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The News in Brief

Monday, October 28
Convicts vote at Matrosov prison via portable boxes

At Matrosov prison, prisoners voted via portable boxes on Election Day yesterday. The Committee Chairwoman, Miranda Kotrikadze said that they received the necessary permission from the prison administration. Media representatives were allowed to televise the ongoing events only in the areas of the prison where the prison employees permit them.

However, the journalists were not allowed to broadcast the voting process of two former officials in custody – Vano Merabishvili and Bacho Akhalaia. The election process at Matrosov prison was monitored by both local and foreign observers.

South Ossetia blocks Georgians from crossing in order to vote

The de facto South Ossetian government has imposed restrictions for Georgian citizens along the demarcation line.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) on Saturday issued a statement expressing concern about the de facto government’s decision. The MIA recalled the decision made during a meeting of the Incident Prevention and Reaction Mechanism (IPRM) on October 18, where Georgian citizens who have ended up on the other side of the boundary line will be allowed to vote in the election.

Tskhinvali’s de facto government violated this agreement, as locals are entirely prohibited from passing through the checkpoints on the de facto border.

Tskhinvali restricted movement on the administrative border on Friday. According to Ossetian media, the South Ossetian Security Committee announced this decision, explaining that this is related to “strengthening security measures in relation with Sunday’s presidential election in Georgia.”

The new restrictions apply to sections of the boundary line where it used to be easier to cross.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs considers this a violation of the right to vote and a violation of basic human rights. It called on the de facto South Ossetian government to reconsider its decision and let Georgian citizens cross in order to participate in the election.
(Democracy & Freedom Watch)

EU ready to initial AA with Georgia at EaP Summit

EU leaders reiterate their readiness to initial the Association Agreements with Moldova and Georgia at the Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit in Vilnius in late November “with the aim of signing them by autumn 2014,” the European Council said after a two-day summit in Brussels on October 25.

The Eastern Partnership was one of the items on the agenda of the European Council meeting in Brussels.

The European Council said it “underscores the importance of the Eastern Partnership for building a common area of democracy, prosperity and stability across the European continent.”

Former security official arrested over “fake IDs for ballot fraud'

Police recovered 1,000's of fake” IDs which were used in number of previous elections in a ballot fraud scheme in favor of former ruling United National Movement (UNM) party, the Georgian Interior Ministry (MIA) said on October 25, two days before the Sunday’s presidential vote.

It said the former head of the Interior Ministry’s Department for Constitutional Security (DCS) in the Adjara region, Teimuraz Pataridze, was arrested for “organizing, producing, and using fake IDs” in 2008-2012.

These fake identification documents, the MIA said, were handed out to employees of the DCS, enabling them to engage in a ‘merry-go-round’ voting – a scheme when a person casts ballot for multiple times at several polling stations, in elections held in Georgia between 2008 and 2012, including early presidential polls in January, 2008.

“Regional units of the DCS throughout the country were thoroughly studying voter lists, identifying politically passive citizens and those who left the country years ago and providing Pataridze with data of these citizens; these data were then included in fake IDs containing photos of DCS employees,” MIA said, adding that the single DCS employee was holding multiple fake IDs with his or her photo in it and casting ballot multiple times for UNM and its candidate in the elections.

“Several thousands of fake IDs were recovered in Zugdidi [town in Samegrelo region] and Batumi [Adjara Autonomous Republic],” MIA said without specifying the exact figure.

It said that investigation is ongoing to identify other “organizers” of the scheme.

New charges against Georgian ex-Defense Minister

The Georgian Prosecutor General's Office on Friday brought another accusation against the former Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaia - abuse of power - in the case of the murder of the Georgian United Bank's employee Sandro Girgvliani in 2006.

"Bacho Akhalaia violated international commitments, Georgian Constitution and Georgia's Criminal Code," the representative of the Prosecutor General's Office said.

The Prosecutor General's Office appealed to the Tbilisi City Court with a request to preliminarily detain Akhalaia, who is already under arrest.

28-year-old Girgvliani was found dead in a cemetery in Okrokana (Tbilisi's suburb) after an argument in a bar in Tbilisi. The court delivered its verdict with regard of this case to four former high-ranking employees of the Constitutional Security Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia. They were later released under an amnesty.

Akhalaia was found not guilty in the case regarding the bullying of soldiers, whereas the review of two cases - a prison riot in 2006 and bullying of staff members of the special forces of Georgian Interior Ministry are still in progress.

Georgian president awards National Hero title posthumously to Zviad Gamsakhurdia and Merab Kostava

Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili has awarded National Hero title posthumously to the country's ex-president Zviad Gamsakhurdia and his compatriot Meab Kostava.

This was declared by Saakashvili on Saturday at the opening of the memorial of the hero of Georgian-Russian war in 2008 Giorgi Antsukhelidze in Kvemo Alvani village.

"At the time when almost no Georgian thought about his country's freedom, when the majority of conformists were among us, Gamsakhurdia was a leading light of the national idea, fought for it, and we have gained this freedom. Yet he was left alone in a distant Megrelian village, was betrayed and died. He could say that he is Georgia. Like his colleague Merab Kostava, who was sitting in Soviet jails for many years, and did not refuse the idea of freedom in Georgia. Both of these heroes deserve the title of National Hero," the president said.

Day of Austria celebrated in Tbilisi

The Austrian government organized a celebration of the Day of Austria at Sheraton Metekhi Palace Hotel in Tbilisi and the opening of the Austrian Development Fund representation on October 25.

The even was attended by Georgia’s Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze with her deputies, European and Euro-Atlantic Minister Aleksi Petriashvili, Secretary General of Austria’s European and Foreign Affairs Ministry, Austria’s Honorary Consul Eva Berger and ambassadors from other states.

Panjikidze noted various projects carried out by the Austrian Development Fund in Georgia since 2006, including the fields of tourism infrastructure, agriculture and forest farming. The Minister said fields like small and medium-sized businesses, energy and more would be added to the list while the opening of the representation of the Fund would further develop economic relations between Austria and Georgia.
(Georgian News)