Co-rapporteurs from Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on honouring Georgia’s obligations expressed concern over seizure of bank accounts of political parties within the Georgian Dream opposition coalition and said that “disproportionate fines” levied by the State Audit Office “effectively undermine normal political activity by an opposition party.”
The two co-rapporteurs, Michael Aastrup Jensen of Denmark and Boriss Cilevičs of Latvia, said in a statement on August 21, that seizure of the Georgian Dream’s bank accounts was undermining the opposition coalition’s participation in the election campaign for the October 1 parliamentary polls.
“The excessive and disproportionate fines levied by the State Audit Service effectively undermine normal political activity by an opposition party,” the statement reads. “This is of concern, especially in the context of recurrent allegations of bias of the State Audit Service and reports by credible organisations, such as the Georgian Young Lawyers Association, that question the fairness of the court decisions in this respect.”
“The rationale for campaign funding legislation is to ensure a level playing field between all electoral contestants, and not to drive one party or the other out of the electoral race. The upcoming elections, and their democratic conduct, are crucial for Georgia’s democratic development. We therefore call upon the Georgian authorities to demonstrate maximum restraint and to ensure that all parties, including the Georgian Dream Coalition, can participate fully in the electoral campaign,” the statement reads.
The two co-rapporteurs plan to visit Georgia on September 11-12 as part of the pre-electoral mission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.