GRASS Disinfo Brief - October 2nd – October 9th

Screenshot 2023-10-12 171142.png
13 October, 2023
  • The Chairman of the Parliament attacks GRASS in an attempt to shift blame onto NGOs in the event Georgia is not granted EU candidate status
  • After State Security Service of Georgia’s preannouncement of an attempted coup, GD amends the Law on Assemblies and Manifestations, says it won’t allow “a bloody revolution”
  • Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel utilised by pro-Russian propaganda to discredit West
  • “Anti-Maidan Movement” established by pro-Russian Alt Info reinforces a narrative that the West through the hands of NGOs plans to incite a coup in Georgia
  • SSSG’s statement about USAID-funded “training on overthrowing the government” fuels anti-US propaganda
  • Propaganda depicts Moscow as a guarantor of security, stability and territorial integrity for Georgia

The Chairman of the Parliament attacks GRASS in an attempt to shift blame onto NGOs in the event Georgia is not granted EU candidate status

On October 5th, Sergi Kapanadze, GRASS’s founder and board chair (Georgia’s Reforms Associates), published a personal opinion piece about the conditions that should be mandated for Georgia’s future EU integration. GRASS is also part of a group of Georgian NGOs that monitors the state of implementation of 12 conditionalities, titled "EU Candidacy Check". The report has often become a target of the ruling party’s absurd accusations that Georgian NGOs want to sabotage Georgia’s candidate status.

On September 6th, Chairman of the Parliament Shalva Papuashvili attacked GRASS by stating that the organisation is an extension of the United National Movement, which advises the EU to grant candidate status to Georgia only if the government releases former President Mikheil Saakashvili and imposes sanctions on Russia.

The official position of GRASS regarding the process of Georgia’s integration into the European Union and the granting of candidate status is clearly reflected in the “EU Candidacy Check” and in the letter sent to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on September 18th, in which GRASS once again asked the President of the European Commission to support the granting of candidate status to Georgia. Despite the clarifying statement made by GRASS, the Chairman of the Parliament continued his polarising rhetoric and again falsely accused the organisation of attempting to engage Georgia in a military confrontation with Russia and risk economic collapse, calling on other NGOs to openly voice their disagreement with the conclusions made in the “EU Candidacy Check”. GRASS responded once again and called on the Chairman to change his harmful and polarising rhetoric and take tangible steps to start substantive discussions with all interested parties, including civil society, to achieve the common goal of joining the EU.

After the State Security Service of Georgia’s preannouncement of an attempted coup, GD amends the Law on Assemblies and Manifestations, says it won’t allow “a bloody revolution”

The SSSG’s initial statement, which warns about a plot to overthrow the government in Georgia, outlined a scheme involving the erection of tents in the city centre by protesters. According to the statement, the coup organisers intend to detonate a bomb within one of these tents to incite public outrage, potentially sparking a violent revolution. On September 30, the ruling party introduced amendments to the Law on Assemblies and Manifestations, swiftly passing them into law on October 5th. These amendments prohibit participants in protests and demonstrations from erecting temporary structures if it: - poses a threat to the participants of the gathering or others; prevents the protection of public order and security by the police; disrupts the normal functioning of businesses, institutions or organisations; is not related to the gathering or demonstration. In addition, "in order to avoid distortion of the appearance public spaces", participants of the assembly or demonstration cannot set up a temporary structure if it is not necessary for the proper functioning of the event. Violating these new prohibitive norms will result in confiscation of the object of the offence and either a fine of 500 GEL or administrative imprisonment for up to 15 days. If the offender is an organiser of the demonstration – the temporary object will be confiscated and either fined 5000 GEL or administratively imprisoned for up to 15 days. President Zourabichvili announced that she will veto the law, while the Public Defender stated that the law interferes with freedom of expression and assembly.

  • Irakli Kobakhidze, the Chairman of GD, expressed deep concern over the response from the US embassy, finding it deeply unsettling. He noted that the US embassy did not explicitly distance itself from any involvement in preparations for a revolution. The Georgian people want to maintain peace and avoid the upheaval that revolutions can bring, as seen in Ukraine. The Georgian society expects the US embassy to have a different position and to clarify that they will not support revolutionary processes. The US embassy's statement was shocking and insulting to Georgian society. According to Kobakhidze, when concrete evidence is presented by the SSSG showing that USAID funded a training session on preparing a revolution, it should strictly condemn it. On a separate occasion, Kobakhidze stated that Georgia will protect its sovereignty and proceed with caution to prevent the “Ukrainisation” of Georgia, which according to him, means revolution, chaos, and a second front.
  • Chairman of the Parliament, Shalva Papuashvili, thanked foreign actors for not getting involved in the discussions around the amendments in the Law on Assemblies and Manifestations. Papuashvili stated that foreign actors actively played a role in branding the law on Foreign Agents as a Russian law, which was false and resulted in violent demonstrations and radicalism on March 7-8th. This time, the amendments did not lead to radicalism because foreign actors respected Georgian internal politics and conducted themselves constructively, the chairman said. They only ruffled the feathers of the United National Movement and the “fake NGOs”. Addressing the concerns related to USAID, the Chairman of the Parliament recalled the 2020 elections. He pointed out that ISFED, a recipient of USAID funding, had initially released inaccurate results from their parallel vote counting. Before ISFED publicly acknowledged these results as mistakes, protests about election rigging were taking place, fueled in part by the PVT results. According to Papuashvili, USAID had information about the results being incorrect but did not make a statement despite the violent protests taking place at the time. According to Papuashvili, USAID has yet to provide clarification on this issue.
  • GD MP Mamuka Mdinaradze, while commenting on the amendments in the Law on Assemblies and Manifestations, stated that the SSSG’s initial statement about a plot to incite a revolution is seemingly true, confirmed by the USAID-funded training. Mdinaradze suggested that the SSSG’s statement about a plan to detonate a bomb in protest tents is also credible. Therefore, the ruling party is obliged to prevent this both at the legislative and practical levels. Anyone opposed to the amendments is an accomplice in the revolutionary plans to kill people and gain political benefits. According to Mdinaradze, the Georgian state will not allow a violent and bloody revolution. After someone asked why the SSSG did not arrest anyone for the USAID-funded training, Mdinaradze explained that they took no specific action following the training session, which only involved verbal communication. If the investigative bodies detect actions aimed at preparing for a revolution, they will act accordingly.
  • Kakha Kaladze, the Secretary General of the GD and Tbilisi Mayor, offered his perspective on the Law on Assemblies and Manifestations amendments. He emphasised that anyone—an individual, a politician, a political party, or an NGO—opposing these amendments aligns with the disturbing provocations detailed by the SSSG. According to Kaladze, the foremost priority is the state's commitment to safeguarding the security of its citizens. He asserted that because opposition parties lack significant public support, they resort to attempts to overthrow the government, sometimes with the involvement of "foreign allies." However, Kaladze reassured that the ruling party remains steadfast in its commitment to protecting the Georgian people, safeguarding Georgia's interests, and ensuring its security.
  • GD MP Irakli Zarkua stated that the evidence provided by the SSSG proves that the investigative agencies are competent and fulfilling their duties, exposing “some pests” who arrived in the country to prepare a revolution. Zarkua assessed that the US embassy is mistaken and its statement is inadequate. “We are not idiots. I want them to know that!” – stated the MP.
  • GD MP Aluda Ghudushauri stated that the US is Georgia’s strategic partner and that attempts to undermine that partnership will be futile. He also emphasised that the US embassy should be interested in supporting democratic processes in the country and that government is changed through the elections, based on the constitution, and not with revolutions and violent actions. Ghudushauri underlined that the evidence presented by the SSSG shows that certain individuals are teaching methods to overthrow the government. Therefore, the US embassy must condemn such actions and clarify its position to the Georgian people.
  • People’s Party member and MP Guram Matcharashvili stated that the public witnessed how training took place for planning revolutions and violent protests. The leaders of this organisation themselves have admitted the authenticity of these recordings and that they preach violence. According to the MP, Georgian people will not be deceived if the US embassy denies the contents of the recording released by the SSSG.

Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel utilised by pro-Russian propaganda to discredit West

  • Sezoni TV propagandist assessed the terrorist attack in Israel as the Muslim world's unified fight against the West. Hence, Georgia is putting itself in a dangerous situation by aligning with the West. Georgia must change its foreign policy because Muslim countries like Turkey and Iran might invade Georgia. Due to its proximity to the Middle East, Georgia should reject Western integration to avoid conflict.
  • A clergyman who often appears on Sezoni TV blamed the West for causing the Hamas attacks on Israel, stating that its Western policy towards the Middle East provoked the Muslim countries. The clergy also talked about a conspiracy theory, according to which if the Jewish people regain control over Solomon’s temple, they will elect a new messiah, the antichrist.
  • Pro-Russian website “GeWorld” shared an article depicting an analysis by a Russian commentator, Vladimir Pavlenko, according to which the West provoked both Hamas and Israel to start the conflict. Israel has been distancing itself from the US and aligning with China, so the US assisted Hamas in attacking Israel. The West will eventually help Israel defeat Hamas, eliminating Iran’s ally while regaining Israel’s loyalty. Additionally, assisting Israel with weapons will be a good excuse to stop supporting Ukraine in the war against Russia.
  • A pro-Russian propagandist stated that since Iran voiced its support for Hamas, Russia is the only power to mediate peace in the world. The third world war will be inevitable if Iran directly engages in conflict with Israel. According to the post, since Russia is emerging as a mediator, Georgia should openly declare that it refuses to integrate with NATO and start direct negotiations with Moscow.
  • A pro-Russian profile stated that the people were outraged when Ukrainians were using civilians as shields, causing mass civilian casualties after deliberately making them legitimate targets for Russian military forces. However, now they are disregarding the same situation in Palestine.
  • Another social media profile posted that Iran and Turkey will invade Georgia if Russia weakens because they resent Christians more than Jews.
  • A propaganda source posted that Israel wronged Russia by engaging in the globalist plan to weaken and dissolve the Slavic world. According to the post, the Zionist government forgot that Russia saved Jewish people from European fascism during the Second World War and helped them establish their state in the Middle East. Instead of being grateful, Israelis turned their backs on Russia and partnered with the Americans. The post's author also underlines that Israel assisted the fascist Ukrainian government led by the Jewish President Zelenskyy against Russia. The Israeli state is paying for their sins against Russia.
  • The same profile spread disinformation that the Israeli government was suffering from a shortage of ammunition, leaving anti-aircraft and combat units useless. According to the post, the Israeli government provided arms to Ukraine and Azerbaijan because the US promised to compensate for the weaponry but failed to fulfil its promise. Additionally, the author argued that the US is contributing to Israel's demise by sending the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier to the Eastern Mediterranean.
  • Unverified information also spread that corruption caused the weaponry, intended as military aid from the West to Ukraine, to end up in the Gaza Strip.
  • During a live broadcast, a social media profile stated that because Netanyahu’s government did not surrender the justice system to the Americans, a colour revolution was attempted in the country but failed. The US is not punishing Israel by supporting Hamas with weapons because it is impossible for Hamas to acquire such an abundance of military ammunition without foreign aid. Additionally, the US was interested in stirring up the situation in the Middle East because it was losing influence in the region.
  • A propaganda source stated that Israel is much more dangerous to the Christian world because while Muslim countries tend to be more aggressive, they do not possess the same military power. Additionally, Israel is engaged in globalist plans to decrease the global population, subject people’s minds and are no less radical than Muslim terrorists. According to propagandists, the Jewish people control global finances and resent Christians.
  • Another propaganda social media profile argued that until the US exist in its current form, there will always be war, terrorism, pandemics, artificially created viruses, and LGBT propaganda. The US will always support fascism, Nazism, and ultra-nationalism because it is designed to provoke wars and exploit other nations.

“Anti-Maidan Movement” established by pro-Russian Alt Info reinforces narrative that the West through the hands of NGOs in plans to incite a coup in Georgia

  • One of the prominent Alt Info leaders, Zurab Makharadze, appeared on pro-Russian Sezoni TV and called on the people to call the “Anti-Maidan” offices to enlist in the group. According to the propagandist, the attempts to overthrow the government and drag Georgia into war against Russia are most likely inevitable. Makharadze stated that when called upon, people should be ready for action in Tbilisi within four hours as they are the only ones who can protect the country from war.
  • Pro-Russian Sezoni TV Channel broadcaster Nikoloz Mzhavanadze stated that the US is preparing for a regime change in Georgia and Russia is the only country that can protect Georgia’s security.
  • Another Alt Info propagandist, threatening violence, addressed their opponents, stating that they will eliminate those who hate the Georgian nation, including the West and those receiving finances from Western countries.
  • A different propagandist recalled the evidence provided by the SSSG about how NGOs and university clubs are training to conduct terrorist attacks in Georgia. According to the propagandist, the SSSG released the evidence so people could get ready to answer such threats. The propagandist argued that a foreign agent’s law should be adopted to expose the agent network inside the Georgian NGO sector.
  • A propagandist on social media stated that the Western-controlled liberals, opposition political parties and NGOs are planning bloodshed and revolution in Georgia. According to the post, there are two possibilities. Firstly, suppose the EU does grant Georgia candidate status. That means it does not trust Georgian opposition parties to overthrow the government and will give Georgia candidate status to maintain influence. Secondly, the EU might deliberately not grant Georgia candidate status to incite a revolution, after which the opposition parties will take over the government, start repressions against conservative Christians, and open a second front against Russia.

SSSG’s statement about USAID-funded “trainings on overthrowing the government” fuels anti-US propaganda

  • Sezoni TV Channel propagandist Nikoloz Mzhavanadze commented about the SSSG’s statement, noting that the US is directly involved in planning a coup in Georgia. USAID is training young people just like it did prior to the Rose Revolution in 2003.
  • Alt Info leader Zurab Makharadze commented on SSSG’s statement about the training funded by USAID. According to the propagandist, the trainers arrived in Georgia with a specific objective – to help activists develop an executive plan for occupying the city centre, setting up tents and detonating the bomb in one of the tents. Makharadze asserted that since the government is making amendments to the Law on Assemblies and Manifestations, which limits the erection of temporary structures, it means that the SSSG’s statement is credible and an issue of legitimate concern.
  • A different pro-Russian propagandist emphasized that USAID did not conduct such activities during the Trump administration. According to this propagandist, after Georgian people dissented against Tbilisi Pride events, President Trump learned that it was being financed by USAID. It is alleged that President Trump then dispatched representatives to Georgia, who reprimanded local NGOs and U.S. embassy personnel.
  • An Alt Info propagandist claimed that the US financial aid for the past thirty years to Georgia was spent on preparing professional protesters and funding NGOs, not on strategically important sectors that would develop Georgia’s economy. The same propagandist argues that USAID is an instrument of imperial power for the US, not only in Georgia but the whole world. Propaganda claims that USAID operates by financing clandestine networks in foreign nations, fomenting coups, and expanding US influence through illicit means globally.
  • A broadcast anchor on Alt Info argued that USAID is financing the Maidan revolution in Georgia. The claim goes on to assert that USAID has established a pervasive presence within every higher education institution and the Ministry of Education, dictating the curriculum and choice of textbooks for Georgian children, purportedly to brainwash them. Moreover, the propagandist asserts that USAID's agricultural initiatives are causing harm by eroding crops that are native, traditional, and of strategic significance to Georgia. These projects allegedly incentivise agricultural sectors that do not align with the best interests of the Georgian people.
  • Another propagandist stated that since the start of the war in Ukraine, the US has always tried to prove that it is not interested in a regime change and opening a second front in Georgia. However, according to the propagandist, the latest statement from the US embassy in response to the SSSG’s statements was a confession that the US is indeed funding revolutionary activities in Georgia and will continue to do so.
  • A propaganda source argued that the US has no economic interests regarding Georgia. The US is only interested in maintaining its global geopolitical influence and uses Georgia as a small dagger against Russia. According to the propagandist, the constitution should restrict foreign meddling in internal political processes.

Propaganda depicts Moscow as a guarantor of security, stability and territorial integrity for Georgia

  • Sezoni TV propagandist Nikoloz Mzhavanadze stated that since 2012, Georgia has been walking on thin ice as there is a constant threat of a coup, and the only force that can deter this threat is Russia; hence direct dialogue with Moscow is necessary for Georgia. Mzhavanadze also recalled between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the so-called president of occupied Abkhazia, Aslan Bzhania, underlining that direct talks are needed with Moscow to ensure Russia does not annex the occupied territories.
  • In a different broadcast, Sezoni TV propagandist criticised museums in Adjara for not celebrating the 145th anniversary of the liberation of Adjara from Ottoman occupation by Russian forces, stating that the date is being ignored. Like many times before, the propagandist suggested that without a Russian presence in the region, Adjara would be lost again, and Turkey would occupy it. Moreover, the narrative argued that without Vladimir Putin, Turkey, Syria, Kazakhstan, and Belarus would experience bloody revolutions.
  • An editor of the pro-Russian website “Saqinform” published an article in which the author argues that the Georgian nation is degraded because, despite the Georgian economy staying afloat due to links with Russia, it is one of the actors of NATO’s anti-Russian Black Sea regional security concept. According to the propagandist, Georgians will never return to Abkhazia until it continues to pursue EU and NATO membership. Addressing the building of a new Russian naval military base in occupied Abkhazia, the propagandist claims that the military base does not pose an additional threat to Georgia. Moreover, Russian bases benefit local communities by employing local civilians as suppliers and craftsmen. The military buys local food products at the highest prices, and the military personnel help the civilian population in construction and repair works at the request of the local municipalities.
  • A propagandist on Alt Info asserted that on the backdrop of the planned coup by the West in Georgia, direct talks with Russia are vital as it will deter the malign influence coming from the US and the EU.
  • A social media profile posted that Russia, due to its goodwill, will soon return Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region to Georgia.
  • A propaganda source argued that the 70-year occupation by the Soviet Union protected Georgia from foreign threats and exceptionally developed its economy. In modern times, rather than being appreciative of Russia, Georgia condemns it. The Georgian people need to realise that liberating the country from the Western colonial grip is essential to its survival.
  • Kremlin-sponsored Sputnik Georgia published an article by a Russian propagandist who asserts that while Russia is growing, the US is engulfed in chaos, scandals, political crises and budgetary issues. Europe is suffering from its “clown leaders”, and Ukraine is suffering from a shortage of funds and ammunition, which the West cannot replenish. The article suggests that the collective West is at its breaking point while Russia remains steadfast.