The Tbilisi-based Media Development Foundation identified a total of 117 hate speech and discriminatory remarks voiced by or against political parties and presidential candidates ahead of the October 28 elections. The study was released on October 22.
The report, covering the period between August 1 and October 15, 2018, documented messages of discriminatory nature on ethnic, religious, racial and gender grounds in eighteen television, online and print media outlets.*
According to the report, most of the discriminatory statements covered in the media were of xenophobic and/or anti-migrant character (56). Other messages were related to anti-Turkish sentiments (19), followed by homophobia (17), religious discrimination (12), encouraging violence (8), inciting strife (2), gender-based discrimination (2), and racism (1).
59 of these messages were voiced by political party representatives, while 49 were voiced by presidential candidates.
With a total of 19 statements, Kakha Kukava of the Free Georgia party tops the list of most active hate speech users. He is followed by Shalva Natelashvili of the Labor Party and an independent candidate Besarion Tediashvili with nine and seven messages, respectively. Three discriminatory messages were voiced by the ruling party-endorsed candidate, Salome Zurabishvili.
Among the political parties, the Alliance of Patriots and the Georgian Troupe parties (Kartuli Dasi) lead the way with 30 and 13 messages, respectively. They are followed by the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (5) and United National Movement (4).
The MDF also documented 11 times hate speech was leveled against presidential candidates and political parties. Most of these messages targeted the ruling party-endorsed candidate, Salome Zurabishvili (5). She is followed by the United National Movement (3), the European Georgia (2), and the New Political Center-Girchi (1).
* The research was carried out in frames of the project of the United Nations Association of Georgia (UNAG), with the financial support from USAID. UNAG is the parent NGO of Civil.ge.