Dozens of heads of publicly run kindergartens in Tbilisi have been instructed to collect lists of voters they think might vote for Kakha Kaladze in upcoming local elections, according to an investigation. Kaladze, an ex Energy Minister, is running for Mayor of Tbilisi for the ruling Georgian Dream party.
This is the scoop from an investigation by Studia Monitori, an independent investigative news programme. The story was broken after Monitori was tipped off by a source.
According to them, the directors of approximately 170 kindergartens were instructed to bring lists with over a hundred names on them to the Tbilisi Kindergarten Management Agency (KMA), which works under City Hall. Tbilisi City Hall is currently governed by Georgian Dream.
KMA head Temur Tordinava denied the accusations on 5 October, claiming the they were ‘not serious’.
As part of the investigation, a journalist from Monitori called a number of kindergarten heads claiming to be an employee of the KMA and asking them whether the lists had been collected. All of them confirmed this. However, an hour later, when the journalist called again, now as a journalist, they denied everything.
One of the directors said she had only ‘confirmed taking the children’s attendance list’. Another said she had included around 130 names in the list because her daughter ‘is in a proportional list’. ‘I’m engaged, I’m helping her with everything I can’, she added.
A third director said all of the people in the list were their activists. Later when the journalist called her again, the director said she had not ‘heard anything like this’. ‘It was probably not me’, she said.
Nikoloz Todradze, deputy head of the KMA, said the agency ‘stands aside in the elections’. ‘I don’t understand what Georgian Dream has to do with it’, he added.
‘It’s not shown in the recordings that the people are kindergarten directors’, KMA head Tordinava said, claiming ‘such instruction has never been given by the Agency and this will never happen’.
Anti-corruption group Transparency International Georgia has called on Georgia’s Central Election Commission (CEC), the Inter-Agency Commission for Free and Fair Elections, which works under the Ministry of Justice, and Georgia’s Prosecutor’s Office to investigate.
The Prosecutor’s Office told OC Media the case was out of their purview, and redirected us to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The ministry redirected us back to the Prosecutor’s Office.