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UNM kicks off slander campaign against Georgian Dream

By Ernest Petrosyan
Friday, August 3
While Georgian opposition forces are preoccupied with their pre-election campaign which includes the deepest criticism in their public remarks, the ruling United National Movement Party (UNM) is trying to undermine its foremost rivals– the Ivanishvili-led Georgian Dream opposition coalition through all available media resources.

The UNM recently launched a slander campaign from July 31, utilizing media advertisements via its state-controlled television companies. The campaign targets the Georgian Dream coalition’s reluctance to join the political parties’ code of conduct offered by the UNM.

The 39-second TV advertisement with a male voiceover says: “We reject vote-buying and the use of administrative resources; we reject election-related violence. Only one party – the Georgian Dream – has denied joining this rule. Why? What are they planning?

Beyond these points mentioned in the TV ad, the UNM calls on the political parties to assume their commitment, the fourth and the last point of the declaration “to recognize the election results summarized by the Central Election Commission and deemed legitimate by observer organizations with a credible reputation” – the key point which turned to be an issue of controversy about the document.

The Georgian Dream has instead put forth a different wording, offering parties to make a commitment to resolve “all the disputed issues about the election results solely through peaceful and constitutional means.”

According to the UNM, the four- point code has been created to facilitate a free and fair pre-election environment. However, the Georgian Dream responded that UNM’s proposal was an attempt to hijack the process of development of the text, saying that it was in fact the initiative of civil society groups.

It is clear that the ruling party apparently suffered a fiasco with labeling Ivanishvili as a Russian agent, and funding the so-called puppet NGO’s like “Georgia is not for SALE” led by already former board member of Georgian Public Broadcaster Giga Nasaridze. Now they are trying to cause some worries in society, which are still fresh in the memory of the Georgian people.

According to Nasaridze, his organization is funded by those who dislike Ivanishvili’s political activity. The advertisement fee in Rustavi 2 and Imedi TV amounted $40,000. Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association representative, Natia Kapanadze, claims that officially, the campaign has not yet been started and such ads are illegal as of today. “The extraction of the statements is a way that can contradict Ivanishvili’s views, which can become a court issue as it is an inappropriate advertisement.

The covert UNM slander campaign is quite multifaceted. It includes the presumed intentions of Ivanishvili to return Georgia to the USSR and the rejection of the integration into EU and NATO structures.

Media Analyst Zviad Koridze believes that behind the paid political advertisement ordered by the Nasaridze-led NGO, stand the representatives of the ruling party. “Indeed this slander campaign to discredit Ivanishvili and Georgian Dream serves the interests of the ruling party,” said Koridze. According to him, the extracts from Ivanishvili’s various interviews used against Ivanishvili are assumptive and unscrupulous, which should become a subject of consideration by Georgian National Communication Commission.

Khatia Kurashvili, spokesperson of the GNCC, says that unofficially the pre-election campaign can start earlier than the official date, thereby there are no restrictions. “It does not represent the interest of the commission until the pre-election campaign is officially started,” said Kurashvili.