Headlines from Television News:
- Nino Burjanadze, acting President of Georgia met with Governors from various regions of Georgia in the presidential wing of the Georgian parliamentary building this afternoon. Talks were on ensuing stability in the regions in connection with the upcoming January 5 snap presidential elections in the country. Governors accused leaders of oppositional forces of groundless accusations and said they were ready for consultations so resolve if any administrative problems aroused. The meeting was held behind the closed doors. Mikheil Machavariani, Parliament’s acting Chairman also attended the meeting.
- Lado Gurgenidze, Georgia’s Prime Minister will depart for London with official visit today. Georgian PM is scheduled to meet with business sector and mass media representatives. On December 6, Gurgenidze met with Javier Solana, EU's High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy in Brussels, Belgium. Talks were held on the pre-election situation and upcoming presidential elections of January 5, 2008 in Georgia. Being in Brussels, Gurgenidze held talks with various investors and give interviews to leading foreign mass media outlets such as Financial Times, Blumberg, Wall Street Journal, etc. Georgia’s PM discussed ongoing reforms and developments in Georgia.
- Mikheil Saakashvili, presidential candidate of the United National Movement visited Didi Lilo village earlier this afternoon. He met with villagers and inquired about their problems. The locals reported to the presidential candidate that they had been facing water supply problems for the last several years. They also named electric power shortages and absence of street lights as other concerns. Three busses and a new mini-bus route were appointed in the village starting today.
- Presidential hopeful Levan Gachechiladze, nominated by the nine-party opposition coalition, launched his election campaign in the western Georgian regions on December 7. Gachechiladze and some of his political allies will spend next three days in meetings with voters in Zestaponi, Tskaltubo, Samtredia, Tsageri, Lentekhi, Chokhatauri, Ozurgeti and Poti. Meanwhile, other politicians from the coalition plan to rally on December 7 on Rustaveli Avenue, an area known as Rike and outside the Imedi TV under the banner “We Remember November 7.” All these venues were focal points of the November 7 unrest, when over about six hundred people were injured after riot police broke up a demonstration with water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas. The police raided the Imedi TV studios later on the same day.
- Davit Gamkrelidze, a presidential candidate from the New Right Party met with students of the Georgian Technical University earlier today as part of his pre-election campaign. Later Gamkrelidze will attend a special event dedicated to the International Day of Disabled Persons to be held at the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel in Tbilisi.
- The youth wing of the National Council of oppositional forces held a protest action at Rike territory in Tbilisi earlier this afternoon with the slogan: “Remember Seventh of November.” The action participants once again remembered the events taking place that day. Provided with photos depicting Georgia’s unrest of November 7, they then marched towards Sameba (Holy Trinity) Cathedral on Elia Mount in Tbilisi. On November 7, the mass protest organized by the United National Council of oppositional forces that began on November 2 at the Georgian Parliamentary building in Tbilisi, was disbanded and squashed by unprovoked force and use of tear gas and water cannon. Some suffered head injuries when they were clubbed by the police or hit with gas canisters fired at close distance. Many of the protesters we! re bleeding from the face. Brigades of Emergency Medical Service were mobilized on Rustaveli Avenue and other areas of the city to evacuate injured persons on short notice.
Georgia-EU Free Trade Agreement Expected in 2009
December 7, 2007; Source: www.civil.ge
A comprehensive so-called deep free trade agreement (FTA+) is expected to be signed between Georgia and the European Union (EU) in 2009, Georgian Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze said on December 6. Speaking from Brussels, the prime minister told Rustavi 2 TV that he “expected progress in this regard in 2008, but we expect to eventually finalize this process by 2009.” Gurgenidze held talks with EU officials, including EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, in Brussels on December 6. Gurgenidze said that Georgia already had a so-called GSP+ trade system with the EU, covering over 7,000 individual products. The new proposed free trade agreement would, however, he said, be “a significant step forward, boosting Georgia’s exports and encouraging Georgian companies.” Meanwhile, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU Commis! sioner for External Relations, said after talks with Gurgenidze on December 6 that the bloc would continue to stand beside Georgia. Although saying the official response to the anti-government demonstrations in early November was “somewhat overdone,” she said the fact that Georgia was “a young democracy” needed to be taken into consideration. “A lot still remains to be done,” Ferrero-Waldner was quoted by Reuters as saying at a joint news conference with the Georgian prime minister. “But ... we will go on trying to keep at the side of Georgia, strengthening the institutions, helping to set up what is necessary.”
Georgian Prime Minister Blames Social Policy For Turmoil
December 5, 2007; Source: RFE/RL
BRUSSELS -- Georgia's new caretaker prime minister, Lado Gurgenidze, has emphasized social tensions as a major factor in the mass antipresidential demonstrations that erupted across the country three months ago and led to a state of emergency.
Downplaying earlier allegations of a Russian role in the Tbilisi rallies that culminated in a violent government crackdown on November 7, Gurgenidze said relations between the two countries can improve if Russia respects Georgia's territorial integrity and its pro-Western course. Sidestepping the question of whether Georgia's government still believes Russia's secret services had a hand in the unrest, Gurgenidze said the "key for successful governance [in Georgia] has been, is, and will remain" poverty reduction and the tackling of unemployment. He said that until those social ills are addressed, the country's painful but necessary reforms will always prove a "fertile ground" for discontent -- genuine or manipulated. "We are hearing the social message loud and clear," Gurgenidze said. The prime minister said Tbilisi is ready to seek good-neighborly and mutually beneficial ties with Russia as long as Moscow does not fuel secessionism in Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and accepts Tbilisi's ambitions to join NATO and the EU. "Everything else is negotiable," he said. Gurgenidze's visit to EU and NATO headquarters was scheduled well before he was named prime minister in the wake of last month's violence. But after being nominated to the post on November 16 -- the same day the national state of emergency was lifted and coming after early presidential elections were announced in an attempt to mollify the opposition -- Gurgenidze knew what the focus of his two-day Brussels visit would be. "The visit gives our European friends and partners the opportunity to hear more about what has happened and more importantly about what will happen in terms of the free and fair elections to which we are clearly committed, in terms of the addressing of the social issues which at the end of the day were probably the root cause of the events of the last couple months, and to hear about our continuing and unshakeable commitment to democracy as well as the very radical reform path," Gurgenidze told RFE/RL in a Brussels interview today. Gurgenidze repeatedly stressed that the root causes of the recent nationwide rallies were mounting social tensions. He said that one-quarter of the country's population -- or more than 1 million people - live below the poverty level. He also conceded to failures in the way Georgian authorities responded to dwindling rallies in the capital on November 7. Hundreds of opposition supporters were injured when police resorted to brute force to break up the protests, which were later characterized as part of a coup attempt. "At the same time, one must clearly distinguish between the tactical decisions which I believe were responsible decisions made on November 7 and between the methods of the execution of orders - which clearly have not been flawless, let's put it that way," Gurgenidze said. Gurgenidze added that Georgia is confident it will be invited to join NATO "sooner or later" and said the country's deployment of 2,000 soldiers to Iraq is unrelated to its efforts to join the alliance.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE A "SHADOWY" ISSUE IN GEORGIA'S PRESIDENTIAL RACE
December 7, 2007; Source: EurasiaNet.Org
The television spots have begun to air, the campaign headquarters have set up shop and the signatures from supporters have been filed. But one question remains: How do Georgia’s presidential hopefuls plan on financing their campaigns. Tracking campaign expenditures in Georgia can prove an exercise in shadow play. By law, campaigns only have to disclose their sources of financing a month after the final registration of their candidate with the Central Election Commission – in this case, by January 6, the day after the presidential election. For now, the ruling United National Movement Party and opposition parties interviewed by EurasiaNet were reluctant to discuss their candidates’ funding sources, name donors or project the most burdensome expenses. (The Central Election Commission is expected to release a final list of candidates by December 11). The most readily available information concerns state funding. Parties that received a certain percentage of the vote in Georgia’s two last elections (4 percent for the 2004 parliamentary elections; 3 percent for the 2006 local elections) are eligible to receive assistance for administrative costs. Only seven parties have made that cut, according to Central Election Committee data, with financing dependent on the number of votes received: the National Movement Party (144,965 lari or $89,900); the Labor Party (24,848 lari or $15,410); the New Rights Party (24,382 lari or $15,120); the Industrialists’ Party (24,195 lari or $15,004); Republican Party (23,729 lari or $14,715); Conservative Party (23,729 lari or $14,715); and the Freedom Party (20,726 lari or $12,853). Private citizens can donate up to 30,000 lari (about $18,604) to campaigns, while organizations or companies can contribute up to 100,000 lari (about $62,000). But the finance manager for one opposition presidential candidate argues that only a few businesses are willing to finance presidential election campaigns to make u p the difference in meeting costs. “We have appealed to 500 businesses to finance us,” said Irakli Iashvili, head of New Rights Party Chairman Davit Gamkrelidze’s election fund. “One hundred and fifty claimed that they didn’t get our applications. But only two to three out of the remaining 350 responded to our request.” Labor Party spokesperson Giorgi Gugava says that party chief Shalva Natelashvili’s campaign will be based only on the money the party receives from the state budget. With a nine-party coalition backing his candidacy, parliamentarian Levan Gachechiladze could seem to have an advantage over other opposition candidates. The coalition’s Republican, Conservative and Freedom Parties all receive a total of $42,283 in lari. Rival Davit Gamkrelidze’s campaign is backed by both the New Rights and Industrialists’ Party for a total of $30,124 in lari-denominated state financing. Nonetheless, like Gamkrelidze campaign finance manger Iashvili, Koka Guntsadze, manager of the Gachechiladze campaign’s election fund, is not optimistic about the chances for finding donors among the Georgian business community. “How could you ask me questions like this?” stormed Guntsadze. The coalition’s election fund manager argues that “all businesses are scared and frightened” since those which “dared to finance any opposition party at any time” allegedly saw “their businesses ruined” in retaliation. As does Iashvili, Guntsadze maintains that business support goes to the United National Movement Party’s Saakashvili campaign alone. “All of us are vulnerable to discrimination during this election campaign and nothing can be done within the framework of the law to ensure the fair treatment of all candidates, to ensure equal access to private financing sources,” he charged. United National Movement representatives were not available for comment. Other candidates expressed similar concerns. Economist Giorgi Maisashvili said that he is counting on his friends to finance his campaign, though declined to name donors before the deadline for filing campaign financial data. Businesses surveyed adamantly refused to state whether they had made donations to any presidential candidates. “If you tell me a single business which responds that they’re taking part in campaign financing, I’ll give you a comment,” stated Nitsa Cholokashvili, a spokesperson for Georgian Glass & Mineral Water, a beverage company recently investigated by financial police in connection with a probe into businesses linked to an equity firm that manages investments for presidential candidate Badri Patarkatsishvili. [For details, see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Staff members for tycoon Patarkatsishvili’s campaign could also not be reached for comment on financingtactics….
Thirteen Remain in Presidential Race
December 7, 2007; Source: www.civil.ge
Thirteen prospective presidential candidates submitted the required minimum 50,000 supporters' signatures to the Central Election Commission (CEC) before the December 6 deadline. Twenty two people had initially put forward their names as candidates for the January 5 early presidential elections. The figure then dropped to 16 and now stands at 13. Mikheil Saakashvili – nominated by the ruling National Movement party - submitted 205,000 signatures. Initially the ruling party submitted 140,000 signatures but later added more, even though not legally required to do so. Many have suggested that the additional signatures were collected to overshadow those of business tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili. Leaked reports had suggested his campaign was about to submit over 200,000 signatures. His final tally on December 6 was 202,000. The other eleven presidential hopefuls are:
- Davit Gamkrelidze, leader of the New Rights Party, who submitted 165,000 signatures;
- Shalva Natelashvili, leader of the Labor Party, who submitted 75,000 signatures;
- Gia Maisashvili, leader of Party of Future; 68,000 signatures;
- Levan Gachechiladze, nominated by the nine-party opposition coalition; 63,000 signatures;
- Archil Ioseliani, a political unknown; 60,000 signatures;
- Irina Sarishvili, leader of the Russian-leaning Hope Party; 56,000 signatures;
- Kartlos Garibashvili, a lawyer and participant in previous presidential elections; 52,000 signatures;
- Levan Kidzinidze, a political unknown; 52,000 signatures;
- Giorgi Shervashidze, a former commander of Shevardnadze-era Interior troops, 51,000 signatures;
- Avtandil Margiani, who served as the deputy prime minister in the early 90s under Shevardnadze; 50,000 signatures;
- Shalva Kuprashvili, a political unknown, 50,000 signatures.
The CEC will check the lists of signatures within the next two days. In the event of inaccuracies the potential candidates will then have another two days to make corrections. The CEC will then rule on who is eligible to be registered as a presidential candidate. Levan Tarkhnishvili, the CEC Chairman, said the process should be finalized by December 11.
OSCE to Send 300 Election Observers
December 7, 2007; Source: www.civil.ge; Black Sea Press; Prime News
The OSCE will send 300 short-term observers to monitor the January 5 early presidential elections. The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)opened a long-term observation mission in Tbilisi on December 6. The observation mission is led by Dieter Boden, a German diplomat who served as the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative in Georgia in 1999-2002. “This election is held under extraordinary circumstances, in a tight timeframe and under a recently reviewed election law,” Boden said in Tbilisi on December 6. Thirteen international long-term observers are based in Tbilisi and another 28 will be deployed throughout the country. The observers will also carry out media monitoring in the run-up to the election.
TV Lists Political Ad Rates
December 7, 2007; Source: www.civil.ge
Primetime political ad will cost presidential contenders USD 15,400 per 30 seconds at one of the leading Georgian television station, Rustavi 2. Entertainment programs’ airtime at Rustavi 2 TV is valued higher for political ads rather than news programs. USD 15,400 per 30 seconds, the most expensive one, is for a TV reality show, Last Hero, followed with USD 11,000 per 30 seconds in Comedy Show. 30 seconds of political ad in the Rustavi 2 TV’s primetime news program will cost USD 9,350. Minimal price is set at USD 220 per 30 seconds. Mikheil Saakashvili is so far the only presidential hopeful running an extensive TV ad campaign. His advertisements take a TV news report format and run about four minutes each. Each of them is showing viewers about his election campaign trips to regions and a new ad is produced after every new trip. Another type of TV ad for Saakashvili is a music video performed by Zumba, a popular soft rock-fo! lk band. Song lyrics include verses like “it is time for unity… for further strengthening and forgiveness.” One of the shots in the music video shows U.S. Senator John McCain along with Mikheil Saakashvili when the Senator was visiting Georgia last year. No other presidential contender has so far launched TV advertisement campaign.
Labor Party Slams Businesses for Financing Saakashvili
December 7, 2007; Source: www.civil.ge ; Interpressnews
The opposition Labor Party criticized Georgian business people for, as they said, financing only Mikheil Saakashvili’s election campaign, while ignoring other presidential contenders. “You [referring to businessmen] have misappropriated everything ranging from depositors’ wealth [referring to those who had accounts in the banks in Soviet period and consequently lost them after the break up of the Soviet Union] to factories and national wealth,” Giorgi Gugava, head of the election campaign of Shalva Natelashvili, the leader of Labor Party said at a news conference on December 7. “You [again referring to businessmen] were financing and strengthening not socially vulnerable people or opposition parties, but illegally armed formations [in early 90s], [ex-President] Shevardnadze’s regime and now you are financing murderer of his own people, Mikheil Saakashvili.” He also said that as a result the Saakashvili’s campaign had raised “hundreds of millions” and these funds will only help “usurpation of power” by Saakashvili. “Therefore, if you really want to engage in charitable activities, be so kind and equally finance all political forces, including the leading opposition presidential candidate Shalva Natelashvili,” Gugava added. Meanwhile, Natelashvili met with a group of students on December 7 as a part of his election campaign and said that the January 5 early presidential polls will be the end to “Saakashvili’s bloody regime.”
Ruling Party Attacks Opposition Hopes for 'Dirty Money'
December 7, 2007; Source: www.civil.ge; Prime News; Black Sea Press
Presidential contender Levan Gachechiladze’s desire to receive the financial backing of business tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili, who is himself a candidate, has been described by the ruling National Movement Party as “abnormal.” A group of politicians from the nine-party opposition coalition, which backs Gachechiladze, is currently in London. They are expected to meet Patarkatsishvili. “I make no secret of the fact that I am also negotiating with Badri Patarkatsishvili about funding; let’s see,” Gachechiladze said on December 6. He also said he would sell his Georgian Wines and Spirits shares to fund his campaign. “This is abnormal when an opposition candidate is waiting for funding from another opposition presidential candidate,” Givi Targamadze, a senior lawmaker from the ruling party sai! d. “We understand that Patarkatsishvili wants to be Prime Minister in exchange for funding [Gachechiladze]; meanwhile, the opposition is telling voters that Salome Zourabichvili will get the job… This is dirty money gotten by violence, murder and robbery and Gachechiladze is planning on using it for his election campaign.” Zourabichvili, a former foreign minister and leader of Georgia’s Way Party, was selected by the opposition bloc to be the prime minister in the event of Gachechiladze winning the presidential race. The opposition has already rejected Targamadze's allegation of “a clandestine deal” with Patarkatsishvili, saying it was “ludicrous.” “We already have a prime ministerial nominee and nobody else is even under consideration,” Davit Zurabishvili, a lawmaker from the Republican Party, told Rustavi 2 TV on December 7. He said that neither the opposition coalition nor Gachechiladze had not received any funding from Patarkatsishvili. “If Mr. Patarkatsishvili decides at some point to withdraw from the presidential race and decides to provide us with financial assistance, we will consider it and respond appropriately in accordance with the law; we really need funding,” Zurabishvili said.
Bucharest Summit May Make Decision on NATO Expansion
December 7, 2007; Source: Black Sea Press
In April of 2008 the NATO Summit in Bucharest may make a decision on the Alliance expansion, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the NATO Secretary General, made the mentioned statement on December 7. ‘Today we will lay the foundation of the necessary work to assist in preparing the possible decision on the Alliance expansion at the Summit in Bucharest in April of 2008”, the NATO SG stated at the opening ceremony of the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of 26 members of the NATO. Scheffer also reminded that in 2006 in Riga the Presidents and the Prime Ministers of the NATO member states had affirmed that the Alliance doors remained open to new members, under the 10th article of the North-Atlantic Agreement.
Georgia fears impact of Kosovo crisis
December 7, 2007; Source: MSNBC; The Financial Times
Georgia, the former Soviet republic struggling to assert its independence from Russia, appealed on Thursday for US and European support in the event that a crisis in Kosovo should spread to the Caucasus and threaten Georgia's territorial integrity. "We hope our friends and allies in the west take a firm position on the inapplicability of the Kosovo case to Georgia. In other words, Kosovo is sui generis," Lado Gurgenidze, Georgia's prime minister, told the Financial Times in an interview. He was referring to the risk that if the US and most European Union member-states recognize Kosovo's independence, Russia might retaliate by recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two Russian-backed separatist enclaves in Georgia. Months of fruitless negotiations between Belgrade and Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders are due to end on Monday. Russia backs Serbia in its insistence that Kosovo can have autonomy under Serbia's sovereignty but not full independence. Mr. Gurgenidze won support for his position on Kosovo on Thursday from Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU's external relations commissioner, with whom he held talks in Brussels. "We do hope also that Russia will understand that, certainly on South Ossetia and Abkhazia, things should remain as they are," she told reporters. Some EU officials doubt that Russia, beset with restive minorities of its own on its southern borders, would go so far as to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. But few are under any illusions about Moscow's desire to retain influence over Georgia, especially since its pro-western leadership took power after the Rose Revolution of November 2003. Referring to Russia, Mr. Gurgenidze said: "So long as there is unequivocal respect for our territorial integrity and our sovereign Euro-Atlantic choice, which is not at all at the expense of anyone else, everything else can be discussed and addressed and negotiated." Mr. Gurgenidze, 36, a US-educated former investment banker with ABNAmro, was appointed prime minister one month ago after the Georgian authorities drew criticism even from their western allies for suppressing opposition street protests and imposing a state of emergency. He traveled to Brussels to ease the concerns of EU and NATO about the turmoil in Georgia and to stress that the presidential election, scheduled for January 5, will be free, fair and open to foreign observers. Mr. Gurgenidze said monitors from the Council of Europe, the European parliament, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and anyone else that wanted to observe the election was welcome. "The more the merrier," he said.
● Nato is set to heighten the readiness of 1,600 additional troops in order to be able to respond to any increase in violence following the failure of status negotiations for Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo, according to people familiar with the plans. The troops are part of NATO's operational reserve force, standing by in case NATO's 16,500-strong Kosovo Force, known as Kfor, needs reinforcements.
Diplomats: No Russian Buildup on Border
December 7, 2007; Source: The Associated Press; The New York Times
MOSCOW -- Russia will not expand its armed forces on its western border as long as NATO refrains from a military buildup, Russian diplomats and lawmakers said Thursday. The statements came after Russia said that it intends next week to halt its obligations under a key European treaty that limits the deployment of tanks, aircraft and other heavy weapons across the continent. Officials said they did so not as a threat, but to persuade NATO nations to ratify a 1999 update of the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe treaty that is more acceptable to Moscow. ''We are not declaring a moratorium so as to begin building up military forces on the border with NATO,'' said Anatoly Antonov, head of the Foreign Ministry's security and arms control department. ''We are saying that in the future, everything will depend on an appropriate reaction from our partners.'' Under the moratorium, which takes effect Dec. 12, Russia will stop reporting on its force levels ! and halt inspection and verification of its military sites by NATO countries. It will also no longer heed limits on the number of conventional weapons deployed west of the Ural Mountains. President Vladimir Putin, who on Nov. 30 signed into law legislation suspending Russia's participation, has indicated Moscow would renew participation if NATO countries ratify the 1999 version. He has also warned it could withdraw altogether if there is no response. Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the international affairs committee in the outgoing parliament, said Russia would not initiate a military buildup. However, he said, ''nobody is ruling out that in the future, if events proceed according to a worst-case scenario, there could be a review of weapons levels.'' Russia says the 1990 treaty has become hopelessly out of date as Europe's geopolitical boundaries have shifted following the collapse of communism. What were once Eastern bloc quotas have transferred NATO as former members of th! e Warsaw Pact join the Western alliance, Russian officials argue, unfa irly restricting deployments in western Russia… He called the suspension a warning to NATO to halt expansion, and not admit ex-Soviet republics such as Ukraine or Georgia into the alliance. Both have expressed an interest to join. If NATO expands further despite Russia's opposition, Arbatov predicted Moscow would likely withdraw from the treaty and to build up its military forces as necessary, ''ignoring any restrictions.''
Georgia TV station surveys damage from police raid
December 7, 2007; Source: BBC News; Reuters; CNNMoney; AFP; Local media; www.civil.ge; The Georgia Today Weekly
TBILISI (Reuters) - Georgian police smashed monitors and pulled out wires in a deliberate act of sabotage when they raided an opposition television station last month, managers said on Friday after they were let back in for the first time. The Imedi station is operated by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. and was at the centre of a crackdown on the opposition which hurt President Milkhail Saakashvili's democratic credentials and dismayed his Western allies. After pressure from Western governments, a Georgian court lifted an injunction that had barred Imedi from broadcasting. Police unlocked the gates at midnight on Thursday, allowing staff in to the three-storey building. A Reuters reporter saw extensive damage to the studio's main control unit. Monitors had been smashed, wires were pulled out and a protective panel had been ripped off. Other computers and equipment had been lightly damaged. "What I saw is total destruction," the station's g! eneral director, Lewis Robertson said after inspecting the offices for the first time since the Nov. 7 raid. "Obviously people knew what they were doing. There is millions and millions of dollars worth of damage in this building ... But I think and I hope that we are able to resume broadcasting by Monday." Police raided Imedi after forcing anti-government protesters off the streets with tear gas and rubber bullets. The biggest shareholder, multi-millionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili, was one of the leaders of the protests against Saakashvili's rule. Georgian officials justified the raid and subsequent ban by alleging Imedi was inciting revolution. But critics said the closure of the station was an attack on free speech. Georgia's Prosecutor-General wants to question Patarkatsishvili on charges of plotting a coup, allegations he denies.
There was a mood of jubilation among Imedi staff as police unlocked the gates at exactly midnight -- the moment a court order lifting the injunction came into force. Journalists rushed towards the entrance of the building to reclaim lost property and inspect the damage. Later, they raised the blue and white flag of Imedi on one of the flagposts outside the building. "I feel like I have been reborn," Imedi journalist Diana Trapaidze said. "This month without work has been a nightmare." Saakashvili, a staunch U.S. ally, called a snap Jan. 5 presidential election after the protests, but Western governments have said they could not be considered fair unless Imedi was allowed to broadcast once again. Saakashvili surged to power in a peaceful 2003 revolution. Incomes have risen sharply and U.S. President George W. Bush called the ex-Soviet state a "beacon of democracy." But Saakashvili's critics say his administration is ! arrogant and corrupt and has ignored ordinary citizens. Patarkatsishvili owns a majority stake in Imedi with the rest owned by News Corp. Under an agreement with the Georgian tycoon, News Corp. has management control of the station.
http://www.georgiatoday.ge/article_details.php?id=4024#;http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=16519; http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7131074.stm; http://www.reuters.com/article/companyNewsAndPR/idUSL0726983020071207; http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/djf500/200712070536DOWJONESDJONLINE000342_FORTUNE5.htm; http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=16525
Ministerial meeting of the North Atlantic Council held at NATO headquarters, Brussels, On 7 December 2007
- As NATO approaches its 60th anniversary in 2009, the Alliance is resolved to meet the security challenges of the 21st century, while maintaining a strong collective defence as its core purpose. We are fully committed to the collective defence of our populations, territory and forces. NATO is protecting freedom and our shared values through its missions and operations; modernising its military capabilities to meet new operational requirements; and spreading peace and stability through its widening network of security partnerships with nations and organisations.
- Today we reaffirmed the enduring value of the transatlantic link and the indivisibility of Allied security. We took stock of the Alliance’s ongoing transformation. We reviewed the implementation of the decisions taken by our Heads of State and Government at their Summit meeting in Riga in November 2006. And we gave further direction on work to be completed in the run-up to the upcoming NATO Summit, in Bucharest, next April.
- We also paid tribute to the professionalism and dedication of the more than fifty thousand men and women from Allied and other nations who are involved in NATO’s missions and operations, and extended our deepest sympathy to the families and loved ones of the injured and the fallen.
- Contributing to peace and stability in Afghanistan is NATO's top priority and a long-term commitment. We are determined to make sure that the UN-mandated NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has the forces, resources and flexibility needed to ensure the mission's continued success, and we value the contributions of our partners to this mission. We support the work of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to demonstrate decisive leadership, including extension of government authority to the provinces, strengthening the rule of law, respect for human rights, and tackling corruption. Our objective is to support the Afghan National Security Forces as they increasingly assume responsibility for security in their country; ISAF’s role will evolve accordingly as this process proceeds. We will step up our efforts to support training and equipping the Afghan National Army and increase its operational effectiveness. We also reaffirm our commitment in the NATO-Afghanistan Cooperation Programme to assist the Afghan Government in improving the interoperability of its forces and to support defence reform, defence institution building and the military aspects of security sector reform. In addition to our individual efforts, we will also continue to support collectively, within ISAF’s mandate, the counter-narcotics efforts led by the Afghan Government.
- Building on progress already achieved, work is underway in the Alliance to develop, for endorsement by our Heads of State and Government at their meeting in Bucharest, a forward-looking, comprehensive strategic political-military plan to achieve NATO's aims in Afghanistan. It will take into account the progress NATO has achieved through our Operations Plan; optimise the Alliance’s contribution to the Afghanistan Compact; and set out measures of progress to enhance security, and cooperation with other international organisations, wherever appropriate, and the Afghan Government, in order to meet our strategic objectives. Our goal remains security and stability in Afghanistan, and unity of purpose with the Afghan Government and the International Community as we approach important milestones. We urge all parties to act towards fulfilment of the benchmarks in the Afghanistan Compact, allowing us to determine our further efforts for the period beyond.
- We remain committed to working together with the Afghan authorities, our partners in ISAF and, wherever appropriate, other international actors to strengthen our common effort and make it more effective. There can be no security in Afghanistan without development, and no development without security. Provincial Reconstruction Teams remain at the leading edge of Allies’ approach and underline the comprehensive nature of our efforts. Civilian and military activities must complement each other in a concerted effort that takes into account the different mandates of the international actors present in Afghanistan. NATO will play its full role, but the burden should be shared accordingly. We stress the importance of strengthening the United Nations’ leading and coordinating role among international actors, in support of the Afghan Government. We call on all neighbours of Afghanistan to intensify their support for the efforts of the Afghan Government to build a stable and democratic country within secure borders. We particularly encourage close cooperation between Afghanistan, Pakistan and NATO, including through the Tri-Partite Commission.
- Today's information environment underlines the need for appropriate, timely and responsive communication in relation to NATO's engagement in international operations. We agreed to continue to improve at all levels NATO's strategic communication and public diplomacy efforts with local and international audiences, especially in support of our operations and missions in Afghanistan, Kosovo and elsewhere.
- In Kosovo, the robust UN-mandated NATO-led KFOR presence has been crucial in maintaining security and supporting the political process. We look forward to the report by the Contact Group on the EU-Russia-US Troika-led negotiations on the future status of Kosovo. KFOR shall remain in Kosovo on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 1244, unless the Security Council decides otherwise. We urge both parties to refrain from making acts or statements that could undermine the security situation in Kosovo or in any other part of the region. We renew our commitment to maintain KFOR’s national force contributions, including reserves, at current levels and with no new caveats. NATO will respond resolutely to any attempts to disrupt the safety and security of any of the people of Kosovo.
- NATO stands ready to play its part in the implementation of future security arrangements. We attach great importance to standards implementation in Kosovo especially regarding the protection of ethnic minorities and communities, as well as the protection of historical and religious sites, and to combating crime and corruption. We will continue to cooperate closely with the population of Kosovo, the UN, the European Union and other international actors wherever appropriate to help in the further development of a stable, democratic, multi-ethnic and peaceful Kosovo.
- Experience in Afghanistan and the Balkans demonstrates that today’s challenges require a comprehensive approach by the International Community. As our Heads of State and Government directed at the Riga Summit, work is underway to develop proposals for improving the coherent application of NATO’s own crisis management instruments as well as practical cooperation at all levels with other actors in the planning and conduct of ongoing and future operations, wherever appropriate. We intend to make progress on this work by the time of the Bucharest Summit. Effective implementation of a comprehensive approach requires the cooperation and contribution of all major actors.
- We condemn in the strongest terms all acts of terrorism, whatever its motivations or manifestations, and reaffirm the determination of our nations to fight it individually and collectively as long as necessary, in accordance with international law and UN principles. We also reiterate our determination to protect our populations, territories, infrastructure and forces against the consequences of terrorist attacks. We commend the important contribution of NATO’s Defence Against Terrorism initiatives in this regard. The Alliance continues to provide an essential transatlantic dimension to the response against terrorism. We remain committed to further enhancing our dialogue and cooperation with our partners and welcome efforts towards revitalising the implementation of the Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism. Operation Active Endeavour, our maritime operation in the Mediterranean, continues to make a valuable contribution to the fight against terrorism, and we welcome the support of partner countries, which has further enhanced its effectiveness.
- We remain deeply concerned about the continued violence and atrocities in Darfur and call on all parties to commit to a full cessation of hostilities and continue efforts towards peace through dialogue. NATO is ready, following consultation with and the agreement of the United Nations and African Union, to continue its support.
- The NATO Training Mission-Iraq, including the new Gendarmerie-type training led by the Italian Carabinieri, remains a valuable contribution to international efforts to train Iraq’s security forces. Looking ahead, we expect the development of proposals for possible further activities beyond 2008.
- In the Western Balkans, Euro-Atlantic integration, based on solidarity and democratic values, remains necessary for long-term stability. This involves promoting cooperation in the region, good-neighbourly relations, and mutually acceptable, timely solutions to outstanding issues. We commend the three Membership Action Plan (MAP) countries for the level of mutual cooperation achieved and we encourage the Partner countries in the region to follow this example.
- We reaffirm that NATO remains open to new European members under Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty. We recognise the strong reform efforts being made by the three countries engaged in the MAP -- Albania, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia1 -- and urge them to intensify their respective efforts. At the Bucharest Summit, our Heads of State and Government intend to invite those countries who meet NATO’s performance-based standards and are able and willing to contribute to Euro-Atlantic security and stability.
- We welcome progress since the Riga Summit in developing our cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia and stand ready to enhance NATO's assistance to these countries' reform efforts. We expect Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. We will closely monitor their respective efforts in this regard. As we look ahead towards the Bucharest Summit, we encourage the Government of each of our three Partners in the Western Balkans to use to the fullest extent possible the opportunities for dialogue, reform and cooperation offered by the Euro-Atlantic Partnership, including through the elaboration of an Individual Partnership Action Plan. We express our strong support for the work of the High Representative and EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We were disturbed by recent challenges to the Dayton Framework, and welcome the solution reached. We call on the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina to build on this and show responsibility as they continue to support the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement. The cooperation between NATO and the EU in Bosnia and Herzegovina in EU Operation Althea, through the Berlin Plus arrangements, is contributing to peace and security.
- We are closely following developments in Georgia and encourage the Georgian authorities to continue to uphold a free and fair electoral process and freedom of the media. We welcome the progress achieved in the framework of our ongoing Intensified Dialogue, and encourage Georgia to continue to make progress on its reform path in accordance with NATO’s standards and values. We appreciate Georgia's increasing contribution to KFOR and ISAF, and its intention to participate in Operation Active Endeavour. Our nations support Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity and its commitment to the peaceful resolution of the conflicts on its territory, and reaffirm the importance of all parties in the region engaging constructively to promote regional peace and stability. We will continue to support Georgia as it pursues its Euro-Atlantic aspirations, without prejudice to any eventual Alliance decision.
- We reaffirm the importance of the NATO-Ukraine Distinctive Partnership and our determination to make full use of our Intensified Dialogue and the NATO-Ukraine Commission to enhance our practical assistance to Ukraine. We will continue to support Ukraine as and when it pursues its Euro-Atlantic aspirations, without prejudice to any eventual Alliance decision. We appreciate Ukraine's substantial contributions to our common security, including through active support for Operation Active Endeavour and all other NATO-led operations, and encourage its continued efforts to promote regional cooperation. We underline the importance of a public information campaign to increase understanding and support for NATO-Ukraine cooperation. We are determined to continue to assist Ukraine in the implementation of far-reaching reform efforts, in particular in the area of defence and security sector reform.
- The NATO-Russia partnership should continue to be a strategic element in fostering security in the Euro-Atlantic area. Ten years after the signing of the NATO-Russia Founding Act, this partnership has entered a challenging phase. We are concerned by certain recent Russian actions, including on key security issues such as the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE). We recall that the NATO-Russia partnership is based on a set of shared principles, values and commitments, including democracy, civil liberties and political pluralism, which we consider binding. Allies are committed to the NATO-Russia partnership and view the NATO-Russia Council as an essential forum for establishing common ground. We value and want to continue our constructive and frank dialogue with Russia, including on issues on which we disagree. We all stand to benefit from enhancing our cooperation on common security interests and issues of mutual concern, such as the fight against terrorism, as well as theatre missile defence and conventional arms control. The level of cooperation already achieved in our partnership has benefited us all. We welcome Russia’s contribution to Operation Active Endeavour and our ongoing practical cooperation in countering narcotics trafficking in Afghanistan and Central Asia. We hope Russia’s ratification of the Partnership for Peace Status of Forces Agreement will facilitate further practical cooperation, in particular military-to-military projects and support to ISAF.
- We reaffirm that NATO’s policy of outreach through partnerships, dialogue, and cooperation is an essential part of the Alliance’s purpose and tasks. The Alliance’s partnerships across the globe have an enduring value, contributing to stability and security across the Euro-Atlantic area and beyond; eighteen nations outside the Alliance contribute forces and provide support to our operations and missions today. With this in mind, we welcome the progress since Riga and reaffirm our commitment to undertake further efforts by Bucharest, as set out below, to strengthen NATO’s policy of partnerships and cooperation.
- We value highly the contributions that our partners are bringing to NATO’s missions and operations. In order to promote greater interoperability between our forces and those of partner nations, we will release, to the extent possible, the appropriate standards. We will also continue to offer to partner countries NATO’s advice on, and assistance with, the defence and security related aspects of reform.
- We reiterate the enduring value of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the Partnership for Peace (PfP) and remain committed to enhance their efficiency and substance. In this regard, we will accelerate the Alliance’s work to make consultations with Partners more focused and reflective of priorities, including through the use of flexible formats, and we task the Council in Permanent Session to develop practical proposals in this direction. We look forward to welcoming our EAPC Partners at the Bucharest Summit.
- We are meeting with our seven Mediterranean partners today to review the significant progress in the Mediterranean Dialogue process since our first meeting in 2004, and discuss a further deepening of our relationship and how to achieve a fuller balance between the political and practical dimensions of our cooperation. The Mediterranean Dialogue has been elevated into a genuine partnership, including through improved liaison arrangements and a greater focus on specific objectives such as interoperability. We welcome the conclusion of Individual Cooperation Programmes with Egypt and Israel and the establishment of a Mediterranean Dialogue Trust Fund to assist Jordan with the disposal of old and unserviceable munitions. We appreciate the contributions made by those Mediterranean Dialogue nations supporting KFOR and Operation Active Endeavour.
- Following the Riga Summit we opened up new opportunities to all our Mediterranean Dialogue partners, as well as to the four Gulf countries participating in our Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, to deepen their political dialogue and enhance their practical cooperation with the Alliance. We welcome their response, including to the NATO Training Cooperation Initiative, and are determined to further intensify our work together in this and other areas.
- At the Riga Summit, we agreed to develop closer political and military relations and to strengthen NATO’s ability to work effectively with interested Contact Countries who share our interests and values to address common security challenges. Since then, we have effectively met with non-NATO countries in various formats and for different political consultations. We very much welcome the important and concrete contribution by several of these partners alongside NATO Allies in Afghanistan. We look forward to further developing our practical cooperation with Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea and, as approved by the North Atlantic Council, other such interested partners.
- NATO Allies place the highest value on the CFE regime and underscore the strategic importance of the CFE Treaty as a cornerstone of Euro-Atlantic Security. The CFE Treaty benefits all States Parties and Europe as a whole through its system of limitations, information sharing, and verification, by providing stability, unprecedented transparency, predictability and confidence concerning the military forces of its 30 States Parties.
- We remain firmly committed to the CFE Treaty and wish to achieve the earliest possible entry into force of the Agreement on Adaptation -- which is our common goal, and which would permit accession by new States Parties -- in a manner consistent with the Alliance’s position of principle contained in paragraph 42 of the 2006 NATO Riga Summit Declaration, the final statement by Allies at the CFE Extraordinary Conference in Vienna and other Alliance statements reflecting subsequent developments. The Allies have taken careful note of concerns expressed by the Russian Federation about the conditions under which the Treaty is operating. Accordingly, we have pursued a multifaceted dialogue with the Russian Federation, including through US-Russia bilateral discussions, leading to constructive proposals for a way forward, which respects the integrity of the Treaty regime with all its elements. The way forward should address the legitimate interests and concerns of all Treaty partners. In this context, it would be a regrettable loss for all parties if the Russian Federation were to proceed with unilateral action which could undermine the viability of the CFE regime. We regret that the Russian President has signed legislation to “suspend” the Russian Federation’s implementation of the CFE Treaty as of 12 December 2007.
- We continue to pursue an intensified engagement on the basis of the parallel action package supported by all Allies to: resolve outstanding concerns of all States Parties; fulfil remaining commitments reflected in the 1999 CFE Final Act with its Annexes, including those related to the Republic of Moldova and Georgia; lay the basis for ratification of the Agreement on Adaptation by all 30 States Parties; and ensure full implementation of the Treaty by all States Parties. We urge the Russian Federation to continue to implement the Treaty while working cooperatively to resolve these complex issues, and to avoid steps that would undermine the long-term viability of the CFE regime and prospects for entry into force of the Agreement on Adaptation.
- We took note of progress in NATO’s ongoing work on missile defence of populations and territory, including the implications for the Alliance of the planned United States missile defence system elements in Europe and the recent update on the developing missile threat. We look forward to completion of this work by the Bucharest Summit. We remain committed to consultations on missile defence in the NATO-Russia Council, and urge the Russian Federation to engage actively with the United States and NATO to explore possibilities for a cooperative approach.
- We reiterate that arms control and non-proliferation will continue to play a major role in NATO’s concerted efforts to prevent the spread and use of Weapons of Mass Destruction and their means of delivery. We noted today a framework report on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, which recommends areas for NATO to explore further where it might add value to efforts of other leading international fora; and broadening compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540. We look forward to completion of this review by the Bucharest Summit.
- We also take the opportunity of our meeting today to again urge Iran to comply with UNSCRs 1737 and 1747 and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to cooperate in the Six-Party process and comply with UNSCR 1718.
- At Riga our Heads of State and Government noted that Alliance security interests can be affected by the disruption of the flow of vital resources. They supported a coordinated, international effort to assess risks to energy infrastructures and to promote energy infrastructure security. With this in mind, they directed the Council in Permanent Session to consult on the most immediate risks in the field of energy security. We invite the Council in Permanent Session to complete its work on defining areas where NATO may add value to safeguard the security interests of the Allies and, upon request, assist national and international efforts, and on that basis to develop policies that will complement these existing efforts by the time of the Bucharest Summit.
- Our Heads of State and Government at Riga endorsed work to improve protection of NATO’s key information systems against cyber attacks. We expect that policies deriving from this work will be agreed by the time of the Bucharest Summit.
- We are pleased by the progress that has been achieved in NATO’s internal reform since our last meeting, and remain committed to this undertaking as an essential part of NATO’s overall transformation. We encourage the Secretary General to continue his efforts to improve NATO’s ability to manage a wide range of complex operational, capability development, partnership and strategic communications requirements. We look forward to further proposals in this important area by Bucharest.
- The North Atlantic Alliance remains the basis for our collective defence as well as the essential transatlantic forum for security. We remain committed to playing our full role in the International Community’s efforts to promote security and stability. At our meeting today we have taken decisions that will further enhance our capability to address mutual security concerns now and into the future. We have set a clear course to the NATO Summit in Bucharest next April and the continuing transformation of the Alliance.
Opposition Allegations and MIA Findings
Some of the candidates for Georgia's early presidential elections have made statements via different media sources regarding numerous threats and pressures carried out against their supporters and activists in various regions of Georgia as well as regarding attacks on their election headquarters. Unfortunately, in most cases the opposition candidates make those allegations only via mass media and/or while meeting with the representatives of international organizations and they do not report about the possible violations to the police which does not allow the Ministry of Internal Affairs to respond to them immediately.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs would like to ask all the foreign diplomatic missions and international organizations working in Georgia to help the police in explaining to the opposition candidates that they should notify the police about all the violations that may have taken place or, as well as to send any information about violations during the election campaign which the opposition candidates have already reported to them. We reiterate our call to opposition parties to use hotline of the Ministry to report any violations.
Many allegations of the opposition candidates do not contain any specific information and therefore cannot be investigated. However, when there are some data available, the Ministry of Internal Affairs checks every piece of information and initiates criminal investigation if necessary.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs has thoroughly examined all the allegations made by presidential candidate Levan Gachechiladze on 5 December 2008 in the news program on TV channel "MZE" and publishes its findings.
On November 27, the leader of the newly established opposition parliamentary faction "Our Georgia" Valeri Gelbakhiani declared that on November 26, 2007 his colleague from the faction Merab Khurtsidze was attacked and beaten up by several unknown persons. He said that this was "a political reprisal" by the authorities.
On November 27, police arrested five young men suspected of beating Merab Khurtsidze. The suspects were identified with the help of CCTV installed on the street where the incident took place. Later, MIA released a taped video confession in which one of the suspects explained what had happened. He said that while trying to thumb a lift, a car pulled over and a man (Merab Khurtsidze) jumped out and started swearing at him and his friends. This precipitated the assault. A forensic medical examination of Khurtsidze and the five suspects revealed that the MP had bruises as well as one the suspects. All suspects and MP Khurtsidze himselg were drunk during the incident. Khurtisdze refused to come to the MIA to identify the alleged assailants.
December 1, 2007 by Besik Tskhadadze: The District Election Commission in Terjola is located in the local government building (Gamgeoba) and the local chief of police also works there. Gachechiladze's election headquarters in Terjola sent a letter asking for explanation, but received a response that their request was illegal.
Because the police office building in Terjola has been under repair since August 2007, the employees of the MIA's Imereti, Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti main division's Terjola regional section have moved temporarily to the building of former agricultural administration, where the District Election Commission was located in the past, but has moved to the building of local authorities (Gamgeoba) some time ago. Thus, police and DEC are in separate buildings. Terjola police section will return to its building by 15 December, when the repairs will be over.
December 1, 2007 by Roza Lortkipanidze, former MP: On December 1 from 7 until 8 o'clock AM, Gachechiladze's election headquarters in Tskaltubo were robbed. The robbers entered the office by breaking the window and stole a computer processor. Members of the headquarters held a press conference about the incident.
On the night of December 1, two computer processors were stolen from a computer center at 4 Tsereteli st. in Tsklatubo, which is next to the election headquarters of one of the presidential candidates. The MIA's Imereti, Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti main division's Tskaltubo regional police division has started a criminal investigation of this incident, subject to article 177of Georgia's Criminal Code.
On December 1, several masked persons kidnapped the head of Levan Gachechiladze's election headquarters in Gardabani Temur Aprasidze and beat him unmercifully.
According to preliminary investigation, on 1 December, at about 1:15 o'clock PM, in Rustavi, on Chavchavadze st, several unknown persons stopped the car (Mercedes, No. ZIM 302) with Temur Aprasidze and Otar Kakriashvili (residents of village Lemshveniera) and robbed them, taking away 63 GEL, a Samsung mobile phone and a 6 gram gold ring from Kakriashvili and 500 USD, 129 GEL and a Motorola mobile phone from Aprasidze. Afterwards, the robbers took both of them blindfolded to the territory near village Akhali Samgori, left them there and drove away on their Mercedes. A criminal investigation of this incident has been started, subject to 143 article (3rd section, A, G) and 178 article (2nd section, A) of Georgia's criminal code. On 2 December, between 5:35 and 8:40 PM, police officer of the MIA's Rustavi division's second section N. Gogolashvili found the stolen Mercedes (No. ZIM 302) on the territory of forestry administration of village Gamarjveba. Specialists of the MIA's forensic service examined the car and found one fingerprint, which was sent to forensic lab. Kakriashvili and Aprasidze underwent forensic medical examination. The police is conducting investigation to find the criminals who attacked them and retrieve their belongings.
On December 2, 2007, patrol-policemen detained the head of Gori election headquarters Levan Terashvili and member of the local election team Shalva Tlashadze. They were tested against drug abuse and released after hour and a half.
On December 2, 2007, 00:25 in Gori on the Agmashenebeli street patrol-policemen of the 1st Division of the Shida Kartli and Samtskhe-Javakheti Main Division of MIA considered suspicious a car VAZ 2107 (No. Ю58-55ОР). According to the law, the driver Levan Terashvili and (b. 28.02.1976 in Gori) and his companion Shalva Tlashadze (b. 27.05.1982 in Gori) were taken for testing. The testing proved that they were not under the drug influence and were released.
The owner of the office space Despina Lobzhanidze was intimidated and demanded that opposition vacates the office.
According to Despina Lobzhanidze, she bought the building of the former hotel on the Kostava street in Tetritskaro. The ground floor is rented by the local branch of the National Movement. The first floor was rented by the local branch of the opposition few days ago. Lobzhanidze said there was a dispute about which party would put out flags and it was eventually resolved.
December 2, 2007 by Merab Dzirkvadze: Temur Demetrashvili, employee of the legal department of the environmental service, visited local elections headquarters and expressed a desire to cooperate with the opposition. When Temur Demetrashvili returned home, special task unit was waiting for him and intimidated him and his wife. Special task unit also ruined his flat.
During questioning in Tetritskaro's division of Ministry of Internal Affairs' Kvemo Kartli regional main unit, Temur Demetrashvili (b. 10.09.1955), living in village Saghrasheni of Tetritskaro region, declared that he is not a member of any of political movements and has not encountered any kind of physical or verbal pressure.
On December 2, 2007, two employees of the criminal police entered Tsalka regional headquarters at about 5.00 PM. They were driving Volkswagen Golf type vehicle (TIA-168). They demanded from the headquarters to provide them with applications filled by their supporters. When the senior members of opposition Irakli Melashvili and Magda Popiashvili returned to headquarters, members of criminal police explained their appearance in the HQ by interest in their security.
On December 2, 2007, member of Tsalka regional division, zone inspector Niaz Kurdghelauri visited election headquarter of presidential candidate Levan Gachechiladze in Tsalka, which has been opened in #91 of the 25th March street on December 1, 2007 and left his coordinates to the members of headquarters and asked them to notify him in case of emergency.
December 4, 2007 by Head of Tsalka election headquarters Jemal Vanadze: Member of Tsalka headquarters Zaur Putkaradze became victim of blackmail from chief of local police Leri Modebadze. Putkaradze was summoned twice by chief of police and told that he would encounter problems in case if he continues political activity.
On December 6, 2007, neighborhood police officer of Tsalka regional division, police junior lieutenant Rusudan Khimshiashvili officially met Zaur Putkaradze, who lives in #139 of Kostava street in Tsalka and questioned him. During questioning he confirmed that he is the representative of the "Republican Party" in Tsalka. He confirmed with his signature on the questioning statement that he had never encountered any kind of resistance from police and local government.
Employee of local police has threatened member of Tsalka election headquarters Ednar Abuladze.
On December 6, 2007 neighborhood police officer of Tsalka regional division, police captain Aleksi Mkrtichiani officially met Ednar Abuladze who lives in #130 of Stalini street in Tsalka, and questioned him. During questioning he confirmed that he is the representative of party "Tavisupleba" in Tsalka. He confirmed with his signature on the questioning statement that he had never encountred any kind of resistance from police and local government.
Kvicha Sanaia, head of the #44 Post Office in Isani district fired his employee Nana Labadze for collecting signatures of the opposition supporters.
On December 6 2007, employees of the MIA Isani-Samgori Division summoned Khvicha Sanaia and questioned him about the Labadze's allegation. According to Khvichia, Nana Labadze has a contract till 13 December 2007 and he notified her that the conctract would not be extended.
According to Irina Imerlishvili, on December 2 2007, prosecutor Jemal Kavlashvili called to the member of the Saburtalo election headquarters Jemal Tetrashvili and demanded from him to quit the election campaign.
Jemal Tetrashvili (b. 02.04.1957) was summoned by the Vake-Saburtalo Division of MIA and asked whether Imerlishvilis's allegations corresponded to the reality. Kavlashvili denied that anybody tried to intimidate him. According to him, he does not know Irina Imerlishvili and Jemal Kavlashvili at all. Prosecutors office said that there is no such prosecutor.
On December 4, 2007, at about 2:30 o'clock AM, two unidentified persons broke 11 small sized windows of Levan Gachechiladze's election headquarters at 10 Shuamta st. in Tbilisi.
On December 4, 2007, at about 2:30 o'clock AM, two unidentified persons broke 11 small sized windows of Levan Gachechiladze's election headquarters at 10 Shuamta st. in Tbilisi. The MIA's Tbilisi main division's Isani-Samgori division's first police section has initiated a criminal case (no 004076178) envisaged under Article 187 (I part) of Georgia's Criminal Code. Forensic experts summoned to the crime scene were unable to discover any evidence. The police questioned a night guard of the election headquarters Mirian Chochishvili, who testified that on 4 December 2007, at 02:30, he heard someone knocking on the window of the headquarters; when he looked through the window, he saw two unknown persons who asked him to open the door to talk. Chochishvili gave a negative answer, which caused anger of the unknown persons and they broke the windows with their elbows; as a result, 9 windows had been damaged. After that, the unknown persons ran away; in 10 minutes, they returned and broke two more windows. The night guard was unable to describe the faces of those two individuals, he only noticed that one of them was about 180-185 centimeters tall, dressed in black leather jacket and had blond hair, and the other one was 160-165 centimeters tall, dressed in bright jacket and wore a bright colored hat. The night guard reported about the incident to the Patrol Police. In the course of preliminary investigation, the police also questioned employees of the 24 hour supermarket "Populi": Nana Pirtskheliani, Nutsa Labadze, Aram Shashiani, who stated that they haven't seen anyone in front of the election headquarters, neither have they heard the breaking of windows. They only learned about the fact after the arrival of the patrol police. Inhabitants of the houses situated near the election headquarters were questioned as well, but neither of them has heard about the incident. The police requested Levan Gachechiladze's party to provide an authorized representative to defend the interests of their organization during the preliminary investigation, as well as in court in the capacity of the damaged party, but so far, no response has been received. At present, the MIA's Tbilisi main division's Isani-Samgori division is conducting all necessary activities to end the investigation.
On December 4, 2007, during the rally in front of the Tbilisi State University Jaba Jishkariani, member of the Institute of Equality, declared that two of their associates - Mikheil Meskhi and Tsotne Zurabiani were abducted and detained illegally.
On December 4, 2007, Ministry of Internal Affairs initiated investigation of the above mentioned fact. According to the statement of Meskhi and Zurabiani, on December 4 2007, at about 10:00 AM two unknown young persons near Meskhi's house, at #35 of Didi Kheivani street, pushed them into the "Audi A8" type vehicle 20 meters from the house, where there were two more unknown persons. Unknown persons made them put their heads down and took them in unknown direction. After hour and a half of driving they stopped outside the city, at an uninhabited area, where they abused them physically, made them to lie down and left them in that position. After abductors left, they walked for 30 minutes and reached hydro-power station where they found out that they were near village Igoeti of Kaspi region. Operators of "Igoet-hesi", Aleksandre and Khoshrevan Chadunelis were questioned as witnesses and confirmed the statements of Meskhi and Zurabiani. Also, sister of Zurabiani, Inga was questioned as a witness. In order to identify whether Meskhi and Zurabiani recieved injuries forensic medical examination was conducted. Division of Information Maintenance and Analysis of the Department of Information andAnalyis of the Ministry of Internal Affairs provided licence numbers of and full demographic data of the owners of all black "Audi A8" vehicles. In order to get additional evidence, the police acquired detailed records of incoming and outcoming calls of the kidnapped persons' mobile phones from telecommunications companies "Magti" and "Geocell" (data of 3-4 December). MIA checked all videotapes of the CCTV installed on the street. "Audi A8" type vehicle was not detected in the mentioned period of time.
Allegation # 15
On December 3, 2007, Irakli Kakabadze, activist of political party "New Rights", submitted an application to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia. According to him, he received a call on his mobile phone from the covert number, where an unknown male person threatened him.
During questioning as a witness, Irakli Kakabadze testified that on December 2, 2007 while he was in his house (45 Kostava str, flat 2), he received a call on his mobile phone from the covert number, where an unknown male person threatened with aggressive tone saying: "be careful, chap!" and disconnected. With regard to the mentioned fact, LTD "Geocell", upon the request of the police, has provided a detailed statement of incoming and outgoing calls to and from the mobile phone belonging to Irakli Kakabadze, as well as detailed reports, IMEI codes of service transmitters and demographic data of corresponding phone subscribers. MIA conducts further investigation.
On December 3, 2007, youth wing of the United Opposition planned to stage a rally and hold a protest march in Batumi to support "Imedi" TV. During the rally 5-6 cars (including Mercedes, No.ISB 878 and VAZ 01, No.PIS 858) stopped by, persons in civilian clothes came out, beat the protesters and took some of them to the unknown direction. Protesters learned that their fellows were taken to the regional police division and went there. Again, persons in civilian approached them, beat them and detained additional persons.
On December 3, 2007, in Batumi at the crossing of Rustaveli and Griboedov Streets, activists of the opposition staged a rally and hampered the traffic. When policemen appeared there, protesters insulted them. Following persons were detained for committing administrative violations: Mindia Jaiani (b. 05.02.1980), Ruslan Mamedov (29.01.1989), Garik Tamariani (21.04.1990), Gelodi Beridze (10.11.1988), Gogita Tavartkiladze (08.11.1988). In approximately 10 minutes, head of the Adjara branch of People's Party Jumber Tavartkiladze (b. 23.02.1960) came to the police station, abused policemen and demanded release of Gogita Tavartkiladze. Head of the Batumi Division of MIA Avtandil Basiladze explained him the situation and appealed him to calm down. Tavartkiladze refused to comply. Jumber Tavartkiladze was detained according to the Administrative Code of Georgia, Articles 166, 173. Two Representatives of Arkadi (Badri) Patarkatsishvili Gocha Gelovani and Murman Kontselidze accompanying Tavartkiladze protested his detention and abused the policemen. They were detained according to the Administrative Code of Georgia, Article 166. Batumi Municipal Court fined Jumber Tavartkiladze by 400 GEL, all other persons were fined by 100 GEL each.
On December 4, 2007, Shorena Akhalaia alleged that the member of party "Tavisupleba", activist of Tsalenjikha headquarters the United Opposition Romanoz Bulia was kidnapped by the unknown persons. Bulia was beaten and 300 signatures of the supporters were taken from him.
Tsalenjikha unit of the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti Main Division of MIA checked and found out that Romanoz Bulia does not live in Tsalenjikha. Nor is he registered there. There were no instance of either kidnapping, beating or forcefully taking any kind of documents from Romanoz Bulia in the territory of Tsalenjikha district.
On December 3, 2007, inspector of the neighborhood police threatened Giorgi Dekanozishvili, member of election commission of the village Ksani (Mtskheta region) with arrest.
Mtskheta Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs checked the information and found out that Giorgi Dekanozishvili does not live in the village Ksani. Also, head of the local election commission Zurab Elkanishvili confirmed that Giorgi Dekanozishvili is not a member of the commission.
On November 26, 2007, Gocha Jikia, member of the Republican party, was detained near the local branch of the Republican party in Chokhatauri. His child accompanied him in the car. Policemen searched his car and found explosive materials. The Court released him on bail after Jikia paid 2000 GEL.
On November 26, 2007, at approximately 15:10, in Chokhatauri on the Nodar Dumbadze street police detained Gocha Jikia (b. 25.03.1972) based on operative information. His car (Nissan, No. MIM939) was searched and 400 gr. pf explosisve material Troti and capsule-detonator were found. On the same day, Guria Main Division of MIA initiated preliminary investigation according to the Article 236 (II) of the Criminal Code of Georgia. On November 28, 2007, Jikia was released on bail after he paid 2000 GEL. MIA conducts further investigation. Interestingly, Trotil is also used for illegal fishing. If the latter is confirmed the case would be transferred for the investigation to the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources.
Former head of National Movement's Gori regional organization's youth division, Giorgi Martinenko, who is in opposition now, was threatened. Two vehicles (one of them green "Opel", No. DHL-580), arrived at his house and threatened him, that if he does not quit politics he would have certain problems.
In order to check the information neighborhood police officer of Gori regional division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, police lieutenant Mamuka Terashvili visited the above mentioned site. Police officer explained the reason of his visit to Natia Martinenko, the member of G.Martinenko family. After the request to open the door in order to question her brother N.Martinenko answered the policemen rudely and refused to talk with him. Also, she declared that her brother G.Martinenko is not at home and she does not have any desire to contact the police.
Information received from Oleg Koberidze: According to Nana Sokhadze, owner of united opposition's Ambrolauri election headquarters' office Eteri Popkhadze asks them to leave. The above mentioned space was used by the "Republican Party's" regional office since September of 2006 and office owner has never encountered any problems. Eteri Popkhadze was summoned by the police, which is located near the headquarters and demanded from her to violate contract with the renter.
On December 6, 2007, inspector of neighborhood police of Ministry of Internal Affairs' Ambrolauri Division questioned Malkhaz Dadiani, son of Eteri Popkhadze in his house at #2 of Kostava street, which stated that neither he nor his family members experienced any kind of pressure. According to him, his flat was rented by the "Republican Party", but he cancelled the contract on December 4 because his brother needed the flat after he got married.
December 5, 2007 by Pridon Parunashvili: On December 5 2007, with the order of chief of local police Pridon Parunashvili, head of Adigeni election headquarters, was taken to police station by police car. According to Parunashvili, chief of police Gela Sarishvili threatened him, told him to think twice about his political activities, because he would have problems after January 6. According to Pridon Parunashvili, the day before his deputy Barbakadze was summoned and threatened by the police.
General inspection of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has started a preliminary investigation regarding the above mentioned case.
Director of radio "Hereti" Ramaz Samkharadze declared that pressure was exerted on the radio and that he received threatening calls against him from local government and stated that National Commission of Communications of Georgia plans to take away their broadcasting license.
According to the National Commission of Communications of Georgia, radio "Hereti" will be able to broadcast without any dificulty. As for pressure and threatening calls from the local government, law enforcement bodies do not have information about it and in case of official application from the radio "Hereti", each fact will be immediately investigated and if proved, offenders will be punished according to the law.
Members of political party "National Movement of Georgia" are trying to determine attitudes of people towards their party and therefore ask people for whom they intend to vote.
This allegation is an absurd, because every political movement has legal right to conduct surveys.
Mr. Tamaz Mechiauri has been working as a Tax Inspector from 28.09.2004 till 15.01.2007. Since 20 August 1996 "Gela Vanateli" Ltd is registered at the Gori Tax Inspection (s/n 218778722), Giorgi Jojishvili being director since the establishment. They are registered as VAT payers since 28 June of 2004. According to the 2005 September data "Gela Vataneli" LTD, during the period of its functioning has been owing the state budget tax amounting to 130 454 GEL. As Mr. Jojishvili has been avoiding the payment of the due taxes, in April 2005, the account of the LTD in the Gori branch of the "United Georgian Bank" has been seized. Tamaz Mechiauri, head of the Gori Tax Inspection was informed by his deputy, G. Basilashvili, that on 26 September 2005, Jojishvili was provided with a signed notice (#63) about the seizure of the above-mentioned account and the necessity to cover the debt within 30 days. Although, Jojishvili did not comply with the request stipulated in the notice within the given deadline, Mechiauri did not issue an order (as stipulated in Article 87 of Georgia's Tax Code) on the seizure of the "Gela Vataneli" LTD property to reimburse the budgetary funds. Mechiauri was in friendship with Jojishvili and to assist his illegal benefit, he violated Article 87 of the Tax Code and Article 52 of the Georgian Law on "Civil Service" and by abusing his official authority on purpose hampered his staff: - deputy G. Basilashvili, Tax Inspectors I. Kanchaveli and G. Gogishvils from seizing the property of "Gela Vanateli" LTD. Mechiauri told them, that Gela Vanateli would voluntarily pay charges levied upon without seizing the property (the seizure was not necessary), that did not happen. Later, after having been reminded by the same employees in several occasions, on July 20, 2006, with the delay of 10 months, Mechiauri has issued order No 14 on seizing property of "Gela Vanateli" LTD, but never gave practical possibility to the executors of the order - I. Kanchaveli and Z. Iluridze, to implement the order; Nevertheless, those employees seized the immovable property on October 9, 2006, without knowledge of T. Mechiauri. On 5 December, inspector I. Kanchaveli notified T. Mechiauri with his report about the fact that "Gela Vanateli" LTD owned an account in Joint Stock Company "TBC Bank" and that it was necessary to seize the account in order to ensure retrieval of budgetary funds (duties). Mechiauri, continued to willfully act in contradiction with public interests and, for the same reasons refused I. Kanchaveli the issuance of the relevant order, thus having provided support to his friend Jojishvili, who, even thereafter, has not paid his debts in relation to state budget. The order on seizure of the bank account of "Gela Vanateli" LTD in Joint Stock Company "TBC Bank" has not been issued until the end of his service in the position of the head of Gori Tax Inspection - 15 January, 2007. As a result of criminal activities of Mechiauri, expressed in the delay of seizure of property and denial to seize the bank account of "Gela Vanateli" LTD in Joint Stock Company "TBC Bank", the debt of "Gela Vataneli" LTD toward state budget has increased to 468 610.,87 GEL, whereas, during the same period, the Director of the company Giorgi Jojishvili has withdrawn 783 239 GEL from the correspondent bank account of "Gela Vanateli" LTD in Joint Stock Company "TBC Bank". Apart from the mentioned damage, as a result of abuse of power by state official T. Mechiauri, requirements of Article 87 of the Tax Code of Georgia and Article 52 of the "Law on Civil Service" of Georgia have been violated; according to the mentioned articles T. Mechiauri was under obligation perform his official duties determined by the mentioned legislative acts and to have issued an order for the seizure of property and bank accounts of "Gela Vanateli" LTD, he intentionally failed to implement and caused significant damage to the legitimate state interests. Therefore, Tamaz Mechiauri has committed a crime envisaged under paragraph 1 of Article 332 of the Criminal Code of Georgia.