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Human rights violations might decide Georgian election

The Georgian parliamentary election, due to take place on Monday October 1st, has been cast a gloomy backdrop by a video that depicts the brutal abuse of inmates in a Georgian prison. The video has been circulating on news shows and it has caused a major uproar among citizens who have taken to the streets en masse. Also the Georgian government has entered into emergency mode, with the interior minister and senior prison officials resigning.

The uproar comes as criticism against President Mikheil Saakashvili’s regime is mounting. Mr. Saakashvili came into power in 2003 during the pro-democracy Rose Revolution, overthrowing Soviet strongman Eduard Shevardnadze. Although at first heralded as a champion of democracy by the West, his critics say that corruption is still rife and human rights and civil liberties are ignored for tactical purposes.

In 2008, Georgia launched an attack in South Ossetia, using “indiscriminate force with blatant disregard for the safety of civilians” in the words of Human Rights Watch. During the conflict, while his people were suffering in Georgia from war, hunger and cold, Mr. Saakashvili himself was observed during the UN general assembly week by Cinema for Peace in a New York nightclub at Cipriani Downtown, in a heavily inebriated state and standing upright with the support of girls, while consuming expensive champagne for thousands of dollars with his small group.

The emergence of the prison video is expected to have an effect on the popularity of the ruling party. While holding a lead of more than 20 percentage points just last month, new figures to be released today are set out to be gloomier. Whatever the result, the EU and the US will undoubtedly be reconsidering their overseas aid given to Georgia if its human and civil rights records don't improve considerably.

WATCH THE CINEMA FOR PEACE TRAILER OF THE WEEK:

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RT Television clip on prison film and response in Georgia

"Russian Lessons" by Andrei Nekrasov and Olga Konskaya, Cinema for Peace Justice Award Nominee 2011

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