Elections in Georgia: opposition accuses Kremlin of meddling

According to human rights activists, the Kremlin allocated $ 8 million to support the election campaign of the pro-Russian party in Georgia&# 160;

The Georgian opposition demands from the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia to conduct an investigation in connection with the financing of the pro-Russian party “Alliance of Patriots of Georgia”. The corresponding request was made on August 25 by the “European Georgia” party.
Earlier, the nongovernmental organization Dossier, founded by opposition politician Mikhail Khodorkovsky, disseminated information according to which the Alliance of Patriots received $ 8 million from the Russian state budget to conduct its election campaign. The NGO Dossier published a working document that talks about the preparation and budget of the Alliance of Patriots election campaign, which, according to the organization, the Russian political strategist Sergei Mikheev sent to the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation.
“The prosecutor’s office of a normal, dignified state, without waiting for a statement from our side, after the publication of such information, must urgently start an investigation on very many articles, including the one that implies that receiving funding from another country, especially the occupying country, is a crime “, – said the MP from the” European Georgia “Elene Khoshtaria to the media.
At the same time, the United National Movement (UNM) party of ex-President Mikhail Saakashvili believes that the registration of the Alliance of Patriots party as a participant in the election campaign should be suspended until the investigation is completed..
At the same time, both “European Georgia” and “UNM” claim that the ruling force “covers up” the “Alliance of Patriots” and that most likely the Prosecutor’s Office does not properly investigate the case..
Government reaction
In response to the opposition’s accusations, the ruling Georgian Dream declared the unacceptability of cooperation with “groups that have direct ties with such a hostile state as Russia, as well as with groups that advance Russia’s interests in a disguised form.”.
As the chairman of the legal committee of the Georgian parliament Anri Okhanashvili said, the issue of financing the Alliance of Patriots should be studied and investigated by the prosecutor’s office, and if the fact of financing this party from Russia is confirmed, it will be “necessary to take appropriate measures”.
“The intrigues of competitors” and the pilgrimage trip
Representatives of the Alliance of Patriots themselves categorically deny that they are financed by the Kremlin and explain the information of the Russian media by the “intrigues” of their competitors.
At the same time, the pro-Russian party does not deny that among the consulting campaigns they hired to plan the election campaign, in addition to four American and two Israeli, there is also one Russian. At the same time, the Alliance of Patriots does not specify specifically which Russian company provides them with services..
It is noteworthy that on August 18 the leaders of the Alliance of Patriots were in Abkhazia. According to media reports, they used the Inguri bridge, which has been closed for several months, spent about four hours in the occupied territory and returned back. Georgian media claim that the leaders of the pro-Russian party traveled to Abkhazia “for a secret meeting” with representatives of the Russian authorities.

Elections in Georgia: opposition accuses Kremlin of meddling

In Abkhazia, the opposition, which criticizes the current Abkhaz leadership because of their statements about the need to negotiate with Tbilisi, demanded clarifications from the authorities in connection with this visit. In response, Lasha Sakania, assistant to the separatist leader Aslan Bzhania, issued a statement saying that the trip of the Georgian oppositionists was of a pilgrimage nature: “My old friends from the Russian Federation asked me to assist in the transfer of the icon of the Virgin from Georgia to Ilor a temple as a gift … which we did. This concludes our mission. “.
Representatives of the Alliance of Patriots confirmed the version of the Abkhaz separatist authorities, although they did not specify who the Russians were who helped them in their visit to the occupied region.
At the same time, due to the visit of the Alliance of Patriots, Lasha Sakania left the post of assistant to the de facto President of Abkhazia on August 26. As Sakania wrote on the Facebook social network, he did it of his own free will “so as not to raise the degree of society.”.
Expert opinion

Elections in Georgia: opposition accuses Kremlin of meddling

Head of the Center for the Study of Security and International Relations Nika Chitadze considers it “quite realistic” information about the Kremlin’s interference in the internal affairs of Georgia, disseminated by a Russian nongovernmental organization.

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The expert believes that among the pro-Russian parties in Georgia, the Alliance of Patriots is the “most promising” political force and recalls that in the 2016 elections, more than 88 thousand people voted for it, as a result of which six deputies from the Alliance entered the Georgian parliament.
According to Chitadze, despite the fact that the rating of the Alliance of Patriots is low, relying on this party, the Kremlin gets leverage to put pressure on the ruling Georgian Dream.
In particular, according to the expert, of all the other Georgian parties, the ruling force finds a common language with this party most easily. An example of their cooperation, Chitadze notes, was the presidential election, when the Alliance of Patriots brought about a hundred thousand people to its rally in support of the candidate from the ruling Georgian Dream..
At the same time, according to Chitadze, both parties are “united in their intransigence” to the party of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili’s UNM, as well as to European Georgia, the parties of Saakashvili’s former allies. The expert believes that if, as a result of the elections scheduled in October, “Georgian Dream” and “Alliance of Patriots” find themselves in parliament, the likelihood of their mutual support in approving the Cabinet of Ministers and other procedures is “very high”.
The Alliance of Patriots suits the ruling party in Georgia much more than any other Georgian party. Moreover, the “Georgian Dream” has repeatedly needed the support of the “Alliance of Patriots” and they received it. Accordingly, by strengthening this party and helping it to have more representatives in the Georgian parliament, Moscow will be able to more effectively influence the decisions taken by the Georgian authorities, “Chitadze summed up..

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