Majority Criticizes Minority's Initiative on Restricting Russian Propaganda

Parliament Vice-Speaker and member of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party Gia Volsky has criticized the parliamentary minority European Georgia’s initiative to introduce legislative measures on Russian propaganda.

Volsky says the introduction of such measures is incorrect and at the same time impossible in an era of modern technologies. The talks on restricting Russia’s “soft power” started after the South Caucasus Media Forum, funded by the Russian President’s Foundation, held in Tbilisi on September 5-7 against a background of protest rallies from society and non-governmental organizations.

The Vice-Speaker stated that only Russia will benefit from such a fight, which will encourage the “the syndrome of the forbidden fruit.”

He believes that there are many forums and journalists funded by Russia but they cannot affect Georgian society’s thinking.

“It is nothing new that Russian journalists and politicians do not think as we do… We know their position without their coming to Tbilisi, and their conversations cannot change the attitude of the Government of Georgia, foreign policy or public awareness that the Russian aggression and occupation took place in Georgia,” he stated.

European Georgia suggested adopting legislative changes to restrict Russian propaganda in the country. One of the leaders of the party, Sergi Kapanadze, says the party will elaborate a package of amendments and present it to Parliament for approval in the near future.

He says other political parties also want to get involved in the process and hopes a package will be created that will “eliminate Russian income and Russian projects in Georgia.”

He added that hosting the South Caucasus media forum in Tbilisi was “ridiculous” in the 21st century, 10 years after the August War when Russia occupied 20% of Georgian territories.

“Russian power and propaganda has intensified in Georgia of late, not only in general but in the political field too…We have some politicians who are connected to Russia and want to return our country to the old times,” the MP claimed.

Ada Marshania, one of the leaders of the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia (APG), which is often affiliated with Russia for their regular visits to Moscow and calls to start negotiations with the occupant neighbor, says that Georgians need to be “careful and wise” in their attitude to Russia.

"There will always be an attempt at soft power from all empires, especially one located in the neighborhood…We haven’t learnt our lesson. We have to realize that we have such a neighbor whether we like it or not… We must be cautious and wise, but I do not see it in Georgia,” Marshania stated.

The media forum, funded by the Russian Presidential Grants Foundation and organized by two Russian NGOs – North-South Center and Press Club Unity, together with the Tbilisi-based news agency Georgia and the World, was followed by protest rallies in Tbilisi.

The organizers of the forum, titled “The Role of Media in Confidence-Building in the Region,” claim it has nothing to do with Georgia-Russia relations and only includes seminars and roundtable discussions on political and media developments in the region, with Russian journalists taking part as lead experts.

By Thea Morrison

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06 September 2018 18:51