The Democracy Research Institute continues to study the main trends of far-right groups’ and their leaders’ activities in social network and online media.
As in previous months, in January the following characteristics of the Georgian far-right discourse was identified: 1) Attempt to stir up anti-Western attitudes in the Georgian population and, thus, discredit the Western institutions; 2) Dissemination of pro-Russian messages; 3) Introduction of irrational fears and hatred into society by spreading various disinformation and manipulations.
Far-right groups in Georgia actively use social network Facebook to instill Euro-skepticism and raise anti-Western attitudes in society. The far-right discourse is characterized by overly populist and propagandistic content.
Anti-Liberal Messages of Far-Right Groups
In January, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) became the target of far-right groups. The public opinion poll results released by NDI on the 16th of January was followed by widespread criticism from far-right Facebook groups such as: “Anti-Paradox”, “PressTitution” and “Anti-Liberal League”. They spread the information that NDI and its Head of Tbilisi office Laura Thornton are politically biased and unreliable. Far-right Facebook page “Anti-Liberal League” has released the meme with the images of David Bakradze, Irma Nadirashvili and Nodar Meladze to further emphasize NDI’s “links” with United National Movement.
Anti-Western Messages of Far-right Groups
In January, the discourse of far-right groups and media were also loaded with anti-Western messages which were disseminated based on the obviously incorrect information. For example, an openly pro-Russian media outlet News Front Georgia published a misleading article about the detention of British Ambassador to Iran Robert Macaire for taking part in the protests. The claim of Pro-Russian and Kremlin-based media outlets that Ambassador Macaire was leading the protests is disinformation. BBC reported that the Ambassador attended a vigil for those who died in the plane crash and he was detained on his return to the embassy. According to the Iranian embassy in the United Kingdom, the Ambassador's arrest was a misunderstanding. Disinformation about the arrest of the British Ambassador to Iran was spread by Kremlin media outlets such as Russia Today, Ria Novosti and gazeta.ru.
Xenophobic and Anti-immigration Messages
In January, the far-right discourse was also dominated by xenophobic and anti-immigration messages, largely based on facts manipulation and disinformation. The discrediting campaign against migrants has traditionally been continued by pro-Russian media outlets such as “Georgia and the World” „Tvalsazirisi”. Disinformation about Iranians purchasing 134,000 apartments in Georgia was spread on this online platform. According to statistics released in 2019 by the State Commission on Migration Issues, real estate registered by Iranian citizens in 2015-2018 is 5,598 in total. Accordingly, the information that Iranian citizens have purchased more than 100,000 apartments in Georgia is fake. This information with anti-Iranian attitudes was spread on far-right Facebook group „Kardhu”.
The monitoring was possible with the financial support of the Embassy of the Netherlands in the framework of the project "Understanding and Combating Far-Right Extremism and Ultra-Nationalism in Georgia”.