NDI: Since last election severity of political violence have increased

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The interim report of the National Democratic Institute's (NDI) which analyses the pre-election political environment in the run up to Georgia's municipal elections on 15 June, notes that compared to the presidential election in 2013, the severity of political violence have increased. The report, which was released on 10 June, discusses attacks on members of the United National Movement - Zurab Chiaberashvili and MP Nugzar Tsiklauri as well as the beating of a businessman Davit Kodua. The NDI believes that the government and parliament leaders must strictly condemn these facts.

"According to civil society representatives, the level of intimidation and political violence has decreased compared to previous elections. However, NDI and Georgian observers report that, since the last election, the severity of political violence appears to have increased, including cases of bloodshed. Zurab Tchiaberashvili, a member of the UNM political council, was assaulted in a cafe in Tbilisi on May 27. This case has revived discussions on the need for more assertive responses to such attacks. In late March, UNM Member of Parliament Nugzar Tsiklauri was beaten by several men who reportedly tried to kidnap him. Civil society organizations and the Public Defender have called for a thorough investigation. In early May, a businessman and the brother of former Ministry of Internal Affairs' official in the UNM government, Davit Kodua, was severely beaten in what the Prosecutor's Office termed 'a premeditated group attack motivated by revenge'," the report says.

As the NDI pre-election report notes, even though "Inter-Agency Task Force Chair and Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani has taken a strong position against violence and intimidation, and the IATF itself has been commended as a venue for discussion of campaign issues, other ruling party officials have been more equivocal in their public statements."

The NDI believes that "broader and stronger condemnations from government and legislative leaders would send a signal of intolerance of violence and intimidation in the campaign period and beyond."

According to the interim report, thorough and expeditious investigations should be conducted and those found in violation of laws should be held accountable.

 

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