2 November 2003
I was seconded by the U.S. Department of State to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as an election observer for the 2003 Georgian parliamentary elections. I was deployed to the area of Chokhotauri in the west. I monitored elections in the villages surrounding this municipal area. Under the Georgian electoral code, there is a proportional representation race and a single member district race. In my district, there was only one candidate for the parliamentary seat. This area is the home of President Eduard Shevardnadze and a strong supporter of the For a New Georgia Party.
There were incidents of intimidation and
reported violence, and the OSCE stated that the election fell short of
Georgian commitments to democratic elections. Click below for the full
As we toured around locating polling stations (no small feat in rural Western Georgia!!!), we happened upon some very nice Soviet-area mosaics as well as monuments to the Great Patriotic War (World War II). .
Here are some photos of my team. My partner was Elvin Alliyev (second on the left in the first photo), who was the ideal partner (he was a a staff member of the OSCE office in Baku and now with the Council of Europe). Our translator was Zhana Devidze and the driver was Edisher (Eddie) Sikhaurulidze. Conditions in Western Georgia are pretty bleak, but Zhana and Eddie were wonderful people and very professional. The last photo is the sign for polling station 33 in Chokhotauri.
Finally, here are some photos that every STO can relate to. The first photo is a group of us waiting around after the debriefing following the Sunday elections. Notice that everyone looks very tired. The next photo represents the best of Georgia--this photo was taken at our briefing area which was a school. Finally, here is what a typical Georgian table looks like.