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Main Russian propagandist narratives against Ukraine in Georgia

Russian propaganda is undoubtedly one of Putin’s regime’s main pillars, as it prepares and shapes public opinion in the Russian Federation and abroad in accordance with Russia’s aggressive goals. These propaganda narratives served as a solid foundation for the crimes against humanity carried out by Russia on Ukrainian territory. Georgia’s 20% is currently occupied by Russia, and the country’s political situation is complicated, making it more vulnerable to Russian propagandist narratives than any other country in the world. Russia has always used propagandist narratives against Georgia, but it is interesting to investigate what kind of narratives Putin’s regime uses in Georgia to spread disinformation about Ukraine in order to influence the Georgian public and polarize an already divided society even over this issue. It is important to note that the vast majority of Georgians strongly support Ukraine and, as a result, do not simply believe Russian propagandist narratives, but there is still a multitude of people who is susceptible to the negative impacts of Russian propaganda.

First and foremost, the Russian propaganda machine attempts to justify the brutal war against Ukraine by portraying Ukrainians as Nazis and Fascists and presenting Russia as the liberator of “innocent” Ukrainians living under Nazi rule. Obviously, the Kremlin is the primary source of most of this narrative, but it should be noted that Georgians were exposed to it through pro-Kremlin Alt-Info TV and their conservative movement. Furthermore, the unprovoked and barbaric war is being portrayed by pro-Kremlin media as Moscow’s holy crusade to defend Russian-speaking minorities, who are being persecuted by some Ukrainian groups. Additionally, they attempt to paint the Azov Battalion and Zelensky’s adviser Arestovich as the most extreme fascist components of the Ukrainian military. There are other stories that aim to harm Ukraine’s armed forces’ reputation. The narratives go like this: the Ukrainian soldiers just pretend to protect civilians, but in reality, they use them as human shields; there was a story, which claimed that the Ukrainian soldiers are selling their military equipment to Donbas soldiers, the aim of spreading such a narrative is to portray the Ukrainian armed forces as corrupt, as well as, disorganized, and unable to fight against the Russian army. It is also a common propagandist claim that the heroic battle for Mariupol was exaggerated, because Ukraine does not have enough military resources to fight against Russians and they just try to enhance the morale of the citizens at least.

Georgia, as is well known, did not join the sanctions against Russia, and the Prime Minister of Georgia has made several controversial statements about this since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Alt-Info spread several disinformation narratives about how ineffectual these sanctions would be for the West, while Prime Minister consistently demonstrated that these sanctions would harm Georgians. The main aim of this kind of narrative is that Russians will not suffer from these sanctions as much as the West intends and believes, because ordinary Russians who have never been wealthy are unconcerned about a scarcity of western luxury items ,so as a consequence, according to them, Russians are immune to such “punishments”. These pro-Russian actors strongly underlined the narrative that the European Union still benefits greatly from trade with Russia, even claiming that the US will increase trade with Russia in the energy and grain sectors. These pro-Kremlin actors constantly emphasize that Russia has natural resources and for this reason, it will easily survive this crisis. Another Georgia’s pro-Putin party, “Patriots Alliance,” even emphasized that after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russia received twice as much money from the West as before the invasion. The party’s leader, Davit Tarkhan-Mourav, also spread false information that European companies began buying Russian gas in rubles. Generally speaking, all of these groups are seeking to persuade people that the ruble is stable despite all of Western sanctions.

Moreover, these pro-Russian media outlets and political groups also do their best to disseminate misinformation about the West and its military aid to Ukraine, attempting to portray NATO and the West as insufficient and incapable of deciding the fate of the war. One widely held belief is that the West abandoned Ukraine and doomed it to death. They also claim that the West is doing everything possible to prolong the war and is not interested in ending it at all, and that this is the primary reason for supplying weapons to Ukrainians.

Most importantly, one of the most distinct Russian propaganda narratives is that the West and Ukraine want Georgia to be the second front in their fight against Russia. This narrative is disseminated by the aforementioned and other pro-Kremlin groups, and it is so suspicious and alarming that the Georgian government is also the main actor in instilling fear of war in the Georgian public, which is still suffering from post-war traumas. Even in this brutal crisis, the Georgian government is primarily focused on fighting the opposition parties rather than gaining Western support to deal with potential new Russian provocations. Georgia missed the chance to receive the candidate status of the European Union among Moldova and Ukraine, as a consequence of the controversial actions and statements of the government. This Russian-style propagandist narrative is being spread in order to convince the public that the opposition parties are seeking to drag Georgia into yet another bloody conflict with Russia and the ruling party tries to portray itself as the “savior” and the guarantor of peace and stability in the country. The political climate is undoubtedly challenging, and relations between the West and Russia are deteriorating, but pro-Russian actors in Georgia are striving to further exaggerate the situation in order to enhance fear in the populace. To give a specific example, the Kremlin-controlled “News Front” published an article about the potential for a nuclear disaster and attributed all of the blame to the United States. This article claims that Washington wants to completely destroy Russia or significantly diminish its role in world affairs.

Lastly, it should be highlighted that the government of Georgia is well-prepared to disseminate any kind of false information, destroy opportunities for the nation, but maintain power and, more importantly, protect one individual, the oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili, who has connections to Russia and became a billionaire there.

Lasha Gamjashvili

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Autorius: Voras.online