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Violence mars election process

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, July 23
The presidential primaries held in Zugdidi and Batumi were accompanied by protests and violence targeted at the participants of the primaries and the United National Movement (UNM). The latter accuses the Georgian Dream coalition of organizing and masterminding these violent actions against them. Georgian Dream representatives deny any involvement in the actions, explaining them by the overall attitude of and grudges being held on behalf of the entire population against the UNM and their officials.

However, it should be mentioned that, if the election campaign is continued in this manner whatever the explanation, it will definitely damage the position of the coalition and seriously inflict damage to the promise of Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili about holding exemplary elections.

The former ruling UNM, which is now in the opposition, is selecting its presidential candidate through the primaries. The results have shown so far that the former Parliamentary Chairman, Davit Bakradze, will be the UNM’s presidential candidate. However, during the recent primary sessions, not the debates between the candidates but the fact of holding these primaries at all and the acts of violence became the major subject of discussion.

On July 20, opponents of the UNM in Zugdidi blocked access to the Dadiani Theatre not allowing the UNM members to enter the building. They also threw plastic bottles filled with water, as well as eggs into the directions of their cars; trying to break into the building and disrupt the event. Police officers could not prevent such developments; they detained 12 people, charged them fines of100 GEL each and released them the next day.

The scenario was almost the same for the fifth round of the primaries in Batumi, where the UNM members were met again with eggs and even stones. Activists of the protest rallies were again detained and released later.

Meanwhile, the UNM leaders immediately used such an occasion to accuse the Georgian Dream coalition members of an attempt to hinder the UNM from holding the civilized form of primaries.

According to the UNM members, the central government is unable to create calm and unbiased situation in the country. “If the government does this deliberately, it is very bad, but if the country cannot control it, it is even worse,” one of the UNM leaders, Mikheil Machavariani has stated.

The statement of the UNM presidential candidate, Davit Bakradze was very critical, who also used this occasion to criticize the government.

The Central Election Commission (CEC) also released a statement expressing its concern over the recent developments.