Speaking in a talk show with the pro-governmental Imedi TV on November 27, the leader of the ruling Georgian Dream party Bidzina Ivanishvili said “the reputation of the U.S. founded institutions such as NDI and IRI” is “being devalued” by the public opinion polls they publish.
“For years now the polls are being published. These are published by very serious organizations of our strategic partner [the U.S.]. And they no longer have public confidence, are often met with [ironic] smile,” Ivanishvili said.
“It’s not that we are afraid of these polls… It’s just as you said [- talking to the host] they are insistently published in circumstances of such low confidence….by NDI, or IRI…it seems that they [polls] serve a different purpose, it may be that some politicians want to convince our citizens, saying – look at the U.S. organizations, their bias is clearly seen, they don’t like the Georgian Dream and still support the [United] National Movement…[They would say] look, central, U.S. organization are consciously manipulating these [polls], so that they can demonstrate support to the National Movement and not the Georgian Dream,” Ivanishvili hypothesized, adding “I think neither of these [views] are without foundation. But if we look more generally, institutions established by our strategic partner are being devalued in our country,” Ivanishvili stressed.
He blamed the loss of reputation of IRI and NDI polls on UNM: “who is doing field studies for IRI and NDI? In both cases, these are [organisations] founded by UNM, by former members of UNM. They go [into the field], arrange everything and NDI or IRI just give their letterhead. No methodology to speak about here. If you are not asking people the right questions, do not take good information…. I have no doubts that NDI and IRI are great insitutions, of the Democrats and Republicans, we have nothing but gratitude towards them, but in this specific case [of the polls] this situation continues….they have to contract out the polls to [other] organizations which has certain data already, and these organizations were created by Natsis [derogatory term for UNM members] on purpose… I dont even know if there is any other such organization, I never even thought about that…. So Natsis have established that organization on purpose, staffed with their own people, and [NDI and IRI] are contracting them to this day, and we get what we get.”
Ivanishvili proceeded by saying that Georgia is strongly attached to the U.S. as its strategic partner and “they have done a lot so that we got stability, are watching over our development, support us in every way”, but argued that if the U.S. bodies such as IRI and NDI are doing things that breeds the lack of confidence in society, this is “regrettable”. He added, that his concerns are related to NDI and IRI offices in Georgia, and not in Washington, D.C., where “Georgia has an unprecedented level of support.”
Referring to other Georgian non-governmental organizations, Ivanishvili stated “how can it happen that U.S. funded institutions are [the ones] damaging U.S. interests in Georgia?” He then added that he does not exclude addressing an open letter to the Congress, the Senate or the White House spelling out his complaints.