Iza Chirgadze, member of #90 Precinct Election Commission in Kutaisi, the key battleground where opposition hopeful narrowly lost to Georgian Dream candidate, accused the governing party of pressure to falsify the runoff vote.
In a briefing at the United National Movement’s office in Kutaisi on November 1, Chirgadze said a Georgian Dream representative, named Inga, called her multiple times on Election Day on October 30 and instructed her to allow people not registered at her polling station to vote.
Chirgadze asserted she turned away two persons not registered in her precinct’s list of voters, noting the individuals were “other people, with other Identification Cards.” It was unclear from her remarks if the persons carried ID papers of someone else or their own.
After turning away the two, Chirgadze claimed she received another call from the alleged GD representative, reprimanding her and commanding her to “carry out” the instruction. The PEC member said she still turned away several other unauthorized voters after the call.
Chirgadze noted she alarmed Mariam Nemsadze, UNM’s observer at the precinct, about the alleged pressure and set up a meeting for November 1. She said that Georgian Dream representatives, on the same day, made several attempts to meet her and also supposedly informed police that Chirgadze had been abducted.
She claimed police intercepted her en route to the UNM office with Nemsadze and had to convince the law enforcers that she had not been abducted and was going of her own will.
According to Chirgadze, the alleged GD representative called her sister and informed Chirgadze was in “serious danger,” and also asked for the phone number of the PEC member’s husband. Chirgadze expressed fears that the alleged pressure on her and her family could ramp up.
Khatia Dekanoidze, UNM mayoral candidate in Kutaisi, on Facebook yesterday accused the State Security Service of Georgia of intimidating Chirgadze and her family. The SSG declined to comment with Civil.ge on the accusation.
Civil.ge has asked the Interior Ministry if it plans to probe Chirgadze’s accusations, and awaits a response.
The Georgian Dream declined to comment on Chirgadze’s allegations with Civil.ge. But MP Shalva Papuashvili, PR Secretary of the party told Netgazeti, an online outlet, that Chirgadze’s account was “speculation” and “empty words.”
On October 30, the ruling party candidate Ioseb Khakhaleishvili narrowly won the mayoral runoff against Dekanoidze, with 34,295 votes to 32,703. According to Central Election Commission data, 70,048 citizens participated in Kutaisi mayoral runoff, and 2,396 ballots were annulled – 3.42% of the voters.
Girchi – More Freedom Member Detained
Girchi – More Freedom member Imeda Kldiashvili, Dekanoidze’s pick for deputy mayor of Kutaisi, was detained in the early hours of November 2, as he protested the alleged pressure on Chirgadze.
He had parked his automobile outside the entrance of the State Security Service of Georgia office in Kutaisi, in protest and refused to move. Video streamed by Kldiashvili showed police detain him by force after he said he would resist their orders.
The Interior Ministry told Civil.ge Kldiashvili was detained on administrative offenses, but he is yet to be released. The Ministry spokesperson said additional details would be provided later.