Five persons were detained in a series of violent brawls that erupted near the #20 precinct in the Zugdidi municipality of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region, the Interior Ministry confirmed to Civil.ge.
The confrontations, taking place on the polling day of municipal election runoffs, reportedly involved Georgian Dream representatives and members of the United National Movement-close organization “Movement for Georgia.”
Mamuka Tsotseria, the ruling party mayoral candidate in Zugdidi who was present at the scene, cited one of the “UNM activists” accusing Zugdidi residents “of separatism” as a cause for the conflict.
Giorgi Mumladze, a representative of “Movement for Georgia,” said, on the other hand, that the conflict was preceded by an incident where a group of “provocateurs” insulted the organization members calling them strangers, including showing aggression due to his surname not being of local Megrelian origins. He further accused Tsotseria of personally bringing people to “beat” him and his colleagues.
The videos from the scene show police detaining several people, including those openly supporting the United National Movement and jailed ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, among them Mumladze, as well as those who were vocal against the UNM.
According to media reports, the conflict initially started over alleged spotting of so-called party coordinators, persons known for mobilizing and tracking political party supporters on the polling day near the precincts. New election laws introduced additional restrictions for assemblies and campaigning within 100 meters of polling stations.
Zugdidi hosts one of the tensest races in the mayoral runoffs of local elections, where GD’s Tsotseria, who received 41,2% of votes in the first round, faces UNM’s Anzor Melia, who scored 46,8%.