Georgian Stratcom: Criticism of the government is more threatening than Russian disinformation

The Georgian government’s strategic communications departments mostly target government critics and hardly address Russian disinformation, according to a new study by the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), a watchdog group in Georgia.

The Coalition for Information Integrity, a coalition of civil society organizations devoted to thwarting Russian information warfare and deception, conducted a research.

Source: Global Strategy

ISFED chair Nino Dolidze cited a recent report by Meta, the parent company of Facebook, in her remarks at a conference on hybrid threats and disinformation in Tbilisi yesterday. This report specifically linked the StratCom division of the Georgian government to a network disseminating false information and attempting to sway public opinion in Georgia. The operation, which was established with assistance from the EU and the US to purportedly counter Russian disinformation, was consequently linked to 80 accounts, 26 Pages, and 9 Groups that Meta removed.

Facebook had removed the governing party-affiliated sites and profiles for engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behaviour,” but this was the first time a government agency tasked with fighting misinformation had been directly implicated in disinformation itself.

The results of Meta’s research have not in any way been disputed by the Georgian government.

The ISFED report noted the usually inactive participation of the ministries and stated that as of 30 April 2023, the Ministry of Defense spent around 60% of its published postings on what it deemed to be “disinformation” that was spread in Georgian critical media.

“Posts published on Stratcom’s pages do not contain information on how Georgia should directly confront these threats,” the ISFED claimed.

Additionally, Ms Dolidze claimed that the StratComs speak in an overly antagonistic manner while addressing the press. Certain posts claimed that Georgian media outlets were “enemies of the state and the church,” among other things.

Photo: Firn and Joel Carillet/iStock/Getty

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