Western orientation of Ukraine and Georgia targeted by Georgian far-right pro-Russian groups
In February, in the wake of the military attack on Ukraine, the sharply pro-Russian wing of far-right groups has become particularly active in Georgia. The far-right forces try to use the crisis in Ukraine to fuel skepticism in Georgian society against NATO and to illustrate the need for full distancing from the West.
The media monitoring conducted by the Democracy Research Institute made it clear that the propaganda of the far-right forces, which openly support the Kremlin, was aimed at changing Georgia's Western foreign vector and involving the country in Russian-initiated international platforms.
Propaganda and disinformation messages of far-right groups
On February 24, the far-right media platform Alt-Info promptly responded to the Russian military invasion of Ukraine and launched a disinformation campaign against Ukraine in an emergency broadcast format. They used the footage of a chemical warehouse explosion that took place in China in August 2015, which deliberately created fake media content portraying Russia's bombing of Ukraine, the aim of which was to panic population. In addition, the programme was full of anti-Western rhetoric and aimed to portray Russia as a force that has no alternative. The presenters of the programme openly called for a change in the western course of Ukraine and Georgia.
On February 24-25, an anti-Ukraine media campaign became active on the far-right Facebook page Kardhu, which continuously spreads photo/video materials about Russian airstrikes and shelling of Ukrainian cities. The page also attempts to discredit NATO by portraying the membership in the military alliance in the wake of the Ukraine crisis as a threat to Georgia.
Zura Makharadze, the leader of the far-right party Conservative Movement, had a similar rhetoric. In a TV interview with TV Pirveli he said that NATO did not ensure the security of Georgia and that open talks were needed with Russia.
Irma Inashvili, the leader of the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia, also responded to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, terming support for NATO integration as a treason and calling on the Georgian authorities to remain silent instead of openly supporting Ukraine.
The propaganda rhetoric of the far-right pro-Russian forces had intensified even before the start of war in Ukraine.
On February 2, the leader of the Conservative Movement, Konstantine Morgoshia, told Alt-Info in a the Day Comments programme that NATO's real mission was to "destroy Orthodox countries."
On February 12, the hosts of Alt Analytics reviewed the Russia-Ukraine conflict, during which Conservative Movement Secretary General Giorgi Kardava and Chairman Zura Makharadze described the West as a weak side that could not protect Georgia in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis.
The authors of articles published by the pro-Kremlin online platform Georgia and the World openly demonize NATO's military alliance and the United States, repeating the Kremlin narratives that Russia is fighting only for its own security in Ukraine.
The far-right discourse also contained open calls for Georgia’s inclusion in the Russian-initiated "3+3" format. Dimitri Lortkipanidze, head of the Primakov Foundation, posted a statement on his Facebook page on January 22, noting that the passage in the constitution, according to which Georgia belongs to the Euro-Atlantic space, deprives the country of the opportunity to participate in the regional cooperation platform.
On February 21, a few days before Russia's military intervention in Ukraine, the far-right parties - Alliance of Patriots of Georgia, Georgian March and about 50 affiliated organizations wrote an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, expressing support for Georgia's military neutrality and the warming of relations with Russia in this context. The above represents an open and large-scale demonstration of a pro-Russian foreign policy course by the far-right political entities in Georgia.