Lomjaria: I cannot recall facts of such violence at last local election

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Director of the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) Nino Lomjaria said on Tabula TV program Focus that as compared to 2010 local elections, the current pre-election environment has been better in terms of the use of administrative resources and media freedom, but worse in terms of violence.

"I remember the 2010 local elections perfectly well and so much violent confrontation between party activists was not observed back then. Nor were such a great number of attempts to thwart a pre-election campaign. I will not compare it with the 2012 [parliamentary elections] as such instances were much more, but I am speaking about 2010 local elections now .... There is an improvement in terms of the use of administrative resources, also in terms of media freedom, but as regards violence this was definitely on a larger scale this year and we witnessed not only the confrontation between activists but also facts of beating representatives of one of the parties, namely, the United National Movement (UNM) and some of those facts have not been investigated yet. There were no such facts during 2010 [local elections]; at least I cannot recall them," Lomjaria said.

To a presenter's question whether the statements of the Prime Minister of Georgia that he would not allow any other political force to win elections could have additionally encouraged violence, Lomjaria said that those statements of the Prime Minister were incorrect considering the context and circumstances in which they were made, because they could have been perceived as a sort of justification or encouragement of violence.

"We expected that Prime Minister would very clearly state that all facts of violence or pressure would be investigated. However he did not make such a clear statement; therefore, I think that that was definitely incorrect. However, I do not think that only that statement caused these violent actions.

"But I would recall the events that unfolded in Zugdidi in relation to [the UNM candidate Tengiz] Gunava which was preceded by Prime Minister's statement that Gunava was involved in the killing of a person even though the official investigation did not incriminate Gunava. That statement caused the unrest which we witnessed [in Zugdidi] in the run up to elections as well as this morning in Anaklia – this was the protest of that family against the ongoing investigation or a concrete candidate Gunava," Lomjaria said

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