Migrants

Disinformation about Millions of Iranian Migrants Allegedly Heading to Georgia

6 February, 2019

On January 27, 2019, a Facebook page Made in Georgia shared an article released by vanoggg.ge headlined “Regretful and very dangerous information disseminated right now: the flow of millions of migrants is moving from Iran to Georgia.” The original source of this information is the September 7, 2018 Facebook post by Soso Manjavidze, former member of the Alliance of Patriots, which was later reposted by vanoggg.ge without any editorial comment, just with referring to Presa.ge. Soso Manjavidze claims that 20-25 buses full of Iranians are arriving in Georgia on a daily basis. He also notes that the purpose of mass arrival of Iranians in Georgia is to impose direct rule on eastern Georgia. Manjavidze demands the Georgian government to abolish non-visa rules with Iran and calls on the public to demand the ban on granting residence permits to foreign nationals. It is worth noting that Soso Manjavidze’s post, when it was first disseminated by Presa.ge, had an editorial comment, pointing at a xenophobic content of the statement.

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The information as if a large number of Iranian migrants are arriving in Georgia is a lie. Only 442 Iranians were granted Georgian citizenship in a period between 2004 and April 2018. So, Iran is ranked 5th, according to these data. In terms of issuing residence permits, Iranian citizens are outstripped by the citizens of at least three other countries. In addition, the image added to Manjavidze’s statement is manipulative, because it actually depicts Afghan migrants in Iran rather than Iranian migrants in Georgia.

Fact No. 1. Only 442 Iranians were granted Georgian citizenship in a period between 2004 and April 2018. So, Iran is ranked 5th, according to these data. The highest figure of granting citizenship was reported in respect of Russia – 21 660

According to the statistical data provided by the Ministry of Justice on granting Georgian citizenship to foreign nationals in 2004-2018, only 442 Iranian citizens were granted citizenship during 14 years and the country is ranked 5th according to these data. The highest figure of granting citizenship was reported in respect of Russia – 21 660.     

Statistical data on granting Georgian citizenship:

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Fact No. 2.  In terms of issuing residence permits, Iranian citizens are outstripped by the citizens of at least three other countries.

According to the data of the 2017 Migration Profile of Georgia released by the State Commission on Migration Issues, Iranian citizens are ranked among top five countries only in two out of four types of residence permits. The released data show that residence permits are most frequently issued to the citizens of Turkey, India and China.

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Photo manipulation

vanoggg.ge and geonius.ge added an image to Manjavidze’s statement about large numbers of Iranian migrants allegedly arriving in Georgia on a daily basis. The image actually depicts Afghan migrants in Iran rather than Iranian migrants in Georgia. Following the image verification, the Myth Detector found out that it was released by Iranian-language Deutsche Welle on April 1, 2012. The latter indicates that the photo depicts Afghan migrants in Iran.

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Repeated disinformation

Although Soso Manjavidze released the statement on Iranian migrants on September 7, 2018, vanoggg.ge and then Facebook page Made in Georgia spread it again on January 27, 2019.    

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The same information with identical headlines was also released by geonius.ge and news.net.

About the sources

vanoggg.ge, geonius.ge and news.net belong to the category of websites whose incomes largely depend on the number of views; these are clickbait websites. Similar online media outlets generate incomes based on the number of clicks. Just therefore, to increase number of viewers and exert emotional influence on users, they release dangerous, populist or xenophobic reports with sensational headlines.


Prepared By Giorgi Bolkvadze
Regional Network of Media Literacy Lab