The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), a local watchdog, speaks of a large-scale coordinated information campaign being carried out on Facebook in favor of the Alliance of Patriots, “pro-Russian” nativist party that won six seats in the 2016 Parliament elections.
According to the report released on August 12, along with the Facebook page of Obiektivi TV channel, founded by party leader MP Irma Inashvili, the campaign is led by Tinp.ge online outlet, that poses as a real media outlet and the groups affiliated with it.
The report notes that ten “coordinated, discrediting” Facebook pages are also linked to the party, and their posts are alternately shared by “at least 12 authentic and fake accounts.” The pages are run by Bakur Svanidze, known for his “anti-Western and pro-Russian sentiments.”
ISFED said that the routine working manner of the said Facebook accounts creates an impression that persons behind them – disseminating the content on Svanidze’s pages – are actually employed in the campaign.
According to the report, Svanidze’s pages are mainly targeting opposition parties. At the same time, the pages also spread news stories discrediting the governing Georgian Dream party.
CSO noted that Tinp.ge – Today in Politics, positioning as an independent media outlet, supports the Alliance of Patriots party. The Facebook page of the Alliance of Patriots party frequently shares content published on Tinp.ge, CSO added.
ISFED stated that two Facebook groups – “Today in Politics – დღეს პოლიტიკაში” and “დღეს პოლიტიკაში (Today in Politics)” are involved in propagating Tinp.ge’s content. The latter’s producer Omar Mdzevashvili and Obieqtivi TV’s executive producer, Ilia Chachibaia serve as their administrators.
The watchdog also focused on the page Akhalkalaki News – targeting ethnic-Armenian audience in Javakheti region – created in late March. The page, sharing Obieqtivi TV’s stories, carries out a campaign against Enzel Mkoyan, Georgian Dream’s majoritarian MP from Akhalkalaki-Ninotsminda single-mandate constituency, and agitates in favor of Samvel Petrosyan, member of the Alliance of Patriots.
As stated in the report, there is a Facebook group with 1,267 users with the same name tasked to circulate the content posted on “Akhalkalaki News.”
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