GRASS Disinfo Brief - December 6 – December 11

22 January, 2024
  • Pro-EU march “Your voice to the European Union!” held a week before the European Council’s decision
  • Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán’s threat to veto the launch of negotiations on Ukraine’s EU accession raises concerns in Georgia, the ruling party remains optimistic
  • Georgian Dream maintains harsh criticism towards political opponents, including with a hint on “global war party” conspiracy
  • Pro-Kremlin Propaganda asserts EU membership is unrealistic and dangerous for Georgia
  • According to pro-Russian propaganda, territorial integrity is impossible without good relations with Russia
  • Propaganda says Ukraine is controlled by the West but still losing war
  • US portrayed as an enemy of Georgia by pro-Russian propaganda

Pro-EU march “Your voice to the European Union!” held a week before the European Council’s decision

On December 9th, “Your Voice to the European Union!” march, a pro-EU event organized by local civil society organisations, was held in Tbilisi. The demonstration featured a display of a specially crafted, largest EU flag for the event, setting a record for its size. The march’s aim was to ensure once again that the voice of the Georgian people regarding the nation’s European future resonated across Europe a week before the European Council’s decision on Georgia’s candidate status. Although government representatives were absent, the march was joined by President Zourabichvili. “On December 9th, CSOs will hold a march which we will join to demonstrate Georgia’s Europeaness once again as we wait for a very important message from Europe, long live our European future,” stated the President.

  • Chairman of the Parliament, Shalva Papuashvili, stated that while the “radical opposition and some rich NGOs” are busy singing, sewing flags, conducting presentations, and doing other arbitrary things, the Georgian government is busy building a European Georgia, merit of which is the European Commission’s recommendation and the European Council’s awaited decision. According to Papuashvili, the European Commission’s positive assessment put the Georgian CSOs, which spend millions of dollars on useless work, in a deadlock. The ruling party invited the CSOs to working groups to do actual work, but they decided to do the opposite and undermine the parliament’s decisions.

Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán’s threat to veto the launch of negotiations on Ukraine’s EU accession raises concerns in Georgia, the ruling party remains optimistic

In a letter addressed to the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán demanded that Ukraine’s membership in the European Union and 50 billion euros in aid be taken out of the agenda of the European Council’s summit, underlining that both issues are doomed to fail. The letter suggests that Hungary will veto these issues as any country can block the Council’s decisions. The Hungarian Prime Minister insisted that a “strategic discussion” was needed first about Ukraine’s EU membership and warned that forcing a decision could destroy EU unity. Despite Victor Orbán’s October visit to Georgia, during which he voiced his full support for granting Georgia candidate status, concerns arose about Hungary stalling EU enlargement, ultimately damaging Georgia’s candidate status issue as well. Notwithstanding, the Georgian Dream members do not share this concern and remain positive that the European Council will decide to grant Georgia candidate status.

  • Headed by the Chairperson of the Georgian Dream, Irakli Kobakhidze, a delegation of Georgian Dream MPs held a four-day visit to Hungary last week. During the visit, Kobakhidze stated that the negotiations between the EU and Hungary will not affect Georgia as connecting Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova is invalid in this regard, evidenced by the fact that in 2022, the EU granted Ukraine and Moldova candidate status while it only granted Georgia a European perspective. The Chairperson of the ruling party once again reiterated that Hungary is a staunch supporter of the European Council making a decision in favor of Georgia. Therefore, it is artificial to connect the issue of Georgia with the negotiations that will take place around Ukraine. “We have faith that on December 14-15 we will receive a positive decision. Our discussion with our Hungarian partners strengthens this belief,” stated Kobakhidze.
  • Georgian Dream MP and Vice Speaker of the Parliament, Gia Volski, also part of the delegation visiting Hungary, stated that Hungary is a solid supporter of granting Georgia candidate status. According to the Vice Speaker, they established quite close positions on current processes in the world and attitudes towards several principled issues with Hungarian colleagues.
  • According to the Chairperson of the Parliament, Shalva Papuashvili, internal discussions within the EU do not change the European Commission’s positive recommendation on Georgia. Neither of the EU member states is voicing its concerns about Georgia’s further integration. Thus, the ruling party expects a positive outcome. Papuashvili repeated the argument that although Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova are part of the same enlargement package, Ukraine and Moldova were granted candidate status in 2022, while Georgia was not. Therefore, there are no hindrances for the European Council to grant Georgia candidate status.
  • Executive Secretary of the Georgian Dream, Mamuka Mdinaradze, asserted that Hungary is one of the main supporters of Georgia’s European integration, so it cannot have a negative European Council’s decision regarding Georgia. Moreover, Mdinaradze added that while some representatives of the Ukrainian government “did some things” in regard to Georgia, the Georgian government will keep supporting Ukraine’s next step towards European integration.
  • Georgian Dream MP and Vice Speaker of the Parliament Archil Talakvadze emphasised that based on the meetings that the Prime Minister, Chairperson of the Parliament, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Chairperson of the ruling party had, “Georgia has a green light to receive candidate status.” Therefore, discussions around Ukraine cannot block Georgia’s EU integration. According to Talakvadze, the Hungarian government and Viktor Orbán are firm supporters of Georgia and have previously stated that Georgia should be granted candidate status.

Georgian Dream maintains harsh criticism towards political opponents, including with a hint on “global war party” conspiracy

  • Irakli Kobakhidze stated that the European Council’s decision will dismantle the opposition’s message about the ruling party not doing enough to fulfill the 12 priorities set out by the European Commission. The ruling party did everything to make sure that Georgia received its deserved candidate status, while the opposition spared no effort during the past two years to prevent Georgia from attaining candidate status.
  • Secretary of the Georgian Dream and Mayor of Tbilisi, Kakha Kaladze, reiterated that the opposition’s main narrative is that Georgia should not receive candidate status. Throughout the years, the opposition did everything to hinder the visa-liberalisation process and the signing of the Association Agreement. According to Kaladze, by speculating on Viktor Orbán’s letter to Charles Michel, the opposition is attacking those who support Georgia’s integration into the EU, deliberately harming Georgia’s national interests in the process.
  • Shalva Papuashvili asserted that opposition figures are puppets manipulated by Mikheil Saakashvili and external forces. Consequently, instead of questioning the opposition representatives, scrutiny should be directed toward identifying those exerting control over them. The entities manipulating "the puppet opposition" seek to undermine Georgia's interests, having previously attempted to involve the country in a war and induce an economic collapse. Papuashvili emphasizes that the upcoming 2024 parliamentary elections will present the Georgian people with a distinct choice between the Georgian Dream, committed to advancing national interests, and an anti-Georgian coalition.

Separate attacks were directed towards President Zourabichvili, the United National Movement, and former Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Gakharia. President Zourabichvili was once again lambasted for continuing foreign visits, as she met with the President of the Czech Republic, Petr Pavel, during an official visit on December 11th. Moreover, the ruling party members speculated that the President might participate in the upcoming 2024 parliamentary elections but has no chance of success.

  • Irakli Kobakhidze suspects that Zourabichvili will resign two months before the parliamentary elections to participate in it. According to Kobakhidze, Zourabichvili has a low rating and will not be able to “contribute to strengthening the collective UNM before the elections.”
  • Papuashvili reiterated that by continuing foreign visits, Zourabichvili is grossly violating the Constitution and the decision of the Constitutional Court. According to Papushvili, despite former President Mikheil Saakashvili committing numerous crimes, he never openly violated the Constitutional Court's decision. It is a direct enmity of the Georgian state when the representative of a constitutional institution violates the Constitution not by accident, thoughtlessly, and ignorantly but knowingly and thoughtfully.
  • Mamuka Mdinaradze stated that Salome Zourabichvili very badly transformed from a president to a symbol of treason.
  • Member of the People’s Power movement, Gia Matcharashvili, stated that he is in favor of Zourabichvili becoming the leader of the united opposition, as it will be a final headshot for the opposition. According to Matcharashvili, Salome Zourabichvili cannot even understand the functions of the President as she violated the constitution. Therefore, she will cause even more chaos on the opposition spectrum.

Nika Melia parted ways with the United National Movement and announced his plan to establish a new political party. Some United National Movement members, including city council members around the country, followed his lead. Georgian Dream members commented on the developments around the United National Movement.

  • Irakli Kobakhidze stated that during its time in the government and the opposition, the United National Movement acted as the main hindrance to Georgia’s development. Therefore, the party's dissolution is important to ultimately form a healthy political party system in Georgia.
  • Kobakhidze also commented on Nika Melia’s departure from the United National Movement, emphasising that he has no prospect in Georgian politics. However, it is good that he might be able to take away 1% of the votes from the United National Movemen
  • Vice Speaker of the Parliament Archil Talakvadze assessed Nika Melia as an dishonest politician. He has publicly stated that he would not pay the fine issued by the police, but ultimately paid it; said he would not enter the parliament and ended up doing it; announced he would not leave the United National Movement, but left it. According to Talakvadze, Nika Melia’s exit from the party was an escape from “a party that is doomed for catastrophe.”
  • Georgian Dream MP Aluda Ghudushauri stated that Nika Melia is an unprincipled person who has broken his word and acted in an undignified manner many times in the past. According to Ghudushauri, Melia was “thrown out of the United National Movement” and has no chance of establishing a serious political force.

Former Prime Minister and leader of the For Georgia party, Giorgi Gakharia, was also targeted after he stated that the benefits of Georgia’s economic growth go into the pockets of only 20-25 families.

  • According to Irakli Kobakhidze, the country’s economy grew from $16 billion to $30 billion in the last three years. Therefore, when a former Minister of Economy says that $14 billion growth only goes into the pockets of 20-25 families, it is a shameful lie. Kobakhidze underlined that in recent years, Giorgi Gakharia has become used to telling lies.
  • Shalva Papuashvili stated that Giorgi Gakharia chose the path of treason. After you cross this line, accusations, lies, and disinformation become simpler to propagate. Furthermore, Papuashvili highlights the irony of a person who, having occupied diverse prominent positions within the government for an extended period, now speaks on economic matters—a stance he deems as hypocrisy.
  • Mamuka Mdinaradze stated that “a person who resigned for the sake of the United National Movement” is now accusing the ruling party members of taking money from the state budget. Mdinaradze speculated that, as it turns out, Gakharia was an unprincipled person even when he was one of the leaders of the ruling party, but he acted as if he were a person with dignity.

Pro-Kremlin Propaganda asserts EU membership is unrealistic and dangerous for Georgia

  • Leader of Alt Info and the Conservative Movement, Konstantine Morgoshia, had a live broadcast on his Facebook page from Moscow, where he voiced several anti-EU, pro-Russian narratives. According to Morgoshia, candidate status is not significant and does not mean that Georgia will become a member of the EU, as evidenced by the fact that Turkey has had candidate status for decades but never became a member. EU membership is a lie that has been fed to the Georgian people for the last thirty years. Russia will never allow the EU and NATO to enlarge into its neighborhood, and as Morgoshia put it, “Russia will break NATO’s open door on Georgia’s head.” Russia might issue an ultimatum to Georgia as it did with Ukraine, and as events in Ukraine show, aspirations of Western integration will destroy Georgia. The West prepared Ukraine for war in 2014, but it is still losing against Russia; in this context, Georgia has no chance against Russia.
  • Moreover, Morgoshia described the situation in Moscow and underlined that international sanctions have not damaged the Russian economy; it is still successfully replenishing its supplies and fuelling the war effort. Finally, the propagandist stated that the Conservative Movement is the only political power that consistently expresses the will of the majority of Georgia’s population by protecting the homeland, its dignity, and traditions. “The ultraliberals” are scared of the people present during the July 5th, 2021, and July 8th, 2023 “demonstrations”, which is why they could not incite a revolution and open a second front in Georgia.
  • Several narratives were propagated on Alt Info’s broadcasts. A propagandist asserted that Georgia had become a geopolitical tool for the West as it attempted to open a second front against Russia in Georgia. The same propagandist stated in the West, people who come out against perversion and pedophilia are labeled as extremists while they attempt to shove the LGBTQI+ propaganda down the throats of the people.
  • A propagandist on the same Alt Info broadcast stated that certain political powers are trying to smear the only protector of traditional, conservative values in the EU – Hungary. Hungary and its Prime Minister disagree with identity politics and LGBTQI+ propaganda as it attempts to retain some sense of sovereignty within the EU.
  • Another propagandist argued that Georgia has surrendered its sovereignty to the EU and the collective West as government representatives openly talk about how they govern the country based on EU directives.
  • Within the framework of the "Orange campaign" against violence, an informational meeting was held with the senior students of public schools in Rustavi at the initiative of the "Georgian Dream" women's organization. The meeting aimed to raise awareness among young people about gender-based violence, femicide, and cyberbullying. Commenting on this event, a propagandist on Alt Info assessed such information meetings as a Western demand which aims to instil anti-national values in Georgian children and erode the Georgian identity.
  • A member of the Conservative Movement underlined that Alt Info’s success points to the fact that the Georgian people realised how European integration is a myth used to utilise Georgia as a geopolitical tool.
  • An article published on pro-Russian “GeWorld” argues that the Eastern part of Germany, a former socialist democratic republic, which was granted to Western Germany by Mikhail Gorbachev, is experiencing social discrimination as employees in Eastern Germany get paid far less than employees in Western Germany. Based on this statistic, the article suggests that Georgia will get a far worse deal if it becomes a member of the EU. The socio-economic situation will not improve, but Georgia will find itself in the captivity of European bureaucracy and discriminatory wages.
  • A prominent pro-Russian propagandist, Valeri Kvaratskhelia, also published an article on “GeWorld,” where he claimed that Abkhazians have a Caucasian mentality. Therefore, they will never want to reintegrate with a country that has laws such as the Law on Anti-Discrimination. According to the propagandist, such “malign laws” are demanded by the EU and the US.
  • A pro-Russian propagandist published an article on “GeWorld,” arguing that the EU will “throw candidate status to Georgia like a hollow bone,” which will be followed by endless discussions about priorities being fulfilled or not. The EU will play Georgia like a fiddle, as it played Turkey for 25 years. The article also responded to the pro-EU march held on December 9th, which saw the largest EU flag unfurled. According to the article, it is already evident that Georgia will receive candidate status, and participants of the pro-EU march wanted to take credit for it by displaying a record-breaking EU flag. No matter how big of a flag is displayed, if the EU does not want to grant Georgia candidate status – it will not. Georgia’s candidate status depends on what the West wants; Georgia’s wishes are completely ignored.
  • A social media profile that repeatedly shares pro-Russian propaganda and disinformation published a photo depicting a swastika on an EU flag. The post also states that Georgia should not become a part of “fascist Europe” as it will make Georgia lose its identity. Additionally, according to the post, neither the government nor the opposition discuss the socio-economic benefits of EU membership.
  • Another social media post depicts LGBTQI+ pride events in Europe; the background sound is ironically extracted from a pro-European social advertisement that underlines how Georgian values and identity are fundamentally European. The post aims to discredit the fact that Georgian and European values are compatible.

According to pro-Russian propaganda, territorial integrity is impossible without good relations with Russia

  • A video of prominent pro-Russian propagandist Levan Vasadze was shared on social media, where he rebukes the Georgian Dream for fearing the reaction of liberals and not attempting to normalise relations with Russia despite a readiness for it in Moscow. According to Vasadze, Georgia has a golden opportunity to start negotiations with Russia about its occupied territories. Liberal atheists do not care whether or not Georgia regains control over its lost territories, while real patriots want to reintegrate Abkhazia and Tskhivnali. Every politician who is against direct talks with Russia, as well as the Abkhazians and Ossetians, is a traitor and harms the Georgian interests.
  • Sezoni TV anchor and pro-Russian propagandist Nikoloz Mzhavanadze stated that in case Russia dissolves, Georgia will not be able to regain control over currently occupied territories as Turkey and other neighbouring countries will not allow it. Moreover, Adjara is currently under Georgian control because of Russia; as soon as Russia weakens, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will occupy Batumi.
  • A propagandist on Sezoni TV stated that Russia receives billions of dollars from Europe in exchange for oil and gas. The international sanctions damaged EU member states more than they did Russia, as they failed to find alternative energy sources, while Russia quickly continued to sell its resources to India, China, and Brazil.
  • An article published on pro-Russian “GeWorld” suggested that until Georgia continues its erroneous foreign policy and refuses to join the 3+3 international format, creeping occupation will continue.
  • A social media post suggests that Georgia has only two choices – alignment with Russia or alignment with the West, with the latter resulting in the destruction of Georgia.
  • A social media profile affiliated with Alt Info posted a video where the propagandist stated that Russia outlawed LGBT propaganda and “the international LGBTQI+ movement”, while the US and the EU declare groups such as Alt Info, dedicated to protecting traditional values, as extremists. One side outlaws LGBTQI+ propaganda, the other allows and propagates it, and according to the propagandist, Russian law is preferable.

Propaganda says Ukraine is controlled by the West but still losing war

  • A social media page called “Agents”, dedicated to discrediting pro-Western, anti-governmental groups, uploaded a video collage making fun of opposition party members and pro-Ukrainian analysts saying that Ukraine is winning the war.
  • A propagandist on Alt Info argued that Ukraine is losing the war against Russia, and it is becoming clear that Western military and financial aid is futile because the West’s plan to use Ukraine to weaken Russia has practically become impossible to achieve.
  • A member of the Conservative Movement claimed that Russia offered Ukraine to recognise Crimea as a part of Russia in exchange for control over Donetsk and Luhansk, but the Ukrainians refused because of Western pressure. Now, Ukraine is facing the threat of losing the whole of eastern Ukraine.
  • Another propagandist propagated a conspiracy that the West tested Ukraine’s obedience before inciting a conflict by pressuring it to hold LGBTQI+ pride events. After Ukraine complied, the Western powers were assured that Kyiv would be obedient enough to be utilised as a weapon against Russia. The propagandist effectively announced LGBTQI+ pride as a determinant of the ongoing war in Ukraine. According to the narrative, if LGBTQI+ pride events were held in Georgia in the last years, the West would utilise Georgia and pressure it to start a war against Russia as well, but thanks to the violent counter-demonstrations that prevented pride events from taking place on July 5th, 2021 and July 8th, 2023, the war was averted.
  • According to another narrative, which is factually incorrect, Moldova and Georgia did not receive candidate status by the EU in 2022 (Moldova indeed did), but Ukraine did receive it because it was sacrificing its citizens for Western interests.
  • anchor on Alt Info’s broadcast argued that providing military and financial aid is not beneficial for the West nor Ukraine as it only prolongs the war and suffering of the Ukrainian citizens. Ukraine has no chance of defeating a nuclear power, especially when the war is taking place near its borders.
  • A propagandist on Sezoni TV claimed that 99% of Ukrainian refugees do not want to return to their homeland, which is an indicator that Ukrainian people have turned into nomads. Simultaneously, the propagandist spread disinformation as if Zelenskyy stated that Ukraine would no longer be the same after the war and a new Israeli state would be established on Ukrainian territory (see FactCheck Georgia’s article).
  • Another propagandist on Sezoni TV blamed Zelenskyy and his government for destroying Ukraine and its population.

US portrayed as an enemy of Georgia by propaganda

  • Member of the People’s Power Movement, Davit Kartvelishvili published a post on his social media page where he asserts that Executive Director of the McCain Institute, Evelyn Farkas, is an enemy of Georgia who was encouraging the Georgian government to start hostilities against Putin’s occupational forces because the Americans have properly trained the Georgian army and the West would provide necessary assistance. Kartvelishvili claimed that in September 2023, Evelyn Farkas said that it was time for the Georgian people to stand up to Putin and that this historic chance should not be missed. According to the People’s Power member, everyone who supports these kinds of plans are co-signers and co-organisers of the destruction of Georgia. In the post, Kartvelishvili is referring to an interview that Evelyn Farkas gave to Radio Liberty, where she neither directly nor indirectly suggested that Georgia should start a war against Russia (See FactCheck Georgia’s article).
  • A propagandist on Alt Info stated that through financing CSOs, the US is destroying Georgian national identity and traditions while forcing Georgian society to allow LGBTQI+ pride to take place.
  • Sezoni TV propagandist Nikoloz Mzhavanadze claimed that the US is an ally of specific opposition political powers, not the Georgian people. The Americans are only interested in working with opposition parties because they are under US influence. Mzhavanadze also expressed disappointment towards the ruling party because, despite the West pressuring the Georgian government to open a second front, Georgian Dream members keep obeying their orders.
  • Another propagandist on Sezoni TV stated that the US is planning to overthrow the Georgian government. Moreover, according to the narrative, the 1991 civil war and the 2003 Rose Revolution were executed coups planned by the US government. The same propagandist accused the US and the EU of pressuring the Georgian government to open a second front.
  • A different narrative voice on Sezoni TV suggested that the US financially benefits from inciting a conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
  • An article on pro-Russian “GeWorld” argued that USAID positions itself as a supporter of Georgia, but in reality, it is a debt trap, and it never benefited the Georgian people. USAID does not finance infrastructure, education, healthcare, or culture; it only finances “LGBTQI+ propagandists and mechanisms to perverse the younger generation.” Additionally, the article besmirches the Freedom House organization, which, according to the article, unapologetically interferes in the domestic affairs of other states and is a direct instrument for the implementation of American ideas.
  • Another article on “GeWorld” argued that if European fascism was destroying the world in the twentieth century, American “liberal-fascism” is planning to do the same in contemporary times. The US is spreading its influence by staging colour revolutions and coups around the world, with Georgia being one of the “beneficiaries” of this plan.