The messenger logo

GPB suspends pre-election advert of pro-Russian party

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, August 16
The Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) stated on Sunday that the pre-election advertisement of the Centrists political party had been suspended due to its “anti-state and anti-sovereignty” content.

Giorgi Gvimradze, the Director of News and Current Affairs of GPB made a special statement regarding the advertisement. According to him, the broadcaster is not responsible for the content of social and electoral advertisements. However, as the GPB is accountable to society, the broadcasting of the Centrists advertisement was suspended as the Public Broadcaster believes it contains messages against the sovereignty of the state and it may contradict the Constitution.

“We addressed the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) and the National Communications Commission with the request to consider the issue and make a decision,” the GPB team stated at the special briefing on August 14.

Political Union Centrists registered for the 2016 October parliamentary elections and applied to the GPB for free political advertising airtime and submitted its advertising video, which enlists the following pre-election promises: “Russian pension 400 GEL, adoption of dual citizenship law and legalization of Russian military bases on Georgian territory."

The advertisement was immediately followed by a negative backlash from the parliamentary majority, opposition and the third sector.

Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili said the government would not allow any anti-state propaganda.

“We welcome the decision of the public broadcaster to suspend the election campaign which is directed against our country's sovereignty and statehood. We also call upon all the other media outlets not to become a victim of propaganda,” Kvirikashvili stated.

The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) addressed the Central Election Commission to ban the advertisement and impose ab administrative fine on the Centrists. The ISFED also filed a lawsuit to Tbilisi Civil Court requesting the removal of the Centrists from the registration. However, the Court rejected the claim.

“We are going to appeal to the Appeals Court and we hope there will be proper reaction from state agencies too,” Nino Lomjaria from the ISFED stressed.

According to the Chair of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) fraction, Gia Volski, 1/5 of the MPs are going to address the Appeals Court to anull the registration of the Centrists.

Volski believes the advertisement of the Centrists contains treacherous rhetoric and is anti-state.

“We will use our legal right to address the Appeals Court to anull the registration of the Centrists. We call on all other parties to join the initiative,” said Volski.

The Republican Party shares the position of the majority. They said the clip of the Centrists violates the Constitution and they should not be allowed to participate in the elections.

Moreover, Kakha Kozhoridze, the advisor of President Giorgi Margvelashvili, said the President welcomes the unity against the clip of the Centrists.

“When a political party says it will legitimize the occupying forces of Georgia, it is anti-state action and position, "said Kozhoridze.

Lado Bedukadze, a representative of the Centrists party, says the opinion of the other parties is unacceptable for him.

“I will only accept the position of Bidzina Ivanishvili (former Prime Minister) and His Holiness, Patriarch Ilia II. All other people are traitors,” Bedukadze stated.