Government Toughens Sanctions for Electoral Malpractice
By Ernest Petrosyan
Tuesday, October 18The parliamentary majority has imposed stricter demands on electoral subjects. According to a draft law, all electoral subjects will assume criminal responsibility for bribing, taking bribes or extortion. Amendments in this regard will be made to the criminal code.
In particular, receiving or demanding money, assets or other property by an electoral subject will result in criminal prosecution, namely from 6 to 9 years of imprisonment if an election subject is offering bribes or soliciting corrupt proposals through an intermediary to achieve their aims.
If an electoral subject receives up to GEL 10,000 in bribe money – that person will be sentenced from 7 to 10 years in prison. In case of multiple cases of such abuses, or those who receive bribes of above GEL 30,000, the offender will be sentenced from 12 to 15 years of prison.
The authors of the amendments to the law are representatives of the ruling party - Kakha Anjaparidze and Zviad Kukava.
The International Secretary of the Georgian Labor Party, Nestan Kirtadze related the aforementioned amendment to recent political events. According to Kirtadze, the ruling party is trying to create a benign legislative environment for themselves but very harsh for the opposition parties.
“Indeed it will not be the last political restriction that will be adopted by the government. This amendment is related to the entry of Bidzina Ivanishvili into Georgian politics, whose money represents a huge threat for the National Movement party. The government already made one politically motivated step when they cancelled Ivanishvili’s Georgian citizenship. Such amendments are ridiculous”, Kirtadze told The Messenger.
Analyst Vakhtang Khmaladze also considers such restrictions as pressure on opposition parties. “If according to the old law, election subjects were to be removed from the election list, now they assume criminal responsibility for it. It is a politically motivated amendment since the government realizes the potential threats coming from Ivanishvili. It [the government] is trying to create legal instruments which can be used against opposition political parties”, Khmaladze told the Messenger.