Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, who has emerged as the highest profile political figure campaigning in the name of the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia, has attacked the opposition during a special news briefing on September 24, saying the United National Movement (UNM) aims to destabilize the election environment ahead of the upcoming presidentials by using – among other things – its “party media.”
The Speaker said the ruling party would like to see “a European-style” election campaign, with the candidates introducing their views and stating their priorities to the electorate, while the opposition is building their campaign on “black PR, disinformation, personal attacks and provocations” to cause “destabilization.”
Kobakhidze said the new president should be “politically neutral,” not serving the “interests of any political party.”
Referring to the government-leaning media reports that some persons in the lists of supporters of the opposition candidate, submitted to the Central Election Commission (CEC) turned out to be deceased, he further accused the UNM of providing “falsified lists of supporters” to the CEC, which is a criminal offense. Moreover, he said UNM uses fake election blocks to receive additional financing and free airtime, which he said is a “manipulation.”
Irakli Kobakhidze then spoke of “provocations” from UNM against candidate Salome Zurabishvili, who is endorsed by the ruling party. Kobakhidze said the GDDG has already informed the diplomatic corps and international observers about the campaigning violations by UNM.
“As for UNM, it will once again receive the answer from the Georgian voters for all the crimes that this marginalized party has committed during the nine years [of its governance in 2003-2012] including for transferring the two of Georgian historic regions to Russia,” Kobakhidze said, laying the blame for Russia’s occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia on UNM.
Giorgi Vashadze of the New Georgia party, who serves as the campaign manager of the Strength is in Unity, a UNM-led political platform of ten opposition parties, has countered by accusing the Georgian Dream–Democratic Georgia (GDDG) of “anti-state narrative,” fake news, attack against media, nepotism and corruption. He invited Kobakhidze and other GDDG leaders to meet in public political debate.