On July 21st, two pictures of Aleksandre Lashkarava appeared on social media followed by the description that "TV Formula" has added additional injuries to Lashkarava's face using Photoshop. One of the pictures showed the bloodstains on Lashkarava's face, while no such thing was visible in the second picture. The claim was shared on the one hand, by the pro-governmental media "Marshalpress,” "POST TV," and other pro-governmental Facebook pages and on the other hand, the media platform "Alt-Info" linked with the pro-Kremlin extremist party "ERI" of Levan Vasadze and Giorgi Gigauri, the journalist of the anti-liberal newspaper "Asaval-Dasavali."
The information about "Formula" fabricating the picture of Aleksandre Lashkarava is false. The image is authentic and was used by several media outlets on July 5th. The photo was taken by the "TV Pirveli" journalist Guga Maisuradze, who published the image at 1:10 PM on July 5th. The second image shared by the pro-governmental outlets is also authentic. The photo is cropped out of the video shared by "TV Formula" and Nona Mamulashvili on July 11th.
After marking the shared information as false, Myth Detector studied the coordinated scheme of the information spread.
The false information about "TV Formula" fabricating the photo of Lashkarva was initially shared by the pro-governmental online agency "Marshalpress"at 1:32 PM on July 21st.
Based on the data of Facebook's analytical tool "Crowdtangle," the information was shared by the executive director of Marshalpress, Oto Stepanishvili, and pro-governmental expert Ghia Abashidze into 23 different public Facebook groups.
The article of “Marshalpres” was also shared by pro-governmental Facebook pages “Sekta,” “Sirtskhvilis Koridori,” and “Lideri 41.”
After the coordinated circulation of the “Marshalpress’” post, the two pictures of Lashkarava were also shared by the “Informative Blog” at 3:16 PM on July 21st, stressing that the first photo is edited by software, while the other is unedited. "Informative Blog" has advertised the post twice.
The same information was shared by the “Asaval-Dasavali” journalist Giorgi Gigauri at 4 PM. As for “Alt-Info,” the outlet has shared the footage from the program “Alt-Analytica” at 7:45 PM on July 21st, where the host Zura Makharadze proclaimed that "Formula" had fabricated the image. Moreover, the TV channel “POST TV” has mentioned the story during the program “Samni&Co” at 10:30 PM. The host Shalva Ramishvili has also stated that the photo published by "TV Formula" was "most likely" edited using a computer program.
The original photo of Lashkarava having bloodstains on his face was published on social media on July 5th, at 1:10 PM by the journalist of "TV Pirveli," Guga Maisuradze, for the first time.
The same picture was shared by "TV Formula" on July 5th, at 7:30 PM, together with the images of other journalists.
On July 11th, the video of Lashkarava was published on the Facebook page of "Formula." The video no longer shows the bloodstains on Lashkarava's face. The author of the video is Nona Mamulashvili, who has published the video on her personal Facebook account.
During the interview with Myth Detector, Guga Maisuradze stated that Lashkarava was holding a headband and was putting it on his face together with a cold bottle. Therefore, in the video, the bloodstains on the face were already wiped out by the "TV Pirveli" cameraman.
Guga Maisuradze has shared an additional picture of Lashkarava, where the bloodstains can still be noticed.
After the information has been identified as false on Facebook, “Marshalpress” has removed the article. Information was deleted by other pro-governmental pages as well, including the “Informative Blog” and the Facebook page of “Post TV.”
A web portal Marshalpress appeared in media space on February 18th, 2015. Marshalpress.ge is issued by Marshalpress Ltd, which, as of May 6th, 2015, was wholly owned by Otar Stepanishvili, a former journalist from Info 9.
Marshalpress often provides space for press conferences to various persons who are active supporters of pro-Russian and anti-Western policies;
It is noteworthy that on July 11th, during the day of Lashkarava’s death, “Marshalpress” was the first outlet that connected Lashkarava’s death to narcotic substances even before the official MIA statement was released. Personal information of Lashakrava was also shared on social media, which was followed by the investigation by the State Inspector’s Service. For more details, see our publication.
About "Informative Blog"
"Informative Blog" was created on June 21st, 2020 and positions itself as an informational platform. The page shares pro-governmental content. On July 11th, "Informative Blog" had five sponsored posts about Lashkarava. The page published a post, which listed all the crimes committed by Lashkarava and showed the video footage of his movement made public by the MIA of Georgia.
Prepared by Maiko Ratian