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Debates offer glimpse into parties' plans

By Salome Modebadze
Thursday, September 20
“Is this your reformed penitentiary system?” opposition Georgian Dream member, Kakha Kaladze asked, as he addressed Parliamentary Chairman Davit Bakradze during the debates at the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) on September 18. Kaladze said the video footage that shows the torturing of prisoners at the Gldani penitentiary facility were terrible and added that the government itself became criminal.

The news about the conditions of detainees at Gldani prison was recently released by Maestro TV before the debates started at GPB on Tuesday evening so that Kaladze appeared to be the only person in the studio who had seen the footage. Davit Bakradze, who leads the ruling United National Movement’s (UNM) election list, said the acting government will eradicate criminals in Georgia. He said in order to ensure safety in the country, anyone committing a crime should be imprisoned.

What is your party’s strategy for overcoming social problems; how would you improve the quality of education; how would you ensure the integration of ethnic minorities to Georgian public life; and what is your plan for returning the occupied territories? These were the main questions the leading candidates of the ruling party, Georgian Dream coalition, Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) and the Labor Party had to answer, but they also directed questions and answers to their opponents.

Kakha Kaladze said that instead of fulfilling the promises given to society since the Rose Revolution, the acting government only distributed welfare within their team. Encouraging the voters to trust coalition leader Bidizna Ivanishvili’s honest past instead of others’ “seducing promises,” he said by coming to power, the Georgian Dream would ensure free healthcare, educational accessibility and agricultural development.

“The Georgian Dream will not dissolve!” Kakha Kaladze responded to Bakradze who wondered how the coalition planned to fulfill the promises if they plan to dissolve after the elections. But Kaladze denied this, accusing President Mikheil Saakashvili’s “pocket TV companies” in spreading the rumours.

He said when the Abkhazian and Ossetian people see how Saakashvili treats the Georgian people they will not return, thus suggested the restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity through economic and democratic development.

The UNM is oriented on giving more benefit to people. Davit Bakradze said that although today Georgia is a better country than eight-years ago, every family should personally feel the welfare. He said the country should overcome unemployment just as they “managed to overcome crime.”

Bakradze said that Election Day will define whether Georgia will go ahead or return to the past with the “frozen salaries and pensions” as it was in times when now Georgian Dream member Otar Khupenia chaired the pension fund. He said the UNM has a well developed plan when and what to do in the country.

The CDM’s Giorgi Targamadze said it is time that “unbalanced” leaders finish their experiments. He said CDM’s long-term plan is oriented on peace and named unemployment as the main precondition for poverty. Targamadze said instead of spending billions in building a new town Lazika in a flash “with an unknown prospective”, his team would invest this money in the economic development of the country and encourage the agricultural sector.

He said Georgia should begin dialogue with the Ossetian and Abkhazian people, not to lose the traditions they have in common and hoped that history would put everything in its place.

Labor Party leader Shalva Natelashvili kept on claiming there is cooperation between Mikheil Saakashvili and Bidizna Ivanishvili and said they are both “dangerous for the country” while the Labour Party really wants to save Georgia.