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Are rights of ethnic minorities being violated?

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, September 5
The United National (UNM) movement claims that the aim of the opposition Georgian Dream coalition is to kindle xenophobia and ethnic hatred in Georgia. A statement concerning this issue was made by representative of the UNM, Sergo Ratiani on September 4 while commenting on the previous day's incident in the Akhalkalaki election district.

Based on the information provided by the Central Election Commission (CEC) on September 3, Medea Neparidze and Nino Pkhikidze, who are both members of the Akhalkalaki District Election Commission and Bezhan Gunava, a representative of the election bloc of Bidzina Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream, physically abused Akhalkalaki DEC Chair, Hasmik Marangozian on the same DEC premises.

“The CEC of Georgia strictly condemns this act of violence and asks all persons involved in the electoral processes to show restraint and respect each other,” the special statement made by the CEC reads.

The Commission was not the only one to express interest regarding the incident. The UNC immediately responded and accused the opposition political bloc of kindling ethnic hatred.

“I believe that Ivanishvili and all the parties within the coalition are united through the language of hatred and their target is to impose ethnic confrontation in the country,” representative of the UNM, Sergo Ratiani stated. He has also underscored that Georgia is part of the civilized world where each ethnic minority is respected.

“I want to remind Bidzina Ivanishvili that all ethnic minorities are equal members of Georgian society,” Ratiani suggested and emphasized that it was not the first time the coalition members misbehave towards the ethnic minority representatives.

Opposition coalition Georgian Dream denied the accusation. Spokesperson of the coalition, Maia Panjikidze stated that the Georgian Dream has a defined position concerning national minorities.

“Each citizen of Georgia is equal and valuable,” Panjikidze stated. She also emphasized that Georgia has always been tolerant state where each ethnic minority felt good. “Such attitudes towards national minorities will necessarily be preserved, it is the position of the coalition,” Panjikidze said.

A different version was voiced by Gunava. He emphasized the fact that Marangozian was very aggressive towards the coalition representatives in the election district.

“She (Marangozian) blamed our representatives for stealing money. When our representatives protested the fact she became angry,” Gunava said.