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Criminal case launched against Georgian observers in Ukraine

By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, January 28
The Prosecutor’s Office of the city of Dontesk in Ukraine has launched a criminal case against Georgia's election observers for using “fake documentation” at the Presidential elections on January 17, RIA Novosti has reported. The Mayor of Donetsk, Alexander Lukyanchenko, announced this at a press conference on Tuesday.

“Having studied all the materials presented, all the temporary accreditations, the Prosecutor’s Office has concluded that the actions [of the observers] were illegal,” Lukyanchenko told journalists.

The Mayor claimed that about 500 Georgian citizens, who arrived to Donetsk to observe the first round of elections, are still in the city. More Georgian citizens are expected to arrive there for the second round of elections planned for February 7, according to Lukyanchenko. “The Georgians remaining in Donetsk are booking rooms in hotels,” he claimed.

Speaking to journalists, the Donetsk Mayor said that some of the Georgian observers did not have enough qualifications for monitoring the elections. “I have some data from the CEC of Ukraine, which says that 119 of the people who came to Ukraine from Georgia had duplicated applications. None of the 199 observers had any experience of monitoring elections,” he noted, adding that 1,466 of the Georgian observers were unemployed and “some even put their signature in the box marked 'occupation.' So the CEC's conclusion is that a typical Georgian observer is a young man with no education, jobless, without any experience of monitoring elections and without a permanent address,” Ukraine news agency UNIAN quoted the Mayor as saying.

Lukyanchenko has sent a letter to Georgia’s Ambassador in Ukraine Grigol Katamadze seeking to “prevent the residence and arrival of Georgian citizens in Donetsk during the election period without preliminary registration at the CEC.” The Donetsk Mayor has also requested Katamadze to “ensure compliance with all norms of Ukraine legislation by the Georgians in Donetsk.”

Former Chairman of the Georgian CEC Levan Tarkhnishvili, who is now in Ukraine, has said that he does not possess any information about a criminal case being launched against the Georgian observers. He denied the claims of the Donetsk Mayor, saying that all Georgian observers had already left Ukraine. “Two planeloads of Georgian observers left for Tbilisi the second day after the first round of elections, so I do not understand where such information comes from,” Tarkhnishvili told Interpressnews on Tuesday.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry also denied the Russian and Ukrainian reports that a criminal case had been launched. Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze said on Wednesday that “According to the information we possess, no criminal case has been launched, but this has been suggested by some political parties. We will see later if there are grounds for launching a case,” Kalandadze noted. The Georgian Central Election Commission has not received any notification about the launching of a criminal case against the Georgian observers either, the CEC Press Service has told The Messenger.

One of the Presidential candidates, Yulia Tymoshenko, slammed the Party of the Regions over the Georgian observers row, calling it a “cheap provocation.” Speaking to the Ukrainskaya Pravda newspaper, Tymoshenko confirmed that the taped phone conversation between her and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was authentic. However she denied making a deal with him about sending “fighters” from Georgia as observers.

“Do you really think that the President can call the Prime Minister and suggest dubious things? This is a cheap provocation,” Tymoshenko said. She noted that in the conversation Saakashvili meant sending “efficient” people to observe the elections in Ukraine, and not “fighters”, as the word has been interpreted by Tymoshenko’s opponents.