Inter-Agency Task Force for Free and Fair Elections (IATF) at the National Security Council of Georgia has recommended public broadcaster to stop airing in pre-election period advertisements, commissioned by various state agencies, on the grounds that they “might be perceived as election ads.”
Transparency International Georgia said on August 3 that advertisements, commissioned by the state agencies and labeled as “social ads”, fell short of meeting criteria for social advertisement and in fact represented political ads in favor of the ruling party.
“A majority of them, according to their tenor, represent political ads which are intended as endorsements in favor of the ruling party. We believe that this case is an example of utilizing administrative resources for electoral purposes, and an unlawful donation made by the State on behalf of one political union,” the Transparency International Georgia said.
The Tbilisi-based watchdog group called on the State Audit Office, which is in charge of monitoring political finances, as well as IATF to look into the case and react.
IATF said on August 9, that although “social advertisements aired by the Public Broadcaster” featured neither a political party nor its number assigned to it on a ballot paper, the state agencies and the Public Broadcasters should stop airing these ads “which depict projects implemented by the government and which might be perceived as election ads.”
Also on August 9 IATF released a statement about the cases when reporters from Info-9, a web-based news agency, which is part of Bidzina Ivanishvili-funded Channel 9 TV station, were persistently followed by unknown individuals with video cameras posing as journalists and interfering in and hindering the work of Info-9 reporters.
“Although journalists have a right to ask questions their colleagues too and critically assess their affiliations to various political forces… but this should it should not take a form of sabotaging of a journalistic work,” IATF said.