Discrediting and anti-Western messages spread on Facebook January 12-25
On January 20, the US ambassador to Georgia, Kelly C. Degnan, said that she believed most Georgians would prefer Russia to withdraw its troops from Abkhazia and Tskhinvali and honor the 2008 ceasefire agreement rather than restoring direct flights to Moscow.
Pro-government experts spread messages against Kelly Degnan after the mentioned statement. They pointed out that the US ambassador should not speak on behalf of the Georgian people. They believe that de-occupation and flight restorations are not mutually exclusive, and making such a choice is not a conscientious behavior. Similar messages were also spread on anonymous Facebook pages.
Photo - PosTV - News posted - "I'll give you a couple of free advice: stop talking on behalf of Georgians, furthermore - Russia’s withdrawal of its troops from our country is necessary, however it has nothing to do with the restoration of flights" - Levan Nikoleshvili to Kelly C. Degnan.
A discrediting campaign against Levan Berdzenishvili
On January 15, people gathered at the Kvareli Euroclub interfered in letting Levan Berdzenishvili hold a lecture. On January 22, PosTV journalist Natia Beridze posted a video on her personal Facebook profile in which she insulted Levan Berdzenishvili. Along with this, a discrediting campaign against Levan Berdzenishvili was held on anonymous anti-opposition pages and profiles. The defamation campaign involved sharing the video taken by the journalist, along with excerpts of past statements made by Berdzenishvili. Davit Berdzenishvili, brother of Levan Berdzenishvili, also became a target of defamation.
Photo - Archive: “The Berdzenishvili brothers’ controversial statements”
Photo - Terenti Gldaneli: ”The Georgian peoples’ response to Levan Berdzenishvili”
Messages against Kakha Kaladze in regards to his public statements
Posts discrediting the Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze were published on anti-government pages. The messages were directly related to the public announcements made by him during the week of the report and the signing of a possible contract between the City Hall and a company named Greenservice +.
Photo - Qocoba Texavs: “At least give us a number for a good electrician since Tbilisi City Hall is ucapable to do anything”. - Kakha Kaladze addresses the population - “Apartment buildings and elevators are your property, you must ensure their repair, rehabilitation and renovation”.
Photo - Political Vector - “Three months after the Vake Park tragedy, the City Hall may sign two new contracts with Greenway+ LLC”
Pro-government representatives accusing CNN of spreading disinformation about supplying sanctioned products to Russia through Georgia
CNN anchor Christian Amanpour asked the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, about the enforcement of sanctions against Russia and noted that according to recent reports, many prohibited goods reach Russia through Georgia among other countries.
The chairman of the Georgian Dream, Irakli Kobakhidze, called the mentioned information a lie and said that the question of the CNN presenter is based on a fake article published in The New York Times. According to Irakli Kobakhidze, this indicates that there is a force that wants to open a “Second Front” in Georgia amid the war in Ukraine.
The question allowed pro-government representatives to portray CNN, intentionally or unintentionally, as being involved in the disinformation campaign, the purpose of which was to involve Georgia in an open confrontation with Russia.
According to Davit Kartveleishvili, a member of the People's Power, all local media outlets that publish defamation against the state should be held accountable.
Photo - PosTV News: “Contrary to the belief in Georgia, CNN does not represent the highest instance of truth. The channel, which does not have high ratings anymore, has been repeatedly exposed for circulating disinformation” - Gia Abashidze.
Statements of pro-government actors in regards to the alleged audio recordings of Giuli Alasania
On January 11, Rustavi 2 released an alleged audio recording of Giuli Alasania's conversation, which was most likely recorded before Mikheil Saakashvili's arrival in Georgia. In the recording, Alasania talks about Saakashvili's return to Georgia and notes that "the main thing is what Russia is thinking at this moment". In addition, the sentence "the Russians do not want Bidzina Ivanishvili" is heard in the recording. The alleged secret recording also expresses an opinion on Nodar Meladze's connections with the Russian special services. According to the audio, Giuli Alasania refers to the opposition as parasites and says that they’re constantly at the expense of Mikheil Saakashvili. In the news broadcast of the TV company, it is mentioned that another phrase heard in the recording - "I don't know, maybe Russia itself will not consider it necessary" - turns pro-Western biography made up by Mikheil Saakashvili upside down.
Soon after the publication of the recording, pro-government experts and members of the People's Power spread similar messages. In particular, according to them, the recording confirms that the United National Movement itself does not believe in the fact that the ruling team and Bidzina Ivanishvili are pro-Russian. They agreed with the opinion that Russian special services provide materials to Nodar Meladze and TV Pirveli, which, according to them, is also confirmed by Giuli Alasania. On the other hand, according to pro-government expert Levan Nikoleishvili, the recording was distributed by a specific segment of the Western special services in order to dispel the suspicion that some of the leaders of the United National Movement are their agents.
Photo - PosTV News: "The answer to everything is the fact that even Giuli herself doesn’t believe that Bidzina and the Georgian Dream are pro-Russian" - Tamta Megrelishvili;
Photo - PosTV News: “Meanwhile, the whole country found out that everything in archives of Nodar Meladze and Chuta was given by the Russian special services" - Levan Nikoleishvili
Messages against Giorgi Vashadze in the context of renting apartment to Russian citizens
On January 16, following the heated discussion between Irakli Zarqua and Giorgi Vashadze on the air of PALITRANEWS, messages against Giorgi Vashadze, the leader of the Strategy Agmashenebeli party, were spread on the Facebook pages of PosTV Analytics and PosTV News. The story aired on Rustavi 2 had similar content, the presenter pointed out that the politician, whose main rhetoric is against the Russians who’ve moved to Georgia, rents out his apartment to Russian citizens. They pointed to his lack of principles and populism. Anti-Vashadze messages were also spread on anti-opposition Facebook pages, some of the pages compared Elene Khoshtaria and the leader of Strategy Aghmashenebeli to each other. In both cases, they were talking about a double standard in relation to Russian money.
Photo - Terenti Gldaneli: “Giorgi Russiandze rented his apartment to Russians. They are trying to boss . They call us pro-Russians, when in fact, they take Russian money and neglect us”.
Photo - Simartlis Droa (Time for the Truth): “New Russian banknotes”.
Mockery of the "United National Movement" referring to the confrontation between party leaders
On January 28-29, elections for the chairman of the United National Movement were held. Four candidates ran for the post of party chairman. Posts against the party were spread on anti-opposition pages and profiles, with which they appealed to the controversy in the party. The posts emphasized the conflict between the two candidates for the chairmanship of the party, Nika Melia and Levan Khabeishvili, and responded cynically to their supporters.
Photo - Terenti Gldaneli: ”There’s a swordfight of compromises in the UNM”.
About the weekly review
Within the social media monitoring program, ISFED presents the weekly overview and description of messages that echo political issues, (more or less) virally circulates on social networks during the week, and involves more than one actor, account or page in its dissemination . In certain cases, the most interactive posts of the week are presented.
For data processing, the organization uses the Facebook monitoring tool Crowdtangle and relies on the existing updated database of pages/accounts involved in discrediting campaigns. The pages are available on the platform - www.disinfoobserver.ge
The social media monitoring program of the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy is supported by the European Endowment for Democracy (EED). This publication is solely owned by ISFED and may not reflect the views of the donor.