Georgia Tightens Campaign Laws

TBILISI – Georgia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) released a statement Tuesday saying any violations of the country’s election campaign laws would be subject to severe punishment.

The statement came after Georgia’s Young Lawyers Association called on the Supreme Election Commission of Adjaria to impose heavy fines on former President Mikheil Saakashvili for illegally taking part in campaigning as a foreign citizen.

On July 31, Saakashvili, who is now a citizen of Ukraine, made a taped video address that urged Adjaria’s residents to cast their ballot for his United National Movement (UNM) party in the upcoming October parliamentary elections.

According to Georgia’s election laws, foreign citizens are barred from formally taking part in the country’s campaign process.

The Head of the CEC Tamar Zhvania said that any political party or individual who supports the participation of non-Georgian citizens, or those without citizenship, in the pre-election campaign season will be fined.

In a twist to Tuesday’s announcement by the CEC, the Supreme Election Commission of Adjaria struck down the Georgia’s Young Lawyers Association motion, saying Saakashvili is not a citizen of Georgia and administrative sanctions cannot be used against him.

Zhvania announced that the CEC would discuss amending the Election Code so political parties or individuals who participate in election campaigning would be fined if they are found guilty of violating the country’s strict election codes.

By Tamar Svanidze

Edited by Nicholas Waller


David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters

09 August 2016 20:49