Politics

Who Pushes Georgia towards Isolationism?

23 February, 2021

Before police detained Nika Melia, leader of the opposition United National Movement (UNM) party, during a special operation at the party headquarters, international partners called on the Georgian government to de-escalate tensions and avoid deepening polarization caused by the political impasse following the 2020 parliamentary elections. They also called on the opposition to end their boycott and fight for electoral reform from inside the Parliament.

Tbilisi City Court’s decision to send Nika Melia to pretrial detention prompted Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia to resign on February 17. Gakharia cited disagreement with his teammates over Melia’s detention as the reason behind his decision, expressing hope that this step would reduce political polarization. Georgia’s international partners called for de-escalation of the situation both prior to and on the day of Melia’s detention on February 23.

In response to Georgia’s western partners, the government and its supporters, as well as pro-Kremlin and antiliberal groups voiced almost similar messages with the following content:

  1. The storming of the U.S. Capitol is an example of terrorism, while in Georgia it is perceived as persecution of opposition
  2. The U.S. Embassy plans a coup in Georgia
  3. If the West asks us to violate the law, we do not need such West
  4. Lithuanian MP and Lithuanian Ambassador should be expelled from the country
  5. Lithuanian politicians are interfering in Georgia’s internal affairs upon the National Movement’s instructions

Message: The storming of the U.S. Capitol is an example of terrorism, while in Georgia it is perceived as persecution of opposition


Georgian Dream

Government supporters

Pro-Kremlin actors

Davit Sergeenko: „Not a single state will allow the encroachment on its state institutions and symbols, and the same happened in the United States several days ago; I mean the detention of those people who organized the storming of the Capitol. This issue consists of three parts – legal, political and information parts - and the last two are simply exaggerated.”

Goga Khaindrava: “An attack on the U.S. Senate and Congress is internal terrorism and what does an attack on the Georgian Parliament mean?

Irakli Jankarashvili, a writer for pro-Kremlin News Front and Tvalsazrisi: “Adam Kinzinger seems to be concerned about Melia’s detention – the man who was storming the Parliament, who did not respect Georgian legislation and who spares no efforts to cause unrests in the country, together with his slobbery leader! Mr. Kinzinger, take care of the Capitol.

Davit Matikashvili: „When the U.S. Capitol was stormed and about 150 persons detained, were the actions taken against them politically motivated?!

Gia Abashidze, pro-government expert, Imedi TV: “In one case, it is a clear example of internal terrorism and in our case, it is so called political persecution of opponents and democratic backsliding

 

Irakli Jankarashvili’s second profile:“You are here so democratic, how many peaceful protesters did you kill on that day [in the Capitol]?”

 

Nikoloz Mchedlishvili, pro-government expert, Imedi TV: "I am surprised to see the double standards that are quite obvious in the statements made by U.S. politicians, because what we saw during the storming of the Capitol… if identification or detention of criminals does not contradict the principles of democracy there, why does it contradict democracy here, in our country…”

 


The same message was also promoted by pro-government Facebook pages (სექტა (Sect), კონსერვატიული პლატფორმა (Conservative Platform)), which were indicating through visual manipulations and tagging the U.S. Embassy that following the Capitol developments, the United States has no moral right to criticize the government for arresting the opposition politician. They accused the United States of using double standards.

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Message: The U.S. Embassy plans a coup in Georgia

Shortly after the U.S. Embassy stated that by detaining the opposition leader the country has backtracked on its path to democracy, a pro-government defense lawyer made remarks, accusing the U.S. Embassy of plotting a coup in the country.

Irakli Zakareishvili, defense lawyer: “During the nine bloody years of Saakashvili’s regime, they did not make even a single protest statement. But now they are organizing a coup to bring executioners from the National Movement back to power!..”

Message: If the West asks us to violate the law, we do not need such West

Nino Labartkava, pro-government journalist: “It does not matter to me whose province and slaves we will be – of America, Europe or Russia!.. Let me reiterate - I do not need Europe and America that will limit themselves only by expressing concern about the territories occupied by Russia, while assessing our government’s decision to enforce the law and detain the criminal leader of the criminal party as democratic backsliding!”

Message: Lithuanian MP and Lithuanian Ambassador should be expelled from the country

A coordinated campaign was unleashed against Lithuanian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Žygimantas Pavilionis, who said during his recent visit to Tbilisi that if Georgia does not unite, it will enter on the path of Belarus that will be a gift for Putin. A member of the Georgian Public Broadcaster’s Board of Trustees demanded his expulsion, while the editor of pro-Kremlin New Front called for the expulsion of the Lithuanian Ambassador:

Editor of pro-Kremlin propagandistic edition News Front Georgia:

Member of Georgian Public Broadcaster’s Board of Trustees, former host of Obieqtivi TV affiliated with pro-Russian Alliance of Patriots party, who is known for his anti-Western remarks

Shota Apkhaidze: Lithuania’s impudent ambassador should be summoned by the Georgian Foreign Ministry for making explanations! Kalinka [referring to Lithuanian Ambassador Andrius Kalindra] should be declared persona non grata and expelled from Georgia to his native village of Alytus [a city in southern Lithuania]!”

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Bondo Mdzinarashvili: “Give him a kick and expel this maniac-loving sick person from the country.”

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Message: Lithuanian politicians are interfering in Georgia’s internal affairs upon the National Movement’s instructions

Georgian Dream and pro-government media

Pro-Kremlin and antiliberal groups, media outlets

Irakli Garibashvili: “Such statements made by the chair of one of the parliamentary committees of the country directly linked to the National Movement, let me note, especially friendly country, are absolutely unacceptable.”

Beka Vardosanidze: “[Irakli Garibashvili] made a statement about the Lithuanian politician, who is a lobbyist of the National Movement.”


 

Nikoloz Samkharadze: “Telling the truth never causes harm; Mr. [Žygimantas] Pavilionis is a partisan friend of the National Movement.”

Jondi Bagaturia: “Chairman of a certain committee has arrived, who gives us recommendations and interferes in internal affairs of our country.”

 

Giorgi Volski: “Žygimantas Pavilionis makes not only inappropriate, but also politically-motivated statements that were voiced from a specific political platform.”

Marshalpress: “Lithuanian Seimas Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Žygimantas Pavilionis, who arrived in Georgia upon Mikheil Saakashvili’s instructions, started to implement the latter’s instructions.”

Obieqtivi, Namdvili Ambebi (Real News), Editorial board: “Unfriendly messages from the lawmaker of our friendly country. Who is Žygimantas Pavilionis who had been sent off to Georgia by Mikheil Saakashvili…”

Shota Apkhaidze, News Front Georgia: “[MEP Andrius] Kubilius and his associates remain to be biased and financially-motivated elements who lobby transnational criminal gang in the form of the National Movement!..”