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Georgia Says Not Sending Observers for Ukrainian Runoff Vote
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 3 Feb.'10 / 12:00

Georgia will not send its observers to monitor the second round of Ukrainian presidential elections, because of “controversy” and “misunderstanding” surrounding them during the first round, Manana Manjgaladze, the Georgian President’s spokesperson, said on February 3.

“The President also calls on all the Georgians, who are going to observe the second round of elections under the aegis of the international organizations, to return back to Georgia,” Manjgaladze said.

Those Georgian citizens, who were observing the first round of presidential elections in Ukraine under the aegis of various international organizations or international election watchdog groups, faced no problems in receiving accreditation from the Ukrainian Central Election Commission (CEC).

But unusually large number of would-be observers – about 2,000, sent by the Georgian government to Ukraine, was denied in registration by the Ukrainian CEC. Despite this refusal, several hundred of Georgian citizens were anyway sent to the city of Donetsk, a political stronghold of presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych. The controversy, which became an issue in confrontation between the two rival presidential candidates in Ukraine – PM Yulia Tymoshenko and Yanukovich, was accompanied by release of series of taped phone conversations between the Georgian senior officials, as well as between PM Tymoshenko and President Saakashvili, further fueling allegations against the Georgian authorities that they attempted to meddle in the Ukrainian internal affairs.

“Our goal was not to interfere in the Ukrainian elections and to support any of the candidates,” the Georgian President’s spokesperson said. “We try to keep neutrality in respect of the both candidates… We will cooperate with anyone who is elected by the Ukrainian people and are ready to move our relationship to a new stage.”

“The President believes that it is up to the Ukrainian people to decide Ukraine’s fate and he wishes success to the Ukrainian people,” she added.

Late last month Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister, Nino Kalandadze, said that Tbilisi was willing to send at least 400 observers to monitor the runoff vote in Ukraine.

“But if the country [Ukraine] does not want [Georgian observers], of course we can not impose our good will on anyone,” she said.

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