The Central Election Commission has revoked the electoral registration of Vladimer Bedukadze’s Centrists’ party. According to a statement issued by the Chairwoman of the Central Electoral Commision, Tamar Zhvania, the decision was made after the National Agency of Public Registry announced that the Centrists’ party has had no legal leadership since 2006.
Georgian television channel 1TV aired a Centrists’ campaign advert which promised to provide Georgians with Russian funded pensions of 400 Lari ($172) per month, to introduce legislation permitting dual Russian-Georgian citizenship and to host Russian military base in the country.
The advertisement provoked widespread outrage. Georgia’s public broadcaster is obliged under electoral law to provide a certain amount of free airtime for the campaign adverts of registered political parties, however, Georgian National Communications Commission has noted that this obligation does not come into force until August 19th.
Leader of the Centrists’ Party, Vladimer Bedukadze, announced yesterday that his state-provided security detail had been removed, in a decision which he believes to have been related to the recent activities of his party. Bedukadze was placed under witness protection as part of a plea bargain in 2013, after his alleged involvement in the production and leaking of torture videos from a georgian prison.
Vladimer Bedukadze may still run in the parliamentary elections as a member of Valeri Kvaratskhelia’s political party Neutral Georgia. Valeri Kvaratskhelia is also one of the founders of the Centrists political party.
“There are many political parties, which are already registered. We can take part in elections as members of Neutral Georgia”, said Bedukadze.
The Centrists’ political party is lead by Vladimer Bedukadze and Temur Khachishvili.
Temur Khachishvili was Georgia’s Interior Minister from 1992 to 1993. He was also one of the leading figures of the notorious Mkhedrioni paramilitary group, which was disbanded in 1995 after it was blamed for a bomb attack against the then Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze. Khachishvili was convicted in 1995 for organizing the attack, however he was later released in 2002 following a presidential pardon from Shevardnadze. Khachishvili returned to Georgia after the Georgian Dream came to power in late 2012.
In 2012 Vladimer Bedukadze was alleged to have been involved in recording and leaking of videos from a Georgian prison which showed graphic torture of inmates. The leaked videos prompted major anti-government protests in the month leading up to the October 2012 parliamentary elections. An arrest warrant was issued for Bedukadze and he was detained upon arrival in Georgia in 2013; he was later released by the Prosecutor's Office after his case was settled with a plea bargain.