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International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy

Pre-Election Monitoring for the Runoffs of the 2016 Parliamentary

Interim Report
October 9 27

This report is made possible by the generous support from the American people, through the United States Agency
for International Development (USAID). The contents of this report are the sole responsibility of ISFED and may
not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government

1. About the Monitoring Mission

The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) conducted pre-election monitoring
of the runoffs of October 8, 2016 majoritarian elections of the Parliament of Georgia through its 38 longterm observers (LTOs) in all electoral districts where the runoffs are to be held. The monitoring is
supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The present report of
pre-election monitoring of the runoffs of the parliamentary elections covers the reporting period of
October 9-27, 2016.

2. The Runoff Elections and Participating Electoral Subjects

In the first round of majoritarian MP races of the October 8, 2016 parliamentary elections, winning
candidates were identified only in 23 out of 73 single-mandate constituencies. Consequently, for the
remaining 50 majoritarian seats the second round of elections had to be scheduled. The Central Elections
Commission (CEC) set the date of majoritarian runoffs in 50 electoral districts for October 30.
By virtue of the Election Code of Georgia, a candidate that garners more than 50% of votes in the first
round of majoritarian elections will be the winner. If there are no winners in the first round of elections,
the second round will be called where the top two candidates that gained more votes than others in the
first round of elections will be competing.
Following the first round, top two candidates in 44 majoritarian electoral districts are from the Georgian
Dream Democratic Georgia and the United National Movement; in two districts the highest numbers
of votes were received by the Georgian Dreams majoritarian candidate and independent majoritarian
candidates; in another two districts candidates of the Free Democrats and the Georgian Dream will be
competing for the seats; in one majoritarian district the runoff will identify a winner between TopadzeIndustrialists and the Georgian Dream candidates, and in one majoritarian district a candidate of the
United National Movement and an independent candidate will be competing against each other.
The Georgian Dream candidates are leading in 46 districts where the runoffs will be held, the UNM
candidates are leading in two districts, and Topadze-Industrialists candidates and independent
majoritarian candidates are lading in another two.
In two of the fifty majoritarian constituencies where the runoffs will be held, opposition leaders Sandra
Roelofs (the UNM) and Irakli Alasania (the Free Democrats) announced withdrawal from the second
round contests. However, according to the CEC, the Election legislation does not envisage the possibility
of cancelling registration of candidates in the second round of elections. Therefore, their names will
remain on election ballots.
On October 22, reruns were held in the electoral precinct no.36.22.48 of the majoritarian electoral district
no.36 and in the electoral precincts nos. 66.67.38, 66.67.79 and 66.67.108 of the majoritarian electoral
district no.66, where results of the October 8 elections were invalidated. The results in these precincts
could have had an impact on the results of the respective majoritarian districts.
In the runoff elections in Marneuli, UNM majoritarian candidate Ahmamed Imamkuliev won in the
precinct no.36.22.48 and the Georgian Dream majoritarian candidate Edisher Toloraia won in the
precincts nos. 66.67.38, 66.67.79 and 66.67.108 in Zugdidi. However, neither was able to clear the 50%
threshold in the first round of elections in majoritarian districts nos.36 and 66.

3. The Pre-Election Environment

With calling of the runoff elections, opposition party candidates are reporting acts of harassment and
intimidation of their supporters or coordinators in different electoral districts. The reports of harassment
of opposition supporters by authorities and the ruling party activists have mostly come from the UNM
and Free Democrats candidates.
ISFED observed the following incidents during the pre-election period of the runoff elections: 2 cases of
physical confrontation, 8 cases of intimidation/harassment on alleged political grounds; 1 case of
alleged politically motivated dismissal; 2 cases of abuse of administrative resources and vote
buying; 2 cases when PEC members were present in the Georgian Dreams campaign offices.
Violent incidents that occurred at three polling stations in Zugdidi and Marneuli electoral districts on
October 8 created a negative setting for the pre-election period.
The police had a differentiated and uneven response to the violent incidents that occurred at three
electoral precincts of Marneuli and Zugdidi. In particular, the police mobilized outside the electoral
precinct no.79 of majoritarian electoral district no.66 in Jikhashkari failed to take adequate actions when
the polling station was stormed. According to the international observers from Norwegian Helsinki
Committee, despite being outside of the polling station, police did not take adequate measures against
perpetrators. An international observer was assaulted at the polling station but the law enforcement
authorities failed to intervene. In response to the violent incident of Marneuli, the Ministry of Interior
performed a special operation early in the morning and arrested 6 people. All six individuals were
remanded in custody, while in Zugdidi where electoral precincts were invaded by up to ten people, only
two suspects were detained; one was remanded in custody and another was released on bail.
The states differentiated response to these incidents gives rise to suspicions about selective approach to
the criminal offences perpetrated during the election period.

4. Physical Confrontation


On October 10, local media outlets reported that an altercation took place between Davit Makhatadze, the
PEC member appointed by the United National Movement in Ubisa village, and local leaders of the
Georgian Dream. Davit Makhatadze filed a subsequent police report.1
According to Davit Makhatadze, in the evening of October 9, Gamgebeli of Boriti village Valeri
Barbakadze, a resident of Ubisa Malkhaz Sebiskveradze, a resident of Boriti Gia Tkemaladze and an
unidentified individual visited him at home. They brought him out of the house, said that they had lost the
elections because of him and assaulted him physically. Then they got in a car and drove away.
Later when Davit Makhatadze was in Kharagauli, the above individuals visited his home again and
assaulted members of his family.
On October 13, ISFED long-term observer contacted a representative of the UNM local office, Ketevan
Zumbadze for details and asked her to comment as to why the incident occurred, but according to
Ketevan Zumbadze, she is not sure what happened. Malkhaz Sebiskveradze, who Davit Makhatadze
mentioned in a newspaper interview, denied all allegations during an interview with ISFED observer and
said that nothing happened. According to him, it was a misunderstanding about a personal issue and the
incident has been resolved, because he is very close with Davit Makhatadzes family, they are relatives.

Subsequent investigation has been launched under Article 125 of the Criminal Code.


On October 12, one of the leaders of the United National Movement Sergi Kapanadze stated on the
Rustavi 2 TV program Archevani on that supporters of the Georgian Dream had beaten the UNM youth
organization members in Vazisubani.
The UNM candidate Giorgi Oniani said that nearly 30 activists of the Georgian Dream attacked members
of his office with batons and awls. As a result, one of them sustained physical injuries and was taken to a
hospital unconscious.
Campaign office of the Georgian Dream majoritarian candidate, Irakli Abuseridze provided a different
account of events. According to them, Goga Onianis supporters appeared outside Abuseridzes campaign
office at 23:30, near a supermarket. They were drunk and acted aggressively as they made obscene
remarks about the Georgian Dream and its majoritarian candidate Irakli Abuseridze. Next they had a clash
with passersby.
Subsequent investigation has been launched. Giorgi Oniani demanded that a footage from nearby
surveillance cameras be made public and believes that the ruling party candidate and his supporters are to

5. Acts of Harassment and Intimidation on Political Grounds

This chapter provides an account of individual cases of harassment and intimidation against opposition
supporters and activists on political grounds, which paint a picture of a violent pre-election campaign.
These facts contain signs of criminal offence and require timely and effective response by the law
enforcement authorities.


Following the first round of the elections, majoritarian candidate of Free Democrats in Chiatura
Teimuraz Gaprindashvili reported on numerous occasions that the Georgian Dream majoritarian
candidate Sulkhan Makhatadze intimidated him and his supporters.
ISFED long-term observer contacted Gela Kapanadze, head of the Free Democrats local office and a
leader of their youth wing Tamar Zhghenti to verify the report. They confirmed the information but were
reluctant to provide any details because Chiatura is a small town, everyone knows everyone, and nobody
wants to talk in front of the camera.
According to them, supporters are threatened with removal of social benefits and dismissal from public
service unless they support the governments candidate.
On October 24, ISFED long-term observer met with Mr. Gaprindashvili, who stated that the police got
engaged in the harassment. For instance, in Tabagrebi village local population was warned to support the
Georgian Dream candidate. A name of Giuli Kupatadze was provided, who was threatened by the ruling
party coordinator, Roman Abesadze with removal of social benefits.
On October 24, ISFED observer interviewed Giuli Kupatadze personally. She confirmed the report.

The Georgian Dream coordinator Roman Abesadze rejected making the threat but he confirmed that he
had a talk with Giuli Kupatadze. He said that he knows Kupatadze is Gaprindashvilis supporter.


On October 26, the UNM released a video footage, in which likely the Georgian Dream coordinator in
Kachreti, Givi Ramazashvili is making threats against a PEC member appointed by the UNM - warning
him to turn off his phone on October 30 and not to appear at the PEC.
According to Nikoloz Mazanashvili, he was intimidated by the Georgian Dream activist, Givi
Ramazashvili. On October 20, Givi Ramazashvili met with Nikoloz Mazanashvili and asked him to meet
in the office of the Georgian Dream to talk. They met on October 20, around 22:00, in the Georgian
Dream office in Kachreti village. Givi Ramazashvili demanded that Nikoloz Mazanashvili resign from the
PEC; otherwise, he threatened to make him disappear.
In what is allegedly an audio recording of a conversation between the two, Givi Ramazashvili is telling a
PEC member, Nika Mazanashvili: On the 30th [the day of the runoffs] youll turn your phone off, you
are no longer in the commission, understand? Just disappear. Im threatening you quietly. Stay quiet, I
dont want to see you in the commission ever again. The government has won and we will win to the
In an interview with ISFED observer, Givi Ramazashvili rejected all allegations and said that Nikoloz
Mazanashvili is computer-savvy and he made a fake recording. Ramazashvili maintains that he is not and
has never been a member of the Georgian Dream office, he only supports the government.


According to the UNM majoritarian candidate in the majoritarian district no.27 - Giorgi Botkoveli, Telavi
Resource Center was summoning kindergarten managers and school principals based on instructions of
the Georgian Dream candidate, Irakli Sesiashvili, and demanding that they present a list of 15 employees
that supported the Georgian Dream.
ISFED interviewed a member of the Georgian Dream office, Sopo Sisauri, who categorically rejected the
allegation and said that the Georgian Dream office and the candidate did not pressure school principals or
kindergarten managers in any way.
ISFED observer tried to verify the report with several school principals and kindergarten managers but
they did not confirm the fact. One of the kindergarten managers confirmed only part of the report but
chose to stay unidentified. According to the kindergarten manager, they were told to provide the lists but
it was on a voluntary basis and no one pressured them.
In a comment given to Rustavi 2 TV, Georgian Dream majoritarian candidate Irakli Sesiashvili confirms
that he did meet with nearly 300 teachers and asked them to bring other supporters.2


Principal of Daba Chakvi School, Tariel Katamadze reported threats by a high-ranking official.
According to Katamadze, he and his wife, who is a manager of a preschool, were threatened with
dismissal because they are viewed as opponents of the ruling party. Katamadze was reluctant to provide
name of the official. He reported the incident by social media.3


See the report at:

See Batumelebi article about the issue:


Head of the local UNM office Simon Parunashvili reported that around midnight, a neighbor asked a
resident of Adigeni Municipality, Gela Kulijanishvili to help him start his car. As Kulijanishvili
approached the car, he found four unidentified individuals who forced him into the car and threatened to
beat him unless he and members of his family voted for the Georgian Dream candidate, Giorgi Kopadze.


On October 24, in Avangardi Settlement, the Georgian Dream activist Kakha Abzianidze visited the
UNM coordinator, Lamara Kapanadze in her home. He told Kapanadze not to go to the polls unless she
voted for the Georgian Dream. They spoke loudly, which led to an argument. Kapanadze told Abzianidze
that she would continue to be the UNM activist. Later on October 25, at 02:00am, the same man appeared
in the yard outside Lamara Kapanadzes building and started yelling and swearing at Kapanadze. Lamara
Kapanadze did not respond and Abzianidze left the yard in a few minutes.


After PEC members resigned for personal reasons on October 18, 19 and 20, the DEC announced a
competition to fill 19 vacant positions. A total of 23 people applied. 19 new PEC members were elected
by majority of votes. Only member of the commission that objected was Misha Pachkoria from the UNM,
who alleged that the PEC members had been pressured into resigning. The DEC chair stated that the PEC
members cited family or health reasons in their resignation letters and according to him, any other
investigation of the matter was beyond the scope of his competencies.
On October 25, online newspaper reported that PEC members said they were pressured by the
Georgian Dream. ISFED long-term observer tried to contact them to verify the report but was only able to
reach 14 former members of the PEC. Most of them stated that they had reassigned due to family reasons
or because they were too busy to serve as a commissioner. All except one UNM supporter categorically
denied affiliation with any of the parties.
In an interview with the LTO, former head of the PEC no.61.70.21 stated that he made the decision at
night on October 8, due to the baseless accusations by political parties, which offended his
professionalism and civic responsibility. He has not mentioned any party in particular and denied the fact
of intimidation.
On October 21, ISFED long-term observer was informed that the City Hall officials and members of the
campaign office of the Georgian Dream majoritarian candidate Irakli Khakhubia were meeting with the
PEC members inside the City Hall, after 19:00. To verify the report, the LTO tried get inside the City
Hall building but the security officer refused to let her in. At around 21:30, several individuals, possibly
candidates for the PEC membership, were seen existing the building. They denied having attended a
meeting and refused to clarify the reason why they were at the City Hall.
Later a member of the campaign office of the Georgian Dream majoritarian candidate - Irakli Khukhubia,
Gia Darjania denied presence of PEC members at the City Hall and said that there was no meeting.
Another member of Khukhubias campaign office, Lela Burkvadze stated the same, while the
majoritarian candidate himself categorically denied having met the PEC members and said that he had the
right to spend time with his friends at the City Hall outside working hours. A reporter from Tspress and
LivePress, Iza Salakaia was at the scene together with a cameraman, who captured the meeting
participants existing the City Hall building on a video.


Principal of village Pkhero School, Valiko Velijanashvili summoned teachers and janitors and told them
that he has a list of 14 people that support the UNM candidate, Vazha Chitishvili. He said that these
people should fold ballot papers on the Election Day in a manner that will let the Georgian Dream
representative in the electoral commission see that they circled the name of the Georgian Dream
candidate, Giorgi Kopadze. Otherwise, he said he would sack all 14 employees. ISFED observer
interviewed the school janitor, Nino Khariashvili who confirmed the report. She also serves as a member
of the PEC, appointed by the UNM. According to her, Head of Adigeni Resource Center Inga
Bochorishvili had instructed the school principal to have the meeting with the teachers.

6. Dismissals on Alleged Political Grounds


Maka Sudadze, a member of Akhaltsikhe Community Sakrebulo from the UNM reported that her brother
was dismissed from work for supporting the UNM.
According to Maka Sudadze, her brother Mamuka Sudadze has been working as the head of organizationa
unit at the legal entity of public law Akhaltsikhe Sports School for nearly 13 years. Before the elections
he was warned to refrain from any activities in favor of the UNM but he ignored the warning. On October
10, his boss told him that the City Hall had demanded his dismissal. Mamuka Sudadze responded that he
was not going to hand in a letter of resignation. On October 17, Mamuka Sudadze found a letter of severe
reproof for absence without a valid reason, dated October 5, and an order of dismissal dated October 12.
According to Maka Sudadze, for years his brother went to work 2-3 times a day but he never had any
problem about it.

7. Participation of Commission Members in Meetings of the Ruling Party


On October 25, it was reported that the UNM has a video showing members of different PECs gathering
outside the campaign office of the Georgian Dream.
ISFED observer contacted the UNM to verify the report. According to the UNM, they do have the video
and they plan to make it public during a court hearing.
The UNM addressed the District Electoral Commission and demanded imposition of fine on PEC
members that participated in the meeting.
According to the Secretary of Telavi DEC, they have identified 12 individuals that attended the meeting
and issued a protocol of administrative offences against them. The protocol has been referred to court.


On October 15, the UNM released a video showing members of PECs nos.1, 32, 38, 40 appointed by
Khelvachauri District Electoral Commission at the campaign office of the Georgian Dream. Head of the
campaign office has categorically denied any visit for electoral purposes. According to Jumber
Vardmanidze, he was in Tbilisi on October 15 and he never saw the PEC members.
On October 17, the UNM representative Mamuka Kobuladze filed a complaint with the DEC over
presence of the commission members in the party office and demanded termination of their official
powers. The DEC granted part of the complaint by terminating official power of one PEC member.
Official power of two PEC chairs was terminated based on their letters of resignation for personal
As to identification of remaining individuals captured by the video, like it was requested in the complaint,
due to a poor quality of the video it is impossible to identify them and this part of the complaint was

8. Abuse of Administrative Resources and Possible Vote Buying


In an interview with ISFED observer, majoritarian candidate of the Georgian Dream in electoral district
no.43, Valeri Gelashvili stated that he blames Giorgi Guraspashvili for his lack of success in the first
round of the October 8 elections. According to Gelashvili, due to the incompetent performance of his
campaign office, which was staffed by Gamgebeli, he performed poorly in the elections.
Later on October 22, Valeri Gelashvili met with employees of Khashuri Municipality in his own hotel
Iveria. The meeting was attended by Deputy Gamgebeli Zurab Chkhitunidze among other civil servants.
A possible recording of statements made during the meeting was released by Shida Kartli Information
Center on October 25. Based on the recording, likely, Valeri Gelashvili is asking the local selfgovernment employees for their support in the second round of elections; in exchange for their support,
he promises to increase their salaries. Deputy Gamgebeli makes a direct mention of using administrative
resources by saying: we need to go to the polls together with our families, administrative resource is
something that we should use.


Works for connecting Rustaveli Street of Surami to the drinking water supply system were launched
about a week ago, with the aim of providing 120 families in Surami with drinking water. According to
locals, Valeri Gelashvili is paying for the works form his personal budget.
Valeri Gelashvili informed ISFED observer that he did not spend any money on the infrastructural works
for providing drinking water.
According to a representative of Khashuri Municipality Public Relations Office, Nino Sukhiashvili, the
works are performed by a non-profit (non-commercial) legal entity Khashurservisi of the Municipality but
the funding has not been provided from the local budget and they do not know where the funding is
coming from.

9. Political Context ahead of the Runoffs

Reactions by electoral subjects

Political parties had mixed reactions about the first round of the October 8, 2016 elections. Some
opposition parties recognized the election results while others, in contrast to the international and local
observers, reported election fraud and mass violations.
In the night of October 9 while votes were counted in electoral precincts, the United National
Movement staged a rally outside the Central Elections Commission and accused the government of
election fraud.4 The UNM leaders accused the CEC initially in publishing protocols and results late,
and then in publishing select protocols, alleging that protocols according to which the Georgian Dream
gained over 50% of votes were selected to be published first. They said that they did not trust the
electoral administration and demanded a meeting with the CEC Chair.
Leaders of the UNM and the CEC chair met in the early morning of October 9. At the end of the
meeting, the UNM representatives stated that they did not receive answers to their questions and
announced that they planned to hold internal consultations about subsequent forms of protest.5
Later, the former President of Georgia and former chairman of the UNM, Mikheil Saakashvili urged the
UNM to boycott results of the elections as well as the runoffs. Although members of the party had
different thoughts about this6, during a meeting of the political council on October 11, the UNM made a
decision to enter the parliament and participate in the runoffs.7
However, following announcement of results of the reruns on October 22, the UNM candidate in the
majoritarian district no.66 and number 2 on the UNMs parliamentary list, Sandra Roelofs announced
that she was not going to participate in the runoff.8 According to Roelofs, victory had been stolen from
her and because the elections were clearly unfair, she was not going to participate in the second round.
Roelofs decision was criticized by some leaders of the UNM. 9
Notably, the leader of the UNM in Ajara A/R, Levan Varshalomidze released several videos on days
following the elections, illustrating violations in the polling and the vote counting process in several
precincts, which warrant investigation by the electoral administration and the law enforcement
Because of results of the first round of the elections, leader of the Free Democrats and the majoritarian
candidate in Gori, Irakli Alasania, who gained enough votes to qualify him for the second round of
elections, announced his decision to quit politics for now and said he would not participate in the
runoff.10 Following Alasanias announcement several other leaders of the Free Democrats decided to
leave the party.11
According to the Executive Secretary of Free Democrats, the party suspects that their representatives in
about 100 precincts made an agreement with the government in exchange for money or other favors
and the party made a decision to withdraw its representatives from nearly 400 PECs.

See the video material at:

See Nika Melias comments at:
See the UNMs decision:
See the announcement of Roelofs:
See Sergo Ratianis comments:
See Alasanias statement:
Leaders of Free Democrats are abandoning the party:

The electoral subject Nino Burjanadze Free Democrats announced that they did not trust the
election results and demanded recounting of votes by the CEC. According to the CEC, the party filed a
total of 235 complaints with the election administration, majority of which was not granted or was left
without consideration.
On October 26, Nino Burjanadze announced that her party withdrew PEC members from all electoral
precincts in an attempt to boycott the elections because of alleged vote rigging.
Leader of the Georgian Labor Party, Shalva Natelashvili demanded that the October 8 parliamentary
elections be deemed as illegitimate. According to him, all government bodies were involved in vote
rigging. The party received 3.12% of votes. According to Natelashvili, none of the parties should enter
the so-called parliament and repeat elections should be called.
Other parties that participated in the elections do not believe that their lack of success was due to vote
rigging. For instance, the Republican Party believes that the election results had to do with polarization
of public opinion. According to the leader of the party, Davit Usupashvili, the electoral administration
clearly lacked qualifications and this was especially evident during counting of votes.
Giorgi Vashadze, one of the leaders of the bloc Paata Burchuladze State for the People believes that
invalidated ballots were manipulated but no large-scale vote rigging took place. Results of the elections
were recognized by a leader of another member of the bloc, New Rights, Manana Nachkebia.

Unsubstantiated Criticism Towards Some Election Monitoring Organizations

Following the October 8 elections, different supporters and public figures affiliated with opposition and
ruling parties openly made insulting or criticizing remarks about qualified and objective domestic
observer organizations in social media and in other media outlets. These were unsubstantiated and
contradictory accusations that lacked merit. Opposition supporters accused monitoring organizations of
being inactive and insufficiently critical towards violations, while supporters of the ruling party claimed
that observer organizations were overly critical in their assessments.

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