- Title: Georgia prepares for parliamentary election
- Date: 7th October 2016
- Summary: TBILISI, GEORGIA (OCTOBER 7, 2016) (REUTERS) PEOPLE WALKING PAST STREET ARTISTS WITH THEIR WORK ON DISPLAY IN CENTRAL TBILISI STREET ARTISTS ELECTION POSTER ON BUS STAND VARIOUS OF ELECTION POSTER ON BILLBOARD IN STREET VARIOUS OF MEN ASSEMBLING VOTING BOOTHS AT POLLING STATION LOGO OF GEORGIAN CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION ON VOTING BOOTH WOMAN HANGING VOTERS' LISTS ON WALL ELECTION OFFICIALS AND JOURNALISTS AT POLLING STATION / HEAD OF ELECTION COMMISSION OF TBILISI POLLING STATION NO. 6, KETEVAN KELADZE, TALKING TO MEMBERS OF COMMISSION (SOUNDBITE) (Georgian) HEAD OF ELECTION COMMISSION AT TBILISI POLLING STATION NO. 6, KETEVAN KELADZE, SAYING: "Our polling station is ready to hold an objective and unbiased election. We all, all the staff are ready as well. We have received all the necessary documents and equipment from the regional election commission." VARIOUS OF ELECTION OFFICIALS BRINGING IN AND PLACING BALLOT BOXES DOWN BALLOT BOXES
- Embargoed: 22nd October 2016 13:48
- Keywords: Georgia election parliament polling station
- Location: TBILISI, GEORGIA
- City: TBILISI, GEORGIA
- Country: Georgia
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA001530AIIV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The last preparations are underway at polling stations across Georgia ahead of a close parliamentary election on Saturday (October 8).
The election is being seen as a test of stability in the ex-Soviet state after a car bombing and a shooting marred the run-up to the vote.
Opinion polls suggest the ruling Georgian Dream, which is funded and controlled by the country's richest man Bidzina Ivanishvili, is likely to win. But they also show strong support for the opposition United National Movement (UNM) founded by the former President Mikheil Saakashvili and suggest many voters are undecided.
The pre-election atmosphere in the nation of 3.7 million, a U.S. ally, is tense after an opposition deputy's car was blown up in Tbilisi, the capital, on Tuesday (October 4). Givi Targamadze survived unscathed, but five passers-by were injured.
In a separate attack, two men were shot and wounded on Sunday (October 2) at a speech by Irakly Okruashvili, an independent candidate and former defense minister, in the town of Gori.
Ketevan Keladze, the head of the election commission at one of polling stations in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, said staff were ready for an "unbiased election".
"Our polling station is ready to hold objective and unbiased election. We all, all the staff are ready as well. We have received all necessary documents and equipment from the regional election commission."
Georgia fought and lost a short war with Russia in 2008 and both the government and the opposition would like to see it join the European Union and NATO one day. Georgian Dream also favours stronger ties with Russia.
Originally a coalition of six parties, Georgian Dream was founded by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, who made his fortune in Russia. It came to power in 2012, ending the nine-year rule of former President Mikheil Saakashvili's UNM.
It was the first peaceful transfer of power since the 1991 Soviet collapse and followed public protests over a scandal involving the mistreatment of prison inmates and accusations that Saakashvili, who was feted in the West for his reforms, was behaving in an authoritarian manner.
Under Georgian Dream, dozens of ex-officials, including a former prime minister, have been arrested on charges such as abuse of power, and some Western countries have accused the government of selectively applying justice.
Saakashvili, now a regional politician in Ukraine, is wanted at home on charges of exceeding his authority, embezzlement, corruption and brutality. He says the charges are politically-motivated.
The economy expanded at a rate of 2.7 percent in the first eight months of this year.
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