GRASS Disinfo Brief 5-30 June

02 August, 2023

Global War Party in Georgian Dream’s focus:

Georgian Dream leaders escalated their “second front conspiracy” yet again to discredit the critics. The use of harsh rhetoric was already evident in recent weeks. It was largely dominated by the messages that the opposition and NGOs are foreign agents, including that of the Global War Party, and they, based on orders from mysterious external forces, are trying to open a second front in Georgia against Russia. After, on June 22, the EU Commission presented its assessment of Georgia’s progress in fulfilling the 12 priorities required to be granted a candidate status, GD resorted to the “second front” narratives to even more extent. And there was a good reason for it – contrary to the claims of GD leaders, both from the Parliament and from the Government, that all of the priorities (or 11/12 except depolarization which GD claims is mainly the responsibility of the opposition) had already been fulfilled by them, the EU Commission stated that only 3 (gender equality, taking into account European Court of Human Rights judgments in Court deliberations and the appointment of Public Defender) out of 12 was fully fulfilled, there was some progress on 7 priorities, limited progress on 1 (deoligarchisation) and no progress at all on 1 priority (media freedom).

Even before the interim assessment, GD leaders were stating that the process of Georgia being granted a candidate status could be sabotaged by the Global War Party, which, according to them, could dissuade just one of the 27 EU member states from doing so, and that country would then veto the decision.

Hence, according to the GD chairman Irakli Kobakhidze, Georgia’s chances to get candidate status are 1 to 27, and it hinges on whether the Global War Party would once again intervene to the detriment of Georgia, as it did a year ago when Georgia was granted European perspective but not candidacy unlike fellow Associated Trio countries Moldova and Ukraine, and block granting Georgia the candidacy in order to cause unrest in Georgia.

  • According to Mr Kobakhidze, if the Global War Party will not get involved, it is highly likely that Georgia will be granted the EU membership candidate status. In this statement of June 13, he claimed that chances were 50/50 because the decision was political, and if it were a decision based on facts, Georgia’s chances would have been 100%. He claimed that the key is that Global War Party does not step in once more because it “pulls out one of the 27 countries, and in this case, Georgia will not be granted the candidate status, which happened in the previous case, when we were unfairly denied the candidate status”. Interestingly, Kobakhidze refused to name who was considered under the guise of the Global War Party despite claiming that “they know it exactly”, he just stated that UNM is a “Local War Party”.
  • Later he stated that interference was quite easy, especially for the Global War Party, given its resources and the unanimous decision-making structure of the European Council. Hence, he acknowledged the existence of risks of Georgia not achieving the candidacy. He said that “if the global war party sees that our team is not strong, the society is not strong, there will be more temptation to make a decision against us.” He expressed hope that, in this case, not the interests of the Global War Party, but the objective interests of the European Union and the subjective interests of our country will win, and Georgia will be given the candidate status.
  • The revelation that contrary to GD’s claims, they have not done everything to get the candidate status, lead to the GD increasingly employing the “second front” narrative to deflect the blame. GD chairman Kobakhidze even harshly criticised NGOs monitoring the implementation of the 12 priorities (including GRASS), despite their assessment being much closer and in line with that of the EU Commission (according to the CSOs coalition’s EU Candidacy Check - 3 priorities are fulfilled or mostly fulfilled, 5 partially fulfilled and 4 yet to be fulfilled; new edition of the EU Candidacy Check will be available on August 1 and accessible at GRASS’s website). Kobakhidze lied that their goal was for Georgia to be denied candidate status, which would create a possibility to demand government resignation. While in reality, the work of these NGOs are devoted towards Georgia achieving the EU membership candidate status. He compared these NGOs to one of the most hated person in Georgia’s history, whose name is a synonym of a traitor in Georgian language – Sergo Orjonikidze, a Georgian-born Bolshevik, Stalin’s friend and lieutenant who led the invasion of the Russian Red Army into Georgia on Stalin’s orders, and after deadly battles forced Georgia’s democratically elected government into exile, occupied Georgian territory and subjugated Georgia to the Soviet bloody rule. Kobakhidze also blamed the NGOs to be working based on the orders of the Global War Party and called them foreign agents of the powers who do not want Georgia to receive candidate status. Interestingly, one of the 12 priorities requires the involvement of civil society in decision-making processes at all levels.
  • Kobakhidze clarified the nuances concerning the candidate status and Global War Party’s involvement. According to him, “if the Global War Party sees that it can no longer achieve some of its goals, for example, it can no longer destabilise the situation here, they might have this perception [that the denial to get the candidate status will not result in the destabilisation or overthrowing of the Government in Georgia]. They tried it once, it didn't work, and in fact, in December, they don't stand a chance to destabilise the situation here by the denial of the candidate status. If they see it, in this case, the probability increases [of Georgia getting the candidate status]. If they get this feeling, which will be an objective feeling, they will no longer aim not to grant us the candidate status. Last year, in June, their main goal was to shake up the situation here, i.e. revolution and then [opening of] the second front [against Russia]. If they see that they will not be able to change the situation, the overthrowing of the government and the opening of the second front in December, in this case, our chances to get the candidate status will increase”. Kobakhidze also stated that in June, 2022, Georgia deserved the candidate status, something that was later recognised by the West, according to Kobakhidze, but the Global War Party intervened. He added that the local representatives of the Global War Party – the UNM, Girchi party, NGOs, media and others have gathered in Bakuriani (resort in Georgia) and planned a revolution – according to him, they discussed that when Georgia would not be granted candidate status in June, they should have organised a revolution, which, according to Kobakhidze, they tried but failed. He added that under the UNM he does not mean only UNM but also Lelo, [ex-PM Giorgi] Gakharia (leader “For Georgia”), Girchi and [Giorgi] Vashadze [leader of Strategy Aghmashenebeli] – which are all “pathetic agents of the Global War Party”. Kobakhidze even claimed that while being Prime Minister, Giorgi Gakharia was acting based on instructions, referring to those of the Global War Party, despite Kobakhidze being a firm supporter and defender of Gakharia’s actions during the time. Kobakhidze asserted that all others failed to carry out the instruction of destabilisation and all hopes of the Global War Party now hinged on Saakashvili, but according to Kobakhidze he has already failed, as well. In this context he claimed that several MEPs are also members of the Global War Party but he argued that “a number of high-ranking European bureaucrats, both in Georgia and abroad, said that they should not pay much attention to the statements of MEPs because in every [parliament], especially the European Parliament is characterised by diversity and the final decision regarding the candidate status will not depend on them”.
  • During his address to the Parliament on June 30, Prime Minister Garibashvili claimed that the irresponsible War party wanted to destroy the country for the second time, as well, as they did once, referring to the UNM and blaming it for failing to avoid the war in 2008 and losing territories. He argued that the policy of his government is actually sovereign and independent policy.
  • While commenting on President Salome Zourabichvili’s veto on the changes in the electoral code that goes against the EU’s recommendation, Kobakhidze claimed that external forces – the Global War Party – are dictating the President to take decisions that are not in Georgia’s interests. Kobakhidze stated that the aim of the President’s veto and initially that of the April 19 agreement (brokered by the EU and European Council President Charles Michel) was to create an artificial crisis in Georgia’s Central Election Commission (CEC).
  • Regional Secretary of GD, MP Dimitri Samkharadze claimed that European values are far adrift from the reality offered by the Global War Party agents and reiterated on June 14 that 12 priorities were fulfilled, but the European institutions cannot agree within themselves on deoligarchisation. Samkharadze also added in this context that the only thing they have not done is start a war. Also, he argued that 99% of those people brought to the front stage and claimed to be the real Europeans are homosexuals. According to him, because 80% of the Georgian population supports joining the EU, “they” think we [Georgians] will also agree to depravity to achieve candidate status. He claimed that they are thinking of portraying depravity as a norm, and since the majority of Georgians consider Russia to be an enemy, they are trying to attach a pro-Russian label to the government and a European one for the “chickens”. According to Samkharadze, “if you condemn “pederasts”, they claim that you are pro-Russian, and by this, they are trying to create a complex for our nation so that we don't raise our voice against depravity. Samkharadze stated that he would not be surprised if a poll would be conducted on whether you are ready for your son, who should be your successor, to get married to another man in order to join the EU and whether you are ready to denounce your religion to join the EU. He concluded that in this case, the supporters of European integration would decrease from 80% to 5%.
  • On a different topic, during Qatar Economic Forum in Doha, Prime Minister Garibashvili called China’s mediation between Russia and Ukraine wise: “What China has been trying to do during this crisis [in Ukraine], I think this is a pretty wise move because China has been trying to mediate between Ukraine and Russia. I would welcome all efforts from any country, any leader who would encourage peace talks, who would mediate negotiations and try to do something, make some efforts to end this [war]. I am generally pro-peace, I am pro-state stability, and I am pro-negotiations”.

Propaganda against the EU questions the feasibility and profitability of Georgia’s EU integration, claims that integration bears high costs, such as accepting LGBT propaganda:

  • According to the pro-Russian Alt-Info, EU integration is perceived as a solution to Georgia’s problems, but in reality, society would have to pay for it and the cost would be the transformation of the state and society, i.e., forgetting our identity, values, culture and everything in order to become easily controllable, and also LGBT propaganda would be imposed on Georgia. This argument also suggested that despite high costs, following steps taken on the path of EU integration, Georgia still does not have any tangible benefits and is still waiting for an unknown date to become a member state, which will somehow magically transform Georgia, suggesting that the whole process if fruitless.
  • The EU was claimed to be under the influence and control of the US and the requests of the EU and CoE towards Georgia are actually coming from the US.
  • Pro-Russian Alt-Info’s host argued that 27 EU member states, not the Georgian people, sat down and agreed on 12 priorities. The host added that those that took such decision does not know anything regarding Georgia and Georgian politics and setting out those priorities was an example of Europe interfering in Georgia’s internal affairs. Aristianity.t er had anything in common with ties was an example of ge it with .n date to become a member state and nother propagandist claimed on Alt-Info that even if Georgia fulfils 12 thousand recommendations, Georgia still would not be admitted to the EU because Georgia is not fulfilling its geopolitical function, which is now opening a second front against Russia (according to Alt-Info, in other circumstances, this demand would have been engaging in war against Islamic states). 12 priorities were also framed as a strategy of fighting against Georgia and dragging Georgia into the war with Russia.
  • Another argument was that Europe does not need Georgia, it only needed Ukraine to make it fight against Russia.
  • Pro-Russian Sezoni TV’s notorious anchor stated that nobody is admitting Georgia to the EU, but even if the EU grants Georgia candidate status, there will be demands to conduct LGBT Pride and legalise same-sex marriage.
  • President Salome Zourabichvili was also named an agent of the West, particularly of France, who is helping the West to fulfil its anti-Georgian interests – opening a second front, fighting against Orthodox Church and forcing LGBT agenda.
  • Alt-Info also claimed that the EU and the US are not Georgia’s allies and have never been historically. Pro-Russian TV channel also stated that it is a lie that European family is Georgia’s historic choice because we never had anything in common with Europe except Christianity.
  • Pro-Russian Sezoni TV blamed the European Parliament for spreading lies about Georgia in order to damage the government that is pursuing national interests and change it with a government that would lack public support and would be depended on the support of the European Parliament; then MEPs would force the Georgian government to implement either their personal interests or interests of their respective countries, including economic interests, and force Georgia to start a war against Russia
  • According to a pro-Russian commentator, the EU’s prestige has been sabotaged by MEPs who are destroying the European ideas and ideas of the European Union. She also questioned the EU’s future amidst “very serious recessions” in Ireland and Germany, concluding that the EU is not bringing any benefits and being a part of it would not have any value.

Propaganda calls NATO a “graveyard of dreams”, suggests Georgia should stop NATO integration in order not to be punished like Ukraine:

  • According to a pro-Russian Sezoni TV, Ukraine has been doomed only due to its declared aspiration to join NATO. The so-called expert claimed that today the war is being fought between Russia and NATO and therefore, in order to dissuade Georgians from supporting NATO integration, she concluded that joining NATO equals joining the war against Russia. Apart from parroting Russian propaganda that Russia is fighting not against Ukraine but against NATO, she also disregarded recent case of NATO enlargement - accession of Finland to NATO, which, of course, did not end up with Finland being drawn into war, but resulted in boosting Finland’s security. Nevertheless, she suggested that she had always been a NATO-sceptic but today even talking about NATO would equal Georgia being dragged into the war, and hence, recommended to refrain from frequently mentioning NATO. The pro-Russian anchor added that NATO aspirations had already cost Georgia dearly – losing Abkhazia and Samachablo, i.e., Tskhinvali region, and now Ukraine had lost territories and gotten destroyed for NATO aspirations. However, he ignored the fact that the war in Abkhazia occurred in 1992-1993 when Georgia was not striving towards joining NATO, but Russia’s hostile interests towards Georgia was the same.
  • On another occasion Sezoni TV compared NATO to the “graveyard of dreams”. Pro-Russian anchor suggested that regardless of what Georgia would have done, we would not have been admitted to NATO and reiterated that due to NATO aspirations, Georgia lost South Ossetia/Samachablo, i.e., Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia. He argued that Georgia understood the reality towards NATO in 2008, but Ukraine did not. He also compared a favourite catchphrase of Georgian and NATO officials – “More NATO in Georgia [and more Georgia in NATO]” to “more dead bodies in Georgia”, “more Georgian women dressed in black”, “more death” and “more disaster” in Georgia. The anchor also argued that the US does not have the will/capacity to destroy Russia because even when the US was the only nuclear power, it did not dare to do so. Now that Russia is nuclear-armed, the US destroying Russia is out of the question. He then suggested that Georgia should learn a lesson from the abovementioned and from the fact that a country of 50 million, while being destroyed, is still denied NATO membership and stop the policy of NATO integration. He concluded that people promoting NATO accession are agents.

Propaganda on Russia’s war in Ukraine still claims that Russia will definitely win the war, airs various blames against Ukraine and the West:

  • Pro-Russian sources continued to unequivocally assert that it is inevitable that Russia will win the war and nothing will be left of Ukraine. Based on this propaganda argument, they asserted that the Georgian government should start negotiating with Russia. Propagandists claimed that if Georgia opposes visa-free regime and in general, good relations with Russia, Georgia will share the same fate as Ukraine – being bombed and completely destroyed, and only then will Europe accept Georgia amongst its ranks.
  • According to a pro-Russian “military expert”, Russia is still not using its regular army in Ukraine and is solely relying on Rosgvardia (National Guard of Russia) because the real war has not yet started. Another pro-Russian “military expert” suggested that Russia has not used 30% of its artillery ammunition and missiles in its “special military operation” yet, and does not require any assistance.
  • Historical revisionism and propaganda was also in place, claiming that both Ukrainian territories and population have been Russian throughout centuries.
  • A pro-Russian propagandist named the Ukrainian government (not the people) as the biggest enemy of Georgia nowadays for allegedly calling on Georgia to start a war and shed blood.
  • To overshadow historical good relations between Georgian and Ukrainian people, a pro-Russian anchor of Sezoni TV claimed that Ukraine has many sins and wrongdoings against Georgia, which according to him, are - acting against Stalin and the notorious Georgian-born NKVD (later renamed as KGB) chief Lavrentiy Beria, supporting ex-President Eduard Shevardnadze during Georgian civil war, sheltering officials of Georgia’s previous UNM government, laughing at Georgia in 2008, etc.
  • Ukrainian government was once again claimed to be acting under the West’s instructions when the government “destroyed its own country” and held a Pride March in the framework of LGBT propaganda. Another claim suggested that the US has hired Ukraine to destroy Russia – hence, it is the US-Russia war but on Ukraine’s territory.
  • According to another propagandist, Ukraine is given weapons to continue the war, but not enough to win the war because 1) the West is concerned that the war might spread beyond Ukraine and therefore, is not providing Ukraine with serious military equipment and leading technologies, and 2) the US is not interested in where the frontline in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions will be, but is only interested in prolonging the war to politically and economically destabilise Russia.
  • Pro-Russian propaganda stated that after bombing Nord Stream 2, Ukraine blew up the Kakhovka Dam and the longest ammonia pipeline of Togliatti-Odessa.

Propaganda against the US blames the US for inciting violence in Georgia and for seeking second front against Russia; personal attacks against the US ambassador Kelly Degnan continues:

  • Pro-Russian source Sezoni TV anchor claimed that Western agents promote violence, for instance, by offering US visas in exchange for throwing Molotov cocktails at the Parliament building. According to the same source, the US ambassador Kelly Degnan, alongside the EU ambassadors and local NGOs, is also controlling the police, Prosecutor’s Office, the courts and overall, Georgia has become a state or colony of the US because Georgia is doing everything that the US instructs like a slave, thus becoming Georgia’s most damaging enemy.
  • Sezoni TV’s pro-Russian host also argued that PM Garibashvili cannot start negotiations with Russia because the US army is present in Georgia in the form of media, gay agents, NGOs and opposition political parties. He claimed that Georgia is conquered in this sense, because it cannot do what it wants, however Russians understand this very well and approach the situation with awareness.
  • Pro-Russian sources also argued that in 1991-92 the US organised a revolution in Georgia with the hands of Russians, but now the US is working without such secrecy.
  • Pro-Russian sources claimed that the US wants to use Georgia as a geopolitical instrument and a cannon-fodder to open a second front against Russia in order to not let Russia have peace in its neighbourhood.
  • Personal attacks towards the US ambassador Kelly Degnan continued pro-Russian Alt-Info’s anchor stated that she is diplomatically weak since she is not an actual diplomat and was sent to Georgia as a viceroy.
  • The pollution of water of the Black Sea (as a result of the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam) has also been blamed on the West, which according to propaganda, is ready for anything to achieve its own economic, financial, political and geopolitical goals, ignoring other countries – and this time such irresponsible action has affected Georgia, as well.
  • The US courts’ independence has been questioned by pro-Russian platforms due to allegations that they are obeying President Biden and impeding Trump to return to power in 2024.

Russia-supporting propaganda wants Georgians to see Russia as a saviour, claims that only Russia can guarantee Georgia’s security and restore its territorial integrity:

In light of demonising the West, including by claiming that the West is imposing gay propaganda upon Georgia, stirring chaos in Georgia, trying to drag Georgia into the war and hampering the restoration of its territorial integrity, propaganda offered pro-Russian foreign policy as an alternative:

  • According to propaganda, Georgia has the strongest economic ties with Russia, and Russia does not have an alternative as a trading and economic partner - hence, Georgia should be careful not to damage this relationship. Based on this argument, anyone who opposes sorting out relations with Russia is enemy of Georgia.
  • Also, imposing sanctions on Russia was equated to rejecting the perspectives of restoring territorial integrity. Alt-Info’s commentator named “direct dialogue with Russia” as a solution – it is a former campaign slogan of pro-Russian political party Alliance of Patriots and in reality, envisaged dialogue with Russia on Moscow’s terms.
  • According to Alt-Info, it has been evident recently that Russia has necessity of many things that Georgia can have direct or indirect influence on – hence, instead of wasting efforts on fulfilling 12 priorities and trying to join NATO, Georgia should pursue correct policy and strive for good relations with Russia; According to Alt-Info’s commentator, as Russia is occupying Georgian territory and has military bases in Georgia, Georgia can only get security guarantees from Russia, and the keys to restoring territorial integrity is also in Russia, not in Brussels or Washington. Hence, he concluded that talking with Russia on these issues is vital.
  • Pro-Russian Sezoni TV promoted similar sentiments. According to its anchor, Georgia would be saved only by Russia as Russia has helped Georgia to overcome challenges in the past. He sympathised the model of the USSR when Georgia was free in its internal affairs. The anchor stated that he was travelling to Russia to celebrate 240 years of the Treaty of Georgievsk and called for a similar treaty to be signed with Russia today that would protect Georgia. He also claimed that the West cannot provide security for Georgia, as evident by the 2008 war, and only Russia can create a security umbrella for Georgia. This treaty was signed between the Russian Empire and the east Georgian kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti in 1783, which made eastern Georgia Russia’s protectorate and guaranteed its territorial integrity and the continuation of its reigning Bagrationi dynasty in return for prerogatives in the conduct of Georgian foreign affairs. But Russia violated the treaty and did not aid or defend Georgia against Persian invasion. It resulted in the sacking and destruction of the capital Tbilisi and the massacre and deportation of its population, despite desperate resistance of the numerically inferior Georgian army for three days. The Persian campaign had begun a month before and Georgian King Heraclius II had asked Russia for help and requested at least 3 thousand troops, but Russian help never came. A few years later, Russia used the treaty to its benefit and by violating its articles, annexed eastern Georgia.
  • Sezoni TV’s host additionally claimed that Georgia can only restore its territorial integrity while there is war in Ukraine because 1) Russia is in very difficult situation and needs support from other countries; 2) Also, according to him, the West is fighting against Georgia and Russia is fighting against the West, so Georgian and Russian interests converge; and 3) he added that both Georgia and Russia are protectors of Orthodox Christianity. In restoring territorial integrity, he did not only mean Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions but also Davit Gareji from Azerbaijan (a historical Christian monastery on the border of Azerbaijan that is still not demarked and causes tensions from time to time. Georgia Dream utilised the issue to declare the previous government as traitors during the 2020 election campaign). He added that Azerbaijan reclaimed territory from Armenia with the help of Russia.
  • Sezoni TV’s host actually went to Russia and called on ousting Coca-Cola and McDonald's, which is engaged in LGBT propaganda, from Georgia and instead bringing in Russian versions - “Dobry Cola” and “Vkusno i tochka”. From there, he also called on the Georgian government to choose the Belarussian way in relations with Russia, which, according to him, means good relations with Russia that guarantee welfare contrary to Ukraine’s NATO and the US-oriented foreign policy that led to destruction.
  • He also welcomed Russians in Georgia and claimed that the Americans are behind diversions against Russian tourists in Georgia.
  • In unison with Alt-Info and Sezoni TV, other pro-Russian sources also called on signing a treaty with Russia quickly because the US hegemony has already ended in Georgia. Propaganda argued that if Georgia does not conclude a treaty with Russia in a fast manner, Turkey will take over Georgia forever.

Sezoni TV also aired an interview with a member of Russia’s ruling United Russia (Единая Россия) political party, who has Georgian origins. In the aftermath of the failed coup in Russia, he stated that the West might be behind it, but it failed as Putin’s popularity stands at about 80%.