On November 21, 2020, a Facebook page „საერო გაზეთი“ (Secular newspaper) published an interview with Reverend Melchisedech (Elizbar Diakonidze), a priest who serves in Greece. Diakonidze claimed that aside from committing other crimes, Mikheil Saakashvili also gave the citizenship of Georgia to 28,000 Turks in one day, meaning that these people were participating in an electoral process together with their families and that 50,000 Turks voted for the United National Movement (UNM).
Reverend Melchisedech: “Saakashvili is the man who gave the citizenship of Georgia to 28,000 Turks in one day. Today, these 28,000 Turks, together with their families, voted for the United National Movement. This accounts for 50,000 votes. Saakashvili is a curse, who, just like Constantine Mirza, led the enemy of Georgia into the country. I would also recall Giorgi Saakadze who led Shah Abbas to Georgia and destroyed him here, near Martqopi”.
The information disseminated by Elizbar Diakonidze about 28,000 Turkish citizens receiving the Georgian citizenship during the rule of the previous government is not true. Only 3,050 Turkish citizens received Georgian citizenship between 2004-2018, with 2,886 receiving it during the UNM rule. The report about 50,000 Turkish votes, hypothetically calculated from 28,000 Turkish citizens’ family members, is fake too. According to the Electoral Code of Georgia, only citizens of Georgia are allowed to participate in the elections.
Various other actors have also spread reports that tens of thousand Turkish citizens were given the Georgian citizenship during the UNM rule. These include the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia and a pro-Kremlin edition News Front which reviewed this issue in a xenophobic context of a Turkish expansion and their involvement in political processes.
According to the statistical figures provided by the Ministry of Justice of Georgia to Myth Detector, a total of 3,050 Turkish citizens, not 25,000, received the Georgian citizenship in the last 14 years. Citizenships have been awarded on an exceptional basis. During Saakashvili’s rule (2004-2013), 2,886 Turkish citizens received the Georgian citizenship.
During the rule of "Georgian Dream" (2014-2018) 164 Turkish citizens received the Georgian citizenship.
The report about 50,000 Turkish citizens in Adjara voting in the elections is false.
Reverend Melchisedech’s statement that the 28,000 Turkish citizens, who received the Georgian citizenship, together with their family members, accounted for 50,000 votes for the UNM in the October 31, 2020 Parliamentary Elections, is false too. According to the paragraph 3.a.a. of the Electoral Code of Georgia, only citizens of Georgia aged 18 or turning 18 on the election day are allowed to participate in the elections. Therefore, if the family members have not received the Georgian citizenship, they would not get the voting right. Moreover, it should also be considered that in 2014-2018, a total of 3,050 Turkish citizens received the Georgian citizenship and showcasing their total number as 50,000 is simply a hypothetical assumption.
Dissemination of disinformation.
It is noteworthy that the disinformation about Mikheil Saakashvili illegally granting the Georgian citizenship to 28,000 Turkish citizens in 2012 was simultaneously disseminated on November 14-15, 2020, several days before the second round of the 2020 Parliamentary Election, by Facebook accounts supporting the Georgian Dream and opposing the opposition: ლიდერი 41 (Leader 1), დავით-გარეჯი საქართველოა (Davit-Gareji is Georgia), სიმართლე (Truth), მოგიტყანთ ოპოზიცია (F*** your opposition), გასამართლდეს ნაციონალური მოძრაობა (Convict the United National Movement), “სიმართლის გზა” (Way of truth), ჩემი საქართველო აქ არის (My Georgia is here), “2012” ერთად ავახდინოთ ქართული ოცნება (“2012” Let us make our Georgian Dream come true).
An identical text was disseminated on these pages and groups together with Saakashvili’s photo. The post mentions that thanks to Saakashvili, Turkey’s influence especially grew in Adjara and, in fact, they (Turks) do not obey the Georgian Government anymore. The widespread posts repeat Reverend Melchisedech’s narrative about 28,000 Turkish citizens becoming the supporters of the UNM after becoming the citizens of Georgia and casting their votes for the opposition at the October 31, 2020 election.
About the Secular Newspaper
Their Facebook page indicates that the newspaper is published on Wednesdays. Their website is currently down. However, their old website mentions that the newspaper has been publishing since March 2008 and its Editor-in-Chief is Vakhtang Kharchilava.
By Medea Sulamanidze
The article uses data by CrowdTangle, a Facebook search tool.
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