The Kremlin’s fake news machine swirl COVID-19 conspiracies

Tornike Zurabashvili

To quell the impact of pro-Kremlin disinformation campaigns ahead of the milestone October parliamentary elections, the government, Facebook and civil society organisations will need to take more proactive measures.

Georgia has been particularly affected by Russian information operations, especially in light of its troubled political relations with Moscow and the country’s generally unabated pro-western course. Over the last few years, large numbers of Kremlin-funded and domestic news websites and social media pages have carried out a massive information offensive against the country, undermining societal trust towards the West, public institutions and civil society organisations. They have been particularly active in the electoral periods, campaigning extensively against liberal values and liberal-minded politicians.

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Disinformation and other tools of antidemocratic influence: an Armenian outlook in the EU and Eastern Partnership context

By Armen Grigoryan

Growing Chinese influence observed by Freedom House

The recent Freedom House Nations in Transit 2020 report pays particular attention to the growing Chinese influence in a number of countries in Central and Eastern Europe, and in Central Asia. The report notes: ‘While China’s international engagement is often less directly confrontational than Russia’s, it nevertheless has an insidious effect on the development and functioning of democratic institutions … influence campaign is focused around two major goals — expanding the country’s influence abroad, and promoting a positive image of China globally. … It tailors its approach to each individual country, taking advantage of institutional weaknesses, and surreptitiously embedding itself into corrupt political and economic structures. The aggregate impact of these measures is the further degradation of good governance, transparency, and the rule of law’.

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Undercurrents: Defining Pandemics, and Mikheil Saakashvili’s Ukrainian Comeback

This week, Ben speaks to Charles Clift from the Global Health Programme about the WHO’s communication challenges around the coronavirus. They explore how pandemics are defined, and the implications of when the announcement was made. Then Agnes meets Max Fras to find out how former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has gained political office in Ukraine. 

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In Georgia, the opposition may become the next COVID casualty

By Max Fras

While Georgia’s lockdown enjoys support at home and abroad, the public health crisis has had a negative impact on the country’s political pluralism and opposition. As every Caucasus democratisation conference speaker is likely to remind you, democracy is what happens between the elections as much as what happens during them.

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The origins and use of some propaganda techniques and conspiracy theories


Armen Grigoryan
AIISA partner expert
Eurasia Democratic Security Network fellow

INTRODUCTION

Disinformation, fake news, and conspiracy theories have been a part of the Armenian political discourse for a long time, also long before the Internet was there. A part of the younger generation of Armenians may be less aware about some realities, so the narrative about the early era of independence, or, more generally, about the 1990s being “years of darkness and cold” still finds its way sometimes. Middle-aged people may easily remember the propaganda campaign against the top state officials of that time, who were accused of shutting down the Armenian nuclear power plant (which, in fact, had been shut down by a decree of the Soviet government in 1989) and “guzzling fuel oil” (i.e. misappropriating it), thereby causing a shortage of electricity. The top propaganda topic, however, was “selling Karabakh”: that is how propaganda labeled suggestions about solving the conflict on the basis of compromise.

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Why is Georgia succeeding with the coronavirus where many Western countries are failing?

By Alexander Scrivener

When the biggest health crisis in a century hits, where would you prefer to be: the Netherlands or Georgia?

Until very recently, almost no one would name the South Caucasus country as their choice. Even the most patriotic Kartveli would admit that having the money, facilities and expertise of a very high income west-European nation would put the Dutch in a much better position to prevent and mitigate the spread of a pandemic. Indeed, the Netherlands came 3rd in the latest Global Health Security Index which measures preparedness for disease outbreak. In that index, Georgia comes a creditable but not earth-shattering 42nd.

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Crisis in Abkhazia: What You Need to Know

Tornike Zurabashvili is a former editor of Civil.ge and a fellow at the Eurasia Democratic Security Network (EDSN).


The past few months have been eventful in Abkhazia, a region of about 200,000 inhabitants located on the north-western edge of Georgia, and controlled – militarily, politically and economically – by the Russian Federation.

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