September 3, 2012 by etiennevacher
New shenanigans are afoot in the realm of “Georgian Dream”, the opposition coalition led by multi-billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili. This newly-formed political coalition continues to seriously disrupt the democratic life in Georgia with its aggressive targeting of minorities in the country.
“Georgian Dream” has been attracting considerable attention in the last few months, being involved in multiple investigations dealing with vote-buying and political corruption. This opposition coalition is starting to resemble a far-right party more and more, as they continue to attack by attacking Georgian ethnic minorities. Its leaders and activists have redoubled their efforts to deconstruct the liberal reforms enacted by president Saakashvili and his government. This is the political context that has swept through Georgia in the run-up to the general elections. In anticipation of the election scheduled on October 1, 2012, the leader of “Georgian Dream”, Bidzina Ivanishvili, has been in the midst of an offensive campaign that targets ethnic, sexual, and religious minorities.
Ivanishvili, a wealthy businessman with a more-than-shady past, does not beat around the bush, and will stop at nothing in order to seize power. He has taken advantage of his enormous wealth by paying millions of dollars in communication/PR fees, in addition to buying votes via a pseudo-philanthropist foundation. Ivanishvili and his team have been swaying people to their side through the populist discourse that has been spread as broadly as possible, through public statements, meetings, and press interviews.
Manana Kobakhidze, one of the leaders of “Georgian Dream”, contests the rights of all ethnic minorities living in Georgia. In a statement at the opening of the “Georgian Dream” congress, Kobakhidze stated “the Georgian government considers that the protection of minorities – sexual included – is synonymous with democracy. Defenders of the orthodox faith should not be seen as fascists and extremists because of their alternative thinking. For whatever reason, the model of democracy in Georgia expressed by repressing Orthodox Christians protesting against sexual minorities.”
During an interview that was broadcasted on May 25, 2012 on Maestro TV, a national TV station, Ivanishvili expressed his hatred towards religious communities. After the reporter mentioned a recent law which grants more rights to religious minorities, Ivanishvili simply replied that “according to this law, we can have a Parliament whose members are not citizens of Georgia, do not speak the Georgian language and especially will not ethnically Georgian.”
The multi-billionaire candidate also expressed his “gratitude” toward the journalists of Asaval-Dasavali, an extreme right newspaper. “Few newspapers are as faithful as you in your interest to national problems [...] and for that you have my respect”, he said. It should be noted that Asaval-Dasavali is known for its strong xenophobic and homophobic line. The newspaper went so far as to appeal to follow Nazi and anti-gay measures.
Gubaz Sanikidze, a member of the Ivanishvili’s coalition and leader of the “National Forum”, wants to investigate the ethnic origins of the president in office. “I am entitled to know its origin. If Georgia has an Armenian president, why do some people complain that the rights of Armenians are violated?” he stated.
The Muslim community also incurs the wrath of “Georgian Dream”. Murman Dumbaze, president of the movement “Serving Georgia”, attacked the credibility of Giorgi Masalkin, a politician supporting a plan to build Mosques. According to Dumbaze, Masalkin “does not understand the love of the country, because he is not genetically a Georgian.” In another vein, Ivanishvili stated in Asaval-Dasavali that it is “unacceptable that a mosque is built upon decision of Mikhail Saakashvili.”
Zviad Dzidziguri is also from “Georgian Dream”, and has expressed the party’s hatred of the Armenian community. “It is unacceptable that the Georgian and Armenian churches have the same status. Armenians have more money, they will eventually eat us! “, said Dzidziguri.
Despite this aggressive rhetoric, “Georgian Dream”’s message is starting to resonate with the Georgian population, which is easily seduced by the nationalist discourses. Ivanishvili understood the effect of media from the very get-go, and has taken full advantage of his massive monetary power ever since.