Tbilisi-based Media Development Foundation released its third annual monitoring report on May 14, identifying around two thousand anti-western messages in Georgian media in 2017.
The report, covering the period between January 1 and December 31, 2017, documented the anti-western messages and fake news in seventeen television, online and print media outlets. It was published in frames of the project by UN Association of Georgia (UNAG), with financial support from USAID. (Editorial note: UNAG is the parent NGO of Civil.ge)
Most anti-western messages, according to the report, related to Georgia’s foreign policy agenda, which is a change from two previous reports, when minority rights were targeted.
The U.S. accounted for the highest share of all negative comments (25.9%), up by almost three times as compared to the previous year, followed by NATO (18.4%) and the West (14.1%).
Messages against the EU have almost doubled (13.4%) compared to 2016, while remarks on human rights and the West endangering the Georgian identity have almost halved (12.9%).
The organization also documented an increase in the number of messages showcasing Russia as an alternative to the West and portraying the Soviet Union in positive light (7.2%).
The overall purpose of the anti-western messaging, according to the Media Development Foundation, was “to increase polarization over the country’s foreign policy priorities.”
Like in the previous two reports, the main medium for these messages was media (827), followed by politicians (463), public figures (411), civic organizations (230) and the clergy (37).
Geworld.ge, Sakinform, Obieqtivi TV and Asaval-Dasavali topped the list of most active anti-western outlets, with the March of the Georgians leading among civic organizations.
Former Parliament Speaker Nino Burjanadze’s Democratic Movement dominated among political parties by the number of anti-Western statements (130); followed by the Alliance of Patriots (91), Kartuli Dasi (Georgian Troupe, 44) and the Socialist Georgia (40).