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Tbilisi Says to Maintain Partnership with Ukraine Regardless of Election Outcome
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 18 Jan.'10 / 16:38

Georgia hopes strategic partnership with Ukraine will be maintained regardless of who will become the country’s next president, Nino Kalandadze, the Georgian deputy foreign minister, said on January 18.

“Ukraine is our strategic ally and we hope that, regardless of what choice will be made by [the Ukrainian] voters, our friendship and partnership will remain firm. We will welcome any choice made by the Ukrainian people in democratic and free conditions,” Kalandadze said.

She also said that Georgia expects the Ukrainian authorities “to react” on reported cases of attacks on the Georgian television stations crews.

Georgian television station, Imedi TV, reported that its TV crew was attacked in Donetsk late on January 16, in which one of its producers Irakli Gvaramadze was severely beaten up. Gvaramadze is a former lawmaker from the ruling party.

Rustavi 2 TV’s journalist, Tea Adeishvili, said presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych’s bodyguard hit her in a stomach as she tried to approach the leader of Party of Regions to ask a question after his press conference late on January 17.

“Such actions against journalists are totally unacceptable and we hope that these cases will be investigated,” Giorgi Baramidze, the Georgian state minister for Euro-Atlantic integration, said on January 18. He also added that Georgia would continue “partnership” with Ukraine no matter who would be elected as new president.

In a separate incident, during a press conference in Donetsk a journalist of Rustavi 2 TV verbally sparred with chairman of local election commission, Anatoly Bliznyuk, who said Georgian observers were in fact “fighters, who arrived to paralyze elections in the district of Donetsk.”

Issue of about 2,000 Georgian observers, who were refused in registration by the Ukrainian Central Election Commission, has become a source of controversy.

Party of Regions, led by Yanukovych who will face PM Yulia Tymoshenko in the second round of elections on February 7, said in a statement that arrival of hundreds of Georgian non-registered observers in the city of Donetsk, Yanukovych’s political stronghold, aimed at “destabilizing elections.”

After casting a ballot on January 17, Yanukovych called on President Saakashvili to withdraw “so called observers.” He also said: “Interference in the affairs of our country by a foreign country is unacceptable,” Yanukovych said.

Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister, Nino Kalandadze, said that Georgia decided to send large group of observers to Ukraine because of Tbilisi’s “high attention” towards the Ukrainian elections.

She said that the Georgian observers were employees of various state structures, including of Parliament, local self-governance bodies, as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations.

“It is unfortunately that representatives of some political parties [in Ukraine] had a doubt about the status and sincerity of our observers,” Kalandadze said.

“As far as we know [Ukrainian] CEC has instructed the Interior Ministry to check identities of these persons [sent as observers]. We are ready to cooperate with them [the Ukrainian authorities] and provide them with all the required information,” she added.

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