GYLA Releases Third Interim Report on Local Elections

Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association (GYLA), a local watchdog, released on October 28 its third interim report on the 2021 municipal elections, which covers the September 25 – October 24 period.

GYLA reported on six cases of possibly politically motivated violent acts, two instances of alleged obstruction of activities of political parties, multiple cases of damaging campaign banners, one case of possible vote-buying, two cases of persons being registered on party lists without their consent and one case of alleged interference with the will of the voters.

The watchdog observed three of the violent acts during the run-up to the first round of local polls: An attack on Georgian Dream party coordinator Nona Grigalashvili allegedly by For Georgia member Jondo Kapanadze; The beating of GD majoritarian candidate in Marneuli, Rovshan Iskandirov; Shots being fired the car of For Georgia Tsageri mayoral candidate Besarion Bendeliani.

As for the period ahead of October 30 runoffs, GYLA cited an attack on United National Movement member Nika Bachilava, an assault on European Georgia member Vakhtang Kebadze and the brawl between the supporters and opponents of UNM Rustavi mayoral candidate Davit Kirkitadze outside his campaign office.

As for obstruction of political parties’ activities, GYLA cited counterprotesters meeting supporters of jailed former President Mikheil Saakashvili en route to Tbilisi for the October 14 rally. According to the watchdog, footage showed the counterprotesters throwing brooms at the cars of Saakashvili’s supporters, and insulting them. Besides, GYLA said that ALMA Limited refusing to place European Georgia’s campaign advertisement materials can be perceived as “discrimination” on political grounds.

The watchdog also reported multiple instances of damages done to campaign banners and posters of the GD, UNM and For Georgia.

Discussing possible vote-buying, GYLA cited media reports of September 27, saying that GD candidate in the Dzimiti, Askani, and Nagomari majoritarian constituency of Ozrugeti municipality presumably gifted water tanks to the residents one of the neighborhoods in Dzimiti village. 

The report also listed the case of Koka Kapanadze and Sopio Jojua, who found out they were registered in the New Political Center – Girchi party’s proportional lists without their consent. GYLA argued the cases contain signs of possible production and use of a forged document. 

Citing footage aired by the UNM on September 30, the watchdog reported that GD members allegedly seized dozens of ID cards of UNM supporters with deceit, constituting possible interference with the will of voters.

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