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Opposition Says Audio Tape Reveals Intimidation of State Employees
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 5 May.'08 / 14:43

The nine-party opposition bloc released on May 5 an audio tape, claimed to be covertly recorded at a meeting between the ruling party’s majoritarian MP candidate in the provincial district of Tsageri and employees of the local self-governance bodies in that single-mandate constituency.

MP Kakha Kukava of the Conservative Party – part of the nine-party bloc – claimed that the tape revealed case of intimidation and pressure exerted by the ruling National Movement Party on state employees in the provinces ahead of the May 21 parliamentary elections.

A voice of a man, claimed by the opposition to be of ruling party’s majoritarian MP candidate in Tsageri, Valery Giorgobiani, says: “80% of residents of the town of Tsageri and lower Tsageri are employed in the [local] state structures. If there is not 80% of votes cast for the party – I am not talking about a majoritarian MP candidate, I am talking about the party to which your are serving – so if there is not 80% of votes cast for the party, then you will have to go to homes [resign from your posts] on May 22.”

Valery Giorgobiani has denied involvement and told Civil.Ge on a phone on May 5: “I can not say anything about something that has never happened, or about something that I have not heard.”

MP Kukava of the nine-party bloc said at a news conference on May 5, that the audio tape was obtained from one of the persons, whom he did not specify, present at that meeting, which was held on April 30.

Giorgobiani, however, said: “No such meeting was held on April 30.”

“In general I am meeting with many people regularly as part of the campaign and I am calling on them to vote for the National Movement. What else should I call for during the campaign?” he said. “I will comment on that allegation if the opposition unveils who gave that tape to them and if that persons proves that those words are of mine. I have nothing to hide. As far as [allegations about] intimidation and threats to sack someone from the job are concerned, I simply can not do that, I have no powers to dismiss someone.”

MP Kukava said that the nine-party bloc was requesting the General Prosecutor’s Office to study the audio tape and verify its authenticity.

“We will take appropriate measures, if the validity of this tape is confirmed. We will not leave any violation without a response,” Davit Bakradze, the leader of the ruling party, said on May 5.

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