DRI: Russian propaganda has intensified in Abkhazia after the Russian law "On Transparency of Foreign Influence" was dropped by the Parliament
Russian propaganda has been particularly intensified in the occupied territories after Georgian Dream was forced to drop the so-called Russian draft law, which was directed against independent civil society organizations and the media, in the background of the general public protest.
The protests held in Tbilisi on March 7-8-9 were portrayed by the Russian propaganda as an attempt to open a second front in the occupied territories. By spreading disinformation, they tried to demonize people criticizing the Georgian Dream authorities. The withdrawal of the Russian-spirit draft law "On Transparency of Foreign Influence" regulating the issues relating to the media and non-governmental organizations was considered a "state" threat in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali, and there was a fear that people critical of the authorities might want a war with Russia and, respectively, with the population of Abkhazia. The de facto president of Abkhazia, Aslan Bzhania, and the de facto minister of foreign affairs, Inal Ardzimba, openly stated a position similar to the one expressed by the Russian minister of foreign affairs, Sergey Lavrov. Aslan Bzhania said that they would strengthen their combat readiness, because the opposition in Tbilisi was trying to overthrow the authorities and open a "second front" against Russia.
It should be positively noted that Abkhazia does not/cannot adopt a law of similar content regarding the regulation of the activities of civil society organizations due to the protest of the Abkhazian society. Unfortunately, a similar law has been in effect in Tskhinvali since 2014.
According to the Democracy Research Institute, after the spread of the Russian disinformation that the "war party" had won in Tbilisi and Georgians were planning a military attack on Abkhazia, residents of Gali were asked the following questions by people living in Sokhumi and other cities of Abkhazia: "Are tanks deployed in Zugdidi?!", "When are the “Georgians of Gali” starting a war?!"
According to the source of the Democracy Research Institute, on March 10-11, 2023, the de facto power structures of Abkhazia switched to the emergency regime and mobilization of reservists was announced; On March 11, military units were brought into the Gali region; Heads of civil society organizations of Abkhazia were summoned to the local security service and were questioned about the alleged launch of hostilities by Georgia. On March 14, Aslan Bzhania arrived in Gali. He ordered the immediate construction of defense structures along the dividing line. On March 16, the situation calmed down and military units and special forces began to leave Gali. However, representatives of the local power structure are still working in emergency mode.
The Democracy Research Institute calls on:
The executive and legislative authorities of Georgia to take into account the difficult situation of people living in the occupied territories and not to feed Russian disinformation. To this end, it is necessary to stop demonizing people enjoying freedom of assembly and speech and deepening polarization with civil society.