Russian Influence on Georgian NGOs and Media

News | Research | Good Governance | Media Internet Telecommunications | Publications 22 July 2015

The study was prepared for the website damoukdiebloba.com by the new initiative group

 

The conference held in May 2015, prior to the Riga Summit of the EU Eastern Parnership, with the participation of representatives of international media and related NGOs, discussed the ways of counteracting Russian propaganda. Representatives of all countries stressed the enhancement of Russia’s “soft power”, and suggested that Russia uses local media and NGOs as its primary weapon.


Georgia is no expection for that matter. Recently there has been significant increase of anti-western rhetoric in social networks, online media, various radio and TV programs. Such purposeful narrative facilitates popularization of Russian rhetoric. Meanwhile, the organizations depicting the West (the U.S. the EU) as Georgia’s enemy, are distinguished with xenophobic, homophobic statements, and make emphasis on the restoration of Russian-Georgian “friendship”, normalization of the relations, or Georgia’s neutrality.


The present research discusses the NGOs and Media organizations which we believe are distinguished with such rhetoric. The two organizations especially active in this connecting are – Eurasian Institute and Eurasian Choice.


It’s worth mentioning that the founders of these organizations are also in charge of other organizations.


For instance, the Young Political Scientists’ Club founded by Eurasian Institute and People’s Movement for Russian-Georgian Dialogue and Cooperation. Partners of the institute are non-commercial legal entity Historical Heritage- founder of Georgian and the World (Geworld.ge) edition, information portal Saqinform and Iverion.


Founder of Eurasian Institute Gulbaat Rtskhiladze is also co-founder of Caucasian Cooperation together with former Public Defender Nana Devdariani. The latter in turn is founder of a number of organizations, including Global Research Center and People’s Orthodox Movement.


Eurasian Choice is headed by Archil Chkoidze. Its co-founder is Socity of Erekle the Second, also with markedly pro-Russian rhetoric. Chkoidze is most frequently cited by Russian propagandist media outlets. Eurasian Choice has its own internet television-Patriot TV.


The aforementioned organizations pursue their activity in two directions. If Eurasian Institute in mainly engaged in analytical activity, organization of conferences and seminars, Eurasion Choice, for that matter, carries out more proactive activity by holding various rallies and demonstations.


The research revealed that the meetings organized by the given organization mainly involves the same participants being ultimately associated with either Eurasian Institute or Eurasian Choice.


None of these organizations have disclosed their source of financing on their websites. However, several Russian foundations have themselves included some of the organizations on the partners’ list.


For instance, International Eurasian Movement-organization of Alexander Dugin, ideologist of the Eurasian Union and aggressive Russian expansionist policy, suggests Eurasian Choice to be its partner in Georgia1.


An article of International Eurasian Movement published in July 2013 reads the following: “Several NGOs have united around the popularization of the idea of Eurasian Union in Georgia. The NGOs have united under the Eurasian Union-Georgia coalition.


International Eurasian Movement also names Society of Erekle the Second and Eurasian Institute as part of the main locomotive of the Eurasian movement in Georgia, as well as the Georgian Minister of Security in 2001-2004, Valeri Khaburdzania, founders of Society of Erekle the Second and Eurasian Choice: Archil Chkoidze and his spouse, Maia Khinchagashvili2. Eurasian Institute conducts Russian language courses with the support of Russian state budged-backed Russian World organization.


The Gorchakov Fund is yet another organization actively operating in Georgia, founded by order of former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. One of the members of its board of advisers is Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Gorchakov Fund has founded Russian-Georgian Public Center in Georgia, which was headed by historian Zaza Abashidze. Like Nana Devdariani, Abashidze was also a member of Kakha Kukava’s Free Georgia Party during the 2012 parliamentary elections, and was appointed Head of the Georgian National Center of Manuscripts (formerly Institute of Manuscripts) in spring 2015.


Referring to open sources the present research discusses the activity of these and other organizations and the projects they have implemented in Georgia.

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