DRI: Vazha Pshavela Telavi State Theater allows openly pro-Russian, violent Alt-Info to use theater building for meeting
The Democracy Research Institute continues to monitor the activities of the Conservative Movement/Alt-Info. The openly pro-Russian violent group is preparing to participate in the parliamentary elections in 2024. The group is provided space for their meetings, inter alia, by the state-funded legal entities of public law.

After the official statement released by the State Security Service on September 18, 2023, the leaders of the far-right radical movement Conservative Movement/Alt-Info, Zurab Makharadze, Giorgi Kardava, Irakli and Shota Martinenkos announced "Anti-Maidan". At the briefing held on September 25, 2023, the leaders of the pro-Russian group stated that it was necessary to mobilize like-minded people and create organized, cohesive groups throughout Georgia. The Democracy Research Institute has already written about this.

The regional visits of Conservative Movement/Alt-Info leaders started on October 1, 2023. The group held meetings in four cities - Telavi, Gori, Rustavi and Mtskheta.

Meeting in Telavi  

The meeting in Telavi was held on October 1, 2023, at the Vazha Pshavela Telavi State Drama Theater. The theater is a legal entity of public law and is financed by the state. The director of the theater, Paata Guliashvili, has been holding this post since 2012. He has received GEL 77,309 from the state through simplified purchases since 2019. In the 2018 presidential elections, Paata Guliashvili took part in the events held within the framework of the election campaign of Georgian Dream-backed presidential candidate Salome Zurabishvili.

At the meeting held in Telavi, representatives of the pro-Russian forces openly talked about the importance of Anti-Maidan and the 2024 parliamentary elections. Shota Martinenko confirmed that the pro-Russian group was preparing to participate in the 2024 parliamentary elections.

"Now we have two immediate tasks. One is effective organization for Anti-Maidan and second, elections scheduled for the next year. The events being held now will be a very important basis for building the unity that will help us achieve a very important result in the elections next year."

Meeting in Rustavi  

At the meeting held in Rustavi on October 7, 2023, the Conservative Movement/Alt-Info leaders openly declared that they would confront the West. The leader of the movement, Irakli Martinenko, said: "We are confronting the West. They are organizing a coup so that their agents can seize power and drag our country into war."

Another leader of the group, Zurab Makharadze, said: "After we mobilize people from all over Georgia, the first thing you should realize is the next threat - there will be several hundreds of trained provocateurs, we should knock them down so that no similar things happen again in any city of Georgia. They must disappear."

Meeting in Gori

An organizational meeting of Anti-Maidan was held in Gori on October 14, 2023, where the leader of the radical and pro-Russian group, Zurab Makharadze, again stood out with violent and threatening messages: "If anyone is afraid, we have only one thing to say about such people. Stay home and nothing will happen. If you come out, start burning, destroying and dragging this country into war, then we will also come out and we will finish you off."

Meeting in Mtskheta

An organizational meeting was held in Mtskheta on October 21, 2023. Unlike other regional meetings, Konstantine Morgoshia also attended the meeting. The Conservative Movement/Alt-Info leaders met with experts and political scientists. According to Shota Martinenko, one of the main goals of the event was the formation of the Anti-Maidan council and an alternative political and ideological platform, which would be a counterweight to the liberal agenda.

The Democracy Research Institute considers that the authorities’ attitude towards the violent pro-Russian groups is emphatically loyal. On the one hand, the Ministry of Internal Affairs summons Zurab Makharadze for questioning due to the violent statements related to Anti-Maidan, and on the other hand, the Telavi State Theater gives space to the violent organization for meetings.
The Democracy Research Institute calls on the authorities to:
  • stop inciting the violent groups
  • refuse to give meeting and work space to the violent groups
  • adequately assess the threats arising from the expansion and increased legitimacy of the pro-Russian violent groups.
  • prosecute the organizers of the events of July 5, 2021 and July 8, 2023.