The Georgian President’s administration said Tbilisi was not supporting any of the candidates in Ukraine’s January 17 presidential elections.
The statement was made amid allegations that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili might be backing Ukraine’s PM Yulia Tymoshenko.
“Georgia has no plans to support any of the candidates; Georgia can not and will not interfere in the election,” Manana Manjgaladze, a spokesperson for the President, said on January 15.
Formally the statement was made in response to the Ukrainian Central Election Commission’s refusal to register a large group of Georgian observers to monitor the presidential elections.
A senior lawmaker from the ruling party Givi Targamadze, who is now in Ukraine, said the registration of Georgian observers was “blocked” by those members of Ukrainian CEC, who support presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovich, leader of Ukrainian pro-Russian Regions Party.
Allegations about the Georgian leader’s preferences in the Ukrainian polls intensified after a taped phone conversation, purportedly between Tymoshenko and Saakashvili, emerged on the internet on January 14.
In the phone conversation, audio file of which appeared on Ukrainian internet portal Oboz.ua’s video-sharing section, a woman, claimed to be Tymoshenko tells a man, purportedly Saakashvili that a problem had emerged in respect of registration of Georgian observers. She also thanks for sending “such team” of observers to Ukraine and he replies that Georgia sent “really competent and efficient people”. He also tells her to meet with “Givi”, a reference apparently made to MP Givi Targamadze to solve the issue related with Georgian observers. “We are disposed to help Ukraine… The only thing that is needed is coordination,” the man says.
The taped phone conversation, less than two minutes in length, was aired by the Georgian national television stations, Imedi, Rustavi 2 and public broadcaster on January 15.
The Georgian President’s administration declined to comment.
According to the Ukrainian media reports Georgia submitted to Ukraine list of about 2,000 observers for registration. On January 6, mayor of Ukrainian city of Donetsk said he turned down Georgia’s offer to send to the city 1,000 observers. Mayor Oleksandr Lukyanchenko, who also chairs the local election office of presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych, said the city would be hosting 600 observers from OSCE and other international bodies and additional 1,000 observers from Georgia was beyond the city's logistical capabilities, RFE/RL Ukrainian service reported. A controversy about the Georgian observers’ registration continued in the Ukrainian Central Election Commission in following days.