Who Is Maxim Shevchenko and Why Does Not GNCC’s Media Critic Deem Him “Pro-Kremlin Propagandist”

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Reading Time: 6 minutes


Media outlets reported a couple of days ago that Russian journalist Maxim Shevchenko arrived in Georgia. It emerges from Shevchenko’s video blog that he arrived in Georgia from Azerbaijan and his friends with close links to the government helped him with it. Shevchenko also notes that he himself has good acquaintances within the Georgian government. The Russian journalist clarifies in the video that he paid the visit in “a closed format,” during which he visited Stalin Museum created by Grigol Oniani and held a discussion with him as well.

Shevchenko’s visit to Georgia triggered mixed reactions among government and opposition politicians. Georgian opposition politicians stressed that Shevchenko had violated the Law of Georgia on Occupied Territories for several times in the past. In addition, according to the information posted on the official website of the Georgian Foreign Ministry, citizens of 15 countries, excluding Russia, have the right to cross the Georgian border under the pandemic. The only exception is made for business trips, i.e. individuals entering the country for business purposes. In response to these arguments, Beka Davituliani of the ruling Georgian Dream party clarified that “Maxim Shevchenko violated the Law on Occupied Territories in 2009, but since the statute of limitations passed after six years, he faces no problems with Georgian laws so far. He was invited by a large group of business people; he filled in a business application and entered the country under simplified rules…”

It is noteworthy that since 2009, Shevchenko visited Russian-occupied Tskhinvali region in January 2011. According to the office of South Ossetian leader’s special envoy for the post-conflict settlement, Maxim Shevchenko, member of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, paid a friendly visit to “the Republic of South Ossetia.”

Who is Maxim Shevchenko and what messages has he voiced regarding Georgia and the occupied regions at different times

Maxim Shevchenko is a Russian journalist, blogger and one of the leaders of Russia’s Left Front. He had been involved in public and political activities at different times. For example, in 2008-2010, he was a member of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, heading a group working on the issues of development of civil society institutions. From 2012 to 2018, he was a member of Russia’s Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights.

What has Maxim Shevchenko said about Georgia and the occupied regions at different times?

The Abkhaz and South Ossetians never wanted to be Georgian citizens

“The Abkhaz people protected their right to independence with arms in 1993. Not a single citizen of Abkhazia and South Ossetia has ever had a Georgian passport. I think, they have never applied for Georgian citizenship.”

Maxim Shevchenko, 21 August 2008

Russia should recognize the sovereignty of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“Russia should definitely recognize the sovereignty of both Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It is beyond any doubt. Moreover, I do not know more democratic procedure than the assembly of Abkhaz people that was held in Abkhazia.”

Maxim Shevchenko, 21 August 2008

“…Without recognition [of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states], the situation might have been much difficult.”

Maxim Shevchenko, 28 September 2010

Sovereignty of Abkhazia and South Ossetia has no alternative 

“It is terrible to suppress the aspirations of national minorities. We know that the Russian Federation’s people have the possibility for national development. I have not heard that the Abkhaz or Ossetians had been offered the status of national languages in Georgia. Unfortunately, the minorities have few possibilities for national development in Georgia. They are simply offered to become Georgians. I would like to reiterate that the state sovereignty of South Ossetia and Abkhazia has no alternative.”

Maxim Shevchenko, 24 January 2011

Georgia should recognize the sovereignty of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and launch direct dialogue with them

“I was always saying and will say even if someone does not like it that Tbilisi will find the key of solving Abkhaz and South Ossetian issues not in Moscow, but in Tskhinvali and Sokhumi. Until Tbilisi understands that direct dialogue with Sokhumi and Tskhinvali is vital, until it understands that regardless of unconditional political and economic dependence of these states on Moscow, they still are the states, though less recognized, the relations will not get normalized.”

Maxim Shevchenko, 3 December 2014

“Tbilisi should understand that Abkhazia and South Ossetia are not rebel provinces, but rather they are partners.”

Maxim Shevchenko, 3 December 2014

Abkhazia had never been part of Georgia 

“The Abkhaz are not separatists. It is a huge lie. Abkhazia had never distanced from Georgia, because actually, it had never been part of Georgia.”
Maxim Shevchenko, 21 August 2008

Peace will be established in the South Caucasus only through the sovereignty of Abkhazia and South Ossetia

„Peace will be established in this region [South Caucasus] only after Abkhazia becomes a sovereign state. I am absolutely sure of it. Until this sovereignty is obscure, military tensions and military conflicts will constantly emerge around this dispute.”

Maxim Shevchenko, 21 August 2008

“Peace will be established in the Trans Caucasus region only through recognizing the state institutions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.”

Maxim Shevchenko, 28 September 2010

It was not Russia that unleashed the war

“It was not Russia that unleashed the war. Russia was forced to get involved. It is quite clear and obvious from conversations with military experts and journalists… [who were present on the ground].”
Maxim Shevchenko, 21 August 2008

Refugees will be able to return to Abkhazia only after Abkhazia’s sovereignty is recognized 

“[To ensure the return of Georgian IDPs to Abkhazia]… we should achieve Abkhazia’s sovereignty and only afterwards, we should work with Abkhazia’s sovereign government recognized by the international community on the issue of return of refugees.”
Maxim Shevchenko, 21 August 2008

Russia discusses regional security issues with the involvement of Tskhinvali and Sokhumi 

“Russia does not intend to discuss regional security issues without Tskhinvali and Sokhumi.”

Maxim Shevchenko, 28 September 2010

At different times, Maxim Shevchenko also voiced anti-Western messages in respect of South Caucasus:

  • The European Union and the United States have nothing to do in the Caucasus and only Russia, Iran and Turkey should control the situation on the ground.
  • World leaders seek destabilization in the Caucasus and unrests are likely to erupt in Georgia following resolution of the Karabakh conflict.
  •  Russia will not be a perfect state without Georgia.
  • Desirable and necessary rapprochement between Russia and Georgia is obstructed by agents of Western influence concentrated in the Russian government.

It is worth noting that amid media and political hype, Georgia’s pro-Russian actors also focused their attention on the Russian journalist’s visit to the country. For example, Temur Pipia, leader of the United Communist Party, told News Front, a pro-Kremlin online media outlet, that Maxim Shevchenko is in love with Georgia and Georgian people and that he supports Georgia’s territorial integrity.

Arno Khidirbegishvili, the editor of Saqinform, a pro-Kremlin online edition, uploaded on his Facebook page the photos depicting his meeting with Shevchenko in Moscow in 2007. Mamuka Areshidze, an expert in Caucasus issues, is also featuring in the photos taken at hotel Мир in Moscow.


According to Khidirbegishvili’s post, Shevchenko said during the meeting: “Georgia will never restore its territorial integrity. Moreover, we can simply incorporate these territories into the Russian Federation; however, we do not want to do it! We are in favor of restoration of justice, but not only for Georgians, but for Abkhaz and Ossetians as well!.. I guarantee that if Georgia chooses neutrality, a lot of money and investments will come to Georgia on the very next day and after three years, you will fully forget that you had problems with Abkhazia.”

GNCC’s Media Critic demands TV channels to prove that Shevchenko is a propagandist

On December 24, Media Critic, an online platform created by Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC), which is mainly targeting media outlets critical of the government, published Zviad Avaliani’s blog “Triple Disinformation about Maxim Shevchenko’s Visit.” The author slams two pro-opposition TV channels – Mtavari Arkhi and Pirveli – for their coverage of Russian journalist’s visit, claiming that the media hype is absolutely groundless and aims at portraying the present government as “a pro-Russian force.” Avaliani also claims that there were no legal grounds to ban Shevchenko from entering the country citing violation of the Law on Occupied Territories and quarantine rules. In addition, he continues, these media outlets have not provided any evidence to prove that Shevchenko is “a pro-Kremlin propagandist” or has “a clearly established anti-Georgian position.”

Zviad Avaliani, Media Critic: “Despite the gravest accusations, neither Mtavari Arkhi, nor TV Pirveli have provided any evidence, article or statement to illustrate that Maxim Shevchenko has a clearly established anti-Georgian position, that “he is known for his hatred to Georgian people” or is “a pro-Kremlin propagandist,” and probably, we should not be surprised, because journalist Shevchenko is not really known for his “hatred to Georgian people” and neither is he known as “a pro-Kremlin propagandist.”

Furthermore, speaking about Shevchenko’s merits, the author said that he even slammed Russian President Vladimir Putin for making factual inaccuracies when talking about historical facts. Avaliani meant Putin’s remarks about the 2019 Georgian protests, dubbed as Gavrilov’s Night. The Russian President said then that Ossetia, as a separate state, joined Russia in the 18th century and Abkhazia – at the beginning of the 19th century. Shevchenko’s criticism was related not to Georgia’s territorial integrity, but rather referring to South Ossetia and Abkhazia as territories rather than states that obviously does not change the Russian journalist’s statements about the sovereignty of Abkhazia and Samachablo. Furthermore, neither does the Media Critic’s article provide evidence to prove that his position towards Georgia’s territorial integrity and Kremlin’s occupation has changed.

Avaliani also cites Shevchenko’s critical attitude towards pension reform in Russia as the second argument; however, neither can this argument serve as a counterargument to Shevchenko’s justification of Russia’s occupation of Georgian territories.


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