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In lead-up to elections video battle continues

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, September 25
The Georgian Interior Ministry has presented the scandalous video materials the Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili had promised opposition representatives.

Based on the special statement made by the Interior Ministry on September 24, the ministry has revealed incidents of bribery or attempted bribery of administrative servants, and even of police officers among them, “which unfortunately has become very frequent recently.”

“We transmitted operational videos representing these incidents. In connection with this fact, we have detained Giorgi Gherkerashvili, Giorgi Dzotsenidze, Koba Samkharadze and police officer, Roman Maisuradze. On one fact of bribing the police officer, the Ministry of Interior Affairs has withdrawn 50,000 USD suggested to the police officer.”

An investigation was launched against other people connected with this case. Because parliamentary member candidate Aleko Tabatadze was involved in one case, the Ministry of Interior Affairs transferred the materials connected to this case for further consideration to the main prosecution office of Georgia

Several videos have been released by the ministry. One video displays a conversation between the two men. One man, supposedly a Georgian Dream activist, gives his interlocutor– purportedly a police officer– money and tells him that he would receive another GEL 7,500 immediately after his announcement at the Georgian Dream’s planned campaign rally in Tbilisi on September 29 that he left the police because of receiving illegal orders to intimidate Georgian Dream activists.

Another video reveals a Georgian Dream activist telling his interlocutor that he would receive GEL 50,000 in exchange of a video recording showing a beating of a detainee in a police station.

“If you can’t find any detainee in such situation, we will give you our activist for the aim, he would know about this... but don’t beat him to death… you know how to make it… Bring this footage to me and we’ll pay GEL 50,000,” the man says.

The same man tells the interlocutor that the sum will be GEL 50, 000 in exchange of footage showing beating of new recruits in the army from the officer’s side, as well as for video showing a judge saying that verdicts were made under the prosecutor’s demands.

The majority representatives state that the coalition is engaged with the discrediting of state institutions.

“It is absolutely unacceptable. A political party should be involved in the election campaign and not undertaking such illegal actions,” MP, Goka Gabashvili said.

“We refrain from making detailed analyses of the video footage as everything is clear for the public. The government is engaged in creating falsified videos. Falsehood and violence has always been and remains as the main weapons for the Saakashvili government,” the coalition statement reads.

The coalition leader, Bidzina Ivanishvili repeated the same and emphasized that the coalition has never been involved in such bribing issues and all that has been shown by the Interior Ministry was staged.

“It is clear that Georgians do not so longer believe in such falsification,” Ivanishvili underscored.

Kakha Kakhishvili, of the Elections and Political Technologies Research Centre told The Messenger that the video footage lacked convincingness. According to him those who were represented as the coalition members in the videos acted too suspiciously.

“Those people (named as coalition members) had lists where they were reading how much to suggest people for the bribe… they look very frequently to the place where a hidden video camera was… ” Kakhishvili said.

He also underscored that such videos are needed for the government to mobilize their supporters.

“After the prison scandal even those who were UNM’s supporters were ashamed to be. In my mind, such videos are more targeted to impose more consolidation of UMN’s voters.” Kakhishvili stated, adding that the series of such video footage would continue.

The analyst does not exclude more serious incidents in the country as well, organized by the ruling team.

“Speculations concerning there being Russian militants at the South Ossetian border are ongoing on Rustavi 2. By such issues the government is trying to shift public attention on some other issues. The Russian training exercises assist the Georgian government too much,” Kakhishvili stated.