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Vote-Thief

Vote-Thief (Part I)Under the Criminal Code of Georgia, fabrication of election documents is a crime punished by imprisonment for up to 2 years. The journalistic investigation below will tell you how and who faked the majoritarian polls in Signagi district during the parliamentary elections of October 1, 2012.

On October 2, 2012, one day after the Election Day, data published on the website of the Central Election Commission [CEC] states that the majoritarian candidate of the United National Movement [UNM] Levan Bezhashvili had won majoritarian elections in Signagi DEC. Bezhashvili had gained 48,7% (10 124 votes) of votes. According to the CEC, Georgian Dream’s majoritarian candidate Gela Gelashvili had gained 47, 19% (9 811 votes) of votes. Bezhashvili had gained 313 more votes than Gelashvili even had.

Faked Protocol

 

Liana Khatiashvili is the representative of the International Society of Fair Elections and Democracy [ISFED]. On the night of October 2, 2012 when the District Election Commission was receiving final protocols from polling stations, Khatiashvili was the first to detect that the data reflected in the final protocol of the majoritarian polls in Vakiri village polling station # 5 did not coincide with the final results from the same polling station prepared by local observer of the ISFED.

“On the polling day, we had our observer Marine Ilashvili in the Vakiri polling station # 5 who provided me with the copy of final protocol, approved with a seal, late at night after elections had finished and votes were calculated. I had this final protocol with me. When the chairman of the DEC Mamuka Korashvili announced results from the Vakiri polling station # 5, I found out that figures in the protocol which I had did not coincide with the figures he had announced. Korashvili said, Levan Bezhashvili had gained more votes than Gelashvili. Whilst my copy proved the opposite – Georgian Dream’s candidate had defeated the UNM’s candidate. When I said as much, they said I had a copy and the DEC had the original protocol. After that, Georgian Dream’s representatives took the protocol from me and they started litigation,” said Liana Khatiashvili.

 

 

On October 3, according to the protocol of majoritarian polls in Vakiri village # 5 published on the CEC website, Levan Bezhashvili had gained 436 votes and Gela Gelashvili -146. The protocol was dated by 01:25 am of October 2.

In accordance to the Article 71 Part IV of the Election Code of Georgia every PEC member is authorized to sign a final protocol that proves their presence in the polling station whilst this particular protocol did not have signatures of five commission members – Liana Kanchashvili, Tamaz Khelashvili, Lia Spanderashvili, Khvicha Kvirikashvili and Elisabed Korganashvili.

In accordance to the Article 71 Part III – “n” the details of the protocol, with which a member of the precinct election commission disagrees this note is made by the commission member in the column “dissenting opinion” and signs it. However, the column of “dissenting opinion” is empty in this protocol.

Signagi DEC # 13 did not become interested in these facts based on its own initiative.

Observers of ISFED and other monitoring organizations held another protocol which had signatures of all the commission members and was approved with a seal too. According to the protocol majoritarian candidate of the UNM Levan Bezhashvili had gained 207 votes and Georgian Dream’s Gela Gelashvili – 377 votes. If the election results were calculated according to this protocol, Levan Bezhashvili would have gained 9 895 votes and Gela Gelashvili – 10 042 votes.

On October 2, 2012 Georgian Dream’s representative Zviad Gogaladze filed a complaint to the Signagi DEC. “Final “faked” protocol provided by Vakiri PEC # 5 was drawn up to reflect unreal results. Namely, according to this protocol, 231 votes were cut off majoritarian candidate Gela Gelashvili in favor of the majoritarian candidate Levan Bezhashvili. People attending the vote-calculation process in the Vakiri PEC # 5, can prove this fact; those people are: representatives of the election subjects, observers from observation organizations; and moreover, members of the commission.” The author of the complaint requested the CEC to annul the protocol and calculate final results of the elections in the PEC # 5 according to the provided copy of the protocol.

Signagi DEC discussed the complaint on October 3. Chairman of the Vakiri PEC # 5 Bichiko Jebirashvili made clarifications during the complaint discussion. He said Gelashvili had gained 377 votes and Levan Bezhashvili – 207 in the polls. He said the protocol which they had handed to the DEC was faked by the DEC members.

“We conducted the election procedures in accordance to the law. We opened ballot boxes, counted votes. Counters were sitting on the specially allocated place and observers were standing 2 meters away from them as it is required by the law. The votes were counted and they were divided in the following way – UNM gained 207 votes – both proportional and majoritarian and Georgian Dream had gained 377 votes. At the end of the entire procedures I gave copies of the protocol to every commission member and everything was written in them,” said Bichiko Jebirashvili.

 

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DEC chairman Mamuka Korashvili did not consider the opinions of other members of the DEC, who also requested to re-count ballot papers at the session; he put the issue of annulling the results of majoritarian polls in Vakiri PEC # 5 in motion. Six members of the DEC voted for the annulment of election results.

 

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Georgian Dream appealed the decision of the Signagi DEC on the annulment of the majoritarian poll results at the Vakiri PEC # 5 at the district court. They requested to cancel the decision of the DEC and to recalculate the results of the majoritarian polls based on the protocol, which was handed to the PEC members and observers. Judge Irakli Bogdarenko did not satisfy Georgian Dream’s appeal. Tbilisi Appeal Court did not satisfy their appeal statement as well. Based on the CEC decree, on October 14, repeated polls were conducted in Vakiri PEC # 5 – as a result Georgian Dream’s majoritarian candidate Gela Gelashvili gained 527 votes (85.09%) and UNM’s candidate Levan Bezhashvili gained 86 votes (14%). Finally, according to the DEC, Gela Gelashvili had gained 10 192 votes (49,01%) and Levan Bezhashvili – 9 774 votes (47%) in the district.

Before his victory was declared, Gela Gelashvili and head of his election HQ Zviad Jankarashvili claimed that they would necessarily respond to the fabrication of protocol and would do their best to punish fabricators under the law. After the elections Gela Gelashvili received a mandate of MP, Zviad Jankarashvili occupied the position of the head of General Inspection of the MIA. None of them have appealed to the prosecutor’s office regarding the fabricated election documents.

 

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Who faked election documents?

 

In accordance to the Article 70 Part 9 of the Election Code, final minutes are being printed on paper with defense marks that can be ordered and purchased only by the Central Election Commission. According to the law, DEC and then PEC receives only one final minute for the majoritarian ballot and the paper is pink.

In accordance to the Article 71 Part 1, after clarification of all the data mentioned in paragraph 3 of this article, the secretary of the precinct election commission in agreement with the chairman of the precinct election commission and in accordance with the available information, shall draw up each type of summary protocol on the results of election.

Article 71 Part 7 states that the summary protocol of voting results together with the sealed package of ballot papers and list of voters shall be immediately handed over to the higher District Election Commission.

Article 71 Part 13 estimates that the stamp of the precinct election commission shall be sealed in a separate envelope. The envelope is signed by the chairman of the precinct election commission, the secretary of the precinct election commission and other members of the precinct election commission.

Based on the clarifications of the PEC members of the Vakiri village polling station # 5 Tamaz Khelashvili (from the political party Industry Will Save Georgia) and Lia Spanderashvili (Conservative Party) after votes were counted, the stamp was not sealed in a separate and it was sent to the DEC alongside other documents in this form.

Since the final protocol (original one), where UNM’s candidate Levan Bezhashvili was winning elections, was approved by the PEC stamp (N13005), this proves that the stamp was used outside the precinct.

We got hold of the copy of the record book of the Election Day from Vakiri PEC # 5. On the sixth and seventh pages numbers of votes were rudely corrected. It is clearly seen in Gela Gelashvili’s column 377 is changed into 146 and in Levan Bezhashvili’s column – 207 is changed into 436.

 Chairman of the Vakiri PEC # 5 Bichiko Jebirashvili clarified that he had taken voters’ lists, annulled, valid and unused ballot papers, stamps, registration and record books and other materials from Vakiri village to Signagi DEC late at night. Jebirashvili said his deputy Lili Mazanashvili and secretary Andro Turiashvili accompanied him there. Kebirashvili added that they had delivered the PEC stamp stored in the file and the original final protocol was not filled in.

 “We did not fill in the protocol because we had received instructions from senior officials. Vano Petriashvili personally called me and ordered to destroy the protocols. I did not tear them off and asked my deputy, who implemented secretary’s functions, to destroy them. She also categorically refused to do it. After a long consideration we decided to take the protocol empty. In Signagi, my deputy Mrs. Lili personally talked with Vano. He took her inside the office; meanwhile I took the Xerox machine into the hall and handed it and stamps to the DEC. Then I went into the same room and secretary Andro Turiashvili followed me into. When we entered there, they were holding the protocol and filling it in according to their own wish. They received an empty protocol. Lili had handed it to either Petriashvili or Kupreishvili. There were three people in the room – one of them was a girl, supposedly a secretary. They took the record book too and made corrections in it. I said everybody would be arrested for it. But Vano told me not to be afraid and sleep peacefully. I told him I could not sleep peacefully because it was illegal and we would be arrested for this crime. He repeated nobody would be arrested and asked not to be afraid.”

 -You did not seal up the stamp, you did not fill in the original minute and took it to the DEC; did you not think that in doing so you were supporting the crime? Besides that, you signed the faked protocol.

 

-“They opened the sealed up stamp; stamps were in the envelope when we took it inside the office. They took the stamps and did everything themselves. I was compelled to sign it. The girl was standing at the door and did not allow us to go out. I told them I would be arrested [because of the crime] and I would have to sit in prison at my old age. Vano told me not to be afraid and he was responsible for everything.”

-Who made corrections into the record book?

 

-We did not correct anything. I, nor Andro nor Lili did not correct anything. We handed the DEC accurately filled in protocols. We had written correct figures in them but they changed everything,” Bichiko Jebirashvili said.

 

 

Secretary of the Vakiri PEC # 5 Lili Mazanashvili confirmed that election documents were faked in the DEC.

“In the evening of October 1, after votes were calculated, senior officials called Bichiko Jebirashvili. He took me outside and said he had received an instruction to destroy the final protocols. I categorically refused him. Before that, I had made copy of the final protocol in order to record accurate and balanced data in the original. I filled in those copies; sealed them up and handed out to observers and representatives of political parties. We did not destroy the original protocol, I sealed it up and took it to the DEC. Finally, I filled in the final protocol there. Lawyers Vano Petriashvili and Giorgi Kupreishvili dictated me what to write. Secretary, chairman and deputy chairman signed the protocol. Other commission members were not there and they did not sign the document either,” said Lili Mazanashvili.

 

Vano Petriashvili, who represented CEC in Signagi DEC during October 1, 2012 parliamentary elections, did not comment on the allegation about fabrication of election documents.

 

 

 

Article 164/3 of the Criminal Code of Georgia –fabrication of elections: premeditated fabrication of election documents: election lists, minutes, ballot papers, registration magazines and control papers is punished by imprisonment for up to two years.

Second part of the article will provide you with the information how and why Vano Petriashvili and Giorgi Kupreishvili became members of the CEC and then in Signagi DEC; which state institutions they have been working; how much money they received as a salary and bonus for their activities during elections from the state budget.

 

Gela Mtivlishvili | Information Center of Kakheti

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