Far-right groups’ pro-Russian media discourse in the Russia-Ukraine war context
Right alongside Russia’s military intervention and the attack on civilians in Ukraine that started on February 24. 2022, the Kremlin media outlets started actively waging information war that continues to this day. Georgian far-right media platforms are actively participating in this disinformation campaign. Their main goal is to legitimize Russian military aggression. Pro-Kremlin forces propagandist rhetoric is openly aimed at changing the Western-oriented foreign vector and stirring up anti-Western sentiment in society.

Far-right groups in Georgia are spreading disinformation about the ongoing war in Ukraine with the help of Georgian media and social networks that are openly affiliated with the Kremlin. They have unrestricted access to a wide audience, which creates favorable conditions for enhancing pro-Russian influence on public opinion.

This report summarizes the results of the media monitoring conducted by Democracy Research Institute in January-February 2022 to analyze the misinformative rhetoric and keynote discourse of far-right groups. The Democracy Research Institute analyzed 450 cases of misinformation and propaganda content spread on social networks and online media during the reporting period. The report also analyzes political assessments made by the far-right leaders in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war. Openly pro-Russian political entities are waging an infowar using a coordinated network involving various Facebook groups and pages.

The most prominent pro-Kremlin far-right platform belongs to “Alt-Info”, which, in turn, is closely linked to the “Conservative Movement” party. “Alt-Info” is broadcasting pro-Russian narratives on the war using emergency broadcasts, which are then spread to a wide audience through internal Facebook groups and pages related to the “Conservative Movement”. Using coordinated action, "Alt-Info" ensures the rapid and stable stream of disinformation to its followers. “Alt-Info” team is actively using TV and Youtube, along with their Telegram channel. Their official website was brought down by a group of hackers on February 26th.

Another far-right Facebook page that started running active media campaign discrediting Ukriane was “Cardhu”. This page has a history of constant attempts to discredit NATO and is trying to use the current crisis in Ukraine to paint membership of military alliance as a threat to Georgia.

“Sakinform” and “News Front” are also among online media outlets peddling Kremlin rhetoric. They publish articles with the authors openly demonizing NATO and the United States, while voicing the Kremlin narratives about Ukraine, including “Russia only fighting to protect its security”.

The audience of the far-right political party "Conservative Movement" (based on "Alt-Info") was significantly expanded during the reporting period. They opened dozens of regional offices throughout Georgia. Party leaders announced plans to open 84 offices by the end of March.

Since the official income of the party has only been 36,675 GEL from the day of its establishment, the number of offices increasing every week brought questions about the party's financial resources. According to Party Chairman Zura Makharadze, Konstantine Morgoshia is their main sponsor. He denied the party and “Alt-Info“ being financed with black money. As for “Alt-Info”, according to official sources, its financing in 2021 was 269 447 GEL.

Other far-right leaders have also included supporting messages to Russia in their rhetoric. Alexandre Palavandishvili accused pro-Western forces of provoking the war and praised Irakli Gharibashvili’s decision not to support sanctions against Russia as a smart political step.

Far-right leader Levan Vasadze assessed Ukraine’s bid to join NATO as a threat to Russia’s security interests and pressed that Georgia must implement a cautious policy. The leader of the “Alliance of Patriots of Georgia” Irma Inashvili called the supporting the western course a betrayal of national interests and called on the authorities to remain silent instead of supporting NATO membership.

Democracy Research Institute considers methods Alt-Info and the Conservative Movement use for their propagandist media campaigns, such as fake content and manipulated photos and videos to be dangerous. Therefore, studying their activities and financial resources should be a critically important for the authorities.

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