11:20, Tuesday, 02.03.2021
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Elections without Guns!



Today, a photo was shared in the social network, which shows that the member of the United National Movement, former minister of defense and minister of education, Dimitry Shashkin, together with his supporters, carried firearms. Reportedly, the photo was taken nearby the polling station in Talaveri village of Bolnisi Municipality. Dimitry Shashkin confirmed that he really had firearms in Talaveri village today, though he categorically denied the information that it happened nearby the polling station. 

With regard to this fact, the majoritarian candidate of the United National Movement in Dmanisi, Tsalka, Bolnisi and Tetritskaro election districts Kakha Okriashvili also made a comment with media. He said he is also carrying firearm and both he and Dimitry Shashkin have official right to carry firearms. 

HRC believes that although any individual may have right to posses weapon in accordance with the law, similar facts significantly damage peaceful election environment in the country and raises doubts that concrete political subjects are interested to influence the free will of the voters that is particularly alarming on the Election Day, in the vicinities of the polling stations. Although possession of the firearms is not violation of the law, it creates discomfort for the voters as they feel being under the control and their right to free choice is restricted.

Above that, for the prevention of the control of the free will of voters, in accordance with the acting regulations, presence of police officers and armed people, in general, is allowed only in exceptional cases in the vicinities of the polling stations but never inside the precinct. Also, police officers may enter the precinct only based on the request and content of the PEC chairperson if their presence is necessary to prevent public disorder in it. In all other instances, presence of armed people is prohibited both inside and around the polling stations in order to combat influence on the free will of voters. 

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