentary elections. Chairman Zviad Dzidziguri leads the list, followed by Giga Bukia, and Ketevan Jokhadze.

View the list of top 20 MP candidates from the Conservative Party of Georgia below:

16:00 GMT+4 – Nativist Georgian March Party’s List of MP Candidates

The ultranationalist, nativist Georgian March party presented its party list to the Central Election Commission (CEC) for the October 31 parliamentary elections. Chairman Aleksandre (Sandro) Bregadze leads the proportional list, followed by former ruling Georgian Dream party member Irakli Shikhiashvili.

View the list of top 20 MP candidates from the Georgian March party below:

15:30 GMT+4 – Watchdog Remarks on CEC Special COVID-19 Voting Procedures 

Transparency International (TI) Georgia, a local watchdog, issued remarks in response to the Central Election Commission’s (CEC) Resolution on special voting procedures for hospitalized COVID-19 patients, as well as for quarantined and self-isolated voters in the October 31 parliamentary elections.

The TI Georgia announcement expressed concern over CEC limiting inclusion in the mobile ballot box list to only those self-isolated persons and patients receiving treatment at home who manage to address CEC with a request from October 24 to 26, claiming that the time period outlined by the CEC excludes persons going into self-isolation after October 26. The watchdog urged CEC to “automatically include” these persons on the mobile ballot box list.

Slamming CEC for going back on its “initial decision to set up special election precincts in stationary medical institutions or quarantine zones with more than 50 voters”, TI Georgia urged CEC to set up said precincts “with more than 30 voters.”

The CEC Resolution reads that “a mobile ballot box can be accompanied by only one local and international observer, one representative of an electoral subject, and one press or mass media representative”. TI Georgia remarked that is unclear if observers will have the opportunity to accompany all mobile ballot boxes in a precinct, and called on CEC to better define this part of the Resolution, as well as to “increase these quotas to at least two.”

TI Georgia also underscored that “it is unclear if there will be a single mobile box or several for persons who are in stationary medical institutions, quarantine zones, self-isolation, and those getting treatment at home.” The watchdog recommended separating the mobile ballot boxes so that election observation can be conducted in a “more thorough and complete manner” with observers not having to come in contact with COVID-19 patients.

Wednesday, October 21

20:00 GMT+4 – Gunshots Fired Near Ruling Party’s Dmanisi Office

Reportedly, four persons have been wounded as unknown persons have fired gunshots at the ruling party Georgian Dream’s Dmanisi office, MP Irakli Kobakhidze said.

“There has been a heavy provocation at our office in Dmanisi,” MP Kobakhidze noted, adding that “this incident has no justification and the sanctions against the assailants cannot be mitigated.”

The Ministry of Internal Affairs told Civil.ge that it has launched an investigation into the case based on Article 117 and Article 236 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, involving intentional infliction of grave injury and illegal purchase-keeping and carrying of a firearm.

United National Movement (UNM) majoritarian candidate in Dmanisi, Tsalka, Bolnisi, Tetritskaro municipalities Kakha Okriashvili weighed in, alleging that ruling Georgian Dream party activist Zura Okmelashvili wounded three persons during the Dmanisi incident.

Okriashvili claimed that Zura Okmelashvili was also one of the perpetrators of the alleged October 19 attack on Okriashvilis’s Bolnisi office members’ vehicle.

18:00 GMT+4 – Watchdog Calls for Investigation of Alleged Threats Toward Father of Pro-opposition TV Founder

Transparency International (TI) Georgia issued an announcement urging law enforcement agencies to promptly initiate a probe into alleged death threats toward businessman Avtandil Tsereteli, the father of pro-opposition TV Pirveli founder Vato Tsereteli.

According to the announcement and Vato Tsereteli himself, two men approached his father outdoors and threatened to kill him should TV Pirveli continue its critical coverage.

Vato Tsereteli blamed the ruling Georgian Dream party for the alleged incident. “I am warning the Georgian Dream and Bidzina Ivanishvili (party chairman) personally to cease the persecution of my family,” the TV Pirveli founder said.

Businessman Avtandil Tsereteli was previously charged in the TBC Bank money laundering case, a decision that local CSOs assessed in a joint statement as “extremely concerning.”

14:20 GMT+4 – Ivanishvili-Founded University Opens in Kutaisi, Welcomes First Cohort of Students

The western Georgian city of Kutaisi hosted the opening of Kutaisi International University, founded by the ruling Georgian Dream party chairman Bidzina Ivanishvili, on October 21. Top Georgian officials, as well as foreign diplomats and representatives of the international organizations attended the event. The university has welcomed 246 students in the first cohort.

Ivanishvili first voiced his intentions to build a university in Kutaisi in 2012, and construction plans were presented in 2016. Similar to 2012 and 2016 announcements, 2020 opening takes place on the eve of the parliamentary elections.

For more, read: Ivanishvili-Founded University Opens in Kutaisi, Welcomes First Cohort of Students.

14:00 GMT+4 – Free Democrats Party Removes Four Majoritarian Candidates

General Secretary of Free Democrats, Emzar Kakulia, stated that the party removed four of its five majoritarian candidates, with Vitali Daraselia, running for Saburtalo district, remaining the party’s sole majoritarian hopeful.

Kakulia noted that the party will direct its efforts towards proportional elections since its majoritarian candidates “do not have realistic chances of winning or moving on to the second round.”

12:00 GMT+4 – Azerbaijani Oil Company President Campaigns for GD Candidate in Kvemo Kartli

Regional media outlet Radio Marneuli reported that president of State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) Rovnag Abdullayev and ruling Georgian Dream party majoritarian candidate for Marneuli and Gardabani municipalities, Zaur Dargali, met with residents of ethnic Azeri majority village of Ilmazlo in Marneuli Municipality.

According to Radio Marneuli, at the meeting, related to the construction of a pipeline that will provide the village with gas, the SOCAR president praised the Government of Georgia for cooperation for building similar infrastructure in villages populated by ethnic Azeris in Georgia.

Radio Marneuli also quoted the SOCAR president as discussing the integration of Azeri youth into the Georgian society, stating that the current government has enabled them to invest in Georgia language education for local youth. “Now for about six or seven years, we have been helping students to study here,” Abdullayev asserted.

According to Radio Marneuli, the ruling Georgian Dream party majoritarian candidate thanked Abdullayev and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev for helping with providing gas to the village.

The SOCAR president also took part in the groundbreaking ceremony of a new kindergarten in the Lagodekhi Municipality, in Kakheti region, on October 20, Radio Marneuli reported.

Tuesday, October 20

22:00 GMT+4 – MP Giga Bokeria Accuses Saakashvili of Betraying “Rose Revolution Values”

European Georgia (EG) party leader MP Giga Bokeria accused United National Movement’s Mikheil Saakashvili of “betraying the values of the Rose Revolution,” by teaming up with Gubaz Sanikidze, who previously “used to accuse him [Saakashvili] of being an Armenian to sow ethnic discord.”

On a Rustavi 2 TV program, Bokeria argued that although political configuration changes and people move from one to another party, political principles must remain unchanged. However, the EG leader claimed that Saakashvili is now “with people, who were fundamentally against the values of the Rose Revolution.”

Giga Bokeria was a United National Movement (UNM) MP from 2004 to 2008, Deputy Foreign Minister in 2008-10 and Secretary of the National Security Council in 2010-13. Bokeria was elected into the 9th convocation of the Parliament of Georgia as a UNM MP before founding the European Georgia party along with Davit Bakradze and Gigi Ugulava in 2017.

17:00 GMT+4 – CSOs Suggest COVID-19 Measures for Parliamentary Elections

Leading local CSOs, including UNAG, TI Georgia, GDI and ISFED, have published recommendations for the Government of Georgia to reduce pandemic risks in parliamentary elections. CSOs underscored in the October 20 statement that severe epidemiological situation in Georgia amid polls asks for utmost protective measures and transparent procedures.

Considering a vast array of challenges caused by dramatic soar of infection cases two weeks before the polls, CSOs suggested three main measures that could assist the Government in conducting the elections in safe and democratic environment:

1. Expanding the Crisis Council, which should allow all important actors (including political parties, NGO sector and Public Defender) related to the elections to participate;

2. Developing the plan for managing the coronavirus outbreak with various scenarios of its spread rate;

3. Defining the rate and severity of the epidemic and the number of people infected by the coronavirus that would necessitate the declaration of a state of emergency, postponing of elections and imposing of restrictions.

16:00 GMT+4 – NDI Releases Second Pre-election Bulletin

The National Democratic Institute (NDI) released a second pre-election bulletin assessing the work of the electoral administration, the campaign environment, gender and inclusion issues, media and disinformation, and the impact of COVID-19 on the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The bulletin reports on several key issues between August 20 and October 20, including alleged incidents against journalists in Bolnisi and Marneuli, as well as a Pankisi-based radio having to shut down due to protests, GD members reportedly avoiding participation in programs of television outlets viewed as opposition-leaning, the electoral code not obliging political actors to declare social media pages used for campaign purposes, as well as in many cases political parties listing women on the fourth place of their proportional list, with parties winning fewer than four seats being unlikely to seat a woman MP.

NDI also recommends political parties to avoid topics that risk increasing division and tensions and to sign a multi-party memorandum against the use of homophobic language.

Monday, October 19

22:00 GMT+4 – Interior Ministry Initiates Probe into Attack on UNM Bolnisi Office Members 

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has initiated a probe into a recently reported violent attack on United National Movement-led (UNM) Strength in Unity election bloc majoritarian MP Kakha Okriashvili’s election office members in the Bolnisi Municipality.

The investigation was initiated based on Articles 187 and 236 of the Criminal Code, involving damage or destruction of property, and illegal purchase, storage, carrying, manufacturing, transportation, forwarding or sale of firearms, respectively. 

According to Levan Mikeladze, he and another election office member were driving from the village of Nakhiduri to Tbilisi on October 19, as two cars began chasing them. Mikeladze alleges that 6 shots were fired towards his vehicle, while one of the cars deliberately crashed into him, with the impact throwing his vehicle into a ravine. Media footage shows bullet marks on Levan Mikeladze’s vehicle.

Mikeladze has pointed fingers at ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party and Bolnisi Municipality Sakrebulo (Assembly) member Beka Tsakadze, claiming that the GD member was one of the attackers.

13:20 GMT+4 – PM Gakharia Says Elections Will Take Place within Constitutional Timeframe

During a government administration briefing, Georgia’s Prime Minister (PM) Giorgi Gakharia reaffirmed that the upcoming parliamentary elections will take place within the constitutional timeframe. The PM also underscored that the pre-election political process will be unaffected by the pandemic.

After vowing to prepare polling stations in strict accordance with epidemiological recommendations, Gakharia stressed that “[we] must conduct these elections in a dignified, democratic, open, transparent and, most importantly, safe manner.”

12:00 GMT+4 – CEC Unveils Voting Procedures for COVID-19-Infected, Self-Isolated Voters

Central Election Commission of Georgia (CEC), working in collaboration with the special working group consisting of representatives of the Election Administration, political parties, civil society, and international organizations has unveiled special procedures to ensure election participation for hospitalized COVID-19 patients, as well as for quarantined and self-isolated voters in the October 31 parliamentary elections.

The CEC will establish at least one polling station within the boundaries of district election commissions in municipalities and compose special groups that will transfer ballot boxes to hospitalized and quarantined voters. Self-isolated voters officially registered in relevant databases will be able to apply to the Election Administration and request to be provided with ballot box service.

Each member of the special group and every participant of the election process will be equipped with disposable coats, masks, gloves, protective shields, and sanitary and hygienic tools, fully complying with epidemiologic recommendations.

Special polling stations will not be in touch with other normal polling stations, and the votes are to be counted at special polling stations to ensure transparency of the process. In addition, election observers, media workers, and representatives of the election subjects will be allowed to follow the ballot box and monitor the voting process as well as vote counting.

Sunday, October 18

13:00 GMT+4 – Lelo for Georgia Leader Tests Positive for COVID-19

Mamuka Khazaradze, leader of the opposition Lelo for Georgia party, has tested positive for COVID-19. He decided to get tested on October 17 following mild fever, Khazaradze said in his October 18 Facebook post, adding that he is currently self-isolating and feels better. 

The opposition politician also slammed Georgian authorities for putting every Georgian citizen in danger through “processes managed in incapable, unprofessional and irresponsible ways.”

Friday, October 16

18:00 GMT+4 – CEC, IACFF, 13 CSOs Sign Memorandum of Understanding on Use of Administrative Resources

The Central Election Commission (CEC), the Interagency Commission for Free and Fair Elections (IACFF) and 13 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the use of administrative resources, a recent CEC announcement reads.

The signatories of the Memorandum have agreed that the norms set forth in Articles 45 (on canvassing), 48 (on prohibition of the use of administrative resources during canvassing and election campaign), 49 (on prohibition of the use of budgetary funds, office, or official position) of the Election Code will be interpreted and governed  in accordance with the text of the Memorandum during administrative and judicial proceedings.

According to the announcement, all CSOs and political parties that share the definitions set forth in the Memorandum are free to join as signatories. The CEC announcement claims that 13 CSOs have already co-signed the Memorandum, without specifying the names of these organizations.

Also according to CEC, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) facilitated the signing of the memorandum with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

16:30 GMT+4 – Interior Ministry, CEC Sign Memorandum of Understanding

According to a recent Interior Ministry announcement, the Ministry and the Central Election Commission (CEC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to “ensure safe and peaceful conduct” of the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The Memorandum encompasses a “coordinated exchange of information” between the two parties, as well as joint trainings and workshops. The relevant legal framework and forms of cooperation between the two parties were also determined.

“The Memorandum provides for the cooperation and coordinated work of the parties in order to ensure that on Election Day the voting process takes place in a peaceful and free environment,” the announcement concluded.

Thursday, October 15

19:20 GMT +4 – Central Election Commission Received Updated Potential Voter List

Central Election Commission (CEC) stated that it received an updated database of potential 3,558,291 voters, provided by the Public Service Development Agency. Based on the data, CEC will work out the final list of voters, the amount of which will be disclosed in the near future.

17:00 GMT+4 – Labor Party to Support European Georgia’s Gigi Ugulava in Zugdidi

Labor party leader Shalva Natelashvili announced that his party will be supporting European Georgia’s Gigi Ugulava for majoritarian MP in the Zugdidi constituency.

Wednesday, October 14

09:30 GMT+4 – Police Detain One over Attack on Lelo Member

On October 13, Lelo for Georgia’s Kutaisi majoritarian candidate Ana Natsvlishvili stated that Paata Kikabidze, a campaign office member, was attacked in Kutaisi.

Today, Interior Ministry stated that police detained one person for attacking “a member of one of the political parties” in Kutaisi.

Police are leading the investigation under the Article 126 (1) of the Criminal Code of Georgia, involving “beating or other violence that has caused the victim physical or mental pains,” foreseeing one to three years of imprisonment.

Tuesday, October 13

18:00 GMT+4 – Bricks Thrown at European Georgia Party’s Kutaisi Office

Opposition European Georgia MP Otar (Oto) Kakhidze released video footage of bricks being thrown at the party’s office in Kutaisi at half past midnight. Kakhidze has called upon the police to promptly identify the perpetrator of the act.

17:50 GMT+4 – Citizens Party’s List of MP Candidates

The Citizens party, led by Aleko Elisashvili, presented its party list to the Central Election Commission (CEC) for the October 31 parliamentary elections.

View the list of top 20 MP candidates from the Citizens party below:

17:50 GMT+4 – For Justice Party’s List of MP Candidates

The For Justice party, led by Eka Beselia, presented its party list to the Central Election Commission (CEC) for the October 31 parliamentary elections.

View the list of top 20 MP candidates from the For Justice party below:

16:50 GMT+4 – United Georgia – Democratic Movement Party’s List of MP Candidates

The United Georgia – Democratic Movement party, led by Nino Burjanadze, presented its party list to the Central Election Commission (CEC) for the October 31 parliamentary elections.

View the list of top 20 MP candidates from the United Georgia – Democratic Movement party below:

16:50 GMT+ 4 – Strategy Aghmashenebeli Bloc’s List of MP Candidates

The Giorgi Vashadze – Strategy Aghmashenebeli election bloc, which also includes the Law and Justice party, presented its party list to the Central Election Commission (CEC) for the October 31 parliamentary elections.

View the list of top 20 MP candidates from the Strategy Aghmashenebeli election bloc below:

11:15 GMT+4 – Lelo Names Prime Ministerial Candidate

Chairperson of the political council of Lelo for Georgia, Davit Usupashvili, named Mamuka Khazaradze as the party’s Prime Ministerial hopeful for the October 31 parliamentary elections.

Monday, October 12

16:30 GMT+4 – Lelo for Georgia Party Alleges Two Instances of Campaign Violence, Threats from Ruling Party

The Lelo for Georgia party reported on two separate instances of campaign violence and threats from the ruling Georgian Dream party in Kobuleti, and the Samegrelo region, respectively.

According to Lelo, the first instance of violence took place at the entrance of the Kobuleti Market, where the owner of the market allegedly refused to allow Lelo activists to meet with supporters and distribute campaign materials. Lelo reports that following an hour-long encounter, several members of the opposition party were injured while no police representatives arrived at the scene.

Lelo’s majoritarian candidate in the Tsalenjikha, Chkhorotsku, Abasha, Martvili district (located in the Samegrelo region) Tamar Belkania also said that her press secretary was subjected to verbal abuse and threats in a phone call at 12:30 PM. Lelo claims that the threats were issued by government activist Gulbaat Kardava.

The Georgian Interior Ministry has not issued any comments related to the allegations from the Lelo for Georgia party thus far.

15:15 GMT+4 – GYLA Releases Second Interim Report on October Elections

Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association (GYLA), a local watchdog, released a second interim report on the October 31 parliamentary elections, identifying violations and malpractices such as one case of alleged vote-buying, 11 cases of threats and violence, one case of alleged ignoring the requirement to separate the state and political parties and three cases of possible obstruction of election campaigns.

14:20 GMT+4 – Audit Office on Campaign Donations, Ads

According to the State Audit Office, an independent body in charge of the political finance monitoring, in the period from September 1 to September 21, political parties and independent majoritarian candidates secured donations totaling GEL 9,773,788 (USD 3,000,000).

Sunday, October 11

16:00 GMT+4 – Ex-President Saakashvili Faces Agitators as He Meets Supporters in Athens

Georgia’s ex-President and opposition United National Movement (UNM) party’s Prime Ministerial hopeful Mikheil Saakashvili allegedly faced violent agitators at a Sunday meeting with Georgians residing in Athens, Greece.

Video footage broadcasted by pro-opposition Mtavari Arkhi TV shows a crowd of Saakashvili supporters disperse in Athens, as they allegedly fend off an attack on the Georgian ex-President. According to attendants, a number of Saakashvili supporters were injured during the encounter.

Saakashvili announced on his Facebook page on Saturday, a day before his arrival to Athens, that members of the ruling Georgian Dream party found out about his meeting with Georgians residing in Greece. The ex-President claimed that the provocations were orchestrated by the Georgian Dream in collaboration with criminal authorities.

13:00 GMT+4 – OSCE/ODIHR Cancels Short Term Election Observation

OSCE/ODIHR stated that it will be limiting Election Observation Mission (EOM) deployed to Georgia to core teams of experts and long-term observers, canceling plans for sending short-term observers due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated travel and health restrictions.

Friday, October 9

18:00 GMT+4 – NDI Releases Pre-election Bulletin

The National Democratic Institute (NDI) released a pre-election bulletin assessing the work of the electoral administration, the campaign environment, gender and inclusion issues, media and disinformation, and the impact of COVID-19 on the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The bulletin reports on a number of key findings related to the impartiality of election observers; the imbalanced composition of election commissions; the government’s unwillingness to counter abuses of administrative resources, voter intimidation, vote buying and campaign violence; significant inequalities in parties’ financial resources.

Thursday, October 8

12:30 GMT+4 – Strategy Aghmashenebeli Party Fined GEL 15,000

Opposition Strategy Aghmashenebeli Party received a fine of GEL 15,000 from the Municipal Inspection for arbitrary placement of three election banners (each warranting a fine of GEL 5,000) on the territory of the Tbilisi Municipality without permission.

Wednesday, October 7

13:30 GMT+4 – Police Detain Four over Assault on GD Member

Police detained four persons for assaulting Temur Shubitidze, a ruling Georgian Dream party (GD) member, who also serves as an advisor to the Chairperson of Marneuli City Assembly (Sakrebulo). Three of the four detainees are former convicts.

12:00 GMT+4 – Former SSG Deputy Head Quits Georgian Dream

Ioseb Gogashvili, former Deputy Head of State Security Service of Georgia (SSG), leaves the ruling Georgian Dream party, where he has been reportedly holding a position as a Head of Monitoring, Coordination and Analytics Department.

During his service in the SSG in 2015-2018, Gogashvili has been associated with many high-profile cases, including the November 2017 anti-terrorist operation in Tbilisi and the subsequent detention operation in Pankisi gorge of Akhmeta Municipality. Corruption allegations have also been voiced against him.

Tuesday, October 6

17:00 GMT+4 – Free Georgia’s Party List of MP Candidates

The Free Georgia party presented its party list to the Central Election Commission (CEC) for the October 31 parliamentary elections. Chairman Kakha Kukava leads the proportional list.

View the list of top 20 MP candidates from Free Georgia below: 

15:00 GMT+4 – Labor Leader Slams Turkey during Rally over Nagorno-Karabakh

The Labor Party of Georgia held a rally in Tbilisi, at the monument of Ietim Gurji, a Georgian poet writing in Georgian, Azeri, and Armenian languages, to protest the ongoing hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Party leader Shalva Natelashvili called on governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan to “stop all bloodshed” and negotiate.

In his address, Natelashvili spoke of Turkish aspirations “to revive the Ottoman Empire from Balkans to Central Asia”, warning that Turkey’s “return” to Southern Caucasus is led by this policy and Erdoghan needs to be stopped until “it is too late”. He went on accusing Turkey of claiming Hagia Sophia and David Gareji and fueling tensions in the Mediterranean and Caucasus.

“Only after Turkey and Russia have withdrawn from the Caucasus it will be possible to make peace, end war and build the Caucasus our ancestors have been dreaming for,” – Labor leader said, adding that Russia, Turkey, and Iran had made peace impossible in the past, inciting feud among Southern Caucasians to attain their expansionistic goals.

Monday, October 5

20:00 GMT+4 – Labor Leader Speaks of Possible “Covert Collaboration” Between Saakashvili and Ruling Party

Labor party leader Shalva Natelashvili issued a statement entertaining the possibility of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili engaging in “covert collaboration” with the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party. Natelashvili also described the UNM’s decision to name Saakashvili as Prime Ministerial candidate as detrimental to the opposition.

Given that Saakashvili’s nomination for PM caused mixed reactions within the opposition, Natelashvili underlined that “today we [the opposition] must fight the oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili and not each other. 

In his public address, the Labor leader urged the ex-president to “let go of his dreams of obtaining government posts”, unless he wishes to witness the Georgian Dream party secure another victory in the upcoming parliamentary elections. 

“I maintain the right to also express doubt that personal covert collaboration and alliance continues between Saakashvili and Ivanishvili [Georgian Dream’s billionaire chairman], Natelashvili said.

Natelashvili claimed that the Progress and Freedom party, founded by ex- GD majoritarian MP Kakhaber Okriashvili, and businessmen brothers, Tsezar Chocheli and Lasha Chocheli, is likely to to flip sides again to return to the Georgian Dream majority following the parliamentary elections. The Labor leader cited this prediction as evidence of possible personal collaboration between Saakashvili and Ivanishvili.

On September 4, Okriashvili’s Progress and Freedom party joined forces with the UNM-led election bloc, United Opposition – Strength in Unity, for the October 31 Parliamentary elections.

12:00 GMT+4 – Lelo’s Khazaradze Speaks of Anaklia Project, Gakharia

Mamuka Khazaradze, the founder of TBC bank and leader of Lelo party, stated that Giorgi Gakharia has been appointed as Prime Minister by Bidzina Ivanishvili to halt the Anaklia Deep Sea Port Project. “Giorgi Gakharia will not escape the responsibility,” declared Khazaradze.

Speaking of scheduled Parliamentary Elections, Lelo’s leader also underlined that the new government will be a coalition led by his party. “We will not support neither Ivanishvili nor Saakashvili as Prime Minister candidates,” said Khazaradze.

11:00 GMT+4 – NPC-Girchi Unveils its Proportional-Party List

New Political Center – Girchi unveiled the list of candidate MPs running in the October 31 parliamentary elections under the proportional system party-list.

You can see the full list below:

Sunday, October 4

15:30 GMT+4 – Police Detain Two More for Bolnisi, Marneuli Attacks

Interior Ministry stated that officers arrested two persons, a United National Movement activist and a party member in connection with “cases of violence” in Nakhiduri village of Bolnisi Municipality on September 27 and in Marneuli on September 29.

Saturday, October 3

17:00 GMT+4 – Police Detain Two over Attack on UNM Activists in Marneuli

Police detained two suspects over the beating of activists of the United National Movement Party and one of their companions on September 29 in Marneuli Municipality.

10:30 GMT+4 – TI Georgia Releases Study on UNM-led Bloc Majoritarian Candidates’ Donations, Business Activities

Transparency International Georgia, a local watchdog, presented a study looking into UNM-led Bloc Strength in Unity majoritarian candidates’ political donations, business activities and asset declarations, finding that 16 out of 25 contenders are involved in various entrepreneurial activities, overall being connected to 113 companies.

Friday, October 2

21:00 GMT +4 – Lelo for Georgia Unveils its Proportional-Party List

Lelo for Georgia unveiled the list of candidate MPs running in the October 31 parliamentary elections under the proportional system party-list.

You can see the full list below:

18:00 GMT+4 – Labor Party Unveils its Proportional-Party List

Labor Party unveiled the list of candidate MPs to run in a proportional system in the October 31 parliamentary elections.

You can see the full list below:

Thursday, October 1

18:00 GMT+4 – UNM-led Bloc Unveils its Proportional-Party List 

Election bloc United Opposition – Strength in Unity, led by United National Movement (UNM), former ruling party, unveiled the list of candidate MPs to run in a proportional system in the October 31 parliamentary elections.

The UNM-led bloc candidate MPs for the October 31 parliamentary elections are listed as follows: 

1. Buba Kikabidze, singer and actor
2. Grigol Vashadze, UNM Chairperson
3. Nika Melia, former MP, majoritarian candidate in Gldani, Tbilisi
4. Khatia Dekanoidze, majoritarian candidate in Isani, Tbilisi
5. Koba Nakopia, incumbent MP
6. Devi Chankotadze, retired Georgian Lieutenant-General, former Chief of Joint Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces
7. Levan Varshalomidze, ex-Head of Adjara region
8. Salome Samadashvili, incumbent MP
9. Zaliko Udumashvili, former TV news host and UNM Tbilisi mayoral candidate
10. Khatuna Samnidze, Republican Party Chairperson

Read about the Sterngth in Unity Bloc’s full proportional party list:

16:00 GMT+4 – Georgian Dream Unveils Proportional-Party List

Governing Georgian Dream (GD) party presented 150 candidate MPs from its party list, who will be contesting in a proportional system in the October 31 parliamentary elections.

Irakli Kobakhidze, Executive Secretary and Head of GD Election Headquarters, presented the party list at the Central Election Commission.

Read about GD’s full proportional party list:

14:00 GMT+4 – UNM-led Bloc Presents Candidates for Adjara Supreme Council 

Election bloc United Opposition – Strength in Unity, led by the United National Movement (UNM), former ruling party, unveiled the list of majoritarian candidates to run in the Adjara Supreme Council elections. 

The UNM-led bloc candidates for the Adjara Supreme Council are listed as follows: 

  1. Elguja Bagrationi – Chairman of UNM faction in Supreme Council of Adjara;
  2. Giorgi Kirtadze – Former Chairman of Batumi City Sakrebulo (Assembly), Head of Batumi UNM branch;
  3. Gia Abuladze – Former Adjara Education Minister, Member of Adjara Supreme Council
  4. Medea Vasadze – Former Member of Adjara Supreme Council
  5. Levan Antadze – Former Adjara Health Minister
  6. Irakli Chavleishvili – Member of Republican Party
  7. Mamuli Surmanidze – Member of Kobuleti Sakrebulo (Assembly)
  8. Asmat Diasamidze – Member of Adjara Supreme Council 
  9. David Kontselidze –  Head of Keda UNM Regional Organization 
  10. Mamuka Jivaishi – Junior UNM Member.

Wednesday, September 30

22:00 GMT+4 -“Lelo For Georgia” Presents Some of Candidate MPs on its Party List

On September 30, at an event held at the Georgian National Museum, the opposition Lelo for Georgia party presented part of its proportional-party list that will be contesting in the October 31 elections. The list is led by Mamuka Khazaradze, the party chairman and founder of TBC Bank.

Read more here: 

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)

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