Senior Georgian officials have complained that opponents were trying to undermine presidential hopeful Mikheil Saakashvili’s election campaign by staging “provocations” - meaning, stunts or dirty tricks. They have called on other candidates to respect all candidates' right to campaign freely.
The comments follow opposition accusations that the authorities were trying to “terrorize” opponents after a series of reported attacks on opposition activists in recent days.
“No candidate has the right to try to stage provocations against the campaign of another candidate,” Alexander Lomaia, secretary of the National Security Council, said on December 4. “You know there have been several attempts of this type, in particular, in Tsalenjikha when five or six persons tried to stage a provocation during Mikheil Saakashvili’s campaign and another case was in Batumi. Not a single case of this type was observed during the campaign of any other candidate.”
Lomaia was speaking with journalists after a National Security Council session, which was presided by the acting president, Nino Burjanadze.
“Nino Burjanadze has proposed, and the National Security Council members back the proposal, to request all presidential candidates to develop an agreement and to undertake a commitment not to hinder the election campaign of other candidates,” Davit Bakradze, the state minister for conflict resolution issues, told reporters. “We think that an agreement of this type between the presidential candidates will remove many question marks and prevent many planned provocations.”
Burjanadze, speaking at the National Security Council session and shown on TV, said that there had been attempts “to create the impression of an environment wherein it is impossible to hold normal elections.” “We should not provide any grounds that might bolster such speculation,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mikheil Machavariani, the acting parliamentary chairman, reiterated on December 4 the claims that Saakashvili was alone among the candidates facing “provocations.”
“You can't name even one opposition presidential candidates who has been prevented from holding meetings with voters,” Machavariani told reporters. “But it seems our opponents have chosen ‘a negative campaign’ by staging provocations during our candidate’s [Mikheil Saakashvili] campaign.”