19 Dec 2018 23:27

Georgia probing 26 people in connection with irregularities related to presidential elections

TBILISI. Dec 19 (Interfax) - Georgian law enforcement agencies have opened cases against 26 people as part of an investigation into incidents related to the recent presidential elections, the Georgian Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.

Police have opened inquiries into 25 counts of possible irregularities committed on November 28, when the second round of the presidential elections was held, and in the following period, it said.

Criminal investigations have been opened on two counts, it said.

Among the individuals being prosecuted are both supporters of the ruling party Georgian Dream and the opposition, it said.

Salome Zourabichvili, an independent candidate and former Georgian Foreign Minister supported by Georgian Dream, won the second round of the presidential elections in Georgia.

The opposition accused the authorities of employing their incumbency advantage and other irregularities during the campaign. Moreover, the opposition alliance Power in Unity and the United National Movement party led by former President Mikheil Saakashvili have refused to recognize the official outcome of the elections and announced the start of protests.

Some opposition supporters clashed with police on the day of Zourabichvili's inauguration ceremony in the city of Telavi, the Kakheti region.

The Interior Ministry had said earlier on Wednesday that a number of people, including David Kirkitadze, a United National Movement leader, had been detained because of their possible involvement in incidents on the inauguration day.

Kirkitadze served as governor of the Kvemo Kartli region during Saakashvili's presidency.

Kirkitadze's detention prompted another wave of protests by the opposition, which accused the authorities of selective justice and reprisals. The Interior Ministry vowed that it would hold to account not only opposition supporters but also other individuals found to be responsible for violence and offences against public order.