An incident involving verbal confrontation took place in town of Rustavi on May 24 after several dozen of activists from the Georgian Dream ruling coalition rallied outside local office of opposition UNM party, where the latter’s mayoral candidate Mamuka Chikovani was holding a campaign event.
The police were separating opposing side from each other as GD activists were shouting slogans against UNM members.
GD’s mayoral candidate in Rustavi, Davit Jikia, said that he disapproves such incidents, but also said that some people are “sick and tired” of UNM’s “populism”.
After similar incidents on April 10 in various parts of the country, some of which grew into scuffles, an inter-agency commission for fair elections at the Ministry of Justice, which reviews parties’ complains over campaign-related violations and issues non-binding recommendations, called on the political forces to discourage their members from holding rallies and counter-demonstrations in close proximity to opponents’ campaign events.
“Political parties should give a clear instruction to their activists to refrain from attending and counter-campaigning at pre-election meetings of opponent candidates in order to rule out even a verbal confrontation,” reads a recommendation issued by the inter-agency commission on April 11.
On May 23 UNM said in a statement that pressure was exerted by the authorities on some of its candidates running in the June 15 local elections. It claimed that such cases were taking place especially in those municipalities, where its candidates “have a real chance of victory.” UNM said that its majoritarian candidate for Sakrebulo in Akhaltsikhe and another majoritarian candidate for Sakrebulo in Adigeni, both in Samtskhe-Javakheti region, withdrew from the race after pressure was exerted on them.