Although the official results of the presidential elections in Georgia are yet to be announced, I find it appropriate to make a relatively unbiased overview of what I had to witness while on an observation mission. I am not certain whether it is because of the difference in experience or any other factor, but in the light of the following I cannot possibly agree with the optimistic rhetorics of my younger colleagues regarding the fairness and democratic nature of the election results. You can judge for yourselves.
Background information. We observed the elections in 13 electoral districts located south of Tbilisi with the centre in the village of Mervaulli. The region in question is a place where, amongst others, Azeris and Armenians live in isolated communities and linguistic enclaves. The electoral district equally borders these countries.Along with my colleague Eldar Efendijev, we managed to visit 14 polling divisions. By tomorrow, I will produce a summary of our observations and present it as a form.
However, at this point I would like to lay on the line the truth about how the President was actually elected in Georgia:We started observing the polling station 48 in accordance with the routine established.
However, firstly, no check was performed at the entrance to ensure that the person has not been marked with transparent ink, which would imply that they might have already voted in a different place.
Secondly, about a hundred people were packed into a tiny room. The electoral committee checked no documents nor marked anyone with ink.
Thirdly, people were provided with several ballot papers and dozens of identical signatures featured in election lists.
Fourthly, a great number of unidentified persons having no relation to the electoral process were present in the Electoral Committee’s room. In voting booths, votes were cast in groups; one after another, filled in ballot papers were demonstrated to the chairman of the Electoral Committee.
Fifthly, the voting booth was sealed with a resealable sticker and the chairman of the Electoral Committee showed no particular concern with this respect.
All the facts have been documented and passed over to a representative of the OSCE.
After that, we decided to return to the same polling division at the time of the closing of the Electoral Committee and the counting of votes.The events that followed confirmed our worst fears:Unauthorised persons (including police officers) who were neither observers nor members of the Committee were present in the Committee’s room at the time of and after the closing of the polling division.
People were walking in and out, non-members of the Committee were participating in the counting and registering of ballot papers, no public counting of votes took place and it was virtually impossible to check its validity.
Empty vote counting protocols were signed by the members of the Committee. Moreover, they were filled in using a pencil and, on a number of occasions, the writing was erased and amended, as necessary.
The observers on the side of the opposition equally signed empty observation protocols since they had decided to leave earlier. Having drawn attention to all this and caught the secretary and the Chairman of the Committee in the act of falsifying the results of the vote, I requested a public counting of the so-called spoilt ballot papers. Naturally, their number was equal to the initial one and different from what they were planning to adapt it to in order for the protocol to match.
Then, a request was made to fill in the voting protocol with a pen, and not a pencil. The request was satisfied. However, it was beneath our eyes that the secretary of the Committee forged the signature of two members of the Committee since they had left before the end of the procedure.
Two more members of the Committee complained about the order to show up they had received the day before. Yet, they had no idea about what the procedure had to be and how it had to be conducted.
Another interesting point was the fact that every single one of about two hundred electors who voted at home, voted for the same candidate. All these facts, not to mention a great number of smaller details, are more than sufficient.
I am concerned that in many respects, similar processes took place equally in other polling divisions. In any case, we shall formally complete our regrettable observations and forward them in the form of a report both to the Parliament of Estonia and to the OSCE.
Evidently, the results of the particular polling division were as follows:1693 out of 1981 „persons” featuring in the list, gave their vote in support of Saakashvili. 118 electors supported the candidate that came second. For a reason unknown, the officially claimed difference between the ballot papers distributed and received amounted to 11.
Therefore, let every person who wishes to rejoice do
so but before that, let them think carefully about what sort of victory Georgia has actually achieved.
In a few hours, a synoptic and conclusive OSCE briefing will take place here in Tbilisi. It would be reasonable to give assessments once it is over. So the festive statement of the “victorious” president can equally be heard.