Georgia's Information Field During the Beginning of the Second Russian War Against Ukraine

DOI: 10.55804/jtsuSPEKALI-16-4


Information warfare and propaganda play a significant role in modern warfare since the conflict is fought simultaneously across five separate domains: the sea, land, air, cyberspace, and space. These domains are employed to achieve capitulation and render a substantial portion of the populace defenceless. Secondly, in the unprovoked war against Ukraine, which Russia started on February 24, 2022, the information war, and especially, its production in individual media, whose target audience was divided into several segments was given a significant role: 1. Ukraine and Ukrainians; 2. Countries that are Ukraine's natural allies, including the whole western world and their partners. Georgia has been and remains on this list and 3. Countries that Russia thought to be allies. Russia had its own goals concerning these groups: in the first case, the demoralization of the combat forces and Ukrainians and preparation for capitulation; The second case is the influence and production of dangerous information propaganda in the societies of Ukraine's partner countries. These countries would discredit Ukraine's management and the goals of Ukraine's defensive war in the way that Western societies would preempt their rights and stop their governments from assisting Ukraine. Finally, in the third group, which Russia considered a partner, the reason for Russia's information war was to draw the societies into their narrative even more, for example, China. Particularly in the case of the West's evaluation, China's narratives on the Russia-Ukraine war heavily draw upon Russian propaganda and present events from a Russian point of view. The US and NATO are portrayed by the Chinese media as aggressors and unreliable allies, while the Ukrainians are described as neo-Nazis. They go so far as to claim that certain Americans are manufacturing biological weapons in Ukraine [Cooper... 2022].


As we previously indicated, Georgia belonged to the second group of nations in this approach to Russia's information war. As a result, Russian information propaganda sought to undermine the Ukrainian state's legitimate defence objectives so that it would lose support among the Georgian population.


In this paper, our task is to use the example of Georgia to show how Russian propaganda was reflected in Georgia through the pro-Russian news channels and troll-bot system, and what was its purpose; How has social media been used to manipulate and control public opinion? Also, how does the dichotomy of war and peace work in Georgia and what purpose does its activation serve in the information field?


The analysis covers the period from February 24 to June 2022.


Since the start of the second Russian war, certain issues have been deliberately pushed throughout Georgia and Ukraine, primarily via social media and pro-Russian websites. They are summarized under several large topics: 1. Evaluation of the actions of the Ukrainian authorities, which take place in the general context of Russian propaganda, for example: [Putin.., 2022: June 27-July 3]; 2. Evaluation of the actions of Western countries, also in the general context of Russian propaganda - the war started at the instigation of the West, and NATO uses Ukrainians as meat to weaken Russia; [Myth.., 2022: February 28-March 7]. 3. The information policy of the Georgian government towards the Ukrainian government in general and the information policy of the Georgian government in the context of dichotomy - we want peace, the Georgian opposition, the Ukrainian government, and America want war and the opening of the second front in Georgia. The evaluations of the Ukrainian authorities towards the Georgian authorities and the responses of the Georgian authorities to them give us the basis for the assumption that parallel to the Russian war against Ukraine, the relations between the Georgian-Ukrainian authorities, in a way, even bore the signs of the initial phase of the information war [Putin.., 2022: May 23-29; June 13-19]; 4. The theme of neutrality, shortly before Russia's invasion of Ukraine was activated in Georgia by a letter addressed to the Russian President, in which politicians representing the pro-Russian spectrum of Georgia presented Putin with neutrality as the best strategy for Georgia. [Military.., 2022]. In the first months of Russia's war against Ukraine, the topic of Georgia's neutrality was particularly active, especially in pro-Russian media [Putin.., 2022: May 1-8].


The correlation between Georgian anti-vaxxer Facebook accounts and anti-Ukrainian sentiments dating back to the early days of the conflict in Ukraine is also intriguing. Among them, the following trends stand out: the Jews' plan to exterminate the Slavic people to fulfil their goal of building the "New Jerusalem". At the same time, the message that Ukraine is a Nazi country, Ukraine is ruled by the Nazi government, and Russia started a war in Ukraine to destroy Nazism was very popular. The topic that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, America and our country's main opposition party "National Movement" are dragging Georgia into war with Russia appeared in the first month of the start of the war in Ukraine, as revealed by the analysis of Georgian websites and social networks [Kistauri, 2022]. The topic of Jews cleansing Ukraine from Orthodox Slavs seems to be one of the lines of Russia's information war, in parallel with the denazification of Ukraine, which can still be seen in the following months ( in April and May), both in the Russian-speaking and the Georgian-speaking Facebook space [Robakidze, 2022].


Also, pro-Russian sentiments and narratives in the media constantly bring up the subject of Georgia's military neutrality [Myth... 2022: 9-16 May]. 3 more main pro-Russian news lines, which have been following the Georgian news space almost continuously since the beginning of the war, are as follows: 1. The West needs the prolongation of the war to weaken Russia for its domination, and the Ukrainian people are sacrificed for it; 2. Western sanctions do not harm Russia. On the contrary, they harm the West [Myth... 2022: 28 April – 2 May]; 3. In Ukraine and Georgia, American bio laboratories are working on the type of viruses that can distinguish and harm people based on national characteristics. Also, America and Ukraine are jointly preparing provocations using chemical weapons to blame it on Russia [Myth... 2022, 18 April -25 April]. Since 2014, the theme of American laboratories has been leading in Russian propaganda. "According to the conclusions made by Western experts, the Kyiv regime was very close to creating a nuclear explosive device. The plutonium needed for this was obtained secretly from the processed nuclear fuel available on the territory of the country. Such a device could have been created by Ukrainian specialists in a few months," the source said in a conversation with the Russian-language service of "Riasa" and RT. Russian diplomatic missions around the world are actively involved in the dissemination of the same type of information, including the Russian Mission to the United Nations in Geneva [mass... 2022].


The Russian narrative of the Bucha catastrophe was actively taking shape in Georgian pro-Russian media and among social media users, as if it had been orchestrated by Ukrainians to cast blame on Russia [Myth..., 2022: 4-11 April]. Russia had similar rhetoric regarding the bombing of the Mariupol theatre, where thousands of civilians took refuge as if the Ukrainians themselves bombed it to blame it on the Russians [Myth..., 2022: 14 - 22 March]. The spread of Russian narratives against President Zelensky also has a permanent character in the Georgian media. In the first days of the war, the theme that civilians were being bombed not by the Russians, but by the Ukrainians themselves was particularly active [Myth..., 2022: 28 February - 7 March].


Based on the above, the topic of Georgian pro-Russian media, including social media, should be conditionally divided into two main directions after the start of Russia's unprovoked war in Ukraine: 1. Spreading pro-Russian narratives on the topic of Ukraine; 2. Stirring up anti-Western sentiments among the population of Georgia, for which the West is accused of trying to involve Georgia in the war, and the local partners are the "party of war",  all opposition parties, free media and non-governmental sector, as well as, indirectly, the United States of America [Myth..., 2022: June 13-20; June 27]. In the second task, their interests coincide with the government's rhetoric. The analysis of the Georgian media in parallel with the Russian media clearly and undisguisedly shows the traces of Russian influences and the main strongholds of the Russian information war in the Georgian media space and social networks; examples are visible in the reviews published on the Myth Detector and Fact-Meter websites [Myth..., 2022: April 4 -11; of Putin.., 2022: May 16-22] [Myth..., 2022: April 4-11]; [Putin.., 2022: May 16-22]. All this is aimed at misinforming the Georgian public and favoring Russia, which would be easy to curb if the special services of Georgia wished to prevent Russian influence.


Finally, it should be noted that government-affiliated Facebook groups and websites, as well as supportive and openly acknowledged media outlets, are all contributing to the spread of Russian misinformation and the Russian narrative regarding the conflict in Ukraine in Georgia. It is important to note that Georgia, in this context, is somewhat cut off from the Western information discourse during the Ukrainian War because it not only forbids the activities of pro-Russian informational and political resources but also has a close relationship with them, as evidenced by many facts. Moreover, since the beginning of the war, the Georgian government has tried to create an "enemy icon", where it "united" the Ukrainian government, the Georgian opposition and critical media, as well as the collective West. The government brought them under a common umbrella with the name - "Supporters of war: supporters of the opening of the second front against Russia in Georgia", thereby mobilizing not only its supporters but also a large part of the population afraid of the prospect of war. It also became clear that in the background of the war in Ukraine, pro-Russian propaganda and information resources are left beyond the regulations in Georgia, which creates a completely favorable environment for them to spread. By doing so, Georgia, on the one hand, distances itself from the content of the general western news mainstream about Russia's unprovoked second war against Ukraine (for example, it discredits the Ukrainian government). On the other hand, it leaves its population vulnerable to the influence of foreign information-subversive operations.


In the current situation, the development of the concept and strategy of information security, which clearly defines the threats and challenges, the mechanisms of response to them and their prevention, and the goals of deterrence and defence, is seen as an urgent task to ensure the defence and security of Georgia.


მასობრივი მოტყუების იარაღი, 10 მარტი, 2022, Issue: 274.მასობრივი-მოტყუების-იარა/
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