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Dossier Center: Kremlin Interferes in Georgia Polls, Aids Alliance of Patriots

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Wednesday, August 26
Russian investigative project established by the prominent Kremlin critic, Mikhail Khodorkovsky to track criminal activities of Kremlin-associated persons, Dossier Center released an investigative report, claiming that the election campaign of the Alliance of Patriots, is backed by Russia.

According to the report, for the upcoming October parliamentary polls, the Kremlin is placing its bets on Vice-Speaker Irma Inashvili and David Tarkhan-Mouravi, the leaders of Alliance of Patriots party. The report reads that a pre-election budget, worth millions, has already been drafted. It does not, however, provide any documentary proof of the sums being disbursed. So far only the first part of the investigation has been released.

The report details the network which handles the relations with the Alliance. The key coordinating role is allegedly played by the Presidential Directorate for Interregional Relations and Cultural Contacts with Foreign Countries, formed by Vladimir Putin in 2005 with the initial goal to counteract so-called color revolutions.

The Directorate is led by Vladimir Chernov, General of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). According to Dossier, he is a close associate of President Vladimir Putin’s friend, his former chief of staff, Sergey Ivanov. The key positions in the Directorate are reportedly held by former staff members of Federal Security Services (FSB), Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU) and the SVR.

Dossier Center bases its investigation on documents lifted from Chernov’s secretariat, including working documents, analytical reports, financial estimates, election manuals, and operational reports.

The Dossier Center writes that the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia requested more than $8 million from the Administration of the President of Russia.

Georgian oppositionists have sent a budget for 4 months of the election campaign to Moscow. They are ready to spend $166,667 on souvenirs alone, and the total expenses are estimated at $8,430,625, which is a huge amount for poor Georgia", says Dossier Center.

According to the Dossier Center, the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia has hired political strategist Sergey Mikheev and the Moscow company POLITSECRETS to promote the party.

He was apparently sanctioned by the European Union on Lithuania’s initiative in 2014. Mikheev, the report said, is supervised by Chernov’s direct subordinates – FSB Colonel Valery Maksimov and GRU officer Valery Chernychov.

Moscow-based company POLITSECRETS, headed by Vera Blashenkova, a Russian campaigner and author, is in charge of the direct promotion of ‘Patriots’. Blashenkova claims to have been engaged in election campaigns in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Russia, including for the ruling United Russia party.

According to the leaked documents, Russia has mobilized media agencies, including “Sputnik Georgia”, “EurAsia Daily”, REGNUM, and political center “North-South” to provide AP with information support.

The investigative report claimed that Mikheev had sent a $700,000-draft budget to the Staraya Square (the location in Moscow where the Presidential Executive Office is situated) at the beginning of the year. The budget covers services of political consultants, including transportation and accommodation fees, however, costs may rise should the second round in some majoritarian constituencies become necessary. According to Dossier, “$ 700,000 was found somewhere, and the work kicked off”.

The nativist party allegedly wanted to benefit from “the Inashvili-hosted TV-program” “Magic Box” which would offer prizes worth $700-1000 to low-income families; however, Mikheev reportedly had warned Alliance of Patriots against potential legal consequences due to vote-buying charges.

Aside from $700,000 requested by Mikheev for his services, Alliance of Patriots reportedly handed Moscow an $8,430,625 budget proposal to cover the party’s campaign expenses. A comprehensive list of expenses includes funds needed for souvenirs, media-expenses, central and regional offices, etc.

According to the report released by Transparency International Georgia, a local watchdog, the revenues of the Alliance of Patriots in 2019 stood at GEL1,676,618 making it the second after the ruling Georgian Dream party which received GEL9,502,653.

Some of the Blashenkova’s recommendations for the Alliance of Patriots, as disclosed by Dossier, include:

Working with undecided voters; Taking votes away from larger parties, including the governing Georgian Dream party (GD), opposition United National Movement (UNM), and Kremlin-friendly Nino Burjanadze’s United Georgia – Democratic Movement. Fueling protest sentiments among Georgian voters, including by breeding public discontent, even if it is “beneficial for UNM/UG-DM and completely detrimental to the GD”, by articulating current problems and negative future scenarios.

Potential grave scenarios include economic and political consequences of tensions with Russia should the UNM regain the power, U.S.-ordered experiments with minors in terms of 'early sexual education,' against a rise of tolerant attitudes towards the LGBTI+ community, etc. POLITSECRETS has already prepared some campaign videos with infographics depicting problems in demography and crime rates.

Fueling up envy and greed among ordinary voters by shaming fancy lifestyles of government and opposition elites against the background of the general poverty in the country; Vote splitting to prevent forming potential parliamentary coalitions through smear campaigns against their opponents, including by pointing at their aggressive attitudes towards each other and their inability to reach agreements.

Interestingly, the report said, Blashenkova has also requested information on persons openly supporting the Alliance of Patriots.

Elene Khostharia, one of the leaders of the European Georgia party and the majoritarian candidate for the Vake district of Tbilisi, has even submitted a statement to the General Prosecutor's Office of Georgia today regarding the Kremlin’s financing of the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia.

Inashvili denies the allegations. She says that former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili and Giga Bokeria (currently one of the leaders of the opposition European Georgia party and a former member of Saakashvili's United National Movement party) ordered this investigation be given to the Dossier Center. According to Inashvili, she has submitted a response statement to the prosecutor's office and demands the removal of the European Georgia and the National Movement that torture people.

Georgian candidates and parties are prohibited from receiving donations from foreign citizens, companies, international and religious organisations, movements, government agencies, as well as from anonymous sponsors in Georgia.

Parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held in Georgia on October 31st to elect 150 members of parliament: 120 deputies will be elected according to party lists, and 30 - according to majoritarian districts. In addition, the barrier for a party to enter parliament has been lowered and stands at 1%.