CSOs Release Study Alleging Ruling Party Vote Bribery Scheme

The civil society organizations Transparency International – Georgia and the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) released a joint study on July 21 about an alleged scheme of voter bribery and illegal mobilization by the ruling Georgian Dream party.

The documents were handed to the CSOs by whistleblower and former deputy head of the State Security Service of Georgia (SSG), Ioseb (Soso) Gogashvili, and include the alleged 2018-2019 correspondence from a Georgian Dream e-mail ( and documents from 2020. Additionally, they verified certain parts of the data through publicly available information.

Notably, Gogashvili, published a Facebook post the day before he was arrested on July 16 by law enforcement officers, where he exposed the government for falsifying elections and said that he had provided corresponding evidence of the “entire structure” to “all relevant organizations.”

Per the CSOs, their study revealed a large-scale scheme of mobilizing votes in favor of the ruling Georgian Dream party through illegal means which “very likely confirms the use of state agencies (including law enforcement agencies) for electoral/party purposes.”

“Through these agencies, personal information about employees of budgetary organizations was likely collected, probably with the goal of pressuring them in the future. Additionally, in exchange for support during elections, citizens were provided with pre-requested benefits and other advantages through various state agencies,” the document stated.

More specifically, the document outlined that ruling party representatives allegedly offered to rescind probationary status, as well as early release from penitentiary institutions, restore the suspended or confiscated right to drive, ease charges in ongoing criminal cases, improve the conditions of those serving sentences, and postpone military service obligations of conscripts, among other benefits.

According to the study’s authors, information attained from the National Probation Agency confirmed that in the 2018 Presidential elections, especially in the second round and the following months, the number of people who had their probation revoked and their driving privileges restored increased significantly. “Furthermore, in the reports by various TV channels, many persons confirmed the circumstances mentioned in the documents,” it added.

Additionally, according to the research, the Georgian Dream party most likely collected information about the supporters of opposition parties and was interested in “what kind of influence it could have on them by using various state resources.”

Per the document, the ruling party, together with the SSG, also compiled political dossiers of employees in budgetary organizations, as well as directors of public schools and educational resource centers, and made personnel-related policy decisions on that basis.

“A typical example of this can be considered discrimination against public school principals on political grounds. From fall 2020 to August 2021 the Ministry of Education and Science did not re-appoint at least 112 public school principals after the expiration of their term of office,” the document stated and explained that out of these 112 persons, 95 principals were evaluated in the documents provided by Gogashvili.

The CSOs said the documents provided to them included material that showed that regional leaders of the ruling party wrote statements in the name of party leaders – Irakli Kobakhidze, Kakha Kaladze, and Dimitri Samkharadze – and demanded the transfer of law enforcement agency employees to election headquarters for the purposes of the electoral campaign.

According to TI – Georgia, and ISFED, the material submitted to them by Gogashvili has been handed over to the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia, which should become a prerequisite for starting an effective investigation.

Simultaneously, they stated that the ruling party must refuse the use of state resources for vote buying and stop the “illegal and vicious” practice of discrediting employees in budgetary organizations on political grounds and involving them in electoral campaigns.

Ruling Party Chairperson Responds

GD Chairperson Irakli Kobakhidze addressed the study in a July 21 interview with pro-government TV Imedi, stating, “These materials which were published are exactly like the materials published 1-2 years ago, they are completely absurd, I could create such documents tomorrow and have them shown on TV, it is nothing more than this.”

“We are responsible for the fact that elections are conducted properly,” he emphasized, “and precisely because this is the case they cannot produce any proof that elections are being falsified. This is the reality, and everything else is speculation.”

The GD Chairperson claimed, “ISFED has its own sins… ISFED directly falsified the results of the parallel [2020 parliamentary election’s] vote count, we had information on this, and we drew this logical conclusion…”

Read the compiled documents here.

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


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