The United National Movement’s Office in Vake was raided during the night according to Elene Khoshtaria [The UNM’s MP Candidate for Vake #2]. In a statement posted on her Facebook page, she also stated that the front window of the office had been broken.
“Obviously, it’s government’s action. This is not the first time the government has abused the opposition.For the past four years we have seen what they can do and that is destruction, negativity and this is not what the country really needs. The country needs people who care about development and the people. Thus it’s obvious that the government was involved in this incident. Unfortunately, they don’t understand how this damages the entire country and our future because in doing things like this it will only accelerate the process of their defeat, But in general the country is being damaged and it’s very unfortunate that they don’t understand until the last minute that they’re doing a bad thing for the country. Also I wanted to say that with these methods they will not be able to disrupt our campaign and our work. For three months I have been going from door-to-door. I have probably walked every inch of Vake and I know the attitudes of these people, I even know the attitudes of those who are critical of us. There’s no ground for aggression, there hasn’t been aggressive attitudes from anyone. I respect the views of those residents of Vake who won’t vote for me in the elections and any attempt to blame [what happened last night] on my critics is feeble.” Said Elene Khoshtaria
Tabula contacted the Ministry of Internal Affairs for comment. They stated that an investigation had been launched under the 187th article of criminal code regarding the damage or destruction of another’s property.
Five non-governmental organisations have stated that they are alarmed by this incident. The NGOs noted that this isn’t the first time when the office of an opposition party has been raided. According to them such incidents create a violent environment in the pre-election period and threatens free and fair elections.
“Recent incidents of raids on opposition parties are not getting an adequate reaction. For instance the Kortskheli incident [when a number of UNM members and their supporters were attacked during interim elections for local councils in the village of Kortskheli]. On August 10, 2016 the National Forum’s office was robbed and on August 11 and 12, UNM’s offices in Dedoplistskaro and Zugdidi were raided. On August 22, one of the activists of the UNM was on his way home when he was physically abused in Rustavi by Georgian Dream supporters. When these crimes go unpunished it encourages more. Several statements made by a number of representatives of the government also encouraged this behaviour” - said the announcement by the Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI), Media Development Foundation (MDF), Georgia’s Reforms Associates (GRASS), Institute for Democracy and Safe Development (IDSD) and Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI).
Non-Governmental Organisations express their hope that law enforcement authorities wouldn’t just open an investigation but will react adequately. As they’ve said the prevention of violence is very important for holding elections in a fair and equal environment.