Georgia in U.S. State Dept’s Russian Disinformation Report

Global Engagement Center (GEC) at the U.S. Department of State released a report titled “Pillars of Russia’s Disinformation and Propaganda Ecosystem,” which among others, refers to Kremlin-linked propaganda networks targeting Georgia.

The report, published on August 6, offers an overview of Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem and outlines the five pillars of it. According to GEC, when it comes to threats coming from malign actors utilizing disinformation and propaganda, “Russia continues to be a leading threat.”

In a report published on August 6, GEC highlighted that Crimea-based News Front – with “reported ties to the Russian security services and Kremlin funding” – operates a multi-lingual website, publishing content in Georgian, among others, and “claiming to have editorial branches in Bulgaria, Serbia, Germany, France, the UK, Georgia, and Hungary.”

The report recalled that in April Facebook removed News Front’s network that posted content in ten languages, including Georgian. 

Citing the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), a Georgian civil society outfit, the report stated that News Front attempted “instigating antagonism and aggression among Georgian Facebook users, dividing the society…creating political polarization” and “employing a range of tactics to spread anti-Western, pro-Russian messages.”

The report also focused on SouthFront: Analysis and Intelligence (a.k.a. SouthFront), “a multilingual online disinformation site registered in Russia.” Allegedly linked to News Front, South Front’s  Facebook accounts which posted in Georgian, among others, were also removed in April.

GEC report wrote about another Russian disinformation and propaganda outlet, linked to Alexander Dugin, an ultranationalist Russian philosopher who “propagates fascist views” and eurasianism ideology.

The concept of “multipolar world” championed by, GEC went on, “translates into a Dugin-envisioned world where Russia dominates its neighbors: divides Georgia; annexes Ukraine, Finland, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece; and “gives away” Azerbaijan to Iran.”

Russian ultranationalist philosopher Alexander Dugin and his followers in Georgia’s Russian occupied Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia in 2008. Photo: GEC report

The report recalled that in 2008, Dugin and his followers from the Eurasian Youth Union (a youth wing of Dugin’s Eurasia Party) traveled to Georgia’s Russian-occupied region of Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia.

Focusing on Russian disinformation amid COVID-19 pandemic, the report noted that “senior Russian officials and pro-Russian media sought to capitalize on the fear and confusion surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic by actively promulgating conspiracy theories”, adding that on 20 March, “News Front insinuated that a U.S. lab in Georgia was involved in the creation of the coronavirus—a narrative News Front continued to promote throughout the period examined.”

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