Violations during the campaign ahead of the May 30 local elections have, so far, been fewer, than during the 2008 early presidential and parliamentary ballots, Transparency International-Georgia said in its recent report.
“However, the general picture is still far from positive,” the watchdog said in the report on monitoring the use of administrative resources, released on May 11.
TI-Georgia said that its recent report makes focus on the four main types of administrative resources: "coercive, financial, material-technical and human." The first report on monitoring of misuse of administrative resources, released late in March, focused on, what the watchdog said, was election-related increase of funds for local self-governance bodies.
According to the recent report instances of pressure on voters and opposition activists “are the most alarming matter” with such cases more common in the regions.
In one case, reported in the document, on May 3 the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti governor, Zaza Gorozia, and high-ranking officer from the local police department, as well as the Mestia majoritarian MP, the head of Mestia administration, the Financial Police regional chief and other representatives of the authorities, accompanied by a special unit of the police, summoned the Freedom Party’s candidates (both majoritarian and those from the party list) to the administration building between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. and “forced them to withdraw from the elections.”
In one case in Ozurgeti, according to the report, families of prisoners were subject of pressure. It says that in April, a representative of local government asked families of prisoners to collect signatures along with personal identification numbers and other personal information of up to 500 supporters of the ruling National Movement party for release of their relatives from prison.
In April, the government established an inter-agency group to interact with election watchdogs and other stakeholders in order to ensure that elections are held “in the most transparent and fair environment.”
On May 8 the group met with four election watchdog groups and received information about the violations these groups recorded. “The members of the [government’s inter-agency] Group took note of violations and promised to react immediately,” TI-Georgia said.