Does the "Georgian Dream" political party believe in paying off TV stars to advocate their position? It seems to. The opposition party has just recruited the famous American journalist Larry King to publicly back the party on his own TV show. Since the beginning of the campaign season in Georgia, the “Georgian Dream” coalition, led by Bidzina Ivanishvili, involves many financial resources- some of which have been flagged by the international community as being illegal.
The Georgian TV channel TV9 was created in May by Bidzina Ivanishvili, and will now employ Larry Kind as one of their consultants. In sports, this move is called a “big transfer”. The salary that Larry King will receive has not been disclosed, but we can assume that such a huge TV star (although he has been sidelined by CNN since 2010) would not be recruited without a significant financial incentive.
Indeed, "Georgian Dream" does not lack monetary resources, as it has proved since the very beginning of its campaign. In previous articles, we have reported that the main opposition movement had, in fact, been caught red-handed with their hand in the bag a few months ago, regarding the situation where "dream cards" were handed out in the city of Kutaisi. Activists of "Georgian Dream" had distributed flyers to the public, and those who agreed to support the coalition were entitled to receive gifts of up to 500 Euros, in exchange for a promise to vote for “Georgian Dream”.
New controversy was stirred up just a few weeks later, when the Komagi Foundation exploded onto the scene. This “charitable organization” claims to support and defend "victims of political repression." The foundation provides its members moral, legal, and financial support, with legal fees and monthly grants of up to 5,000 Lari (2,500 Euros) being handed out. With nearly 90% of the entire population being able to potentially qualify for such reparations, the foundation has been found to be a sort of scam, set up by “Georgian Dream” supporters in order to gain votes for the party. And with the parliamentary elections coming up, this sort of complete disregard for the newly integrated democratic system in Georgia is a serious breach of progress that the country has been on track for since President Saakashvili rose to power in 2004. One of the Komagi Foundation’s main supporters is Ano Chkhartishvili, a wealthy expatriate of Georgia, and a staunch supporter Bidzina Ivanishvili. Many NGOs, including Transparency International, have since denounced the vote-buying schemes set in place by Ivanishvili and his party, since their actions go against any democratic system by buying votes, be it by means of gifts or money.
With the recruitment of Larry King, the "Georgian Dream" party shows, yet again, that they will spare no cost in order to bring their leader, Bidzina Ivanishvili, to power. The former star reporter of CNN controls all the communication and influence aspects of media for the station, and could assist TV9 in spreading the word of conservative and xenophobic ideals that Bidzina Ivanishvili preaches to the public. Will money be the main supporter of the Georgian presidential campaign? Georgian voters will answer this question on October 1st.