A new pro-Kremlin party in Georgian politics

Konstantine Morgoshia and his co-founders officially established “the Alternative for Georgia” as a non-governmental organization on January 30, 2019. Furthermore, both Alt-Info Ltd. and “Youth Alternative” had been registered two days prior. This group has always had unfavorable feelings toward the Western World and its fundamental values, even from the beginning of their existence.To say it in a broad way, they criticize liberalism’s principles, claiming that these values are immoral and ineffectual. They claim to be working to keep the country’s traditions and conservative values alive. They have shown that they are pro-Trump, pro-Kremlin, anti-liberal, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-Muslim in general. It should come as no surprise that Alt-Info frequently repeats Russian propaganda points and always corresponds with the themes of Russia’s hybrid war in Georgia. Additionally, Alt-Info also underscores that the Georgian government is a puppet of the American dictatorship and Georgia is a vassal state under this government. Moreover, this organization tries to undercut Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic ambitions and boldly declares that if Russia attacks Georgia, no one will support it. Alt-info attempts to marginalize Georgia’s friendly connections with the West by disseminating this narrative in the public. Furthermore, Instead of assisting the vaccination procedure during the grave pandemic crisis in Georgia, these groups circulated information about the harmful consequences of 5G, the shortcomings of the Covid vaccine, and the so-called “being chipped.”In general, this group disseminates Russian-style disinformation and pours water on the enemy’s mill.

Such organizations are not new to Europe; there are several ultra-right movements in various European nations. We also see the word “alternative” in their name. These parties have links to the Kremlin and its ideologue and the founder of the Eurasian Movement, Alexander Dugin. Alexander Dugin has also a special relationship with Alt-Info. Alt-Info even aired an interview with him in July 2020. In this interview, Dugin argues that if Georgia rejects pro-Western objectives and opts for a neutral course, Russia will embrace its territorial integrity. To put it simply, pro-Kremlin parties tend to embrace the notion of neutrality, they disseminate this information to the public and attempt to persuade the public that if Georgia becomes neutral and rejects its Euro-Atlantic aspirations, Russia will not attack it. But, if we look at history, we can be certain that Russia does not care about neutrality at all. In 1921, the Soviet Union attacked and seized Georgia, despite the fact that Georgia was proclaimed as a neutral nation by its constitution. In general, to make it more vivid, Alt-Info transmits the following messages:

Alt-Info has stated multiple times that Georgia’s survival without being a Russian ally is inconceivable, and that if Georgia continues on its current political path, it will be partitioned between Turkey and Russia, and the West would do nothing to prevent this. Generally speaking, they are saying that Georgia does not have any future without Russia. One of the leaders of Alt-Info Zurab Makharadze commented on the subject:

“Georgia’s fate is simple to the point of banality – or we will be a zone of Turkish influence and the process of neo-Ottoman assimilation is going on here; or we become a zone of Russian influence.”

Secondly, this group believes that Georgia should reject the dream of Europe as soon as possible and join the Russian sphere of influence with a favorable status, otherwise Russia continues pursue its political interests and Georgia will lose everything including its independence. They believe that the dialogue with Russia is unavoidable, and Georgia should begin the process as soon as possible to ensure that the dialogue takes place in the best possible conditions. Thirdly, according to Alt-info, Georgia will lose the remaining territories  without Russia’s support since Abkhazians, Ossetians, and Armenians would undoubtedly request Georgian lands. Moreover, According to Alt-Info, Georgia should not even consider the prospect of an American base on Georgian soil because, first and foremost, the US would not do so, and secondly, if this occurs, Georgia will be gravely damaged from Russia, which has a more advantageous position than the United States in the Caucasus region. Most crucially, when the United States withdrew from Afghanistan and the Second Karabakh conflict ended, Alt-info began to claim that the West is losing interest in the region and its power and influence is weakening. This narrative is intended to generate fear in the public and to propagate nihilism among European and American allies. The three-step approach will make it easier to understand Alt-Info’s strategy. First and foremost, Alt-info attempts to instill fear in the population by threatening a new conflict , the loss of additional regions and Georgian identity. Second, it develops mistrust; Alt-Info portrays the Western democratic world as collapsing, for example, by claiming that elections in the United States were rigged and states that Georgia will not be protected by the West if Russia decides to invade it. Most importantly, it increases mistrust towards government structures, opposition parties, NGOs and media and portrays them as puppets and the disgrace to the entire nation. After putting everything in a negative light, they provide a solution to Georgian society, the message is clear: orthodox Russia will defend you from globalists and liberals, and Russia will safeguard your independence and territorial integrity. It is simpler to state that they glorify Russia and present it as a “savior”. It is ludicrous to praise the country who occupies your territory and claim that the occupying forces would defend your territorial integrity, but this is Alt-Info’s style and the Kremlin-backed narrative.

According to Georgian think tank ISFED study, falsehoods and manipulations are their primary editing technique. For this reason, Facebook even removed 50 Alt-Info accounts, 49 pages, 4 groups, 8 events, and 19 Instagram profiles in October 2020. Despite these issues, the group still managed to rise to prominence and became even more aggressive. On July 5, they orchestrated a mob attack on LGBT Pride in Tbilisi, injuring over 50 journalists, including one cameraman who died a few days later. On July 7, hate groups dismantled and torn down the EU flag flying in front of the parliament and to oppose European symbolism, an iron cross was erected in front of the parliament. Despite the fact that several members of Alt-Info have been questioned, no one has been punished. It is also suspicious that the ruling party, which is frequently accused by the opposition of being pro-Russian, is not particularly tough with them.

This exposes their contempt for the European Union and its ideals once more. It is important to note that  Dugin’s Facebook page was extremely active in spreading Alt-Info videos during these days,”I adore  Georgia,” Dugin added an English comment to the video of the EU flag being removed and burned.

A new chapter of Al-Info began on November 20, 2021, with the formation of a new political party known as “the Conservative Movement.” Even before the formation of the political party , Konstantine Morgoshia, the sponsor of Alt-Info and told RFE / RL that:

“As soon as we become a political party, we are going to work with Russia from that day on to meet and talk directly, without involving any third countries. We are going to talk at a level at which no politician has had meetings even in the last 15-20 years. ”

Konstantine Morgoshia added during the party conference:

“On the 5th of July, the entire world watched the beginning of the end of liberal tyranny, and observed that billions invested [from abroad] to degrade the nation and battle against Orthodoxy and religion came to nothing….In this oldest orthodox nation, journalists or politicians should not dare to harm the Church and God.”

He also promised his supporters that this party will transform and change Georgian political reality. It’s difficult to determine whether their goals are realistic, or if this is just another pro-Kremlin party doomed to fail, but the reality is that Georgia obviously faces a severe threat from the formation of this pro-Kremlin party. It’s a strong indicator that Russia’s propaganda machine has been unleashed on a greater scale. No one knows how much electoral support will they gain in the future elections and how influential they will be in Georgian politics, but it is still vivid now that Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations are already harmed by this party. It is also worth noting that this party is hazardous since it favors violence as a political tactic and it is not difficult to foresee that this party’s entry into Georgian politics will exacerbate the polarization in the country that is already split politically. Right now, opposition members of the parliament are focused on this party and are even considering petitioning the constitutional court to abolish it, which would require the votes of 30 members of Parliament.

Lasha Gamjashvili

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