Actors Who Mobilized on Social Media to Defend Ivanishvili’s Family

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On October 19, 2022, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine, approved a new list of sanctions, which includes relatives and friends of the founder of Bidzina Ivanishvili, the founder of the incumbent “Georgian Dream” party. According to the presidential decree, among those sanctioned are Bidzina Ivanishvili’s brother – Aleksandre Ivanishvili; Bidzina Ivanishvili’s cousin – Ucha Mamatsashvili; Bidzina Ivanishvili’s nephew – Tate (Tite) Mamatsashvili and Bidzina Ivanishvili’s brother’s wife – Ketevan Kharaidze. The sanctions restrict trade operations on the territory of Ukraine; the transit of resources, flights and transportation; withdrawal of capital outside of Ukraine and the use of licenses and other permits. 

Through the monitoring of Facebook accounts in the period of October 19-25, “Myth Detector” identified messages from the ruling party, government experts and pages directly or indirectly affiliated with the government, which manipulatively connected the imposition of sanctions with the alleged attempts to drag Georgia into the war. Namely:

  • After the government of Georgia refused to join the war with Russia, official Kyiv uses sanctions as a new tool for blackmail;
  • Ukraine is the second country after Russia to sanction Georgia;
  • The West and the “United National Movement” are behind the sanctions.

The following actors have been disseminating the above-mentioned messages:

  • “Georgian Dream” Members: Irakli Kobakhidze, Mamuka Mdinaradze, Levan Karumidze, Irakli Zarkua;
  • Pro-Governmental Experts, other proponents of the government: Edisher Gvenetadze, Irakli Lataria, Zaal Anjafaridze, Levan Nikoleishvili; Vato Shakarishvili (social movement “Ai-Ia”), Nana Kakabadze (“Former Political Prisoners for Human Rights”), Shalva Ramishvili (PosTV).
  • Pro-Governmental Facebook pages that discredit the opposition and individual fake accounts: Simartlis Droa [Time for Truth], პოლიტიკური სატირა / Political Satire, Terenti Gldaneli,  Mikheil Ukrainologist; GeoPress

Notably, part of the Facebook pages (Ai Ia, GeoPress, Political Absurdity)has been sponsoring posts published on the topic. 

Facebook Pages

After the imposition of sanctions on Ivanishvili’s relatives by the Ukrainian authorities, On October 21, the Facebook page “Mikheil Ukrainologist”, which supports the government and discredits the opposition, published a video collage with the following description: “How the Ukrainian government is trying to drag Georgia into the war from the beginning of the war until today.” The video shows statements made by the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and his team about Georgia at different times.

On October 21, anti-opposition and pro-governmental Facebook pages “Terenti Gldaneli,” “Political Absurdity,” and “Time for Truth,” distributed a video collage in a coordinated manner, which allegedly showed the desire of the Ukrainian government, the West and the Georgian opposition to drag Georgia into the war with Russia. The videos were accompanied by the following captions: “They failed to drag us into the war and now they threaten us with sanctions?”; Get involved in the war, or we will sanction you; this is the position of the Ukrainian government”; “Our “well-wishers”. The target of the mentioned clip was not only the Ukrainian authorities but also the US ambassador to Georgia, Kelly Degnan, opposition leaders and representatives of the civil society.

On October 21, the Facebook page “Political Absurdity” published another post, stating that the Ukrainian government is now using blackmail to achieve its unchanged goal of dragging Georgia into the war with Russia.

Sponsored Posts

The public movement “Ai Iasponsored the opinion of the representative of the same movement, Vato Shakarishvili, where he accused the Ukrainian government of organizing provocations and imposing sanctions. The statements of the member of the parliamentary majority, Levan Karumidze, and the philosopher Zaza Shatirishvili were also sponsored by the government-affiliated Facebook page GeoPress, which positions itself as a news agency.

The posts published by the Facebook page “Political Absurdity” were sponsored, emphasizing the alleged attempts of Ukrainian authorities to blackmail Georgia and drag it into the war with Russia.

Messages

  • Sanctions are an attempt by Ukraine to Blackmail Georgia: Individual members of the ruling party, as well as selected pro-governmental experts, asserted that Ukraine imposed sanctions on Bidzina Ivanishvili’s family members in response to their refusal to be drawn into the war with Russia. One of the government experts considered the sanctions for Ivanishvili’s relatives as sanctions imposed on Georgia.
The ruling party

Irakli Kobakhidze, Chairman of the Georgian Dream: “This is an attempt to blackmail Georiga to open a second front and drag the country into the war. To me, this is a desperate attempt. Bidzina Ivanishvili noted in her letter that there was a direct attempt to force him to return to politics through blackmail and to involve the country in war.

Irakli Zarkua, Georgian Dream Member:  “They didn’t dare to sanction Mr Ivanishvili and went to his relatives, because we refused to Mr Danilov,  who compiled this list, to open the second front. He was rightly refused because Georgia does not need to open a front and start a war; we saw it; we already fought in 2008. We want stability and development, and they responded like this and started blackmailing us.”

Mamuka Mdinaradze: This is not only blackmail but also a response to Georgia’s refusal to engage in military operations and the war with Russia… this fact, then the refusal was followed by the sanctions imposed on specific Georgian citizens. On the other hand, of course, at the same time, it is blackmail to somehow ensure Georgia’s involvement in the war.”
Pro-Governmental Experts

Edisher Gvenetadze: “Zelenskyy’s gang organized another cheap trick!” These fools,  in return for not being able to drag Georgia into the war, imposed sanctions on Georgia! This is the real face of the Ukrainian government gang! This is the true face of the darkest forces that make Zelenskyy’s gang do this! After that, who will dare to say that the government of Ukraine is our friend?!”

Other proponents of the government

Shalva Ramishvili, PosTV:  “This is blackmail. I think this is even a warning that if we don’t follow, if we don’t announce the second front and engage in a provocation, then the scale will increase.“

  • Ukraine is the second country after Russia to impose sanctions on Georgia

Representatives of the ruling party and selected pro-governmental experts compared the sanctions imposed on Bidzina Ivanishvili’s relatives to Russian sanctions and noted that Ukraine is the second country in the world after Russia to impose sanctions on Georgia.

Representatives of the Ruling Party

Levan Karumidze, Committee on European Integration – First Deputy Chairperson: „For me, it’s a huge disappointment that Ukraine became the second country in the world to impose sanctions on Georgia, second after Russia.”

Pro-Governmental Experts

Edisher Gvenetadze: “You allegedly sanctioned Bidzina Ivanishvili, because Georgia will not get involved in the current war. i.e. You imposed sanctions on the population of Georgia!

Zaal Anjaparidze: “It is interesting that only two countries in the world have imposed sanctions on the citizens of Georgia: Ukraine and Russia. This explains everything.”

Other proponents of the government

Vato Shakarishvili, Social Movement “Ai Ia”: “Only two countries sanction Georgian citizens – Russia and now Ukraine! After that, does anyone still think that Ukraine is our friend?! This is an action by the desperate [Ukrainian] government, which, despite numerous calls and provocations, failed to drag Georgia into the war!

  • Ukrainian Government Acts in Coordination with the West and the United National Movement (UNM):

According to pro-governmental experts, the Government of Ukraine is in direct coordination with the ‘Georgian Dream’s opposition” and the United States, which act against the incumbent Georgian government.

Pro-Governmental Experts

Edisher Gvenetadze: “The government of Ukraine is a typical face and friend of: Saakashvili, Bokeria, Chergoleishvili, Dekanoidze, Chichiko Vashadze… and other two-legged traitors like them!“

Other proponents of the government

Nana Kakabadze, “Former Political Prisoners for Human Rights,” Chairperson:
“The main thing is the clearly uncalculated policy of the Ukrainian government (and probably the US, which is behind them), which has backfired for them. The Georgian-hating people are constantly sticking around the Ukrainian authorities, so it comes as no surprise that Zelenskyy and his team really believe that the Georgian people are striving to open a second front in Georgia (which Ukraine needs so much) and only Bidzina [Ivanishvili] and his team are holding them back. Therefore, they expected mass admiration and support from here.”

Vato Shakarishvili, Social Movement “Ai Ia”: “This is a vendetta against Ivanishvili and the Georgian people! The project remains in place! The US ambassador to Georgia, the fifth column operating in the country, and the puppet government of Ukraine are jointly acting against Georgia!”

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