GRASS Disinfo Brief 20-26 March

05 April, 2023

Georgian Dream Escalates “Second Front” Conspiracy

As it has become a custom for already more than a year, when the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party finds itself in a difficult situation, their leaders turn to the “second front” conspiracy for help in order to discredit the critics and divert attention from the problems:

  • Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili in his address to the parliament re-affirmed that the reason Saakashvili came to Georgia [in October 2021] was to prepare the ground to start the war in Georgia, however, this plan has been foiled and our internal and external enemies have lost. In particular, he argued that “The former president, Mikheil Saakashvili, who entered illegally and sneaked in, had an only goal, with his naïve calculations, to organise a second revolution. [According to the plan,] There should have been a revolution, bloodshed, violent overthrow of the government, and disruption of the elections. This period coincides exactly with the period when we remember very well, the talks had already started, and we also had other information from our partners that the war in Ukraine was expected to start in November or December, which was delayed by several months due to the ongoing communication between Russia and the West. This period directly coincides with the entry of Saakashvili and his intention to overthrow the government, to organise a coup d’état and a revolution. If we connect this with the declared goal and actions of the Ukrainian authorities a few months later to open a "second front" in Georgia, I think that no reasonable person will have any more questions. Of course, the purpose of Saakashvili's arrival was to prepare the ground for war to start in Georgia.”
  • GD leaders have engaged in efforts to coin the term “Ukranisation” for fearmongering purposes. Prime Minister stated that “since the start of the war and even before there have been numerous attempts of opening the second front in Georgia and dragging Georgia into the war.“ He claimed that this was the declared desire of Ukraine and particularly its secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov. According to the PM, “the real threat to our country is the plan, the conspiracy that exists against our country, the so-called Ukrainisation plan and the plan of opening the second polygon, the second front.” He added that “unfortunately, the goal announced by the Ukrainian authorities [to open a second front in Georgia] is directly correlated with the goals of the fifth column, their intentions and plans.”
  • Chairman of the Georgian Dream party and Leader of the parliamentary majority, Irakli Kobakhidze, stated that “unfortunately, with the help of Ukraine, Mikheil Saakashvili was put in a container and sent to us to destabilise the situation with the aim of Ukranisation of Georgia… fortunately, the Ukrainisation plan has failed, and the government played a decisive role in this”.
  • Prime Minister also linked the “second front” conspiracy to Ukraine’s pending counteroffensive. According to him, no patriotic and national interest-driven political force will try to overthrow the government amidst the crisis in the region and the Russian occupation of 20% of Georgian territories. However, according to him, this plan has also failed and their enemies have lost, but still, the plan remains: “even today, unfortunately, there are forces that believe that attention needs to be diverted in order to compensate and give Ukraine more time to rebuild and counterattack. Georgia remains such a place, and so does Moldova. Therefore, today, the threat of hostile forces inside and outside the country bringing the war to the country, trying to destabilise it, has not gone anywhere and this threat remains a threat!”. He also warned Georgia’s internal and external enemies that the government is well aware of the plans for the Ukranisation of Georgia and therefore, Georgian special services are working very well, thwarting 4 attempts of destabilisation and dragging Georgia into the war in just two years.
  • According to the PM, the opposition is engaged in hostile actions against the country by advocating against Georgia to be left behind in the Euro-integration process and the opposition has also involved bribed corrupt lobbyists and several MEPs in this process. Garibashvili accused the opposition of not being willing to depolarise, but on the contrary, trying to destabilise the country and being part of the conspiracy. He claimed that the most pressing security challenge is the actions of the “fifth column” in Georgia, referring to the opposition and that they will do everything not to let the “fifth column” achieve its goals: “The goal of the “fifth column” in Georgia is to destroy the country, drag it into the war. You have already destroyed this country once and we will not let you to do it again.”
  • Irakli Kobakhidze stated that soon after the start of the war in Ukraine, NGO and media representatives held a meeting outside Tbilisi, in Bakuriani and conspired to destabilise the situation and overthrow the government with the overarching aim to open a second front in Georgia. He also claimed that all of those present at the meeting were agents of foreign influence. Even though, GD was forced to withdraw its “foreign agents bill”, rhetorically they are still trying to label NGOs as such.
  • Head of the parliamentary faction of Georgian Dream (GD) Mamuka Mdinaradze stated, while defending the controversial withdrawn so-called “foreign agents bill”, that “for a year this country has been walking on a tightrope. The government has been trying for a year to repel those attacks, the ultimate goal of which is somehow to turn this country into a war zone.” He added that this was a truth and a “fraud of the century has been developing around this issue.” He also claimed that the radical opposition and its supporters are trying to push the government from the aforementioned tightrope, but, according to him, whatever the recommendations from the United National Movement (UNM) or the lobbyists (GD leaders usually refer to MEPs critical of GD as lobbyist of the UNM), Georgia will not join the war. He further argued that those who want punish Georgia via punishing the GD, are the people who cannot stand with the fact that decision regarding Georgia is being taken in Georgia. He concluded that if they have taken into account the recommendations of the radical opposition and the others, it would only take “exactly two-three weeks” for “Russian tanks to be standing in Tbilisi”.
  • First Deputy Speaker of the parliament, Gia Volski, stated that for the opposition “the main thing is to retain the regime of polarisation, destabilise the situation and gain political dividends, with the main topic still being dragging [Georgia] into the war, something they are no longer hiding.”

GD Leaders Against MEPs:

  • According to the PM, European Parliament adopted another “shameful resolution” a few weeks ago regarding ex-president Saakashvili and claimed that several MEPs are in line with the goals and objectives of the destructive force (highly likely referring to the opposition, in particular to the United National Movement).
  • MP Irakli Zarkua argued that several MEPs, including Andrius Kubilius, Anna Fotyga, Rasa Juknevičienė, Markéta Gregorová are not friends of Georgia, but are paid lobbyists of the United National Movement.
  • MP Irakli Chikovani stated that they will have disagreements with Georgian MPs, foreign MPs and MEPs, who consider Saakashvili as “light” and everything else as “darkness”.

Propaganda regarding Russia’s war in Ukraine, Russian Propaganda Hails Georgian Fighting for Russia, Displays Him as a Role Model:

  • Director of the pro-Russian NGO Eurasian Institute and founder of the Georgian Immortal Regiment (Georgia analogue of Russia’s Immortal Regimen) – Gulbaat Rtskhiladze – published an article in the pro-Russian newspaper Georgia and the World headlined “Every Georgian Must Be Proud of Givi’s Behaviour!” So, the question is – what has this mysterious Givi done to be a role model and subject of pride for each Georgian? – The answer is: nothing to be proud of – he went as a volunteer to fight in the Russian army in Bakhmut, Ukraine. According to Rtskhiladze, as several hundred Georgians are fighting on the side of the fascist Kyiv regime, most of them for money but some for ideas, and that fact is well-publicised, he desired to see Georgian volunteers on the Russian side, as well. Rtskhiladze claimed that Givi was asking him continuously to help him get to Russia to join the Russian army, but he was declining; however, finally a “serious civil organisation” appeared in Moscow that helped him get into the Russian armed forces and he was greeted with surprise, happiness, and delight by all of the Russians.
    Apart from the threat of using this case for propaganda purpose and indirectly encouraging Georgians to join the Russian army, this situation also requires further monitoring as it was publicly stated that certain Russian NGO has helped the recruitment of Georgia’s citizen into the Russian armed forces.
  • Pro-Russian propaganda channel also discussed that there are attempts of dragging Georgia and other countries of the region and even the Central Asian region into the war with Russia. According to the propaganda, in the context of upcoming fierce battles in April in Ukraine, mainly around Bakhmut, it is vital for the West Georgia and the South Caucasus to join the war. According to disinformation, dragging Georgia and the South Caucasus into the war is a strategic task, and the visit of James Heappey, Minister of State for the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom, the forthcoming appointment of Robin Dunnigan as new US Ambassador to Georgia and other events should be viewed in this context.
  • Pro-Russian propaganda also claimed that radicals in Georgia want to open a second front in Georgia.
  • Pro-Russian propaganda commented on the phone talks between Zelenskyy and Xi Jinping claiming that Ukraine’s positioning is not depended on the President and his team, but on what instructions will they get from the West.

Propaganda messages against the EU:

  • As propaganda claims, due to EU’s demands Georgia adopted anti-discrimination law and juvenile law/children’s code, implemented the policy of cohabitation [with the opposition], liberalised drug policy, allowed the creation of political party Girchi that fights against the church, perpetrators were released from prison, and now the EU further demands legalising same-sex marriage, granting the right to gay people to adopt children, granting the right to the LGBT community to work in the public sector, accepting pedophiles in the society and many other disastrous laws that aim to make our nation extinct. The EU was also accused of demanding Georgia to adopt Sodomy and fight against Russia. According to propaganda, the EU is endangering Georgia with its demands on its way of becoming a member state but still not accepting Georgia into the EU.

Propaganda concerning the EU’s 12 priorities:

  • While Georgia needs help from international partners, the EU instead of supporting Georgia has envisaged 12 priorities to fulfil and will add further 21 more conditions if helping Georgia will still not be in the EU’s interest.
  • The 12-point plan is actually a leverage to pressure Georgia’s government and inspire chaos. This was tested during 7-8 March. Some of these priorities are practically impossible to fulfil because the they are not measurable. The 12-point plan is not to reduce tensions or solve something in Georgia but is a mechanism to escalate the conflict whenever they desire.
  • 12 priorities go against Christian beliefs and therefore, it must be dropped.
  • In the view of anti-Western sources, in its request of objective justice system the West means a fully controlled justice system. According to propaganda, this was evident in a recent decision of judge who ruled against the anti-EU activist accused of an assault on a journalist.
  • The EU is a worsened version of the Soviet Union.
  • Joining the EU and NATO and a good life in Europe equals selling your soul and moral, losing traditions and beliefs. Joining NATO was also claimed to be conditioned on the US ambassador governing Georgia, as it is happening today and Georgia becoming the territorial addition of Turkey. Propaganda also claimed that many states have not benefited from joining the EU – England has left, Greece has bankrupted and Portugal, Spain and Italy are also in the queue of bankruptcy, France is burning due to angry people, Hungary will soon leave the EU, middle class no longer exist in Europe and Baltic countries have been emptied of youth due to unemployment and expensive living costs, Lithuania and Latvia are amongst the top countries with suicide rate, Greece is in NATO but still was not able to solve the territorial problem. This propaganda piece added that if Georgia did not strive for NATO accession, there would not have been a war with Russia.
  • Georgia needed the West to help in solving its problems, but the West is using Georgia for its own interests.
  • Europe and EU benefits are dangerous for Georgia, first of all, due to ideological reasons as Europe would demand Georgia to adopt LGBT laws and fight against church and traditions.
  • The West gave the Georgian opposition a carte blanch for instigating destabilisation as evident from the statement of the French Foreign Minister regarding discussing sanctions in response to destabilisation in Georgia.
  • Following German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s critical statement regarding the attempt of change of Georgian foreign policy vector, pro-government propaganda media published a comment of a Georgian a physicist and pro-government commentator claiming that Annalena Baerbock is incompetent and due to that she was chosen by the US to work to the detriment of Germany and Europe.Propaganda Targets Special Investigation Service.

Propaganda Targets Special Investigation Service:

  • Pro-Russian propaganda claimed that the Georgian Dream created the Special Investigation Service (it was formed after the dissolution of the State Inspector Service) which is not subordinate to the Ministry of Interior, police or Prosecutor’s office but is a separate agency similar to the Public Defender’s Office but with more leverages. According to propagandists, the head of the agency is reporting to foreign diplomats and NGOs. Special Investigation Service was described as a punitive body with the aim to terrorise the country, in particular, the nationalist flank in order to make Georgia a liberal country. Propagandists argued that if Public Defender’s Office was a body to defend liberals, Special Investigation Service was a punitive body in the hands of the West as it even started investigating cases against the policemen for their actions during the 7-8 March events.
  • Propaganda also stated that the abbreviation of the agency [in Georgian language] would be SSS and it is a similar and even worse punitive agency compared to the fascists SS (but one more S is added) which operated in Germany.

Propaganda against the US:

A pro-Russian Sezoni TV devoted a talk show to anti-US propaganda. The anchor and the respondent made several claims, such as:

  • The current war is not between Ukraine and Russia because if it had been so, it would have already ended, but the war is between NATO and Russia and the US and Russia.
  • If Trump is arrested this will hasten the demolition of centres of globalism in the US because the US is already on the brink of a civil war.
  • The US drone [that was downed recently over the Black Sea due to the Russian fighter jet confronting it] landed on the route of the pipeline by which Turkey receives gas from Russia, meaning that the US wanted to blow it up.
  • The US is prohibiting Georgia to engage in relations with Russia, Iran, and China while financing Sodomites and “grant-eaters” (referring to the NGOs) in Georgia.
  • The US is only supporting its slaves who are spreading dirty ideology of sexual LGBT propaganda in Georgia.
  • The US is even fighting tourism, essential for Georgia’s economy, and as soon as tourism increases in Georgia and small businesses start working, the US is activating its leverages to destroy this. The reason for such action is that the US does not need a free and economically strong Georgia, but needs Georgia as a slave and gives $90 million to its agent network to destroy the Georgian economy, politics, fight the Patriarchate, our faith, and family traditions. The US only needs Georgian territory to deploy military bases, not to help Georgia or support in developing culture.
  • The US stopped the project from Saudi Arabia to build a water processing plant in Georgia and then to export water to the Arab countries which would have increased pensions in Georgia significantly and increased people’s income.

Attention, Moscow is Speaking - Russian Disinformation on Facebook and Instagram

  • During the week of 20-26 March, after China’s Xi Jinping visited Moscow, pro-Kremlin social media pages started circulating a false story, according to which, the White House Press Secretary John Kirby said that the United States will not allow Ukraine to accept any peace initiatives to end the war proposed by the Chinese delegation during a visit to Moscow. This FactCheck Georgia article explains how Kirby’s words were distorted.

  • And lastly, a long-existing Russian disinformation narrative on Zelensky being a drug-addict was, like in the previous week, spread on social media by Russian-language Facebook users – this time, featuring a 2018 modern art installation of nose-shaped vacuum cleaner.