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IRI poll: government's demo version01.11.2010 | 17:24
President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili can't help rejoicing the results of the poll held by International Republican Institute (IRI) organization. According to the data published by local media, the Georgians believe that Saakashvili is able to control the country better than anyone else; they want to see him as prime minister; Georgia should definitely enter in NATO and the main danger for Tbilisi comes from Russia. However, the results of the poll revealed by the republican TV channels significantly differ from the original.
One of these days, Georgian TV companies informed the country's population with barely concealed delight that according to the poll held by reputable international organization International Republican Institute, Sakartvelo people are satisfied with Mikheil Saakashvili's activities (77 percent), consider him the best governor (46) and want to see him as prime minister when his presidency term expires (56 percent).
Besides, each nine of ten IRI pollees positively estimate Georgia's relationship with the United States of America (92 percent), consider Washington to be Georgia's closest friend (53 percent) and are afraid of the main "external enemy", Russia (83 percent). Then goes the paradox: being afraid of Russia, the Georgians stand for restoration of relationship with RF (84 percent), at the same time supporting the republic's entrance in NATO (74 percent).
Being inspired by the aired results of the poll, the authorities immediately set up their comb. According to Vice Speaker of Parliament Mikheil Machavariani, IRI's research proves the correctness of the policy line carried out in the country. "For us, it's a sign that the way aimed at unemployment problem and social problems settlement, economy enhancement and territorial integrity restoration is the right way to be followed", - he underlined.
However, the Laborites produced a contrary appraisal of IRI's work. Head of the party Shalva Natelashvili referred to the poll as to the "immorality code" made up by an organization under John McCane's control. In the oppositionist's opinion, it was McCane who set up the "orange" Rose Revolution and brought "the madman in trunks" to power in Georgia.
"Today, he continues his impotent attempts to enforce and strengthen Saakashvili, which is absolutely senseless", - Natelashvili added. It looks like the politician's anger was provoked by his lowered rating, for, according to IRI data revealed by Georgian media, he is supported by just four percent of the population.
Yet, there seems to be nothing for the Laborite to be upset about. Even the brief comparison of the original data with their "Georgian version" much surprised the experts. Director for Caucasian Center of Strategic Investigation Mamuka Areshidze, having got acquainted with the materials, noticed certain discrepancies in the information disseminated by Georgian TV channels and the poll data. For example, it is not 56 percent of the pollees who support Saakashvili's plans as to the post of prime minister but only 32. The difference is explained by the fact that all the pollees who hesitated to give an answer were rated among Mikheil Saakashvili's supporters. Areshidze also made a supposition that the reliability of such kind of polls is defined by selection factor and attitude towards the interviewers.
Indeed, not so long ago, one of the leaders of Movement for Fair Georgia Petre Mamradze told GeorgiaTimes that when the population meets some strangers asking them to tell about their political preferences, the pollees undoubtedly answer: "I will vote for Ugulava" (the Mayor of Tbilisi) but not because I like the mayor but because I'm scared. "People are really afraid, - Mamradze underlined. - In such moments, our citizens immediately start self-censoring, for no one wants to get the sack".
The oppositional politician has no doubts about the IRI employees' qualification and trustworthiness, so long as he knows these people personally. One has to take into account that the basic TV channels are under the authorities' full control and, as is known, over 90 percent of information is received by the audience via TV channels.
Mamradze's opinion is shared by The New Rights party Executive Secretary Manana Nachkebia. She reminded that IRI's polls have caused disturbance in Georgia for several years but it is only the Imedi and Rustavi channels controlled by government that provide any information about them. "Everything is under control in Georgia, starting from wiretapping, - Nachkebia said. - I would recommend the authorities not to boast about the poll results".
In all appearances, it would be a mistake to rebuke IRI. International Republican Institute has been functioning in Georgia for many years. Yes, Georgians are being deceived but not at all by those of whom we thought in the first instance. It's just that the current regime interprets the results of serious research in its own way, to put it mildly, using the faked "demo version" for its own promotion.