Saakashvili as a PR specialist06.10.2009 | 14:31
Current Georgian government makes active use of PR technologies in pursuing their domestic policies. All independent politologists and experts confirm that. This is what Mikheil Saakashvili's political opponents criticize him for.
It is believed in Georgia that the advent to power of Saakashvili & Co was mainly due to a well-organized PR campaign. Then opposition-oriented Rustavi 2 was a kind of scaffold for these people and regularly reported on actions of the National Movement and all "exposing" press conferences the way it was needed.
But it was not in vain, as both politologists and journalists emphasize: then at the time of Shevarnadze there was much more freedom of press and the media were free to comment on any topic the way their editorial board considered it right.
One of the reasons for success of the Rose Revolution was its considerable reliance on PR and information support as the experts and politologists remark. Rustavi 2 switched over to emergency mode transmitting news in connection with the future "revolutionists" 24/7.
Even the name of the Rose Revolution was invented by a journalist of the TV Company to be picked up by the rest of the media.
Propaganda goes along with all actions and activities of the current government of Georgia. An attribute of such a policy is a special stand that the representatives of government carry about the country and set up everywhere - on roads, in fields, in city and village halls.
The attempts of the opposition to adopt similar PR methods and use them as a foundation for their own political struggle have failed.
Imedi TV founded by businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili initially had the same tonality as Rustavi 2 and after it was acquired by the opposition it was ruthlessly smashed, then closed and reopened again with a new "smoother" look.
Imedi was attacked also because it broadcast throughout Georgia and part of the abroad countries. Kavkasia and Maestro, less popular and more local TV channels that were slightly oppressed too, weren't hit that much.
Now they continue to be the "trumpet" of opposition but not as largely as Rustavi 2 used to be and Imedi could have been.
Opposition leaders and opposition-minded politologists admit that Saakashvili is an unequalled PR-pro. Promotion technologies were actively and aggressively used by the authorities after every mistake they committed.
November 7 2007: the opposition meetings are dispersed and then immediately a PR campaign advocating the government's new program "Georgia without Poverty" starts. The advertising was organized before the presidential election of January 5 2008.
The propaganda of the authorities was so efficient that a few days after the November 7 events many common people stated perplexed: "Sure we will vote for Saakashvili, who else can we vote for?" Traders whose working conditions were made more stringent by the authorities, pensioners who lost their benefits and youths who saw no other alternative said that.
Propaganda helped the ruling party to win the parliamentary election on May 21 2008. Then the party's envoys called at the places of common Tbilisians ladling out promises which were never fulfilled, as usual. But the result was noticeable.
The events of August 2008 were also preceded by PR activities. Before the start of hostilities there were regular reports on daily escalation of the situation in the zone of the conflict with shootings onto Georgian localities and deaths of Georgian peacekeepers.
When the shelling of Tskhinval began many in Georgia cheered up: finally the authorities screwed up their courage to return these territories.
Hour after hour information-conditioned people listened to reports on advance of the Georgian troops with good-on-you-guys evaluation.
Then the opposition declared moratorium on criticism of the authorities. But when the war was lost Saakashvili's opponents resumed their offensive. They were rebuffed by massive propaganda. The opposition was repeatedly accused of espionage in favor of Russia
PR technologies were actively used before publication of the report on the August events by the international fact-finding commission, and even more actively in its aftermath.
Literally an hour after the report was passed over to the parties Georgian TV channels started commenting, analyzing and reading out report extracts - the way it was needed to the Georgian government.
These TV channels omitted the commission's conclusion that Georgia was the war starter but they repeatedly highlighted the commission's condemnation of numerous violations of international law and ethnic cleansing by Russia.
After the report was promulgated Mikheil Saakashvili held a number of "meetings with people" to discuss all sorts of things: success of the Georgian economy, policies of the government, care for the people's well-being, ways out of the world crisis.
Every time the president "unexpectedly" touched upon Tagliavini's commission report emphasizing that the commission had acknowledged Russia as aggressor and confirmed Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
On Tuesday the Georgian president is expected in parliament. He must deliver speech on the state and development of the country's economy for the deputies who wait for his new initiatives.