No school in Marneuli, Election Day clash damages school building

A clash erupted in front of the polling station, opened inside a school building, by 6pm on October 8. Screenshot from Marneuli TV video footage., 10 Oct 2016 - 18:57, Tbilisi,Georgia

It’s Monday but children in one of the small villages in southern Georgia could not go to school today.

The reason was very political even though children are not involved in politics at all.

Number 1 Public School of Kizil-Ajlo village in Marneuli district hosted a polling station during Saturday’s Parliamentary Elections of Georgia.

This was the same polling station where a physical confrontation erupted at the end of Election Day, injuring several police officers.

The ballot box was the focus of everyone's targets. Police managed to defend the votes and keep the box intact but damage to the school building caused by attackers throwing stones, meant children will not be able to attend lessons for the next two days while repair works are carried out.

Spokesperson for Georgia's Ministry of Education Nata Asatiani  told it would take about three days to repair the damage and return the building to a condition where classes can be held.

The #48 polling station was located inside the public school building in Kizil-Ajlo village. Screenshot from Marneuli TV video footage. 

What actually happened?

Police launched an investigation into the Marneuli case, in which a large group of people attacked a polling station about 6pm on Election Day. 

Here is what the country’s Interior Ministry said:

In Kizil-Ajlo village supporters of opposition United National Movement (UNM) party and election Bloc Paata Burchuladze - State for People attempted to invade the #48 polling station and steal the ballot box.
Law enforcement, who were mobilised at the station, did not allow this to happen which resulted in increased aggression by the supporters of both parties and they started to throw stones towards police officers.”

Several police officers were injured in the clash including head of Marneuli police.

Despite UNM refuting involvement of its supporters in the clash, this video by local Palitra TV showed clash participants tearing down all campaign posters except UNM’s.

Any links to ethnic background?

Kizil-Ajlo village is mainly populated by ethnic Azerbaijanis and some assumed the incident could have an impact and increase tension in the village.

Gamgebeli (local governor) of Marneuli Municipality Merab Topchishvili told there were "absolutely no links" between the election clash and what nationalities people were.

Ethnic Azerbaijanis, Armenians and Georgians are both in our team and our opponent’s team,” Topchishvili said, adding this excluded any kind of ethnic reasoning.

He called the incident a "provocation by UNM” that was "planed beforehand”.

Political speculations are continuing while children are still missing classes.