On September 18, a day after the National Democratic Institute (NDI) released the results of its public opinion survey, unpress.ge released an interview with Valerian Gorgiladze, former host of Maestro TV and POS TV, headlined “NDI as a lab of sociological manipulation.” Later on the same day, Pirveli news agency, kvira.ge and for.ge reposted the interview. Some extracts from the interview were also published by Prime Time. On September 19, Prime Time released another interview with Valerian Gorgiladze on the same topic. Gorgiladze’s remarks, representing an attempt to incite mistrust towards NDI, were also included in the news article released by Rezonansi on September 17.
The interview published by unipress.ge, involving the journalist’s introductory remarks, promotes readers’ skepticism towards NDI from the very beginning. The journalist notes that debates and mistrust towards the NDI-commissioned public opinion polls do not end. This opinion is further reinforced by a respondent’s interview.
In the interview, Valerian Gorgiladze declares mistrust towards the NDI-commissioned public opinion polls and promotes an opinion that foreign foundations should not have the right to hold national surveys in Georgia. According to him, Georgia is the only country in Europe, where national sociological surveys and, respectively, political and economic agendas are developed by foreign foundations. He also noted that such surveys distort “social reality” and spread disinformation. Valerian Gorgiladze voiced similar opinions in the interview with Prime Time on September 19. Back in 2018, he also demanded that foreign organizations be deprived of the right to conduct public opinion polls.
The claims as if international organizations are banned to conduct public opinion surveys in European countries, expect for Georgia, represent disinformation. Gallup, Pew Research Center, NDI, IRI and other international organizations conduct various thematic surveys in European countries. Free activities of non-governmental and international organizations are restricted only under authoritarian and dictatorial regimes, including in Russia, where their activities are declared a threat and are restricted by law.
Fact N1. International organizations are not banned to conduct public opinion surveys in European countries.
There are no regulations prohibiting international organizations to conduct public opinion polls in European countries. The regulations related to public opinion polls set out the rules for releasing the results of surveys during elections, as well as protecting personal data of survey respondents. Various international organizations, among them Gallup and Pew Research Center, conduct public opinion polls in the EU member states.
Fact N.2. International organizations NDI and IRI are working in Central and Eastern European countries.
NDI. NDI is functioning in 12 European countries, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia. In each country NDI conducts public opinion surveys on various topics; the law does not ban such activities in these countries. For example, in April 2018, NDI released the results of public opinion surveys conducted in Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, exploring youth attitudes towards democracy and politics
Presently, IRI is implementing its programs in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria. In the transition democracies of Europe, IRI supports the development of multi-party political systems that design, debate and implement policies that improve the quality of life of their citizens.
Fact N.3. Free activities of non-governmental and international organizations are restricted only under authoritarianism and dictatorship.
The practice for restricting the activities of non-governmental and international organizations, which instead of protecting fundamental human rights and freedoms, is oriented towards establishing the closed society, is apparent in Russia.
The activities of NGOs and international organizations are restricted in Russia by law
According to a law passed in November 2012, NGOs that receive foreign donations are labeled as "Foreign Agents" in Russia. Therefore, NGOs that have "Foreign Agent" special status, must prepare periodic reports to be submitted to the Ministry of Justice and the Federal Tax service of the Russian Federation. According to the Russian Criminal Code, if any organization classified as "Foreign Agent" does not fulfill the requirements of the law, will be forced to close down.
In May 2015, according to the new legislative amendments, "Undesirable Organizations" operating in Russia do not have right to implement their activities without a court order. In case of Foreign Ministry's consent, the Prosecutor's Office is eligible to close them down.
About the source
In 2012, the Government of Georgia set up the Integrated Communications Department and Valerian Gorgiladze was appointed as its head, replaced by Koka Kandiashvili in March 2013.
According to Tabula, since 2004, Valerian Gorgiladze worked for Russian PR Company Nikolo M. In parallel, he led an analytical group Terra Media, which mainly provided consultations to local and international companies operating on Georgian market.
Valerian Gorgiladze also served as an analyst at Maestro TV. In 2018, he participated in preparing programs at POS TV. The latter is a government-affiliated online television.
Publications released by the Myth Detector on disinformation against surveys conducted by international organizations are provided below: