News
DRI: Liability for war propaganda must be tightened
07.03.2022

From February 24, 2020 until today, against the background of the military aggression carried out by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, the Alt Info broadcasting company has been spreading pro-Russian and pro-Kremlin narratives particularly aggressively. Unlike many other European countries, Georgian channels are still justifying the war waged by Russia.

It is permissible to perceive the spread of Russian propaganda as a threat and to take measures to be protected from it for the purpose of ensuring state security and public safety (Constitution of Georgia, Articles 17.2, 17.5). The first paragraph of Article 56 of the Law of Georgia on Broadcasting prohibits propaganda for any kind of war.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) does not consider war propaganda or hate speech that promotes discrimination, hostility or violence to be freedom of expression.[1] According to the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, broadcasting cannot enjoy the right provided for in Article 10 of the Convention if the right is exercised against the values ​​of the Convention, including by supporting violence and violating Article 17 (Prohibition of abuse of rights).[2]

On 27 February 2022, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, stated that Russian state media broadcasting would be banned in EU member states on the grounds that it was unacceptable to justify Putin's war in Ukraine.[3] The efforts of the European Union to ban Russian propaganda media were preceded by an initiative by Ivars Āboliņš, Chairman of the Latvian National Electronic Media Council (NEPLP), to restrict the broadcasting of Russian propaganda channels for years.[4] The Polish National Broadcasting Council adopted a resolution on the removal of the registration of Russian channels from broadcasting.[5] The Estonian Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority removed Russian-language channels from broadcasting.[6] Following the appeal of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the UK communications regulator Ofcom launched the process of revision of the licence of a Russian propaganda media outlet to prevent the spread of "harmful disinformation".

Georgian law does not provide for an adequate response mechanism in case of war propaganda. Although the Georgian Law on Broadcasting unequivocally prohibits propaganda for war, breaches can only be addressed through self-regulatory mechanisms.

The obligation to comply with Directive 2010/13/EU on Audiovisual Media Services is provided for in the Association Agreement. According to paragraphs 44 and 94 of Article 1 and paragraph 4 of Article 7 of the Directive, self-regulation may be an effective means.

The Democracy Research Institute considers that a self-regulation mechanism is an ineffective means against war propaganda.

Accordingly, taking into account the practice of European countries, the Democracy Research Institute calls on:

  • The Parliament of Georgia - to immediately start legislative work in order to develop a package of effective sanctions against propaganda for war of a hostile state
  • Electronic communications network operators - to show high state responsibility and take appropriate measures to restrict the transmission of the Kremlin propaganda media in Georgia.

 

The Russian propaganda narratives voiced on Alt-Info:

1. "Russia avoids the use of heavy artillery and aircrafts in populated areas. Consequently, Russia has to carry out its operation mainly through attacks and full of military losses. For example, if I were Russia, I would use them more actively. From a purely military point of view, the city can be damaged, but as the enemy has entered the city, it means that it does not care for the civilians either. Nevertheless, Russians are avoiding casualties among civilians."[7]

2. "As a rule, Russians do not enter cities, but Kharkiv is an exception, which has a population of 2 million. It is the only exception and there are Russia's political interests, since Russia may need a large base of population if there is an attempt to form an alternative government in eastern Ukraine and to turn the city into an alternative center. This should happen in Kharkiv."[8]

3. "The Ukrainian authorities are making a strategic mistake. They have no command and act spontaneously, at the level of self-initiative. This is possible only because Russia is not using its full efforts in this war. It may sound cruel but I would prefer that fewer soldiers of my army be killed than those of the enemy, including civilians. I would rather use lots of 500 kg air bombs than think about not damaging a house somewhere.[9]

4. "Ukrainian President Zelensky, in fact, acts in accordance with the tasks of the West. The West has lost the war and now they are trying to get some benefits from this lost war. The only chance for this is the spread of tragic footage by the Western media. Weapons are distributed to the population in Ukraine solely for the purpose of increasing the number of casualties.[10]

5. "Russia will achieve a quick and convincing victory in this war. Many think that Ukraine is winning and Russia will no longer have an army. Some also think in Georgia that we can attack Russia now. It is impossible for Ukraine to win a war in which Russia has a colossal advantage."[11]

 

[1] Propaganda and Freedom of the Media, Non-paper, https://www.osce.org/fom/203926?download=true (accessed 5 Oct. 2019), p. 17. 

[2] In Roj TV A/S v. Denmark (dec.), 2018

[3] See Statement by President von der Leyen on Ukraine (europa.eu)

[4] See Russian TV channels to be banned for years in Latvia / Article (lsm.lv)

[5] See Polish regulator bans Russia Today, other Russian TV channels – The First News

[6] See Estonia bans Russian-language broadcasters (gazettengr.com)

[7] Giorgi Kardava in the Alt Analytics programme, 27.02.2022

[8] Zura Makharadze in the Alt Analytics programme, 27.02.2022

[9] Giorgi Kardava in the Alt Analytics programme, 27.02.2022

[10] Irakli Martinenko in the Alt Analytics programme, 27.02.2022

[11] Shota Martinenko in the Alt Analytics programme, 27.02.2022

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