07TBILISI3149, TBILISI ELECTIONS UPDATE 12/21/07

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI3149 2007-12-21 10:53 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7732
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #3149/01 3551053
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 211053Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8499
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 003149 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/21/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: TBILISI ELECTIONS UPDATE 12/21/07 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
------------------------------- 
OSCE AMBASSADORIAL WORKING GROUP 
-------------------------------- 
 
1.  (C)  At the 21 December meeting of the OSCE Ambassadorial 
Working Group, the Chairman of the Election (CEC) Levan 
Tarkhnishvili addressed the group.  He discussed the 
following points: 
 
- Cameras at the polling stations:  The CEC distributed a 
press release explaining the purpose of video surveillance 
cameras during election day.  The misperception of some 
voters is that the cameras will be used to monitor their 
ballot selection, rather than monitor the registration and 
ballot box.  Tarkhnishvili is seeking to heighten public 
awareness about the cameras and debunk inaccurate rumors.  He 
further underlined that the use of filming/photo making 
devices in the PECs on Election Day is strictly prohibited, 
to include photos taken by cellphones.  He stated that the 
Ministry of Internal Affairs will make public statements 
about this policy.  If ballots are photographed or 
compromised by use of photographic equipment, they will be 
deemed invalid. (Note: Some opposition representatives have 
claimed to us that public servants have been instructed to 
photograph their ballots in the voting booth, as proof they 
voted for the ruling party.) 
 
- CEC Media Monitoring:  Tarkhnishvili presented the group 
with a copy of the media report from the company CEC had 
outsourced to monitor television stations during the 
pre-election phase.  His information indicated that 
Saakashvili is paying for most of his airtime and is on 
television more often, as compared to the opposition 
candidates who are relying on free ad time.  This report will 
be published twice weekly and posted on the CEC website.  The 
ODIHR media expert who followed Tarkhnishvili, Rasto Kuzel, 
subsequently made two observations about the CEC media 
report.  First,  while the number of appearances for each of 
the candidates is about the same, the total number of minutes 
dedicated to Saakashvili is substantially more.  Second, the 
three main stations are giving Saakashvili extra time.  The 
example he gave to illustrate this is that on Sunday Mze, 
Rustavi, and Public TV all ran during prime time the same 
28-minute segment on Saakashvili's visit to Rustavi.  Based 
on the first seven days of Imedi TV's broadcasting, he noted 
that the bulk of the time is dedicated to information 
critical of Saakashvili who gets 39.2 percent coverage, 
compared to Badri Patarkatsishvili getting 14.7 percent, 
Gachechiladze 18.3 percent, Natelashvili 10 percent and 
Gamkrelidze 13.8 percent.  Kuzel noted that Kavkasiya, a 
regional station, heavily criticized Saakashvili. 
 
- Updating the voters list: The opposition has continued to 
stress that the voters list is not accurate and the large 
number of absent or deceased voters on the list will open the 
door to fraud.  The CEC has compiled a fact sheet on the most 
commonly asked questions about the voter's list. 
Tarkhnishvili complained that during the entire time that the 
voter's list was open for revision, he received not one 
single complaint from the Opposition.  Ambassador Igor Gaon, 
Council of Europe (CoE), said that CoE's door-to-door effort 
to update the voter's list was cut short by the early 
elections,  and they did not get to at least one third of the 
population.  At any rate, the list is significantly more 
accurate than it was for the local elections in 2006.  He 
stated Georgia's large internal immigration made the margin 
of error of the list at least 4 percent.  He stated that 
beginning on February 1st, the CoE would conduct an audit on 
the voter's list and again seek to further improve the 
accuracy. 
 
- Tarkhnishvili shared a fact sheet on the participation of 
political officials and Public servants during the 
pre-election process.  He stated that people do not 
understand the difference in these two definitions and thus 
the complaint that there is an abuse of administrative 
resources.  His fact sheet states, that according to the 
Election Code, Political Officials (those specifically listed 
are the President, Members of Parliament, Prime Minister and 
members of government of Georgia, Members of the High 
Representative Bodies of Adjara and Abkhazia and Head of 
government of the Republic of Adjara and Abkhazia, Deputy 
Ministers, members of local government, and head of the 
executive body) have a right participate in pre-election 
campaigning, while public servants of state and local 
governments do not have a right to participate in 
pre-election campaigning and/or agitation while executing 
service commitments.  Those listed as public servants are 
members of the election commission, public servants employed 
 
TBILISI 00003149  002 OF 002 
 
 
at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Defense, Prosecutor's 
Office, Foreign Intelligence and Special Security Services, 
and public officials of state and local governments while 
they are carrying out duties related to their office and work 
responsibilities.  Others listed who may not participate are 
foreign citizens and organizations, and charity and religious &#x00
0A;organizations.  Additionally, pre-election activities cannot 
take place on government of sub-agency departments of 
Executive and Legislative Bodies. 
 
---------------------------- 
Changes in the Election Code 
---------------------------- 
 
2.  (U)  The information below encapsulates the most recent 
amendments to the election code and Law on Referendum that 
were passed by the Parliament of Georgia in December. 
 
- Boundaries of Precinct Election Commission (PEC) were 
changed upon the recommendation of the Venice Commission from 
the Council of Europe.  Before each PEC included 2,000 
voters, but now will include only 1,500.  This result in a 
higher number of PECs. 
 
- Composition of PEC, DEC, and CEC:  The CEC is now composed 
of its chairperson and 12 members, all of whom are appointed 
for a five year term.  The chairperson and five members are 
nominated by the President and elected by the Parliament, 
while seven members are appointed by political parties.  DEC 
composition has not changed and remains without party 
representation.  DECs consist of five members selected in an 
open competition and appointed by the CEC for a five-year 
term.  The PEC composition mirrors that of the CEC with six 
members appointed by DECs and seven by parties represented in 
the CEC. 
 
- Additional Voters List:  Election day registration of 
voters erroneously omitted from the general voter list was 
introduced by the latest amendments and will be possible upon 
presentation of an ID and a document proving a voter's 
residency on a precinct's territory.  Those voters are 
required to put an envelope with their ballot papers in an 
additional envelope that is different in size and color from 
the ones used by regular voters, and their votes will be 
processed under special procedures. 
 
- Voting for Servicemen:  If servicemen wish to vote at the 
place of registration, he/she must notify the appropriate PEC 
and will be included into the general list of voters. 
 
- Media Coverage:  Each qualified candidate will now be 
provided 90 seconds of free airtime every three hours.  The 
public broadcaster is obliged to provide free airtime for 60 
seconds per hour for each qualified candidate. 
 
 
----------------------- 
Plebiscite Formulation 
----------------------- 
 
3.  (U)  According to the Minister of Justice the Interagency 
Task Force has agreed on the questions of the plebiscite 
which will be the following: "Do you support Georgia's 
adhesion to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)?" 
and "Do you agree to hold the next election to the Georgian 
Parliament in Spring 2008?" With this wording, the opposition 
which favors spring elections will now be able to campaign 
easier than campaigning for "no." 
 
TEFFT

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