Georgia: The Covert Video War Is On
The race to the finish line for Georgia’s potentially climactic October 1 parliamentary vote is turning into a battle of compromising secret videos.
Following last week's broadcast of televised revelations of prison torture, actions the opposition Georgian Dream claims were government-condoned, the government hit back today with alleged video evidence of the coalition’s supposed attempts to frame the ruling party by staging abuse in jails and the army.
The covert footage released by the Georgian Interior Ministry implicates the Georgian Dream and its billionaire leader, Bidzina Ivanishvili, in attempts to bribe police officers to stage the beatings of a youth activist and army recruits, among other scenarios; events that, when made public, would help tarnish the ruling United National Movement's public standing.
One video shows a purported Georgian Dream representative offering $50,000 to a police official and requesting him to record the beating on camera. “We will give you a man… from the youth wing of the party… just make sure not to beat him to death,” the man says.
The Georgian Dream described the videos as fabricated. “The government is busy putting together a false TV series,” with a script long familiar to viewers, the coalition said in a statement.
The videos were met with a dose of public skepticism. Whether or not they question the authenticity of the police recordings, many commentators say that the alleged evidence will neither diminish nor redirect public anger at the government over the earlier exposure of torture in Georgia's Prison .
Since the prison abuse scandal broke on September 18, the Georgian Dream, arguably, has seen its chances increase to benefit from any protest vote; especially when an earlier opinion poll suggested that many Georgians are undecided. Minor political parties, fearing to be squeezed in the Georgian Dream-National Movement battle, have been quick to level criticism in both directions.
In the meantime, hints are being made by forces on either side that more video exposés are on the way.
Giorgi Lomsadze is a journalist based in Tbilisi, and author of Tamada Tales.
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