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Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze delivering his press statement, October 16, 2018. Photo: facebook.com/GeorgianDreamOfficial/

Speaker Slams UNM, Rustavi 2 for ‘Brainwashing Campaign’

Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, who has emerged as the leading campaigner for the ruling party-endorsed presidential candidate, Salome Zurabishvili, slammed the opposition United National Movement for carrying out a “brainwashing, propaganda campaign.”

Kobakhidze made the statement at a press briefing on October 16, a day after Rustavi 2 TV, a national broadcaster leaning strongly towards opposition, aired a covertly recorded audio tape implicating senior officials in case-fixing and other criminal offenses.

The Speaker stressed Rustavi 2, “UNM’s partisan outlet,” is pursuing a “Russian-style campaign of brainwashing and propaganda,” but added that the campaign is “destined to fail as nothing can overshadow truth.”

Kobakhidze then said the Omega Group and the case-fixing tapes were “staged performances,” and examples of UNM’s “brainwashing campaign.”

The Speaker said the first performance “failed as soon as the public learnt that the person (Zaza Okuashvili) wanted to avoid paying taxes.” “We are now seeing another performance, and questions about it will be addressed just like in the first case,” he added.

Kobakhidze touched upon the election campaign as well, reiterating that the ruling party wanted to conduct “a European-style election campaign,” but opponents “chose to carry out a campaign that is far from European, western political and electoral culture.”

“The candidate we have endorsed has been attacked in multiple, absolutely unacceptable forms … there have been attempts to pressure her supporters psychologically,” he noted, adding that these attempts were “unsuccessful,” and that Zurabishvili would obtain “a convincing victory.”

The Speaker touched upon the upcoming polls later on October 16, in his interview with Imedi TV. Kobakhidze said UNM “cannot have an illusion” that they will win the elections, and instead is considering “a proto-revolutionary scenario.”

“We will not let the United National Movement trigger even a minor turmoil in the country, this may be their intention, but we are here to prevent it,” Speaker Kobakhidze noted.

The elections will take place on October 28. This will be the last time that the head of state will be elected through direct ballot. According to the new constitution, which will enter into force upon new president’s inauguration, the heads of state will be elected by a 300-member Electoral College for a term of five years starting from 2024.

For the extended background, follow our Weekly Elections Digest or the 2018 Presidential Elections Tag.

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