Reports: Security Service Manipulates IRI, Other Opinion Polls

An anonymous person, allegedly a State Security Service (SSG) employee, claimed with Mtavari Arkhi TV that agents are eavesdropping on organizations conducting research and surveys in Georgia, including the International Republican Institute (IRI), and manipulating their work.

The man, described by Mtavari Arkhi TV Director Nika Gvaramia “an important man in Secret Service,” claimed on September 19 that SSG finds out with wiretapping when the research organizations plan to conduct fieldwork, and sends out agents to participate in the surveys.

The person claimed that the SSG, for instance, finds outs when “IRI is going on the field and conducting survey interviews,” and sends a network of agents to participate in the surveys and “mark answers as instructed.” 

The anonymous source claimed that the SSG predetermines how they could influence the organizations’ work, and sets up groups, supposedly with party agitators among others, to be dispatched to participate in the surveys.

The person said even election exit polls can be manipulated by the SSG.

He also claimed that the SSG has separate divisions to surveil all employees of foreign embassies, the research organizations as well as heads of diplomatic missions.

The interview comes in the aftermath of thousands of alleged Security Service files leaking on September 13. Albeit largely focused on the Orthodox clergy, containing compromising data on alleged pedophilia, criminal activities, narcotics use and spying for Russia, documents also included materials about Georgian journalists, opposition politicians, far right groups, civil servants, foreign diplomats, etc. 

The IRI-commissioned public opinion polls over the recent years have been conducted by Baltic Surveys/The Gallup Organization, with fieldwork carried out by the Institute of Polling and Marketing, a Tbilisi-based organization.

This article was updated.  

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