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The News in Brief

Wednesday, May 24
Republicans & Free Democrats Mull Unification for Municipal Election

The leaders of two non-parliamentary opposition political parties – the Republican Party and the Free Democrats – confirmed on May 22 that the parties plan to join forces for the October 2017 Municipal Elections.

Khatuna Samnidze of the Republican Party told on May 22 that the two political parties are currently negotiating on modalities of their partnership and will announce its results in coming days.

“Talks are underway between us and the Free Democrats; since we have an experience in cooperation and since municipal elections are very important, and it is crucial for the parties with similar ideology and vision to strengthen through unification, I hope that the talks will be productive and successful and that we will be able to inform the public about our election strategy quite soon,” Samnidze noted.

She also said that the negotiations between the two parties have been ongoing “for certain period of time.” “The process necessitated analyzing intra-party situation, meetings with members, talks with supporters and all these have led us to the condition, when I can already confirm that the process of negotiations is underway. But I cannot talk about the results of these negotiations [yet].”

Samnidze also stated that the Republican Party is in talks with the Free Democrats only. “At this stage, we only have negotiations with the party, which runs on a similar ideological platform; we are the members of the European-Liberal family and we have similar views,” she added.

Speaking to on May 22, Nino Goguadze, political secretary of the Free Democrats, said the parties “plan to end the consultations in 10 days,” but added that it is “early” to talk about unification. “Today, we are launching consultations with the Republican Party in order to coordinate our positions on whether we can run on a joint ticket,” Goguadze noted.

“We all saw following the [parliamentary] election that we should join our forces. The Republican Party and the Free Democrats have a similar ideological platform and western orientation. We also have a joint history of struggle against the United National Movement government and now with the Georgian Dream government. So, there are a lot of factors facilitating our unification for the municipal elections,” Goguadze also stated.

Goguadze added that the negotiation process “is very difficult, as all parties have their own interests,” but expressed hope that the talks would end successfully.

The Free Democrats and the Republican Party, the two influential junior members of the Georgian Dream coalition in the 2012 Parliamentary Election, ran independently in 2016 and failed to enter the parliament with 4.63 percent and 1.55 percent of nationwide votes, respectively.

The failure to enter the parliament prompted departures of several senior party officials of both parties, including their leaders, former Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili and former Defense Minister Irakli Alasania.

The Republican Party (since 2007) and the Free Democrats (since 2012) are full members of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party, liberal-democratic political family in Europe. (

MIA presents video, auditor maintains bar fight was corruption related

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has released a surveillance video and witness testimony on Monday which appeared to undermine claims by the country’s top public auditor that a recent bar fight was connected to a corruption probe.

But the low resolution surveillance video of the bar fight in the center of Tbilisi two weeks ago between the auditor and a former chief prosecutor did little to settle the dispute, which the former claims is related to corruption.

The video shows the moment when the head of the State Audit Office and a former chief prosecutor fought each other in the bar El Centro in the early hours of May 13. It was taken by a surveillance camera that is too far from the scene to show exactly what happened, but a brawl on the outdoors terrace of the El Centro nightclub can be seen.

Public auditor Lasha Tordia, who required hospital treatment after the fight, claimed the fight started because of a probe being carried out by the State Audit Office, which he heads, into possible illegal activities by Otar Partskhaladze, a former top national prosecutor who he claims attacked him that night.

Tordia claims the probe established that Partskhaladze amassed millions of lari through suspicious deals with Tbilisi City Hall; a case which he said should be referred to the Prosecutor General’s Office for further investigation.

Along with the video, MIA also published its preliminary findings in the investigation, which apparently seeks to downplay the ex-prosecutor’s role in the conflict.

In its statement, the MIA concludes, based on “impartial witnesses”, that Tordia first hit ex-Chief Prosecutor Otar Partskhaladze’s friend. A physical confrontation ensued, which ended after a few seconds.

“None of the witnesses questioned in the case, including Lasha Tordia, indicated that they were beaten by Otar Partskhaladze,” the MIA states.

But Tordia says he doesn’t trust the investigation. The video footage presented was deliberately chosen to obscure the incident, while there are several other cameras at the bar which might offer a clearer picture of the conflict, he claimed.

“[The MIA and the prosecution] have intentionally shown footage that raises questions about who was the first attacker and how it happened,” had said at a briefing on Monday, insisting that a special parliamentary commission must be established to look into the case. He also appealed to international organizations and foreign diplomats to do their own inquiries.

The country’s top auditor believes he is going to be blamed for the incident.

“We are seeing very interesting developments, and I think […] I will be in the dock,” he concluded. (df watch)