GRASS Disinfo Brief – October 10-17

19 October, 2023
  • Constitutional Court says the President violated the Constitution
  • Hungarian PM Victor Orban reinforces GD's message that the EU mistreated Georgia by not granting it candidate status during an official visit to Georgia
  • Newly appointed US Ambassador to Georgia, Robin Dunnigan, met with bitter-sweet statements
  • Russian Propaganda blames the US and the West for the Israel-Hamas conflict, anti-Semitism becomes prevalent
  • Propaganda continues to push a narrative that the West plans to incite a Maidan-style revolution in Georgia, depicting it as a global warmonger
  • Propaganda says that in the face of global conflict, Georgia should seek security by aligning with Russia

Constitutional Court says the President violated the Constitution

On October 16th, the Constitutional Court concluded that the President of Georgia, Salome Zourabichvili, violated the Georgian constitution. "The President of Georgia, by making official visits abroad on August 31st, September 1st and September 6th, exercised representative authority in the field of foreign relations without the consent of the Government of Georgia, which is a violation of the constitution", Chairman of the Constitutional Court Merab Turava said while reading the court's conclusion. President Zourabichvili responded by stating that the recent decision was not a surprise. However, it was still heartbreaking as the Constitutional Court was one of the institutions within the judiciary system that deserved trust to some extent, but it is no longer the case. According to the President, the Constitutional Court decision is shameful and harmful to the country at a time when practically all independent institutions are distorted. "I do not plan to resign, I will stay where I have been standing all my life for our European and democratic future", stated President Zourabichvili.

  • Chairman of the Georgian Dream, Irakli Kobakhidze, stated that Salome Zourabichvili betrayed the Georgian Constitution and reiterated that the ruling party would vote to declare her non-worthy of holding the high status of President. According to Kobakhidze, If Zourabichvili had retained her basic dignity after the Constitutional Court found the violation of the Constitution of Georgia, she would immediately resign. "We understand that Salome Zourabichvili cannot make a decision to resign without the consent of the forces that pushed her to grossly violate the Constitution of Georgia", stated the Chairman during the press conference, claiming that the President violated the Constitution in hopes of support from "the collective National Movement", meaning the opposition. Kobakhidze acknowledged that the chances of garnering 100 votes necessary to complete the impeachment process are almost non-existent. However, the recent events demonstrated that the ruling party did not leave the violation of the Constitution unanswered.
  • Georgian Dream MP Mamuka Mdinaradze said that it does not matter if the President continues to violate the Constitution. The main issue is that the public will know that she has no legitimacy. Zourabichvili remains President because of the United National Movement's support because they are accomplices of the President. "All the MPs who, despite the Constitutional Court decision, will not support the impeachment process, will be complicit in violating the Constitution." As for the "radical opposition", Mdinaradze argued that the opposition should attend the voting session and present their arguments as to why the impeachment process should not be completed in order to inform the Georgian public.
  • Another Georgian Dream MP, Archil Talakvadze, assessed the Constitutional Court decision as very important, highlighting that state institutions are separated and doing their work according to the Constitution. According to Talakvadze, this is another example of how democracy operates in Georgia and proves that Constitutional order is in place, balancing power between the branches of government. "The Constitutional Court considered the dispute and made the right decision," said Talakvadze.

Hungarian PM Victor Orban reinforces GD's message that the EU mistreated Georgia by not granting it candidate status during official visit in Georgia

Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban visited Georgia on October 11-12. Hungarian and Georgian governments have rapidly developed relations in the past year due to their mutual endorsement of social conservatism. In May, The Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, participated in the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held in Budapest, where, amongst other things, he said that with conservative values, they “will oppose the evil that has arrived in the name of fake freedom and fake truth” and “will while protecting minority rights, not allow the violence of the minority against the majority”.

Religion was a major theme of Victor Orban’s visit as two Prime Ministers visited the Svetitskhoveli monastery, praising each other for upholding Christian values. “It is not easy to be a Christian, to govern a Christian government in Europe”, the Hungarian leader stated. Victor Orban, often criticised in Europe for appeasing Russia, opposing initiatives to assist Ukraine, and undermining liberal democracy in his home country, has commended his Georgian counterpart before for “managing to live in the shadow of Russia while preserving the values ​​of its own country. Recognising that Georgia can be a valuable partner within the EU to champion a Europeanness that foregrounds Christianity and traditional values, Orban voiced his full support for granting Georgia candidate status and bolstered the Georgian Dream’s narrative that the EU cheated Georgia by only granting a European perspective. “We are very disappointed and angry that Georgia did not receive the candidate status when the countries that received it are far behind - this must be corrected as soon as possible!” stated the Hungarian Prime Minister during the joint press conference.

Critics point to the fact that the Hungarian government, which has isolated itself from its EU and NATO allies due to its Ukraine-skeptic stance and illiberal policies at home, will further isolate Georgia from other EU member states and harm Georgia’s chances of receiving candidate status. Chairman of the Georgian Dream, Irakli Kobakhidze argued that the opposition is criticising Victor Orban, European leader and Georgia’s close ally because they do not want Georgia to receive candidate status. “The opposition consistently expresses aggression towards European leaders who openly support Georgia”, Kobakhidze said. MP from Georgian Dream, Beka Odisharia, underlined that Hungary is a member of the EU and NATO, and no matter how much the opposition complains about Victor Orban’s alleged pro-Russian stances, his support is essential. According to Odisharia, Orban might have a problem outside his country, just like Georgia. There are individuals, members of liberal groups, including high-ranking officials, who spread undermining narratives about Orban because they want to control everyone. "Christian, traditional, proud countries cannot be controlled!” Odisharia said. Another Georgian Dream MP, Nino Tsilosani, applauded the Hungarian Prime Minister for openly voicing his support for granting Georgia candidate status. “It is absolutely unclear why the opposition is criticising Victor Orban, attacking his form of government”, stated the MP.

Newly appointed US Ambassador to Georgia, Robin Dunnigan, met with bitter-sweet statements

On October 12th, the US Ambassador to Georgia, Robin Dunnigan, arrived in Tbilisi. On the same day, she presented her credentials to President Zourabichvili and met with the Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ilia Darchiashvili, where the parties expressed their will to develop US-Georgian strategic partnership further. Ambassador Dunnigan noted that the US President and his administration support Georgia's path towards Western integration.

While commenting on the new US ambassador’s arrival, Chairman of GD, Irakli Kobakhidze, stated that the ruling party is looking forward to cooperating with Ambassador Dunnigan, underlining that there were many problems with former Ambassador Kelly Degnan, under whom the US embassy supported training on violent revolutions, attempted to undermine the independent judiciary and pressured judges, while supporting extremists in the country. “One Ambassador cannot cloud the Georgian-US partnership. We hope our partnership will strengthen under the new Ambassador,” said Kobakhidze. Georgian Dream-affiliated People’s Power member Guram Matcharashvili argued that the new Ambassador should not continue the harmful practice of treating Georgia as a vassal state and making insulting statements towards it. “We have great expectation and hope that the new Ambassador will not repeat the mistakes of her predecessor and read the “People’s Powers” statements to understand what our issue was. We want a partnership with the US, but do not want to be treated as a vassal”, stated the MP.

Russian Propaganda blames the US and the West for the Israel-Hamas conflict, anti-Semitism becomes prevalent

  • A propagandist on Alt Info repeated the narrative shared by Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, speculating that the US sparked the conflict between Israel and Hamas. The US lights fires around the world to gain or maintain influence in different regions. According to the propagandist, the fact that the US officials did not say anything about a need for a peace agreement demonstrates that Dmitry Medvedev is correct.
  • Another propagandist on Alt Info claimed that destroying Kyiv was not enough for the US, so it created a new source of conflict in the Gaza Strip. The fact that the US provides weapons to Israel and Ukraine automatically means it is interested in exacerbating wars. Washington also benefits from the Israel-Hamas conflict as providing weapons to Tel-Aviv will distance Israel from Russia.
  • Prominent pro-Russian propagandist published an article on “GeWorld”, according to which the US is realising that Russia’s deep ties with China and African and South American countries are weakening Washington’s influence in the world. To avoid the complete detriment of US power in the world, the Americans planned to spark conflicts in the Eastern hemisphere, and the Israel-Palestine conflict provided the perfect grounds for that. The propagandist claims without basis that the US covertly armed and incited the Palestinians while verbally declaring support for Israel. Only the US could arm Hamas without being detected by Israeli counter-intelligence agencies. The global players of world politics are divided into pro-peace and pro-war states. Russia and China are in favour of peace, while the US, EU and UK are in favour of war. If Russia considers peaceful coexistence as the primary condition for development, the West looks for salvation in war.
  • Another article on pro-Russian “GeWorld” claims that the recent events in Israel demonstrate that the West is not interested in peace and it is attempting to sow war and conflict in every region of the world it can reach. According to the propaganda, the West sparked a war in Abkhazia in 1992 and the Tskhinvali region in 2008. Stopping the expansion of fake American democracy and the cult of depravity in the world depends only on the victory of Russia.
  • Kremlin-sponsored Sputnik Georgia published an article by a Russian “analyst”, suggesting that long before Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, the US was uncontrollably supplying weapons to Kyiv, which ultimately became the largest hub of illegal cross-border arms trade. “The distance from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea is short - and now these weapons are being used in the Middle East”, claims the author.
  • A different propagandist on Alt Info argued that the festival near the Gaza Strip was a provocation because it was a “gay festival”. It was similar to the Pride Fest on Lisi Lake on July 8th in Georgia; hence, the Palestinians were deliberately provoked to attack.
  • A member of pro-Russian Alt Info argued that the fact that Hamas fighters were able to march into Israeli territory without basic equipment and cause serious harm shattered the myth of Israel’s invincibility. Israel is supported by the collective West, including the US, but it still could not manage to avoid such an attack, pointing to the West’s weakness.
  • A social media user posted that people who support Israel are mindless because if Israel becomes stronger, it will seize the whole earth and start persecuting Christians. The Israelis have intricate plans to control the world.
  • Pro-Russian social media profiles spread disinformation about Israel bombing a Greek Orthodox church in Gaza. FactCheck Georgia checked this information and found that the Saint Porphyrios Orthodox Church in Gaza itself denied these reports.
  • Another social media profile alleged that the Ashkenazi Jewish people started the COVID-19 pandemic to destroy all of humanity regardless of nationality and religion. The propagandist blames the Jewish people for the war in Ukraine, climate change and the current conflict between Israel and Hamas. According to the narrative, such major events are planned in advance to control the masses.
  • A video shared on social media shows a compilation of Orthodox Jewish people. The video reiterates the narrative that the Jewish people control the world and plan to persecute non-Jewish people. “The rabbis declare they will completely exterminate all non-Jewish people, Christian or non-Christian, when their Messiah comes” reads the caption.

Propaganda continues to push a narrative that the West plans to incite a Maidan-style revolution in Georgia, depicting it as a global warmonger

  • A pro-Russian propagandist on Alt Info stated that the current international situation shows that the West is losing its power and influence all around the world, notably in Ukraine and the Middle East. Because of its declining power, the collective West is attempting to maintain control in the Caucasus and will go all-in by inciting a Maidan revolution in Georgia.
  • Another propagandist on Alt Info argued that a new world order is being established in which the US and the collective West will be demoted. As weaker the US becomes, there are more chances it will incite a Maidan revolution in Georgia to maintain its grip on the region.
  • A propagandist and famous Stalin supporter, Grigol Oniani stated that the US has three main objectives – to destroy Russia, China and the Muslim world. The US is trying to deter threats from the Middle East, that is why it is supporting Israel and inciting conflict in the region.
  • Pro-Russian Sezoni TV anchor, Nikoloz Mzhavanadze stated that the Muslim world is not against Israel, but against the US. The Muslim world is against US policies, because the US is a country with no moral standards, and since Israel is a strategic ally of the US, it became a natural target for Muslim countries, hence the conflict should be blamed on the US.
  • A prominent pro-Russian and anti-Western propagandist, Lali Moroshkina, claimed that the USAID has infiltrated Georgian agriculture, sports, and culture and became so influential that it is basically a state within a state. The bloodshed in Ukraine and the Middle East is caused by the US because it is losing influence and does not want to leave these regions without bloodshed.
  • Another propagandist on Sezoni TV argued that despite engaging Ukraine in a war against Russia, it is still attempting to spark new conflicts in the world. The propagandist alleges that Washington tried to spark a conflict in Armenia but since it is strategically less significant, Americans shifted their focus on Israel and Palestine. According to the propagandist, there is no doubt that the conflict between Israel and Hamas was incited by the US.
  • The US must prepare for possible simultaneous wars with Russia and China by expanding its conventional forces, strengthening alliances and enhancing its nuclear weapons modernization program, a congressionally appointed bipartisan panel said on October 11th. Georgian Dream-affiliated People’s Power member Davit Kartvelishvili portrayed the US Congress bipartisan statement as an indicator that the US is a warmonger. Kartvelishvili claims that Taiwanese attitudes toward coexistence with mainland China are also changing, so the Global War Party plans to start a war with China through its proxy – Taiwan. “The US congressional report radiates despair and bankruptcy because the theatre of military operations is developing very badly”, Kartvelishvili wrote.
  • A social media profile linked with Pro-Russian Alt Info made a baseless claim that the former US Ambassador Kelly Degnan was calling on the radical groups in the country to destroy Georgia by dragging it into a war against Russia. “Now it is time to get rid of an even bigger monster, Dunnigan, from Georgia!!!” reads the post.
  • Commenting on Georgia’s potential EU candidate status, pro-Russian propagandist Valeri Kvaratskhelia argued in his article that the West has a basis for both - granting and refusing candidate status to Georgia. The decision will depend on whether the West chooses war or peace in the Caucasus. If the EU grants Georgia candidate status, the situation will be more or less peaceful, but if they refuse to grant it, it indicates that the West is preparing a coup and a war in Georgia.

Propaganda says that in the face of global conflict, Georgia should seek security by aligning with Russia

  • Propaganda claims that Georgia urgently needs to establish normal, deep diplomatic relations with Russia because before the new world order gets established, many conflicts and wars will occur in the world. The only partner that Georgia should have in that situation is Orthodox Russia.
  • A propagandist whose videos often get shared by pro-Russian sources posted a video claiming that the US abandoned Ukraine. Israel is an actual partner for the Americans, while the West uses Ukraine as cannon fodder and an instrument to wage war against Russia. Because of the US-Israeli strategic partnership, the Muslim world will stand against the US and the collective West, causing it to grow closer relations with Moscow and Beijing. An era of war is approaching, and to avoid it, Georgia must distance itself from the West because it will drag Georgia into war. Additionally, the narrative goes, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Russia agreed that there should be peace in the Caucasus; therefore, if any destabilization happens, for example, a Maidan-like revolution in Georgia, all neighbouring countries will deploy coalition troops in Georgia to establish peace and maintain stability in the Caucasus.
  • Another propagandist argued that by turning its back on Russia, Ukraine has transformed from a country with huge military and industrial potential to one depended on foreign donations.
  • Similarily, Sezoni TV anchor, Nikoloz Mzhavanadze argued that by neglecting Russia, Armenia set out on a path of self-destruction. Due to its close relations with Russia, Armenia was able to maintain security and control over the Nagorno Karabakh region. As soon as Armenia disregarded relations with Moscow and started to deepen relations with the West, its situation severely worsened. The same will happen to Georgia if relations with Russia are not restored.
  • Nikoloz Mzhavanadze also claimed that during the Soviet regime, Georgia was regarded as Switzerland of the Soviet Union. If Georgia restores relations with Russia, it will become Switzerland of the region.
  • A different propagandist on Alt Info argued that Russia is becoming more powerful. The sanctions aimed at crippling Russia are futile. While the Russian economy continues to grow, Germany and the US are in a recession. Expectations that the Russian people would overthrow the government after Western sanctions were baseless because they would only protest if the Russian army failed to reach its military goals in Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ukraine is severely weakened and unable to conduct counter-offensive operations. The situation in the Middle East suggests that Western aid will now be directed towards Israel, and soon, no one will remember Ukraine. Kyiv will be left one-on-one against Russia in a situation with zero chance of success.
  • Propaganda sources suggested that an era of global conflict is approaching, and in order for Georgia to survive, it must restore deep ties with Russia.
  • A pro-Russian social media profile posted that until Georgia is in the Russian enemy camp, the promises of restoring territorial integrity are idiotic.