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June 4 - 17, 2020


  • Georgian March - New Pro-Russian political movement
  • Increasing activities of Georgian’s far-right groups
  • Roman Kakulia and his allegations towards the West
Recent policy developments

New Pro-Russian/anti-Western political movement – Georgian March

On May 18, Sandro Bregadze, a leader of Georgian March, revealed through a Facebook post that Georgian March is going to become a political organization and run in the 2020 parliamentary elections.

Georgian March, until now, has been a movement uniting far-right, radical, neo-Nazi groups and organizations. It was first seen in action as an organizational entity in 2017, when group members protested a child abuse case by an Iranian citizen and demanded the expulsion of all illegal immigrants from Georgia. Since then, Georgian March has actively spread homophobic, xenophobic and chauvinist messages, while the members portray the organization as an anti-liberal, nationalistic-conservative power.

Georgian March and its leadership have close ties to Russia. In May 2018, Georgian March initiated a so-called “agreement between the nationalistic powers”. The members of this agreement/meeting were linked with different pro-Russian organizations and media outlets. Dimitri Lortkipanidze, who appeared to be the key figure in the process, is the director of Evgeny Primakov‘s Georgian-Russian Public Center, which in turn is part of Alexander Gorchakov‘s Public Diplomacy Fund, an organization created with the support of Dimitri Medvedev and the MFA of the Russian Federation.

Considering all these factors, we can presume this move is a new Russian political project in Georgia. Since Georgia is going to change its electoral system for the upcoming general election, to make it more proportional, it will become easier for smaller parties to enter Parliament. Therefore, Russia is trying to diversify and extend its malign political influence in Georgia through investing in new political projects.

Monitoring of disinformation cases

Georgian far-right group expands Facebook presence ahead of elections

Ahead of the fall 2020 parliamentary elections in Georgia, the Georgian far-right group Alt-Info has become increasingly active on Facebook, where it spreads anti-Western and anti-LGBT narratives and disinformation. The group is attempting to present itself as a credible mainstream online media outlet, conducting Facebook live interviews and sharing articles in order to expand its audience and reach.

The far-right, anti-Western groups, and aligned political parties are becoming noticeably active both online and offline. The anti-Western and pro-Russian opposition political party “the Alliance of Patriots” is conducting its own public opinion polls as alternatives to those conducted by Western democracy development organizations operating in Georgia, such as National Democratic Institute (NDI) and International Republican Institute (IRI). The party claims to “investigate” public attitudes toward Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, which according to a recent NDI poll, are increasingly favorable. Meanwhile, the ultra-nationalist group “Georgian March,” which over the past three years has organized several violent demonstrations targeting ethnic and LGBT minorities, is forming a political party ahead of the October parliamentary elections.

The Alt-Info Facebook page has been steadily building an audience over the last three months. The page primarily posts short video “explainers” and live video discussions featuring its members, as well as the articles published on the group’s website, Starting in spring 2020, the group has recorded a series of online interviews with anti-Western public figures, Georgian Orthodox Church representatives, and MPs from the ruling party. The far-right group also conducted an interview with Adam Kinzinger, co-chair of the Georgia Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, who has recently commented on the backsliding of democracy in Georgia.

This interview format is likely an attempt by the far-right group to present itself as a trustworthy source of news and commentary and continue to grow its audience in Georgia. The page has consistently attacked Western values, as well as the LGBT community in Georgia. It selectively shares articles that portray the West as an unstable place in an attempt to influence Georgian public opinion on the country’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

While Alt-Info attempts to present itself as a trusted source for news and analysis on Georgia, the group attempts to sow distrust of the West and incite anti-LGBT sentiment in the country in an effort to push its anti-Western political agenda. This activity is particularly concerning ahead of the approaching parliamentary elections, during which several anti -Western parties will be competing for the votes of Georgians.

The whole report is available here.

Lugar Lab. In her latest article, Kremlin-affiliated Bulgarian journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva claimed that in 2014, NCDC and the Lugar Lab were busy researching coronavirus in bats, which, according to her, is evidence of America developing a biological weapon. To prove her conspiracy theory, Gaytandzhieva has presented 1. a document which contains personal data on Georgian scientists involved in the project and 2. research available in open sources.

BCG vaccine against Covid-19. A Russian doctor claimed in Sputnik Abkhazia’s article that the low death rate from Covid-19 in former USSR countries is caused by BCG vaccines applied widely by the Soviet Union. The title of the story suggests that the BCG vaccine is a Soviet achievement.

“US spends more on police than welfare”. The openly pro-Kremlin Facebook page “Politicano” claimed that the U.S. spends significantly more on the police sector than welfare. According to Myth Detector’s fact-check, Politicano’s figures are manipulated so that they show only cash welfare expenditures, while the country’s overall spending on welfare programs is much higher.

Poland’s “Russophobic” policy has resulted in huge economic losses, says a pro-Kremlin web-page which tells the story of how Russia used to be the key import source of vital resources and grain for Poland, which has suffered economic consequences of its anti-Russian steps.

Video Manipulation on migrant issues. According to ultra-nationalist Facebook page “Alt-Club”, thousands of African migrants rallied in Paris, demanding legalization of illegal migration. Myth Detector says the video is authentic, but the context is false - protesters gathered in Paris on May 30 to defend the rights of undocumented migrants exposed to coronavirus in detention centers.

Dozens of Facebook pages and users disseminated false information about a Chinese company demolishing a historical Georgian church. In reality, the company in question was conducting some works on the territory of the church, but the construction site was shut down due to the absence of a permit.

Naming and shaming

Roman Kakulia alleges the West of encouraging Russian propaganda and supporting pro-Russian sentiments

The member of the ruling party and the chairman of the sector economy and economic policy committee of the parliament, Roman Kakulia, has been exceptionally critical towards the European Union and American Senators. According to him, the west is contributing to strengthening Russian interests and pro-Russian narratives in Georgia, because of their constant intervention in Georgia’s internal affairs and criticism of government actions. He touched on the Frontera case, claiming that Frontera uses foreign politicians (American senators & congressmen) driven by their own interests and portrays their views as that of the Western world. Previously, Kakulia responded to a statement by the former Prime Minister of Lithuania and MEP Andrius Kubilius, regarding the March 8 agreement. He commented on Mr. Kubilius’ support concerning the release of political prisoners, assessing his requests and critical statements to be problematic for further EU-Georgia relations. According to his speeches, Western societies support the current opposition parties, which were forced to give up power in 2012. Kakulia believes that the Georgian population does not want to be the part of such a West, that criticizes the existing government and interferes in domestic affairs of the country.

Civil society organizations' initiatives

Civic IDEA, together with the TV Pirveli channel, has led a joint investigation concerning Sino-Georgian relations and the corrupt dealings between the ruling party leaders and Chinese companies operating in Georgia. The reportage was broadcasted on June 6th, which focused on a particular case of the Chinese company Sinohydro and its claims worth 37 million GEL against the Georgian government regarding an incomplete highway. The company has bad reputation worldwide and has been blacklisted by the world bank and many other international and regional units. The Georgian government, and particularly the ministry of infrastructure, did not even try to appeal Sinohydro’s request to the International Court of Arbitration. Moreover, on a question about why they selected Sinohydro as a tender-winner company, the minister of infrastructure, Maia Tskitishvili, highlighted that she is content with the work of the company, as the latter constructs the infrastructure with high speed and quality. Nevertheless, reality shows us that the Kobuleti bypass road project, which was supposed to be finished by 2016, has still not been accomplished. Civic IDEA is actively working on the issues concerning Georgian politicians and the Chinese companies and has already revealed various corruption cases.

On May 26, marking Georgia’s Independence Day, the Information Defence Legion travelled to Shida Kartli (heavily affected by the 2008 War) to distribute their first monthly edition of the newspaper ‘Position’ to citizens in Gori, Khashuri, Kaspi, Kareli and Ruisi. It featured articles, interviews and even a historical overview of Georgia’s fight for independence and statehood (focusing on the 1918-21 period), the newspaper aims at countering Russian propaganda and disinformation campaigns, debunking anti-Western myths and committing factual information. The first edition highlighted Western assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s attempts to breed mistrust and panic regarding the Lugar Lab. The newspaper is a new tool for the Information Defence Legion, who work primarily online, to reach citizens with limited internet access in isolated areas, as such, these groups are the most vulnerable to fake news and disinformation. The Information Defence Legion also prepared a video dedicated to Georgian independence.

The DFRLab analyzed Sputnik websites and Facebook pages in the South Caucasus and found that Sputnik’s websites in the region garner different traffics. Similar Web analysis showed that the Sputnik Armenia website registered unusually high traffic from February to April 2020; three times the traffic of the Sputnik Azerbaijan and Sputnik Georgia websites combined. Such a sharp increase suggests that Sputnik Armenia may be using different promotional tactics to boost traffic on its website. Sputnik websites also vary in terms of using social networks to drive traffic: whereas Sputnik Georgia actively uses Facebook to direct visitors to its website, Sputnik Azerbaijan and Sputnik Armenia seem to be less successful in this regard. Apart from an official page on Facebook, Sputnik Armenia seems to be using unofficial pages to amplify content and grow its audience. Sputnik Facebook pages in the South Caucasus were established in 2014-2015. However, Sputnik Azerbaijan Facebook page was established in 2011 and it seems to be taken over by Sputnik from Novosti Azerbaijan news agency in May 2015. Sputnik Armenia has posted the biggest number of posts since its launch, followed by Sputnik Georgia. Sputnik Azerbaijan is posting the least amount of content among Sputnik pages in the region.

The European Values Center has published a Handbook on cyber, information, intelligence and personal security threats stemming out of foreign authoritarian regimes or domestic oppression and harassment. This report follows a year of cooperation between civil society organizations (CSO) and think-tanks from Central Europe and the Eastern Neighborhood (EN). It is one part of the Project on Enhancing and Sharing Lessons Learnt in Resilience and Self-Protection, which evaluates the capability of civil society in Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova to use guidance from the European Values Center for Security Policy (EVC) in operational security and exposing illegitimate methods of influence. Here, we adapt their approach and apply it to the political realities in the EN.


This newsletter is a part of the project „Strengthening of the resilience of civil society organizations in Georgia against foreign malign influence“, which is funded by the TRANSITION PROMOTION program of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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European Values Center for Security Policy