Former member of Georgian parliament, head of the Non-Parliamentary Opposition's Akhalkalaki election headquarters Melik Raisyan, in conversation with Hetq, said that the municipal elections in Javakhk yesterday were held with unprecedented violations.
How did the local self-government elections in Javakhk go?
The elections took place with unprecedented violations. The first reason is that we hadn't come to fight with political forces or parties but with Georgia's security service. It's obvious that the people of Javakhk have been deprived of the human right to choose for over 10 years. Clearly, we weren't fighting on equal grounds, but we gathered 40% [of the votes].
What sort of violations were there — ballot stuffing, carousel voting, or pressure from law enforcement agencies?
All the law enforcement agencies were here — even Georgia's counterespionage [unit] was here with 10 vehicles, and I'm not even talking about the various units of the other law enforcement and police forces.
We didn't have commission members at the polling stations. We had party representatives. Our representatives were forcibly removed from various polling stations — in 30 minutes to an hour they stuffed [the ballots]. For instance, if commission members knew that our supporters were coming to vote, they would mark the ballots with a "X" before handing them over. There are polling stations where there are more than 30–40% invalid ballots. Nothing like this has happened in any other election. All those ballots were votes in our favor and had an "X" marked with a different pen. For instance, in the polling station in the village of Majadia, there were 254 votes, of which 94 were invalid. In the region, 20% of the ballots were invalid.
Were there any violations that were officially recorded?
That too is a problem. Since we didn't have commission members, we can't say for sure. We haven't even yet received the records in their entirety. In the village of Bejano, between 8 am and 7 pm 221 people voted, and in the last hour — 290 people. The Sakrebulos [city councils] of our Armenian villages are comprised of 5–6 villages; for example, in 4 villages, we win with the advantage of few votes; and in the fifth village, which has 350 [eligible] voters, all 350 voted for them. That is to say, there is 100% [voter] participation, and 100% voted in their favor.
In how many polling stations or villages did you achieve victory?
We won in about 12 villages: Vachian, Aragvan, Goman, Bejano, Kartsakh, and so on.
According to our data, the ruling authorities' regional governor candidate did not collect 50% of the votes, which, according to the Constitution, means he cannot assume the position, as he has to gather 50% +1 of the votes. Our data shows that he gathered 37% of the vote, as there are many invalid ballots. Now they claim they've won.
Are you preparing to appeal?
We're at that stage now. We're waiting for the attorneys to come from Tbilisi. Local attorneys either don't understand electoral or appellate law, or they say they don't have time. Our attorneys will get here in a few hours.
Georgian Dream and United National Movement are leading. Does [Former Georgian President Mikheil] Saakashvili's party [United National Movement] still have much influence?
Saakashvili's party is in second place in all of Georgia. These parties are nominal in Javakhk. They were created in Javakhk by special services — they've simply changed either their faces or their names. In Akhalkalaki , we're in second place — we collected 40% [of the votes].